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Vickers Park

“It [Vickers Park] was always a paradise ... but now it has something more. The picture has come to life with the laughter of little children."

Where: Fort William, near Arthur Street and Selkirk Street Size: 10 acres
Created: Donated 1902
Major Features:
  • Pathways and flower beds, planted in 1911
  • Fort William's first playground, built in 1915
  • Large iconic wooden gateway, constructed in 1918 
  • Lighting for the flower beds, first illuminated in 1938
  • Washroom and storage building, erected in 1945
  • Wading pool, swings, slides, and sandboxes, 1949
  • Play equipment update, installed in 1985
Land Acquired:

Catherine Mary Vickers made a ten acre donation to the town of Fort William on the premise that the "Public Park" or "Garden" be for the "free use and enjoyment" of the inhabitants of the town of Fort William.

The Thunder Bay citizenry may recall a famous condition, that boulders were to be placed in the four corners of the park in a visible and "conspicuous location." These boulders have the names of founders of Fort William inscribed into them: John Joseph Vickers, Catherine Mary Vickers, John McIntyre, and John McKellar.

Land Usage: Passive Park, Public Park, Neighbourhood Park


Each image in the slideshow is a link to original records and more information.

Historical Highlights:

  • In 1902, Catherine Vickers donated ten acres of land to be called "The Vickers Park." This donation was made in the memory of her late husband, John Vickers, and two of Fort William's other founders, John McIntyre and John McKellar.

  • One stipulation of the donation was that the park be maintained by the town of Fort William and stay in "an efficient state of repair, and that it never be used as a horse, bike or automobile race track or exhibition or fair ground."

  • Upon receiving the donation in 1902, the Town of Fort William stumped, cleared, ploughed, and harrowed a plot of land. However, upon completion, it was realized that the land that was processed was actually ten acres adjacent to that which Catherine Vickers donated. For this reason, VIckers Park was not complete until 1905.

  • Pressure from parents and residents in the area encouraged the City of Fort William to develop Vickers as a neighbourhood park and install playground equipment for the children. In 1949, along Selkirk Street, a wading pool, swings, slides, and sandboxes were installed.

  • In 1962, the City Traffic Committee recommended burying the John Vickers boulder to allow Arthur Street to be widened. A plaque would be put in its stead. But the Parks Board protested, stating that the boulders must remain in a "conspicuous location" as per the agreement.

  • Proposals to build a Tourist Center in 1951 and Great Hall in 1962 in Vickers Park were thwarted. It was stated that the buildings would conflict with the donor's wishes and the citizens' ability to relax and enjoy the park.

  • In 1975, a Rock Cairn commemorating Fort William's history was relocated from Heath Park to Vickers Park.



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