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City Government

Lieutenant Governor Visits Thunder Bay


August 13, 2009 – The Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, will be visiting Thunder Bay on Aug. 26 and 27 for a city tour and to unveil a commemorative plaque at the former site of the Port Arthur Isolation Hospital in honour of the Thunder Bay & District Post-Polio Chapter.

The Ontario March of Dimes and the Post Polio Chapter of Thunder Bay have invited the Lieutenant Governor to commemorate the site of the former Port Arthur Isolation Hospital, located at Balsam Street and Parsons Avenue. The unveiling will take place at the site at noon on Aug. 27.

In the fight against communicable infectious diseases like polio, in the days before antibiotics, the isolation hospital was a necessary institution. Its purpose was to treat the disease and to isolate the individuals with infectious diseases to prevent the spread of infection to others in the community.

The simple structure was considered very important to the health and well-being of the community of Port Arthur, even though it lacked a proper foundation, laundry facilities and proper sanitation. The building was built in 1907, and torn down in 1964 due to the dissolvement of the Port Arthur Board of Health.

“Whenever Polio epidemics struck communities, pandemonium ignited quicker than kindling in a pot belly stove,” said Sandra Rutherford, Chair, Thunder Bay and District Post Polio Chapter. “People living the golden rule of lending a hand to neighbors-in-distress cringed with panic that they or their kin could succumb to the crippler that paralyzed life and limb.  Thus safe-guarding the well and caring for the sick was paramount.  Port Arthur Isolation Hospital fit the bill, serving Northwestern Ontario from 1907 to 1956.  Today’s unveiling is our tribute to an historical icon.”

From historical achievements in the 1950s in eradicating the threat of polio, the Ontario March of Dimes strives to meet the evolving needs of people with physical disabilities and help them to achieve a meaningful and dignified life.

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Contact:     John Hannam, City Clerk, 625-2238
                  Nanda Casucci-Byrne, Office of the Lieutenant Governor, 416-325-7780
                  Todd Kennedy, Ontario March of Dimes, 345-6595