Before the amalgamation that created the City of Thunder Bay, Fort William and Port Arthur were separate cities each responsible for the needs of their respective communities. Among the most vital services provided by the cities were their Fire Departments. Though many are familiar with the Fire Department as an essential service, the public often only has a vague understanding of its inner workings.

This exhibit details the histories of the Fire Departments of Fort William and Port Arthur, and encourages an appreciation for this vital service which continues to be provided to the City of Thunder Bay. For more information on fire services in the City today please contact, or visit Thunder Bay Fire Rescue.


The Early Days: 1900s to 1920s: A look at the long-forgotten practices of a young community service A group of firemen stand in front of a building
Firefighters: Qualifications, training, and working conditions A group of men stand together in a fire hall, with a firetruck behind them
Duties and Life at the Fire Stations: The working lives of everyday heroes A group of firefighters stand in front of a fire truck
Fire Chiefs: The leaders of the Fire Departments over the years A group of men in firefighter uniforms sit together
Fire Stations: A history of places that have served as base of operations for the Fire Departments A firetruck sits outfront of the No.2 Fire Station
Firefighting Equipment: The technologies and tools needed for service A man is dressed in a firefighters uniform with hat
Fire Prevention Activities: The cities' dedication to stopping fires before they start A cut out section of the 1961 Annual Report
Cooperation Between the Cities: A united Lakehead before amalgamation A cut out section of By-Law 5312
Significant Fires: A sample of the losses witnessed by the Fire Department Firemen spray a building with a hose on a downtown street
Firefighters Lost on Duty: Remembering those who gave their lives for a safer community A wooden plaque with metal name plates detailing those who had been lost


About this exhibit:

This exhibit was created using information and graphic material available to the public from the City of Thunder Bay Archives. The exhibit covers the time period from the inception of the two towns' fire brigades in the late nineteenth century to amalgamation in 1970.

Archival series referred to in this exhibit include the following:

  • Port Arthur City Clerk's Files (Series 29)
  • Port Arthur City Clerk's Agreement Files (Series 34)
  • Fort William City Clerk's Files (Series 4)
  • Fort William Agreements (Series 86)
  • Fort William Annual Reports (Series 16)
  • Thunder Bay City Clerk's Photograph Collection (Series 128)
  • Thunder Bay Fire Department Photograph Collection (Series 129)
  • Fire Insurance Maps
  • Port Arthur Scrapbooks

Some personal information has been removed to protect the privacy of individuals.

For more information on this subject, or any other subject of interest, please visit or contact the City of Thunder Bay Archives.

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