Parks are built and maintained for the use of the public. The two cities of Port Arthur and Fort William began over 100 years ago to develop the parks we still enjoy today. This exhibit allows you to explore the history of six city parks, and also provides an overview of Parks and Recreation programs and development in the City of Thunder Bay.

Parks development began as early as 1871 in Port Arthur and 1902 in Fort William. Both towns had designated plots of land as parkland, before even being incorporated as cities. Port Arthur began developing its first park, Waverley Park, in 1871, and Fort William started forming its first park, Vickers Park, in 1902.

Albert Allin Park

Boulevard Lake

Chippewa Park

Frank Charry Park

Vickers Park

Waverley Park


History of the Thunder Bay Parks Department: Original documents describing the evolution of the Parks Department.

A cut out section from a piece on the history of the Parks Department

Formation of the Port Arthur and Fort Williams Parks Boards: The origins of the Parks Boards are captured in these By-laws.

A cut out section of the Port Arthur By-law for Parks Department







 Chronology: A history by year of the major park developments in Port Arthur, Fort William, and Thunder Bay, presented in original documents.

A cut out section of the chronology paper







Parks Facilities List: A master list of all the parks in Thunder Bay, at the time of amalgamation.

A map of the Thunder Bay area which marks the location of parks







Did you know?: 31 fun, quirky facts about Thunder Bay's parks

A black symbol with a man reaching up to a star on beige paper







Parks Quiz: How well do you know Thunder Bay's parks? Identify which park each photograph shows.

Children playing on a slide in a black and white photograph







About this exhibit

This exhibit details the history of parks in the City of Thunder Bay.

The exhibit was created using information and graphic material available to the public from the City of Thunder Bay Archives, the Thunder Bay Public Library, and the Thunder Bay Historical Museum. Information and support have also been provided by the City of Thunder Bay's Parks Division. The textual records seen in this exhibit cover the time period from 1890 to 2012, and the photographic images range from 1880 to 2011.

Archival series referred to in this exhibit include the following:

  • Fort William By-Laws (Series 3)
  • Fort William City Clerk's Files (Series 4)
  • Fort William Board of Parks Management Minutes (Series 5)
  • Port Arthur By-Laws (Series 19)
  • Port Arthur Parks and Recreation Files (Series 28)
  • Port Arthur Board of Parks Management Minutes (Series 44)
  • Port Arthur Board of Park Management Records (Series 48)
  • Fort William Agreements (Series 86)
  • Thunder Bay City Clerk's Files (Series 117)
  • Fort William Parks & Recreation Files (Series 121)
  • Thunder Bay Central Files (Series 156)
  • Private Donation Collection Photographs - Fulton (Series 250)
  • Thunder Bay Community Recreation Manager's Files (Series 261)
  • Thunder Bay Parks Technicians' Files (Series 363)

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.

For more information on the current status of Thunder Bay's parks, visit Recreation and Parks. You are also invited to participate in an Ontario Trails Council survey for Centennial Park, Boulevard Lake, Chapples Park, and the Neebing River Parkway.

A cut out section of the Port Arthur By-law for Parks Department

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