A white building with a brown and yellow sign saying Emergency Measures OrganizationRecords of the work of the Emergency Measures Organization in the Thunder Bay City Archives begin in 1960, when a Civil Defence Committee formed in Port Arthur. The records continue to 1994, and contain information about emergency responses and simulations, new planning procedures, and technological advances. The Emergency Measures Organization has played a vital role in Port Arthur, Fort William, and eventually Thunder Bay, keeping citizens safe from both man-made and natural disasters.

The City of Thunder Bay's "Peacetime Emergency Plan" was established in May of 1979. This 300-page document lists detailed instructions of how to respond to different types of emergencies, with specific tasks laid out for each City department. Everything is covered, from nuclear explosions to floods, and every department is expected to be fully involved in the processes of response and recovery.

With the threat of the Cold War looming over North America, the ability of citizens to survive a nuclear war was a major concern. Along with the fear, though, came activity and safety preparations, as air raid sirens were constructed and organizations provided information about bomb shelters and survival kits. As the City grew and developed, the need to prevent as well as respond to disasters became more pressing.  Issues such as bomb threats and the transportation of dangerous materials were seen as significant potential hazards that needed to be addressed. Simulated disasters were practiced in order to improve efficiency and pinpoint what might go wrong in a disaster recovery. The Emergency Measures Organization also responded to actual disaster situations throughout the years, including chemical spills and a passenger train derailment.

Thunder Bay Area Emergency Measures Organization eventually became part of the province-wide Emergency Management Ontario. The core principles and values that it stood for then remain the same today: that preparedness, response, and recovery are vital for the safety of any community.


Civil Defense and the Cold War

A black and white map showing some roads and a building







Transportation of Hazardous Materials

A black and white image of a grain elevator and railroad cars






Bomb Threats and Civilian Safety

An orange poster with the words bomb threat in bold









Emergency Responses

A typed paper reports on a passenger train derailment in Nipigon









Disaster Simulations

an official seal with a maple leaf and crown on top 




About this exhibit:

This exhibit was produced using information and graphic material available to the public from the City of Thunder Bay Archives, with support from the City of Thunder Bay Co-Op Student Placement Program

Archival series referred to in the exhibit include:

  • Series 29: Port Arthur City Clerk's Files
  • Series 34: Port Arthur City Clerk's Agreement Files
  • Series 88: Port Arthur Public Utilities Commission Files
  • Series 112: Thunder Bay City Coordinator Files
  • Series 117: Thunder Bay City Clerk's Files
  • Series 120: Thunder Bay Mayor's Office Files
  • Series 156: Thunder Bay Central Files (Administration, Parks, Community Recreation)
  • Series 316: Thunder Bay Fire Service Administrative Files

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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