Fire stations are located throughout the City to provide service to different areas. Fort William maintained three primary fire stations for most of its history, working from the same locations until amalgamation. Port Arthur, on the other hand, operated stations in a less permanent manner, opening and closing throughout the City’s history. Port Arthur's only permanent fire station was Central Station, built in 1907.

A History of the Fort William Fire Stations

A group of firefighters standing in front of a truck parked in front of a buildingBefore the Central Station in Fort William was built, the Fire Hall had been located in the Town Hall. This building burnt down in 1903. For more information on this fire hall, see the Fort William City Hall Web Exhibit.

Fort William’s Central Station was located at 120 Brodie Street South, on the east side between Victoria and Donald, and was built in 1903, after the first Fire Hall vanished in flames along with the Town Hall. It became the main station for Fort William, and was termed Fire Station No. 1. In the early 1900s this was the most well-equipped of the fire stations, as it housed the Fire Hall itself, bedrooms where all firefighters could sleep, stables, and a furnace room. (The Brown Street Station contained only the Fire Hall, and only the captain of the Brown Street Station was allowed to sleep at the station.) As time progressed, the station was gradually modernized and improved through renovations. In fact, the 1946 insertion of new Roll-Tite doors at the Central Station helped to make it “one of the most modern in Ontario.” (TBA0210-054 - 1946 Fire Department Annual Report, page 2) This station closed in 1963 and was demolished, and the firemen who had been stationed there were dispersed between the Brown Street Station and the Pacific Avenue Station until completion of the new Central Station on Vickers Street.

A street map depicting houses and roads drawn in colourBrown Street Station

The Brown Street Station was originally located at 1408 Brown St., at the southeast corner of Amelia and Brown, and was referred to as Fire Station No. 2. This station has been in use since at least 1905. In 1913, upgrades were made to the station including the construction of a bedroom, a sitting room, and a bathroom. This was to make the station more comfortable, and to bring it up to the standards of Central Station. Starting in 1924, the firemen had to share the facilities at the station with the Fort William Police Department.

The Brown Street Station became an issue of debate in 1941, as many believed that the station's facilities were inadequate and needed improvements. Plans were made to build a smaller, bungalow-style station, and savings from fuel costs would help the new station pay for itself.

The station was sold in 1949, and the new building was constructed in 1952 across the street from the original location.

The Pacific Avenue Station

The Pacific Avenue Station was located at 235 Pacific Avenue, between St. Paul and Minnesota Streets on the north side. Construction was finished on this station circa 1914 or 1915. The station underwent repairs over the years, and major alterations were needed in 1966 for the front of the building. Six changes were to be made:

  • Two double door sets removedA handdrawn and coloured street map showing roads and buildings
  • One set of doors filled in with bricks
  • Installation of a window
  • Installation of a steel Roll-Tite overhead door, which would be both electrically and manually controlled
  • A fresh coat of paint
  • Top two feet of the chimney reconstructed

The City Police occupied space in the station on the second floor. Correspondence with the City indicates that the police found this situation problematic. The police had to commute through the Fire Department’s space to arrive at their offices, and the firemen had to intrude on the Police Department’s space to get to their own kitchen, which caused confidentiality problems and disruptions. Despite the complaints of the Police Department, the City’s Planning and Development Department determined that the building was laid out in the best possible arrangement short of major renovation. Any proposed changes would only worsen the situation.

This station was closed in 1993.

Central Station (Vickers St. Location)

The station at 330 Vickers Street North was built in 1963 on land that had been owned by the Canadian National Railway (CNR). A site on Victoria Ave. had also been considered for the new station, but it was rejected in favour of the Vickers St. location. To obtain this land for the new fire station, the City transferred Lots 365, 366 and 25 feet of lane from Lots 361 to 364, as well as paying $20,000, in exchange for the CNR-owned Lots 350-360, with 70 feet of Bethune St. The construction of the station itself was proposed at $195,000, and the architect firm hired was Mickelson, Fraser and Haywood (later known as Fraser and Browne). Allan Haywood was the individual architect responsible for the station.

This station became the primary station as soon as it was built, and adopted the title of Central Fire Station. It also contained the Fire Department Prevention Bureau and the Fire Inspection Bureau. This station remains the primary station for the City of Thunder Bay today.

A History of Port Arthur's Fire Stations

A photgraph of a brick building with people out front

Port Arthur’s main fire station was Central Station, located at 13 Court St. North. The station was constructed in this location in 1907. Central Station had previously been located on the coal docks at the intersection of Park and Water St. North, by the lakeshore, but was relocated because of a need for space. This land around was owned by the City until 1909, and was then leased to the Canadian Northern Railway Company.

All fire alarms in Port Arthur were received at Central Station. After determining the whereabouts of the fire, staff would decide whether the alarm should be redirected to another station or not. From the 1930s until 1954, Central Station was the only fire station in Port Arthur, so during that time it handled all alarms.

Although a new station had been constructed on Hodder Ave., in 1953 the Fire Department recommended that they acquire a larger building for Central Station. The existing building was too small to store all the equipment, and it needed repairs. Furthermore, the expansion of the business district around Central Station was causing crowding problems. There were often traffic jams outside of the station, which caused unnecessary delays in reaching fires. City Council decided against the relocation of the central station, and renovations of the existing fire hall finally got underway in the mid-sixties.

A picture of a garden beside a paved driveway and infront of a door

Renovations seemed never to end for the fire stations. In 1966, improvements were made to the Chief’s office, lunchroom and washroom of Central Station. The wooden window frames in the station needed to be replaced with aluminum, but there was no room in the budget. Money and funding issues were an unfortunate reality for the Fire Department. Four years earlier, there had been a need to raise the front door, get new door jamb liners, and remove the old bell tower. Sometimes renovations were slow to come: even in 1956, the same doors were in place as when the station had used horse-drawn vehicles. This made it difficult to get modern vehicles in and out quickly and safely.

Station No. 2 (Hill St. Location)

A group photograph of the members of the 1915 departmentThe next station to be built in Port Arthur was located at 87 Hill St. North, and was recognized as Station No. 2. It was built in 1913, and closed in the early 1930s.

When the Fire Department left the location, the City rented the building to an auto repair shop. The lease agreement reveals that the City reserved the right to keep the fire engine, ladders and other apparatus on the premises without charge, as having access to the second story and the basement of the building.

Station No. 3 (Grenville St. Location)

A third fire station was built in the early part of the 20th century. It was located in Current River, on the east side of Grenville Ave. between Marion and Merrill St. (between 309 and 313 Grenville Ave.). This was a short-lived station, as records suggest that it was built between 1919 and 1920, and had been closed by 1927.

Station No. 2 (Hodder Ave. Location)

A firetruck sitting parked outside a fire station

Years later, the second station to be called Station No. 2 was built at 300 Hodder Ave. It opened June 1st, 1954, and was the long-awaited second station that the fire chief had been requesting for years. There had even been a 1942 recommendation for a new fire station by the Canadian Underwriter’s Association Inspector from Toronto, stressing Port Arthur's need for extra fire protection.

The population of Port Arthur was growing, meaning there would be more residents to serve, and the outward expansion of the city required that another fire station be built to cover as much land as possible. Costs to build this fire station were estimated at $62,260, with a building contract for T.A Jones Construction Co. This station was responsible for the area from Algoma to the Lakeshore and up Clavet St., which included the hospital and psychiatric hospital. About 3,000 people attended the opening ceremonies, and Chief Harold Lockwood of the Fort William Fire Department commented that the station was among the most modern in Canada. It remains an active fire station today for the City of Thunder Bay.

Current Thunder Bay Fire Stations

At present the Thunder Bay Fire Department has eight stations in use. Some of these date from the former Fire Departments of Fort William and Port Arthur.

  • Vickers Fire Station: 330 Vickers St. North - Central Fire Station
  • James Fire Station: 501 Churchill Drive
  • Neebing Fire Station: 2065 20th Sideroad
  • Brown Street Fire Station: 1321 Brown Street
  • North Central Station: 60 Water St. South
  • Hodder Fire Station: 300 Hodder Ave.
  • Junot Fire Station: 20 Junot Ave.
  • Mapleward Station: 3000 Government Road

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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