Historic photo of Fort William and Port Arthur road signThe coming together of diverse cultures is reflected in the formation of the city itself - two towns that developed side by side. Port Arthur and Fort William amalgamated in 1970 and became the City of Thunder Bay. Explore the history of Port Arthur and Fort William on a historical walking tour or with a visit to a local museum or the City of Thunder Bay's Records and Archives.

Amidst rumours that Port Arthur’s application for City status included a request to Annex Fort William, both Port Arthur and Fort William attained City designation in April of 1907. Over the next 63 years, the question of amalgamation persisted. Public plebiscites, held in 1920 and 1958, defeated the issue and various local politicians had their say. One of the most ardent advocates was Port Arthur Mayor Charlie Cox, who, in an attempt to hold both offices, ran as a mayoral candidate in the Fort William Municipal Election of 1948.

On October 26, 1964, Saul Laskin, Mayor of the City of Port Arthur, presented a written submission to the Provincial Cabinet requesting a study of various issues which were confronting five of the larger municipalities in the Lakehead area. These entities included the City of Port Arthur, the City of Fort William, the Municipality of Neebing, the Municipality of Paipoonge and the Municipality of Shuniah. In due course, this submission by the City of Port Arthur was endorsed by the City of Fort William as well as the Lakehead Chamber of Commerce and the Fort William-Port Arthur and District Labour Council.

In early 1965, a letter jointly signed by the heads of the councils of the five municipalities was sent to the Hon. J.W. Spooner, the Minister of Municipal Affairs. The letter requested that the regional study, as originally proposed by the Mayor of Port Arthur, should be undertaken. In September of 1965, Spooner announced the appointment of Eric Hardy to undertake the local government review for the Lakehead.

The recommendations of the Hardy Report were accepted by the Provincial Government and, as a result, the City of Thunder Bay was created through a Provincial bill on May 8, 1969 and became a reality on January 1, 1970. Headed by Mayor Saul Laskin, the new City consisted of Fort William, Port Arthur and the adjacent geographical Townships of Neebing and McIntryre.

Since amalgamation, developments such as Lakehead University, Confederation College of Applied Arts and Sciences, and the reconstruction of Fort William Historical Park as it existed in the early 1800s have increased the community profile as an education centre and tourist destination. The City has hosted sporting events such as the 1974 Ontario Winter Games, the 1981 Jeux Canada Games, and the World Nordic Skiing Championships 1995.


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