Here you can find a list of resources to help you research local history. 

You can search the City Archives collection using our online search portal

Archives, museums, and other resources

Thunder Bay Museum

The Thunder Bay Museum has archives, artifacts, and exhibitions about the history of Thunder Bay and its early inhabitants. Detailed descriptions of archival collections are available online.

Thunder Bay Public Library

The Thunder Bay Public Library has a collection of local newspapers, photographs, and genealogical materials including an obituary index. You can access the collection at the Brodie Resource Library, and some materials are available online.

Lakehead University Archives

The Lakehead University Archives has records about the University and industrial, business, social, cultural, and religious activities in Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario. Lakehead's Northern Studies Resource Centre also has a large collection of newspaper records.

Thunder Bay Military Museum

The Thunder Bay Military Museum is located in the Thunder Bay Armoury. They collect and display artifacts and memorabilia relating to Northwestern Ontario's military history.

Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame

The NWO Sports Hall of Fame collects and displays artifacts donated by the public about local and general sports history. These include photographs, newspaper clippings, books, scrapbooks, and programs.

Northwestern Ontario Aviation Heritage Centre

The Northwestern Ontario Aviation Heritage Centre collects the aviation history for all of Northwestern Ontario. These records include recorded stories, photographs, and other memorabilia.

World War One: Thunder Bay Centennial Project

Local heritage institutions have come together to produce the World War One: Thunder Bay Centennial Project, a developing exhibit about the First World War and how it impacted the people of the Lakehead.

Archives of Ontario

The Archives of Ontario is the archives for the Ontario Provincial Government, and they have some material from the private sector. This site has exhibits and an online database of all materials.

Library and Archives Canada

Library and Archives Canada is the archives for the Federal government, and collects materials from a wide range of other sources. This site allows you to search the entire collection and includes exhibits and a guide to genealogical research.

Fort William: The Gateway to the Gold Fields, to the Wheat Fields

Fort William: The Gateway to the Gold Field, to the Wheat Fields, written in 1898 by Town Clerk E.S. Rutledge, was digitized by the Toronto Public Library and is available for viewing through the Ontario Time Machine site. It includes photographs and statistics, and encourages people to travel to and do business in Fort William.

Resources for teachers

The City of Thunder Bay Archives has records that cover a wide range of local and national issues. These records can be used to support history education. You can use these lesson plans as-is, or you can modify them to suit your needs.

For more information on developing teaching resources, you can contact the Archives or consider arranging a class visit to our facilities.

If you require a PDF in an accessible format, contact our Municipal Accessibility Specialist.

Patriotic Fairs

In Fort William, as throughout the British Empire, men were sent to fight in World War I. They left families and friends behind, who often could not fight or directly aid the war effort as civilians. One way that people could aid British soldiers was through charity, but as times were often hard and money short this took some encouragement. One way charities convinced people to aid them was through the promotion and attendance of Patriotic Fairs and celebrations, like the local "Our Day" Fair in Fort William. This lesson plan illustrates the methods of the "Our Day" Fair in Fort William in emotionally connecting locals to the soldiers they might know fighting on their behalf.

Enemy Aliens and Racial Prejudice

During the First World War, many people who were citizens of or had immigrated from countries at war with Canada were required to register as Enemy Aliens. Many were sent to internment camps, and those remaining in their towns were often unable to work. Enemy aliens faced discrimination in Fort William, since they were seen as a security risk because of the town's importance in the grain trade. Government support for food, housing, and clothing was limited, and the enemy aliens living in poverty became a concern for charitable groups. This lesson plan invites students to reflect on the issues from a number of perspectives and identify with those facing racial discrimination during a time of war.

Children and Play

Children living in Fort William during the First World War were a lot like children today: they had the same desire to play, compete, and be social. The Playgrounds program provided an opportunity for organized sports and competition as well as learning new skills and games. Playgrounds and recreation helped to offset some of the hardships that children and their families faced because of the war.

Advertising during the War

New technologies developed in the first few decades of the 20th Century led to many new consumer products, which were heavily advertised to the middle classes and to women. This lesson plan uses samples of historical advertising to inspire students in a market simulation.


Online archival databases


Archeion is a searchable gateway to descriptions of archival collections from archives across Ontario. This Archives Association of Ontario (AAO) project includes details and contact information for AAO member institutions.

Thunder Bay District Obituaries and Social Notices Indexing Project

The Thunder Bay District Obituaries and Social Notices is an index of social notices, death notices, obituaries, estate notices, and in memoriams for Fort William, Port Arthur, and Thunder Bay newspapers from 1875 to the present. The Thunder Bay Public Library hosts the indexes.


OurOntario allows you to search the online collections of a wide variety of Ontario-based archives and heritage institutions.

Managed by the Canadian Council of Archives, Archives Canada lets you search archives at more than 800 institutions based in Canada.

Select bibliography of published works

  • Arthur, Elizabeth, comp. Thunder Bay District, 1821-1892: A Collection of Documents. Toronto: Champlain Society, 1973
  • Beaulieu, Michel S. and Southcott, Chris, North of Superior: An Illustrated History of Northwestern Ontario. Toronto: Lorimer, 2010.
  • Braun, Harold S. A Northern Vision: The Development of Lakehead University, Thunder Bay: Lakehead University, 1987
  • Grant, Diane, The Street Names of Thunder Bay. Thunder Bay: Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society, 1999
  • Mauro, Joseph M. Thunder Bay: A City's Story, [Thunder Bay]: Joseph Mauro, c1990
  • Mauro, Joseph M. Thunder Bay: A History: The Golden Gateway of the Great Northwest. Thunder Bay: [City of Thunder Bay], 1981
  • Scollie, Frederick Brent, Thunder Bay, Mayors & Councillors, 1873 - 1945. Thunder Bay: Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society, 2000
  • Tronrud, Thorold J. and Epp, Ernest, Thunder Bay: From Rivalry to Unity. Thunder Bay: Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society, 1985
  • Worrell, Peter B. Policing the Lakehead Thunder Bay: Board of Commissioners of Police, 1989

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