The Archives holds a wide range of materials about the social, political, economic, natural, and built history of Thunder Bay. You'll find historically significant materials from City Departments and agencies, as well as from the former cities of Fort William and Port Arthur. Our records date from as early as 1884. You can find many of our photographs on Flickr.

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

Search the Archives

You can use our online search portal to search all of our finding aids and records lists and request records to view in person at the Archives. Make sure pop-ups are enabled on your computer when using the search portal. 

The online search portal does not contain copies of the records in our collection. To view specific records, please book an in-person research appointment or contact the Archives at (807) 625-2270 or 

Research tools

Archival Highlights

You may also view lists of:

Aerial photographs
These photographs, taken in various years between 1949 and 1987, give a bird's-eye view of the City and its surrounding area. They show the growth of the City, and what the land had been used for. All aerial photos are scanned and easily searched on the public computer at the City Archives.
By-laws and Council minutes
By-laws and Council minutes are available for the City of Thunder Bay and the former Cities of Port Arthur and Fort William. These date back to the 1880s and show municipal laws and council decisions relating to various issues of the day. By-Laws and Council Minutes are available to see on microfilm at the City Archives.
Fire insurance plans
Plans held at the City of Thunder Bay Archives were created and used by fire insurance underwriters to set rates for their customers. These plans detail the layout, material construction and use of buildings, as well as information relating to street plans, property lines, fire alarms, and water works. Fire Insurance plans date back to 1908 for the City of Port Arthur and 1919 for Fort William. They are a good source for historical property information. All of the Fire Insurance Plans in our collection are scanned and easily searched on the public computer at the City Archives.
Indexes to Fort William and Port Arthur Council minutes
This index is a virtual goldmine for researching the municipal history of the City as it provides access to the Fort William Council Minutes from 1901-1968, and the Port Arthur Council Minutes from 1884 to 1969.
Maps, plans, and blueprints
Our collection includes a variety of maps, plans, and blueprints for various areas and structures within Thunder Bay and the former cities of Fort William and Port Arthur. 
The photograph collection shows a variety of events, places, and municipal representatives. Collections come from of various city offices such as the Fort William City Clerk's office, City of Thunder Bay Planning, Mayor's Office, Fire Department, and Environment division. Many of the photographs are scanned and easily searched on the public computer at the City Archives. Most photographs that have not been scanned yet may be scanned for a fee. Some photographs are available on Flickr.
Private donations

We have some collections that have been donated by other organizations or private individuals. Some of these include: 

  • Records of former mayors and councillors
  • Government of Ontario records
  • Individual donations
  • Jeux Canada Games 1981
  • 1995 Nordic World Games Committee
  • Forest Capital Development Association

We have publications dating as far back as the 1880s. Publications cover a wide range of topics, from municipal plans and programs, to economic development and tourism - and much, much more. 


Note that we do not have any local newspapers in our collection. Please contact the Thunder Bay Public Library or the Thunder Bay Museum for their collections. 

Shuniah, Neebing, and Crooks Township records
Most of the township records in our collection were acquired by the City of Thunder Bay during the amalgamation of Port Arthur and Fort William in 1970. Records include some assessment rolls, collector's rolls, tax records, by-laws, and building permits from before 1970. 

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