“It [Vickers Park] was always a paradise ... but now it has something more. The picture has come to life with the laughter of little children."

Where: Fort William, near Arthur Street and Selkirk StreetSize:10 acres
Created: Donated 1902
Major Features:
  • An aerial photo of Vickers Park and the surrounding area taken from abovePathways and flower beds, planted in 1911
  • Fort William's first playground, built in 1915
  • Large iconic wooden gateway, constructed in 1918 
  • Lighting for the flower beds, first illuminated in 1938
  • Washroom and storage building, erected in 1945
  • Wading pool, swings, slides, and sandboxes, 1949
  • Play equipment update, installed in 1985
Land Acquired:

Catherine Mary Vickers made a ten acre donation to the town of Fort William on the premise that the "Public Park" or "Garden" be for the "free use and enjoyment" of the inhabitants of the town of Fort William.


The Thunder Bay citizenry may recall a famous condition, that boulders were to be placed in the four corners of the park in a visible and "conspicuous location." These boulders have the names of founders of Fort William inscribed into them: John Joseph Vickers, Catherine Mary Vickers, John McIntyre, and John McKellar.

Land Usage:
  • Passive Park,
  • Public Park,
  • Neighbourhood Park

 Historical Highlights:

  • In 1902, Catherine Vickers donated ten acres of land to be called "The Vickers Park." This donation was made in the memory of her late husband, John Vickers, and two of Fort William's other founders, John McIntyre and John McKellar.

  • One stipulation of the donation was that the park be maintained by the town of Fort William and stay in "an efficient state of repair, and that it never be used as a horse, bike or automobile race track or exhibition or fair ground."

  • Upon receiving the donation in 1902, the Town of Fort William stumped, cleared, ploughed, and harrowed a plot of land. However, upon completion, it was realized that the land that was processed was actually ten acres adjacent to that which Catherine Vickers donated. For this reason, Vickers Park was not complete until 1905.

  • Pressure from parents and residents in the area encouraged the City of Fort William to develop Vickers as a neighbourhood park and install playground equipment for the children. In 1949, along Selkirk Street, a wading pool, swings, slides, and sandboxes were installed.

  • In 1962, the City Traffic Committee recommended burying the John Vickers boulder to allow Arthur Street to be widened. A plaque would be put in its stead. But the Parks Board protested, stating that the boulders must remain in a "conspicuous location" as per the agreement.

  • Proposals to build a Tourist Center in 1951 and Great Hall in 1962 in Vickers Park were thwarted. It was stated that the buildings would conflict with the donor's wishes and the citizens' ability to relax and enjoy the park.

  • In 1975, a Rock Cairn commemorating Fort William's history was relocated from Heath Park to Vickers Park.

 Aerial Photographs of the Vickers Park Area

These are four aerial photographs of the Vickers Park area. It is noteworthy that the landscaping and pathways have stayed similar over this span of 37 years.

An aerial photo of Vickers Park and the surrounding area taken from above

 Image Title: TB 1959 107
Creator: Aero Surveys Limited
Date: 1959

An aerial photo of Vickers Park and the surrounding area taken from above

Image Title: TB 1976 L7-137
Creator: Unknown
Date: 1976

An aerial photo of Vickers Park and the surrounding area taken from above

Image Title: TB 1987 L-10-106-N
Creator: Unknown
Date: 1987

An aerial photo of Vickers Park and the surrounding area taken from above

Image Title: TB 1996 L9-66 
Creator: Air Surveys Limited
Date: 1996

 Vickers Park Deed of Land, 1902

A typed document on white paper

A typed document on white paper

A typed document on white paper  

A handwritten note that accompanied the deed of land

Title: Vickers Park - Catherine M. Vickers to the Corporation of the Town of Fort William
Date: September - October 1902
Creators: Catherine M. Vickers and the Corporation of the Town of Fort William
Description: This is a legal document transferring the land from its owner, Catherine M. Vickers, to the Town of Fort William.
Series: 121, Fort William Parks and Recreation Files
Location: TBA 4802-08

 The Vickers Park Boulders

A newspaper article cut from the original paper

 Title: Phooey on Selkirk! Boulder Must Remain
Date: Friday, January 26, 1962
Creator: John Friesen, Times-Journal
Description: The article inspects the original deed in which Catherine Vickers bequeathed the land to the town of Fort William. The City Traffic committee argues that it is in the best interest of the citizenry to have Arthur Street widened and the boulders relocated.
Series: 121, Fort William Parks and Recreation Files
Location: TBA 4208-08

 

A cut out from a newspaper article

Title: Parks Board Protests Plan to Bury Boulders
Date: Friday, January 25, 1962
Creator: Times-Journal
Description: The Parks Board defends the terms of the agreement, and refuses to bury the boulders.
Series: 121, Fort William Parks and Recreation Files
Location: TBA 4208-08

 Vickers Park Tourist Information Centre

A typed document on white paper with black ink

Title: Tourist Centre
Date: [1951]
Creators: [City of Fort William]
Description: This is a painting of the proposed Tourist Centre that was to be erected in Vickers Park.
Series: 121, Fort William Parks and Recreation Files
Location: TBA 4802-08

 

A coloured painting of the proposed tourist infromation centre

Title: Tourist Information Centre Correspondence
Date: April 11, 1951
Creators: City Clerk's Department
Description: This memorandum describes a recommendation that allowed Alderman Williams and Alderman Limbrick to make a case for a tourist centre in Vickers Park.
Series: 121, Fort William Parks and Recreation Files
Location: TBA 4802-08

 

A typed document on white paper with black ink

Title: Fort William Board of Parks Management Resolution
Date: April 27, 1951
Creators: Fort William Board of Parks Management
Description: This document outlines the problems with building a tourist centre on parkland, and the ultimate resolution to keep Vickers Park as aesthetically pleasing as possible.
Series: 121, Fort William Parks and Recreation Files
Location: TBA 4802-08

 Historic Rock Cairn

 A photograph taken of a pile or rocks in an empty field of grass

Title: Heath Park Monument and Plaque
Date: Unknown
Creators: [Thunder Bay Parks Department?]
Description: A snowy plaque commemorates the founding of Fort William. The plaque was created by Historic Sites and Monuments - Board of Canada. Heath Pool is visible in the background.
Series: 363, Thunder Bay Parks Technicians' Files
Location: P038
Accession: 2010-20-73

 

A typed letter on City of Thunder Bay Letterhead

A typed letter continued from the previous page

Title: Relocation of Historic Rock Cairns
Date: May 1, 1975
Creators: R.E. Wainio
Description: This letter represents the final stages in moving the rock cairn from Heath Park to Vickers Park.
Series: 156, Thunder Bay Central Files
Location: TBA 5261-16

 

A pink piece of paper with blue lettering

Title: Relocation of Rock Cairn
Date: May 29, 1975
Creators: H. T. Kirk, City Clerk's Office
Description: City Council agreed, there were no intervening bylaws, and the Fort William rock cairn moved from Heath Park to Vickers Park.
Series: 156, Thunder Bay Central Files
Location: TBA 5261-16

 Description of Fort William Parks, 1947

A typed document on white paper with black ink

A typed document on white paper with black ink

A typed document on white paper with black ink  

Title: Fort William Board of Parks Management [Review of Parks]
Date: 1947
Creators: Fort William Board of Parks Management
Description: This document provides a brief description and history of the Chippewa, Vickers, Heath, McKellar, Dease, Minnesota, and Tarbutt parks.
Series: 121, Fort William Parks and Recreation Files
Location: TBA 4802-08

 Vickers Park Technical Drawings

 A hand drawn map of Vickers Park as well as the surrounding area

Title: [Vickers Park] Pathways
Date: June 29, 1982
Creators: City of Thunder Bay Planning
Description: This technical drawing shows the planning of 6000 linear feet of pathways at Vickers Park.
Series: 363, Thunder Bay Parks Technicians' Files
Location: TBA 7795-06

 

A hand drawn map of Vickers Park as well as the surrounding area

Title: Arthur Street and Selkirk Intersection
Date: March 1989
Creators: City of Thunder Bay Planning
Description: This technical drawing shows the new sidewalks being constructed along the outskirts of Vickers Park. And if you look closely, you can see that the engineer added the location of the boulder along Selkirk Street.
Series: 363, Thunder Bay Parks Technicians' Files
Location: TBA 7795-07

 

A hand drawn map of Vickers Park as well as the surrounding area

Title: Fort William Board of Parks Management Resolution
Date: Unknown
Creators: City of Thunder Bay Planning
Description: The technical drawing shows the Vickers Park area.
Series: 363, Thunder Bay Parks Technicians' Files
Location: TBA 7795-06

 Report on Vickers Park, 1987

A typed document in black ink on white paper  

A typed document in black ink on white paper

A typed document in black ink on white paper

A typed document in black ink on white paper with bar graphs

A typed document on white paper with a map at bottom of Vickers Park

Title: Administrative Report Summary - Vickers Park
Date: December 7, 1987
Creators: Parks and Recreation, Community Services, City of Thunder Bay
Description: This document provides a history and analysis of the Vickers Park area.
Series: 121, Fort William Parks and Recreation Files
Location: TBA 5371-26 

 Vickers Park Area Architectural Walking Tour

 A pamphlet with photogrpahs of houeses as well as typed words and maps

A pamphlet with photogrpahs of houeses as well as typed words and mapsA pamphlet with photogrpahs of houeses as well as typed words and mapsA pamphlet with photogrpahs of houeses as well as typed words and maps

Title: Walking Tour: Architectural Tour of Vickers Park
Date: 2009
Creators: Heritage Advisory Committee
Description: This is a walking tour of the Vickers Park area. Other Walking Tours of the City are available at the City Archives.
Location: Heritage Advisory Committee

 Recreational Activities

A newspaper clipping shows a child getting out of a pool

Title: Golly, that water feels good
Date: July 25, 1956
Creators: [Daily Times-Journal?]
Description: The article briefly touches on the state of Fort William's pools and the weather condition of the summer of 1956.
Series: 121, Fort William Parks and Recreation Files
Location: TBA 4802-08 

 

 A group of children gather around an adult holding a book

Title: Pleasant Work [Newspaper Article]
Date: July 28, 1960
Creators:  [Daily Times-Journal?], photographs by Matt Fiorito
Description: The newspaper clipping shows a group of youngsters enthralled in a storytelling experience at Vickers Park in 1960.
Series: 121, Fort William Parks and Recreation Files
Location: TBA 4802-08

 

Adults dressed in Martial Arts gear practice their moves

Title: Sessions in the Park
Date: June 23, 1972
Creators: [Daily Times-Journal?]
Description: The newspaper clipping shows the Tsuruoka Karate School practising in Vickers Park.
Series: 156, Thunder Bay Central Files
Location: TBA 5264-25

 

A young child is shown holding a paddle in motion to hit a ball

Title: A Mean Paddle [Newspaper Article]
Date: July 18, 1972
Creators:  [Daily Times-Journal?]
Description: The newspaper clipping shows a youngster playing at Vickers Park in 1972.
Series: 156, Thunder Bay Central Files
Location: TBA 5264-25

 

Various newspaper clippings are taped together on white paper

Title: [Daily Times-Journal Collage]
Date: Unknown 
Creators: [Daily Times-Journal?]
Description: This collage of newspaper clippings shows common recreational activities people engage in and the public's affinity for Vickers Park.
Series: 156, Thunder Bay Central Files
Location: TBA 5264-25

 

An orange flyer depicts both words as well as drawn picture of men and women

Title: Lord Caitanya's Yoga of Love Festival June 1, 1975
Date: circa May 1975
Creators: [Unknown Transcendental Musicians]
Description: The flyer is an advertisement for Lord Caitanya's Yoga of Love Festival held on June 1, 1975 at Vickers Park.
Series: 156, Thunder Bay Central Files
Location: TBA 5264-25

 

A typed document with a drawn photo of two skiiers in motion

Title: [Request to use a snowmachine at Vickers Park] 
Date: January 23, 1989
Creators: Thunder Bay Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Club
Description: Quite often a club would ask the City to use a park as its meeting or event site. This letter shows the use of Vickers Park by the Thunder Bay Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Club.
Series: 363, Thunder Bay Parks Technicians' Files
Location: TBA 7795-06 

 Landscaping

A coloured photograph of a paved pathway and trees

Title: Vickers Park
Date: 1966
Creators: Fort William Parks Department
Description: This is a view of the Arthur Street side of the lovely Vickers Park.
Series: 121, Fort William Parks and Recreation Files
Accession: 1996-02-74
Location: P009

 

A gateway built above the grass with "Vickers Park" above

Title: [Vickers Park]
Date: Unknown
Creators: Daily Times-Journal
Description: The newspaper clipping shows the iconic Vickers Park archway.
Series: 156, Thunder Bay Central Files
Location: TBA 5264-25

 

A typed list on City of Thunder Bay letterhead

Title: City of Thunder Bay - Parks and Recreation - Purchase Order 
Date: May 12, 1986
Creator: City of Thunder Bay, Parks and Recreation, Joe Rollason
Description: The purchase order shows some of the vegetation that was purchased and installed in the Vickers Park area.
Series: 363, Thunder Bay Parks Technicians' Files
Location: TBA 7795-06

 

A newspaper clipping that has yellowed with age

Title: Letter to the Editor - Compliment
Date: Unknown
Creators: Daily Times-Journal
Description: The newspaper clipping recounts an experience of a tourist and a citizen.
Series: 121, Fort William Parks & Recreation Files
Location: TBA 4802-08  

 

An intercity memo typed on official City of Thunder Bay letterhead

Title: Memo - Pathway Paving VCK 83/11
Date: June 11, 1983
Creators: City of Thunder Bay Planning
Description: The memorandum outlines the linear footage of pathways at Vickers Park, and examines the cost of paving those pathways.
Series: 363, Thunder Bay Parks Technicians' Files
Location: TBA 7795-06

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