Humans have been living in this area for over 10,000 years and the stone tools, spear points, axe heads and scraping implements that have been found provide valuable clues about life in the early days.

Discover more about the history of Fort William First Nation and the area's First Peoples with a visit to Anemkii Wajiw (Mount McKay).

The fur trade

As the home of Fort William, the inland headquarters of the North West Company, the region brought together Northwest Ontario's Indigenous inhabitants with French and British explorers and settlers. But as the era of the fur trade drew to a close the regional economy shifted to modern industries like forestry and shipping.

Discover what life was like in 1816 as you immerse yourself in the fur trade at Fort William Historical Park, a Canadian Signature Experience.

Port Arthur and Fort William

In the late 19th century, the twin cities of Port Arthur and Fort William were neighbours. The cities maintained a "friendly" rivalry and both communities were prosperous drawing immigrants from around the world. The forest industry held a special attraction for the Finns and even today, Thunder Bay boasts one of the largest settlements of Finnish people outside Finland. The saunas, the shops of "Little Finland" on Bay Street and the prevalence of Nordic skiing are just a few of the ways the City reveals its Finnish heritage.

The 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, a visit to a local museum or the City of Thunder Bay's Records and Archives.

Local legends

Ojibway legends and local lore have created many stories surrounding the many natural wonders in the area. Some of the most well-known stories are modern "legends" written in the book Tales from the Tom Tom.

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