Thunder Bay Museum

425 Donald St. East

Thunder Bay, ON. Canada, P7E 1V5

June 23, 2000

On our travels, in addition to the spectacular tourist sites, we try to search out places to go and things to see that are out of the ordinary. Something that people might miss as they pass through the many cities. Well, the Thunder Bay Museum was just one of these places. As museums go, it certainly wasn't large or spectacular but it gave you a real feel for the city and its people as well as the founders of the city.
The museum features three full floors of fascinating history of the city and the area, plus superb furniture and artwork. On the first floor they feature their permanent exhibits
which cover such topics as prehistory, the natives that lived in the area (which includes examples of beadwork that are among Canada's finest), the fur trade, Silver Islet, shipping and railway, and the Woodside foundry (featuring the city's first electrical generator). Then we took a walk through time on a recreated streetscape starting at the turn of the 20th century and going through to WWII. We watched an old black and white Charlie Chaplin movie in the theatre (of course, everything I knew about him I had heard from my parents-right!). Then we saw an early doctor's office. As many museums as we have been to, it still amazes me how many of our medical instruments and support materials (such as bedpans and gowns) haven't changed a whole lot in the last century. Scary huh? Next we went through a hair dressing salon from the 1920s. Things haven't changed there either, I couldn't get an appointment. And lastly we went through the general store. They had such a good deal on cabbages I just couldn't resist looking them over.
On the second floor they featured one of their temporary exhibits. This one featured Cycling Through History: The story of the Bicycle. It was an exhibit of antique and significant bicycles, some of which were over 120 years old. By the time you read this however, the bicycles will have "rolled on back" to Ottawa. The collection was on loan from Mr. Dennis Thomasson who owns the Fresh Air Experience there.

On the new third floor exhibit they feature the Charlotte Macgillivray Murphy Rooms. Unfortunately we were not permitted to take pictures here. However, I would like to mention that this exhibit has recreated the interior of her lovely home very well. The house itself still stands, but unfortunately like a lot of historic homes in North America has been turned into a rooming house. It is wonderful that the Museum was able to at least preserve the interior of the home as well as many cherished photographs of Charlotte Macgillivray Murphy and her family. The Macgillivrays were prominent in the fur trade industry early on in the area.
I felt the time spent in this small museum was well worth it, as it gave us an overall picture of Thunder Bay, its early inhabitants and (as Bob likes to put it) the movers and shakers who founded this lovely town. Please drop in on their website at: if you'd like to find out more about the museum or their current exhibits.


Good Luck! Have Fun! and Stay Safe!