Displays in the front lobby cases are rotated approximately three times per year.


September 23 – October 29, 2016

This travelling exhibit from the Ontario Museum Association is presented on 4 free-standing LED screens that loop a virtual timeline of 400 years of Franco-Ontarian history, in both French and English. This exhibit is supported by a rich online museum (, ready to engage and enrich your current educational programming for schools and special tours.

The digital exhibit will be supplemented with a small case of French archival material from the Thunder Bay Museum collection. We don’t currently have many items related to NWO’s French heritage in our collection, and would  happily consider donations from our community.


Displays in our Recent Years case are rotated approximately 3-4 times per year.


April 1 – September 4, 2016

Trophies are symbolic objects, intended for display as evidence of achievement, especially of victory in a contest of some kind. These trophy awards from the museum’s collection represent the best in local sports, livestock, and flowers through the decades.


The main gallery on the first floor was named for Peter McKellar, the founding father of the Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society.

These long-term exhibits recount the 10,000 year history of people in the Thunder Bay region of Ontario, Canada. See the tools of survival made by the region’s first peoples, stunning Ojibway and Cree beadwork, a full-sized wigwam, and the relics of a once great fur trade. As you move through time, encounter the story of Silver Islet, once the continent’s richest silver mine, visit a Canadian Pacific Railway station, which greeted many of the immigrants that settled the region in the 19th century, or view Thunder Bay’s early harbour with its towering elevators and booming maritime industries. The town’s very first electricity was created in the 1880s with the simple steam-powered generator now on display. Lock yourself in a functional prison cell, circa 1910, and view artifacts highlighting our pioneering history of Municipal Ownership, shoemaking at The Lakehead, and the tools of the pulp and paper industry. Enjoy early films, several produced in Northwestern Ontario, in our 1928 vintage theatre, and stroll down a recreated Thunder Bay street complete with streetcar, a 19th century hotel/tavern and fire hall, a doctor’s office, furrier, tobacconist from the turn of the century, a real estate office from 1913, and a newspaper press room. Visit the general store, its shelves lined with vintage goods, look in on a seamstress at work, and glimpse through the window of a hairdressing salon from the 1930s. Some of the earliest HAM radios, most made by Charles McDonald, a pioneer in the field of telecommunications, can be seen in his recreated workshop. Explore some of these displays below: