Four exhibits are located on the third floor of the Thunder Bay Museum in the Charlotte McGillivray Murphy Rooms. Here you will find a turn of the 20th century gentlemen’s games room, a gallery dedicated to our rich musical heritage, an exhibit of Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario’s military history, and works by local artists in the Antechamber Gallery.


This exhibit celebrates the life and times of the McKellar family as seen through the eyes of our Society’s founder, Peter McKellar.  Featured prominently is Peter’s billiards table, more properly called a carombole table — the heart of the exhibit — along with a variety of images of his family. These, along with artifacts and images of their contemporaries in both Fort William and Port Arthur, have allowed us to re-create an early 20th-century games room.

Here you will find artifacts from families with names familiar in Thunder Bay — McVicar, Marks, Conmee, Daunais, Smellie, Graham, Dawson, Brown, Silles, Piper, Russell, McGillivray, and McLaren — along with some names that were probably well known at the time but have largely slipped from our collective memory — MacEdwards (a famous curler), Ashforth (who ran a fleet of fishing boats on Lake Superior and whose piano is prominent in the exhibit) poet J.W. Robertson (the Bard O’Glen Erie), and songwriter Fred Brennagh.

Featured also are artifacts related to 20th-century people of note such as Norman Paterson’s moose antler chair and a model of one of his company’s earliest vessels, a wonderful 19th-century French lithograph presented as a wedding gift to Harry and Gladys Hurtig, and Judge A.J. McComber’s horn chair.

There are also items that represent well known institutions — a lovely Art Deco chair from the lobby of the Royal Edward Hotel, a shooting trophy won by members of the 96th Algoma Battalion of Rifles, and a fireplace from the famous Northern Hotel.

Look also for one of the earliest pinball machines in existence (called Five Star Final), a 19th-century suit of armour, a ship model of the famous Campana, and chairs from the early Ontario Legislature.


This exhibit is a comprehensive collection of musicians and bands throughout Thunder Bay’s history. From the earliest brass band (dating from the late 1870s) to the most modern rock group, they are all here in picture, artifact or song. Consult our detailed computerized database that now contains over 600 entries and continues to grow. It is the most comprehensive of its kind. Included are such well-known Thunder Bay musicians as Bobby Curtola, Paul Shaffer, The Golden Dogs, Suzanne Hou, the Fort William Male Choir, Jon Vickers, Karina Long, The Negatives, Tommy Horricks, Hugh LeCaine, Tyler Yarema, Billy Ziegel, Myrna Lorrie, Buddy DeVal, Don Grashey, Jerry Palmer, The Ryde, Rodney Brown, Cosimo Filane, Flipper Flanagan’s Flat Footed Four, and hundreds of others. The exhibit also includes a variety of instruments such as a beautiful, hand-crafted accordion made by Mr. Baldovin of Fort William, and an Irish lute harp circa 1809 that was brought to Canada in 1924.


Military power in Northwestern Ontario began with the War of 1812 but the first formal military unit was created in 1885 (later known as the Lake Superior Regiment), and others followed–army, navy, and air force–particularly in the two World Wars. The honours achieved by local soldiers are second to none.

Some of the uniforms on display include:

  • that of Charles McLennan, 96th District of Algoma Battalion of rifles, 1887
  • the First World War flying suit used by Alfred Coombs
  • that of Col. Robert Keane who lead the LSR during the Second World War
  • Red Cross uniforms worn by Mary Miller during the Second World War

Other notable artifacts include:

  • First World War German machine gun
  • First World War LSR brass band drum also used in Second World War
  • Second World War mine detector


The Antechamber Gallery is devoted to the celebration of our community’s artistic and creative endeavours. Displays rotate approximately three times per year. Currently on display:


July 5 – October 25, 2015

We are pleased to be showcasing local artist Rusty Brown’s avian images. There are 10 paintings of life-sized depictions of local bird species; woodpeckers, nuthatches, waxwings and ravens to name a few. Take time to fly by the museum to enjoy this special exhibit perched in the Antechamber Gallery!