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.


July 3 – November 6, 2016

Diaries provide an immediacy and intimacy provided by very few types of records. When we read someone else’s diary we experience both a feeling of familiarity with our own lives and a glimpse of another time and place through the writer’s eyes. These five women from Ontario wrote about their families and friends, occupations and social interactions, and incidentally about their communities during the last half of the 19th century. More than 100 years later, these diaries provide us with important insights into the every day lives of early Ontario pioneers.

This temporary travelling exhibit is on loan to the Thunder Bay Museum from the Archives of Ontario.


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



November 1, 2016 – January 29, 2017

My Corner of the World invited 40 Canadian artists and 40 International artists to examine a world, real or imagined, that represented what is important in life.  It might be where the artist resides, works, or grew up. It might be a favorite place from any point in life or a special internal place. My Corner of the World looks at the big picture including, but not limited to a homeland, ancestry or culture. The result was this colourful exhibition of 80 exquisite art quilts developed by the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) in collaboration with the Stratford Perth Museum and with the Canadian Regions of SAQA.

The Thunder Bay Museum will be hosting an opening for this event on Sunday, November 13th from 2:00-4:00 p.m. Everyone is welcome to join us to view the exhibit and enjoy some light refreshments.

Visit SAQA’s website here.

Photo: Joan Reive (Ontario) – A Fall Day in Westport