By: Frederick Brent Scollie
Thunder Bay, a midwestern city 700 km from Winnipeg and Sault Ste Marie, its nearest urban neighbours in Minnesota, Duluth 305 km and Minneapolis-St Paul 550 km, has been plagued by shifting geographical names, to the point that it has suffered from weak name recognition across the country. Fort William, Prince Arthur’s Landing, Port Arthur, Neebing, Shuniah, the Lakehead, and Thunder Bay have all been used since 1850 to describe the same urban area.
This volume includes biographical sketches of 849 individuals, Americans as well as Canadians, non-residents as well as residents, who played a role in the history of the north shore of Lake Superior, the world’s largest freshwater lake by surface, with a focus on how the north shore’s largest community, Thunder Bay, Ontario, developed in the late nineteenth century into an economic centre for exploiting natural resources, an administrative centre for delivering government services to the District of Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario, and a transshipment port for goods and people passing to and from eastern and western Canada.
The historical introduction consolidates what has been previously written about the region, covering such topics as the indigenous population, surveying, mining, lumbering, railways, shipping, harbour development, the grain trade, agricultural development, urban growth, the orgin and ethnicity of the settler population, education, sport and recreation, law and crime. It tackles the question of why two towns, Port Arthur and Fort William, emerged from the Municipalities of Shuniah and Neebing, and documents the rise and fall of communities like Savanne, Jackfish and Rossport.
This book will be of interest to those who wish to know more about the Lake Superior Region, the indigenous and settler population of its north shore, and the types of people attracted to the region between 1850-1901, people such as J.B. Penassie, chief of the Fort William First Nation, defender of its rights and territory, Walpole Roland, Imperial adventurer and Canada’s Flashman, Hannah Everington, miner’s widow and the first woman to vote in 1884, and Eva Powley, the second woman to qualify as a lawyer in Ontario.
(376 pages, paperback)