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


Tableware are the dishes used for setting a table, serving food and dining. This includes cutlery, glassware, serving dishes and other useful items for practical and decorative purposes. Household silver includes tableware, cutlery made of sterling silver or Sheffield plate silver.

“Sit upright at the table without bending over or lowering your head to eat. Do not sit too close or too far away from the table. Don’t sit with one arm on the table. Keep your mouth closed as much as possible while eating.” – Quoted from 20th Century Etiquette, published 1900

Also on display are commemorative collectables honouring  Queen Victoria’s long reign in England. Part of a long tradition of remembering past and present members of the royal family.


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


Toys, games and dolls have occupied an important portion of children’s lives for hundreds of years. Remembrances of childhood evoke fond memories  of these cherished things.


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: