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Robert Bilsland

Standing on the Footplate

F. Sean Bickford

Transportation - Prince Arthur's Landing Marina Park

Port Arthur - Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

June 13, 2006 - 4:00pm

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© 2006 F. Sean Bickford, All Rights Reserved.


A Missed Opportunity
For me, Transportation has been the theme for all of 2006. The first quarter of the year was spent helping the office where I work move to a brand new location across town. The second quarter of the year I spent riding my beach cruiser bicycle to my girlfriend's home, 12 kms away. In June, I journeyed the distance from Thunder Bay to Toronto along the north shore of Lake Superior (the same distance as from Paris, France to Rome, Italy ) to see my brother graduate from University. I missed the September 2006 WWP event (Transportation) because I was in the middle of moving into our first home (together with my girlfriend - now fiancee) in September. I really wanted to participate though in September's WWP event because Transportation is a very large aspect of Thunder Bay's economy.

Transportation should be made synonymous with "Thunder Bay". The British owned Hudson's Bay Company realised this in the 19th century with the rise of beaver felt top hats. In fact, Canadian currency gives a nod to this when you consider that the image on the Canadian five cent piece is a beaver. More beaver pelts were sent to England from the port of Fort William than from any other, two centuries ago.

Rail Traffic

The dream of Canada was realised through the Canadian Railway. Starting back in 1875, railway transportation put our community on the international map as an important shipping hub. The twin cities of Port Arthur and Fort William would eventually grow to become to largest Grain Shipping depot in North America. At one point Thunder Bay handled almost all the grain exports for the entire country.

100 Years

I chose this panorama as the perfect image of our city's transportation example because of the beauty of the Port Arthur Train Station. Built 100 years ago, the importance of this station is emphasized by its size, larger than many other stations in cities of comparable population. Although no longer a functioning passenger rail station, the station still plays a prominent role in our community as a restaurant, ice cream stand, and on the second floor, the home of the Thunder Bay Model Train Association. Our community still hopes that VIA rail will bring passenger service back to the Lakehead in order to preserve our rail heritage.


Joining rail and water transport, this station, which was built in 1905 at Port Arthur and which formed the end of the line from Winnipeg, was designed in what was commonly called the Canadian Railway style by Winnipeg architect, R. B. Pratt. It was acquired by the city from C.N.R. in 1978.
(source:Historical Plaques of the Thunder Bay District)

Marine Traffic.

Thunder Bay marks the final Sea destination of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Our home is the innermost Canadian port that can still reach the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to the pleasure craft seen in the slips of this panorama, Thunder Bay is an important harbour with both freshwater and salt water marine traffic.

The Shipyards
Though not visible in this panorama, the Port Arthur Shipbuilding company became a vital corporation in Thunder Bay during the first and second World Wars.

The Port Arthur Shipbuilding Company was originally the Western Dry Dock and Shipbuilding Company Ltd. of Port Arthur, Ontario. In May of 1909 the company entered into a construction agreement with the city of Port Arthur. In 1916, the Port Arthur Shipbuilding Company or PASCO. was incorporated to purchase and take over the assets of the Western Dry Dock and Shipbuilding Company according to another city by-law, 1917. Once fully established the company built ships of all types including war vessels in both World Wars, pulp and paper machinery, and commercial boilers. The company also operated as a dry dock facility for repairing and docking ships. As well it was authorized to carry on warehousing and storage so as to acquire licenses for the establishment of steamship lines.(source:Thunder Bay Museum Fonds collection Not to mention we are living on the northern coast of a lake so large it can be called a freshwater sea.

Marina Park Village

Pedestrian traffic
As you can see from this panorama, our park features over a kilometre of wooden boardwalks up and down the Port Arthur marina. To the right and just behind the train-station you can see a white and blue pedestrian overpass, which until this year, was the only safe method for foot traffic to cross a busy 4 lane highway and gain access to the Marina Park. The future of the Marina Park is looking brighter these days with our mayor's vision of a more commercial and tourist friendly hub of activity year round.
Marina Park Information from the City of Thunder Bay website
Visit Thunder Bay -
Waterfront Development


USA-Canada / Canada-Ontario

Lat: 48° 26' 0.02" N
Long: 89° 13' 4.26" W

→ maps.google.com [EXT]

Precision is: High. Pinpoints the exact spot.

OpenStreetMap: © OpenStreetMap contributors

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