Thunder Bay Politics – Mayor Walter Assef

Mayor Walter Assef ruled city hall and set a tone that some loved, and others hated in Thunder Bay
Mayor Walter Assef ruled city hall and set a tone that some loved, and others hated in Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay’s Colourful Little Mayor

THUNDER BAY – Politics – Mayor Walter Assef was a no nonsense politician. The Thunder Bay Mayor brought energy, enthusiasm, and sometimes outright anger to City Council Chambers.

Mayor Walter Assef
Mayor Walter Assef

Mayor Assef, dubbed “Jolly Wally” was always interesting. An early personal memory of Mayor Assef was as a sixteen year old teen having just moved to Thunder Bay, the Mayor was on 580 CKPR speaking with radio icon Rick Smith. The Mayor was telling people to put a couple of pop bottles full of water in their toilet tanks to save water.

Next, the Mayor spoke about how he felt each child should have a pony. Mayor Assef felt that would help children learn responsibility.

A Royal Controversy

The former vaudvillian was also famous, or perhaps the term infamous, better applies for having patted Queen Elizabeth on the butt when she arrived in Thunder Bay. The Mayor didn’t apparently fully understand the ‘Royal Protocol’ about touching the Queen.

The British press had a field day on the issue. The City of Thunder Bay website puts it this way, “Photographs appeared to show him exercising a certain familiarity with Queen Elizabeth during her visit in 1973”.

Walter Assef He was the first, and so far the only mayor, to have been elected for two discontinuous terms. He was first elected in 1973, and served until 1978.

Mayor Assef’s second term began when he was re-elected in 1981, and lasted until 1985.

Council meetings were often quite the show during Mayor Assef’s term as city leader. There was a time when like Toronto City Council, Councillors simply walked out on the Mayor.

Today, Mayor Assef is fairly fondly remembered as a leader who got things done.