THUNDER BAY – Built in 1849 on the south bank of the Kam River, the Roman Catholic mission brought Christianity to Northwestern Ontario in a big way. It was the headquarters for Jesuit churches spread across the north of Superior and the focus of education and religion for much of the Fort William First Nation. As is evident in the picture, the surrounding land was largely under cultivation and the latest farming techniques were taught to nearby Native people by the missionaries. The mission featured a large church (which also served many people living on the north side of the river), a school and a boarding house and orphanage. Note also the two windmills providing power for the wells and other farming activities. A fire took many of the buildings in 1895 but they were quickly rebuilt. By 1905, however, when this picture was taken, the need for the school and orphanage had greatly diminished; that year the Jesuits were recalled forcing the sale of the property to the Grand Trunk Pacific railway. The remnants of last mission building was torn down in 1973.
Spend some time re-discovering Thunder Bay’s amazing history, visit the Thunder Bay Museum.
Text by Tory Tronrud, Thunder Bay Museum
Photo courtesy of the Thunder Bay Museum