Built in 1891, the structure at the corner of Simpson Street and Leith was originally the Fort William home of the Port Arthur-based Ray, Street & Company private bank.
They shared the premises with a boot shop and Harry Murphy’s meat store.
Ray, Street and Company was started by Samuel Wellington Ray, the man who founded what is known today as the Lake Superior Scottish Regiment, and Noah K. Street, a Port Arthur capitalist. Together they profited from lending money and selling insurance.
Most of their profits came from the financing of real estate deals in a community that was growing rapidly. In 1913, however, the real estate market collapsed and didn’t recover for several decades.
The bank found itself severely over-extended and went out of business; their building on Simpson Street was sold.
It became the home of a variety of stores and shops, most recently Simpson Variety, which has now moved to a location across the street. Hardly recognizable, the grand old building now appears largely vacant.
A Moment with the Museum:
Text by Tory Tronrud, Thunder Bay Museum
Photo courtesy of the Thunder Bay Museum