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Thunder Bay Tourist Pagoda National Historic Site of Canada

164 Arthur Street, Thunder Bay, Ontario, P7B, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1986/11/14

General view of Thunder Bay Tourist Pagoda, circa 1909.; Librairy and Archives Canada/Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, PA21347, ca. 1909
General view
General view of Thunder Bay Tourist Pagoda, 1988.; Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parcs Canada, 1988.
General view
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Other Name(s)

Thunder Bay Tourist Pagoda
Pavillon d'information touristique de Thunder Bay
Thunder Bay Tourist Pagoda National Historic Site of Canada

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/07/20

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Thunder Bay Tourist Pagoda National Historic Site of Canada is an early tourism bureau built in a novelty design inspired by a mixture of classical and Asian architecture. An octagonal brick structure surrounded by a verandah, it has a pagoda-shaped roof with cupola and a columned entranceway surmounted by a carved beaver. It is located at the foot of Red River Road and Water Streets, near the waterfront and historic railway, in the downtown Port Arthur section of Thunder Bay. The designation refers to the building on its legal lot.

Heritage Value

Thunder Bay Tourist Pagoda was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1986 because
- it symbolizes the themes of civic boosterism and inter-city rivalry in the early 20th century; and
- it has an eccentric but carefully conceived design.

The Thunder Bay Tourist Pagoda was designed by local architect H. Russell Halton, and built by the Port Arthur Industrial Commission in 1909. It was an early tourism bureau designed to attract the attention of train and ship passengers traveling through Port Arthur, in order to promote the town's advantages as an industrial and tourism centre at a time when it's rival, nearby Fort William, was becoming an increasingly important transportation hub. The pagoda continued to be used as a tourism bureau until declining rail traffic made its future uncertain. By 1986 it had closed and its future remained in doubt until it eventually was restored as a heritage facility.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, Nov. 1986, Nov. 1989.

Character-Defining Elements

Key features contributing to the heritage value of this site include:

- the location of the pagoda at a historic nexus of water, rail and road transportation;
- its landscaped site;
- its octagonal footprint and single-storey massing under a broad pagoda-shaped roof with domed cupola;
- its broad, overhanging eaves supported by free-standing columns;
- the classical inspiration of its main entry under a pedimented porch with columns flanking the paneled entry door;
- the beaver and maple leaf motif decoration over the entry;
- the brick construction with wood detailing;
- its use of metal roofing;
- continued legibility of its original interior layout;
- the integrity of surviving original interior furnishings and fittings;
- evidence of its original tourism function.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design
Governing Canada
Government and Institutions

Function - Category and Type


Civic Space


Tourist Facility

Architect / Designer

H. Russell Halton



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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