Thunder Bay Finnish Canadian Historical Society
Preserving Finnish Canadian Heritage in Northwestern Ontario

Bay Street Project

Bay Street Project 1, 1974

Bay Street Project is an impressive start to a historical study of Finnish immigrants in Thunder Bay pre-1914. Researchers collected historical/archival material, both written and oral, on local Finnish-Canadian immigrants and produced a preliminary manuscript of findings up to 1914. An extensive bibliography of available resources has been compiled, which includes articles translated into English and a considerable collection of documents and photographs. The broad subject of Finnish immigration to Thunder Bay was limited to cover only a period before Word War 1. Subjects in the book include a general history of Finnish emigration, Finnish settlement in Canada, the social and economic development of the Thunder Bay Finns and their contribution to local culture.

The researchers chose to concentrate attention on the following specific topics: the history of the local Finnish churches, temperance societies and workingmen’s associations, as well as providing introductory information on Finnish history and culture.

Bay Street Project 2
A Chronicle of Finnish Settlement in Rural Thunder Bay. 1976

A Chronicle of Finnish Settlement in Rural Thunder Bay is the result of the initial research, Bay Street Project I. It is intended only as a framework for the history of Finnish rural Thunder Bay. The communities to be studied  were chosen by means of an institutional criterion: that is, a Finnish community was one in which Finns not only lived, but expressed their Finnish identity in meeting halls, churches and schools. The project format includes a short factual write-up, a map, and an interview list for each community studied. The time frame was Finnish immigration to the
Thunder Bay area in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The bulk of the project’s data was gained from oral interviews. One week of project time was allocated to each community. Days were spent locating possible interviewees and studying any pertinent materials already collected; surveying the area and talking to residents; and lastly writing up reports, making maps, and collecting and sorting photographs and other material collected.

The aim of the project was to survey as many communities as possible and not to reproduce the rich fabric of these communities, but to provide the threads from which future researchers can produce the sort of historical tapestry which these communities truly deserve.
For more information please visit: http://my.tbaytel.net/bmartin/finnbook.htm
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