The Thunder Bay Finnish Canadian Historical Society is dedicated to preserving records documenting Finnish history in the Northwestern Ontario region. Many individuals in the community have already generously donated photographs, papers, and ledgers of Finnish people and organizations. This archival collection is housed at the Lakehead University Library Archives and is fully accessible to the public. It is one of the premier ethnic collections in Canada and offers a wide scope of material documenting the religious, social, economic, political, and cultural history of Finns in the region.
The Thunder Bay Finnish Canadian Historical Society Archival collection contains more than 5000 photographs, 800 play manuscripts, and 200 oral history audio cassettes plus correspondence, manuscripts, published material, and ephemera. The collection covers numerous areas of Finnish Canadian history, however, some of the subject strengths are:
1. Finnish Theater
2. Finnish Labour and Socialist Organizations
3. Finnish Sports Organizations
4. Finnish Religious Organizations
5. Finnish Immigration
The 300+ interviews in the Society’s oral history collection complement the archival and pictorial collections. Three oral history projects during 1975 – 1979 deserve special mention:
Finnish Organization of Canada, Port Arthur Branch project: interviews were with first-generation Finnish immigrants regarding early life in the Thunder Bay region
Finnish settlements in rural Thunder Bay project: interviews were conducted gathered in Finnish rural Thunder Bay
Finnish sports and athletic clubs project: interviews with athletes, volunteers, coaches, and builders in the Finnish community of Thunder Bay
Access to Archives
The Lakehead University Archives is located on the 5th floor of the Chancellor Patterson Library, Room LI 5001. While Thunder Bay is in a lockdown state, there will be no physical access to archival records.
During this time, staff has limited access to the Archives. Assistance with research questions and limited digitization on demand is available, though we cannot guarantee a specific completion time.
Access to Digital Collections
The Archives is adding more and more photographs, from a variety of the Archives’ collections to our Digital Collection page at digital collections.lakeheadu.ca
This is the best way to view digitized images. Images are arranged by their donor or creator. You can search or browse through images, or follow the tags that interest you most. out to see 2000+ images of this region’s history with more added regularly. Check this out, and get in touch if you’ve got any information to add! You can always find out more about the archives and these projects at archives.lakeheadu.ca
Access to Archival Collections
Here is a quick overview of two of our Finnish-language collections that now have been an English-language description available:
Canadan Suomalainen Jarjesto Fonds
Records of the Canadan Suomalainen Järjestö [Finnish Organization of Canada], Vapaus Publishing Company (responsible for publishing Vapaus and Liekki and other publications), Suomalais-Canadalaisen Amatoori Urheiluliiton [Finnish-Canadian Amateur Sports Federation], co-operatives, and more. Includes meeting minutes, reports, financial statements, and correspondence. An English-language description is available.
Canadan Teollisuusunionistinen Kannatus Liitto Fonds
The Canadan Teollisuusunionistinen Kannatus Liitto (Canadian Industrial Union Support Circle) comprised of supporters of industrial unionism who formed associations in their own local communities. The records include minutes, correspondence, financial records, and publications, including for the following organizations: Finnish Building Company, Hoito Restaurant, One Big Union, CTKL, Industrial Workers of the World, Lumber Workers Industrial Union #120, and Canadian News Service. An English-language description is available.
All donations are given jointly to the Thunder Bay Finnish Canadian Historical Society and the Lakehead University Library Archives. This is to ensure that the material ends up as part of the Thunder Bay Finnish Canadian Historical Society collection, and it also gives the Archives the legal right to work on the collection, provide access to it, and scan items from it.