Thunder Bay Fine Papers, an Industrial Graveyard on the Waterfront

Thunder Bay, like much of Northwestern Ontario has it’s fair share of Industrial Graveyards.  Some may find them to be unattractive wastelands, and I suppose that in all actuality, that is exactly what they are.  I, on the other hand, find the stark contrast of these grey, deteriorating and even torn down buildings to be quite striking against the backdrop of their surroundings.  Stark buildings juxtaposed against moody Lake Superior, abandoned rail lines, and newer elevators and mills still in use.

The other day, I stopped in at the old Provincial Papers mill (Thunder Bay Fine Papers at its demise).  The mill site holds many fond memories for me- I worked there when I first moved to Thunder Bay, for a chemical company that specialized in wet end chemistry, microbial control, and other specialities that I barely remember now, 16 years later.

As a new graduate beginning the first leg of my new career, the opportunity to work at this particular paper mill was second to none.  They specialized in a very competitive niche market, and produced everything from lightweight 60 lb gloss (Jenson 60#) which was a total nightmare to run, to heavier weight gloss such as 90 lb gloss (Jenson 90#) which was a dream to run.  There were wet strength grades for coasters for pubs and restaurants, and many other grades, which I can hardly recall at this point.

The people that worked there were absolutely amazing, and we had a ton of fun!  Going into work never actually felt like work- well, maybe at 3:00 AM it did.

Now, like many decommissioned and torn down pulp and paper mills across Northwest Ontario, all that remains is a pile of rubble, the cost of remediation having slowed progress down to a standstill.  An Industrial Graveyard.

I often wonder if the land will ever be remediated and fully developed.  What beautiful vistas for condominium development- these areas that otherwise have gone to waste.

What are your thoughts on these Industrial Graveyards?

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