Thunder Bay Fine Papers, an Industrial Graveyard on the Waterfront - Danielle Wilson

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?


6 Responses to Thunder Bay Fine Papers, an Industrial Graveyard on the Waterfront

  1. Connors October 9, 2019 at 4:38 pm #

    I worked there for 38 1/2 years and had fun. Many of the workers then NB I now consider characters in life. It gave me a good life, I retired when it went down so in all severance and pension was good except was a sad day

    • Danielle Wilson October 10, 2019 at 2:55 pm #

      Hi Carl,

      Thank you for your comments! I actually worked there just after 2000 and agree- it was a wonderful place to work with so many great people. Which Department did you work in?

  2. J.Bell March 2, 2022 at 1:15 am #

    My dad worked there since he was 18 years old until the day that they closed. I always loved going to the summer picnics (races, bouncy castles, bbq, etc.) and Christmas parties that they would do every year. These are memories with my dad that I will cherish.

    • Danielle Wilson March 4, 2022 at 4:15 pm #

      I love hearing stories like this- thank you for sharing! I loved working there- so many amazing people- it was always fun!

  3. al nalezyty December 2, 2023 at 12:06 pm #

    My Dad worked in the Woodlands division responsible for all of their communication equipment …if you remember an orange VW Beetle just across from the cafeteria that was his…..parked close to his office/workshop just inside the side door of the office. I worked for the Control Dept mostly in the OLD groundwood mill (as well as on Fonsos gang in the yard) and that job paid for all of my university expenses as it did for many students.

    • Danielle Wilson December 4, 2023 at 10:29 am #

      Hi Al,

      Thanks so much for sharing- I have so many fond memories of my time at Provincial Papers!

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