Fort William Historical Park (FWHP) recently assisted in providing some much-deserved attention for a somewhat overlooked piece of Canadian fur trade history quietly standing in Thunder Bay's east end.
Led by FWHP General Manager Sergio Buonocore, Fort staff and volunteers literally lent a hand of support in a re-dedication ceremony staged by the Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society (TBHMS) for a memorial tablet originally unveiled by the Society just after the turn of the century.
The tablet was the Society's first large-scale project, commenced in 1913 and completed and unveiled in 1916. The monument marks the union of the Hudson Bay Company and the Northwest Company, having been restored and re-dedicated as part of the Society's 100th anniversary celebrations.
Former Fort historian Jean Morrison remarked in her address to gathered onlookers, which included members of the Métis Nation of Ontario, about how the monument's location tied into other historical aspects of not only Thunder Bay history, but that of Canada as a whole.
In his remarks, Fort GM Sergio Buonocore commented on how their ambition and drive led the Nor'Westers to build a mammoth operation in the middle of the Canadian wilderness, their legacy realized in the reconstructed version of their original fort which now stands as the region's major tourism attraction and continues to impress visitors and media from around the world.
Upon the crack of musket salutes, Sergio assisted in unveiling the refurbished monument, along with TBHMS president Frank Gerry, city councillor Larry Hebert and 79-year-old Thomas Dyke, who was eight years old when he witnessed the monument's first re-dedication.
Thanks to the restoration efforts, the monument is now in pristine condition, a testament to Canadian fur trade history, standing proudly just as it did years ago for its first unveiling in 1916.