Thunder Bay conservatory needs more visitors, group says

A citizens group in Thunder Bay wants more attention paid to the Centennial Botanical Conservatory.
The Centennial Conservatory in Thunder Bay is located in the city's south end. It was built in 1965 and opened to the public in 1967 as a Centennial Project to commemorate the Canadian Centennial. (City of Thunder Bay)

A citizens group in Thunder Bay wants more attention paid to the Centennial Botanical Conservatory.

Kathleen Ott, who chairs the Friends of the Thunder Bay Conservatory, said the group was originally formed about two years ago to lobby city hall to re-open the facility.

Now, group members are hoping to get more people through the doors.

Kathleen Ott, chair of the Friends of the Thunder Bay Conservatory says the greenhouses are used to grow bedding plants for city gardens, to propagate new plant material for the conservtory and as a place to treat and nurture sick plants from the facility. (Kathleen Ott)

“We're basically just trying to promote the use of the conservatory in Thunder Bay and inspire the community to enjoy its beauty and tranquility and all the wonderful collections that the conservatory does offer us,” Ott said.

“It's definitely a psychological plus that you can go every afternoon and just soak up the tropics and just take a breather from the long winters.”

Ott said last year, advocates for the conservatory were able to convince the city to place picnic tables on the property.

This year, the group has permission to build new gardens outside the building.

The group is also waiting on a report from city administration on the status of the two conservatory wings that remain closed, Ott said.

"Our goal is just to get the public back interested in the conservatory and using the facility,” she said, adding she'd like to see the facility used for educational partnerships with local school boards, as it once was.

The group's general public meeting is being held on Tuesday, May 6 at the Mary J.L. Black Library.

Ott said the meeting will encourage new people to join the group, as community help will be needed for projects like planting the new gardens on the conservatory grounds.