Thunder Bay

Heritage Advisory Committee wants to help preserve history of Finlandia Hall

Thunder Bay's Heritage Advisory Committee has reached out to the board of the Finlandia Association of Thunder Bay, offering its help to preserve some of the historical items inside the association's building on Bay Street.
The Finlandia Association of Thunder Bay voted to dissolve the corporation and liquidate its assets at a meeting on Wednesday night. The city's Heritage Advisory Committee wants to meet with the association, and any new buyer to discuss how to preserve the building's heritage. (Amy Hadley/CBC)

Thunder Bay's Heritage Advisory Committee has reached out to the board of the Finlandia Association of Thunder Bay, offering its help to preserve some of the historical items inside the association's building on Bay Street.

The association held a special meeting on Wednesday night, where the membership voted to dissolve the corporation and liquidate the assets.

The Finlandia Hall itself has federal and municipal heritage designations, said Matt Szybalski, the city archivist and member of the heritage advisory committee.

But, there are also plenty of items inside the building the committee has concerns about, he said.

"There are other artifacts, there's a little museum in there, and there's a tremendous amount of photographs, historic photographs that could be preserved in one of the city's heritage institutions," he said, noting institutions like the Thunder Bay Museum, Lakehead University or the City of Thunder Bay Archives would be interested in some of the items.

"Putting them somewhere where they're going to be safe from the sale of the building."

Szybalski said the Finlandia Hall's heritage designations means the building cannot be demolished. He said any work that requires a building permit would also go through the committee, which would then provide recommendations on how to complete the work without compromising the historical integrity.

"Any sort of use that the owner would put to it, we would be there to give them some advice and work with them on a solution that would satisfy them and preserve the heritage. And, I'm sure that they themselves are keenly aware of the heritage of this place, what they have there, and its importance."

Szybalski said while the physical building features are unique, the building also has a great cultural significance to the city and country which also needs to be preserved.

He said the Heritage Advisory Committee has reached out to the Finlandia Association board, and is awaiting a response.

Designation under the Ontario Heritage Act is the highest form of protection possible for a property, the Heritage Advisory said.

About the Author

Jeff Walters

Reporter/Editor

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Jeff is proud to work in his hometown, as well as throughout northwestern Ontario. Away from work, you can find him skiing (on water or snow), curling, out at the lake or flying.

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