EXPERIENCE HISTORY ON A DIFFERENT LEVEL

Fort William Historical Park
Fort William Historical Park
By Fort William Historical Park

Fort William Historical Park is the leading heritage and cultural attraction located near Thunder Bay, Ontario

Last Updated: February 27, 2020

Discovery and adventure await you at Fort William Historical Park!

One of Canada’s top outdoor attractions and Northern Ontario’s premier entertainment park, Fort William Historical Park has something everyone will enjoy! Open year-round, Fort William Historical Park features award-winning historic programs, an astronomical observatory, exciting festivals and events, education programs and day camps, exceptional wedding and conference facilities, a scenic campground, and outdoor adventure opportunities.

Aerial View of Fort William Historical Park

Fort William – Travel back in time to 1816 and experience the Canadian fur trade!

Nestled on the banks of the scenic Kaministiquia River and surrounded by pristine wilderness stands Fort William, the magnificent inland headquarters of the North West Company.

As you begin your journey, you will come across the Anishinaabe Encampment. Here you will meet the Indigenous peoples who helped the North West Company navigate life in the wilderness, discover trading routes, and supplied them with the sought-after furs. As you explore the encampment you will learn about the traditional lifestyle, culture and heritage of the Anishinaabe.

Continuing along the path, you will come to the majestic Fort William. Alive with the hustle and bustle of an active fur trade post, you may see voyageurs loading in supplies and loading out furs to take back to Montreal, farmers working in the gardens, artisans building canoes, and so much more! With 46 authentically reconstructed buildings on a 25-acre site, get ready for a day of adventure and exploration.

Welcome to Fort William Historical Park

There’s plenty to see and do while exploring Fort William. Visit the Fur Stores to test your strength by lifting a fur pack, paddle a voyageur canoe along the historic Kaministiquia River, or fire a fur trade musket. Drop by the Kitchen and Bakery to purchase handmade artisan bread, and visit the Trade’s Square to see a tinsmith creating cups and decorative lanterns and the cooper making barrels. Head over to the Farm to see the latest additions including chicks, piglets, kids and lambs. You can also visit the Apothecary to get a fascinating comparison of Indigenous and European medicines.

Throughout the day get pulled into the action with dramatic vignettes and battle skirmishes brought to life by the inhabitants of Fort William. Wrap up your visit by climbing the Observatory Tower and gazing upon the impressive headquarters of the North West Company, one of the largest living history sites in North America dedicated to portraying the 19th-century fur trade.

David Thompson Astronomical Observatory – Your Gateway to the Stars!

A marvel of modern space science, the David Thompson Astronomical Observatory is home to one of the largest telescopes in Central Canada! Whether you’re a casual observer or serious astronomer, our state-of-the-art astronomy centre offers an array of illuminating events and programs year-round including solar viewing, night sky viewing and overnight adventures. Named after one of Canada’s greatest explorers and cartographers, the observatory also features a collection of authentic astronomy instruments used by explorers such as David Thompson in the 1700s and a meteorite collection. 

David Thompson Astronomical Observatory

Award-winning Festivals & Events

Throughout the year, Fort William Historical Park presents a variety of amazing events. In 2020, visitors can:

  • Celebrate Indigenous culture and traditions at Anishnawbe Keeshigun (June 13-14, 2020)
  • Enjoy Canada Day festivities (July 1, 2020)
  • Experience the dramatic confrontation between two mighty rivals, the North West Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company at Fort Under Siege (August 15-16, 2020)
  • Brave a terrifying evening filled with thrills and chills at Haunted Fort Night (Every Thursday-Sunday in October 2020)
  • Kindle your holiday spirit with plenty of fun seasonal activities and a brilliant tree lighting ceremony at Ignite the Fort (December 5-6, 2020)
  • Ring in the New Year at Fort William Historical Park’s New Year’s Eve Family Frolic (December 31, 2020)

“Sleep Under the Stars” – RV & Tent Campground

Northern Ontario’s beautiful summer nights make for an amazing camping experience the whole family will enjoy! For a unique camping experience, “Sleep Under the Stars” at Fort William Historical Park. The campground has plenty of room for RVs, trailers and tents of all sizes. We offer both serviced and non-serviced sites, and rental RVs. Pets are welcome at campsites! The campground is open annually, Victoria Day Weekend through Thanksgiving Weekend.

Camping in Northern Ontario near Thunder Bay

Discover the Great Outdoors

Rent a canoe or kayak and explore the historic Kaministiquia River (a.k.a “The Kam”), which served as a key transportation route during the North American fur trade. Our diverse eco-system is home to all kinds of wildlife including deer, bald eagles, beaver and many species of fish. While paddling along the Kaministiquia River, stop for a hike at Wilderness Island to discover the flora and fauna of the region. You never know what you might see! Fort William Historical Park is also a bike-friendly facility, offering a variety of year-round bike parking equipment including fat bike parking racks, sheltered parking, and enclosed lockers to store your bikes and gear.

Meetings, Weddings & Private Functions

Two hundred years ago, Fort William served as a gathering place for people to share knowledge, exchange ideas and build relationships during the North West Company’s annual Great Rendezvous. Today, Fort William Historical Park continues this tradition, providing a selection of exceptional year-round facilities available for private functions, bridal showers, meetings, conferences, conventions, corporate retreats, trade shows and more! With first-rate banquet and catering services, a selection of multimedia resources, accessible transportation, and unique custom-designed team-building packages, your event is sure to be unforgettable.

Weddings and special events at Fort William Historical Park

Voted one of Thunder Bay’s “Best Places to Get Married,” Fort William Historical Park also offers Thunder Bay’s most unique and picturesque ceremony, reception and photography locations year-round. Our friendly, experienced staff and professional chefs are here to ensure your wedding day is unforgettable and stress-free!

Endless opportunities for adventure and discovery for people of all ages

Fort William Historical Park’s wide selection of exciting, activity-based education programs are available for students from kindergarten through post-secondary. Programs meet Ontario curriculum goals and are available across a variety of topics including history, geography, math, science, the Arts, French language and Indigenous Studies.

Fort William Historical Park also offers fun, hands-on March Break and Summer day camps that offer your child endless opportunities for adventure and discovery! Fort William Historical Park is also a great resource to achieve a variety of Guide and Scout badge requirements. The natural environment, historic site and astronomical observatory provide the perfect setting to help inspire the leaders of tomorrow.

Want to spend more time at Fort William Historical Park? Experience truly unique adventures with our overnight programs and Artisan Workshops. Choose from our overnight packages such as the Overnight Voyageur Program, the Indigenous themed Sleeping Under Bark, the Winter Overnight Adventure, or the Time Travellers Program. Fort William Historical Park’s Heritage Artisan Workshops offer you the opportunity to create your own hand-crafted heritage items, such as tin lanterns, mukluks, birch bark baskets, and moccasins.

Learning and educational programs at Fort William Historical Park

Something for Everyone – Fort William Historical Park

Whether you are interested in history, astronomy, Indigenous experiences, festivals, camping, or outdoor recreation, there’s always something exciting happening at Fort William Historical Park! For more information about all the great opportunities at the Fort visit our website www.fwhp.ca or give us a call, 807-473-2344.

We look forward to seeing you soon.

Paddling a birch bark canoe
About the Author

Fort William Historical Park is the leading heritage and cultural attraction that brings people from across North America to our doors to experience northern hospitality, be entertained, and conduct business - just like we did two hundred years ago.