North Central Station

Story by Jennifer Bonazzo, Photos by Emily Turner



Superior Outdoors


This month we feature the fire hall known as North Central Station, located at 60 Water Street South. Our city has an interesting history when it comes to our fire stations, both former and current. On our city’s website, people can read about how they have been built, and how they have been decommissioned for various reasons. In this case, city council realized they needed to replace the aging Central Station at 13 Court Street North, largely due to safety concerns over the modern vehicles not being able to easily come in and out of doorways built for horsedrawn carriages. Once decided, council quickly moved forward with their plans. In February of 1984, a resolution was passed to look for an architect, with the firm of Fraser and Browne Architects winning the contract. This firm was one known to the city, having previously designed the marina service building at the waterfront, and a former entity of their firm, then known as Mickelson, Fraser and Haywood, had also designed the Vickers Fire Station. The location on Water Street was also identified in a timely manner, with the vacant lot having already been rezoned in 1974 for a potential 250-unit apartment building that was never built. According to the building permit issued in June of 1985, the lot size was 150 feet by almost 200 feet, which would more than accommodate the station. It seemed the logical place to build. And build they did. Contractors Stead and Lindstrom (1977) Ltd. was awarded the construction contract in March of 1985 and work started immediately. This company, too, was no stranger to city contracts, having previously completed work for the waterfront by building docks in Pier 1. By all accounts, the station was completed on time and on budget, with the cost of the building coming in at around $2.1 million. The North Central Station opened in 1986, the same year the Court Street hall closed, but with a decidedly more contemporary look. Like most fire halls designed at that time, it is modern and somewhat utilitarian in appearance, with its red brick reminiscent of the Junot and Brown Street stations. The main building is three stories tall with five bay doors and an attached clock tower for hanging hoses, and two more bay doors on the building’s south side. Three faint string courses delineating the floors can be seen, with four bay doors located around the back. North Central is now known as Station #3. It is the largest in our city, and has the largest apparatus floor (and the only one with pole holes). According to acting deputy chief Martin Hynna, the Apparatus and Equipment Division is permanently located there, but four platoons rotate to ensure 24-hour coverage, with a district fire chief and three firefighters working there. Equipment includes the Harbour Rescue #1 (a 24-foot marine rescue boat), and a 14-foot airboat, likely due to the station’s proximity to the marina. More information on our fire stations—past and present— can be found on the City of Thunder Bay’s website. Jennifer Bonazzo is a member of the Heritage Advisory Committee, which advises city council on the conservation of heritage buildings, sites, and resources, and their integration into development. For more information on the city’s heritage resources, visit en/city-hall/heritage-inthunder-bay.aspx