Ice Hockey Wiki

Fort William Gardens

Flag of Thunder Bay

The City of Thunder Bay is located in Northwestern Ontario. Founded in 1970 through the amalgamation of Port Arthur and Fort William. Westfort is a ward within the city. The First Nations (Fort William and Sand Point) has a presence in the area and has sponsored ice hockey teams in the area.

For information on teams prior to the amalgamation see the individuals cities of Port Arthur and Fort William as Thunder Bay was only used sparingly for teams prior to the amalgamation as that name was used for the whole area.

The city has hosted the 2009 and 2010 Canadian Interuniversity Sport men's ice hockey National Championships. The area hosted the 1967 Memorial Cup Final, where the Toronto Marlboros defeated the local Port Arthur Marrs, 4 games to 1, with all of the games being held at the Fort William Gardens. The city also hosted the 1975, 1981, 1984, 1988, 1989, and 1991 Allan Cup Finals

The remoteness of the area to the rest of Ontario and in turn Eastern Canada has led to the area being in its' own region known as the Thunder Bay Amateur Hockey Association. The Fort Frances area is also included in the TBAHA.

The area has hosted several Eastern or Western Finals of the Memorial Cup and Allan Cup, as the area has been split between eastern and western Canada over the years. When travel expenses (mostly during the Great Depression and World War II) have been an issue over the years for the tournament teams they would start the tournament on one coast and work towards the middle of the country. Both Toronto and Winnipeg (in fact those two cities hosted at least one final game in every Memorial Cup from 1919 to 1954 and many of the Allan Cup Finals during the 1910's-1920's) have often been the final destinations for many of the tournaments with Thunder Bay being the Eastern final location when the destination is in Winnipeg or other western cities and Western final location when the final is in the east. This was done until the area was permanantly placed in the Western part of qualifying for the Memorial Cup around 1927.

When the Junior level of ice hockey was reorganized in 1970, the Thunder Bay area was no longer allowed to compete for the Memorial Cup as it was part of the Tier-II Junior A level, and the area was switched from the Western region to the Eastern Region and thus were also eliminated from contention for the Abbott Cup which had been awarded to the Western Canadian Junior Champions. The Thunder Bay area teams were now eligible for the Hewitt-Dudley Memorial Trophy awarded to the Tier-II Junior A champions of eastern Canada. They stayed in the Eastern Region from 1970-1978, when the regions were further divided creating a Central Region and the trophy was kept with the Central Region.

The remoteness of the area from other teams led to the forming of the Thunder Bay Hockey League. Founded in 1980, the TBHL lasted for two years. The league only had four teams, a Senior team, an Intermediate team, a Junior "A" team, and a CIAU University team. In 1982, the Sr. Twins and the CIAU Lakehead Nor'Westers went their own ways as the Intermediate Blazers folded. The league, built around the remaining Jr. A Kings was reformed with two more teams, both Jr. B, and operated for two more seasons as the Thunder Bay Junior Hockey League.

mock up of proposed Thunder Bay Arena

Discussion has intensified for the building of a new arena in the area early in 2014.  Part of the speculation has involved the Winnipeg Jets of the NHL relocating their AHL affliiate, the St. John's IceCaps to the new arena when it is completed. According to a article the arena is budgeted to cost $106 million and to be completed in time for the start of either the 2016-17 or 2017-18 season. An article on website  comfirms the price tag and gives the capacity at being planned for 5,700 and to be built along the city's waterfront area; in the Port Arthur section on land located next to the Prince Arthur Hotel on land already owned by the city along with a convention centre. The website also showed a conceptual drawing of what the facility would look like.  The article stated the city has $25 million put aside for the project but they are looking for addtional funding from the provincial and federal governments.  This is inline with some of the plans made by the American Hockey League to have a larger number of teams located in the Western areas of North America.

Current Junior teams

Former Junior teams

  1. (Thunder Bay Junior Hockey League, 1982-1984) join Manitoba Junior Hockey League
  2. (Manitoba Junior Hockey League, 1984-1986) folded

Current Senior teams

Former Senior teams

  1. (USHL, 1970-1975) join OHA Sr. Division
  2. (Ontario Hockey Association Senior A, 1975-1979) join CASHL
  3. (Central Amateur Senior Hockey League, 1979-1981) played limited schedule as already playing in Thunder Bay Hockey League
  4. (Thunder Bay Hockey League, 1980-1982) join CASHL full time
  5. (Central Amateur Senior Hockey League, 1982-1986) join OHA Senior A Hockey League
  6. (OHA Senior A Hockey League, 1986-1987) rejoin Central Amateur Senior Hockey League
  7. (Central Amateur Senior Hockey League, 1987-1991) folded when city gets Colonial Hockey League team
  8. (Hockey Northern Ontario Senior, 2003-2004) renamed Bombers
  9. (Hockey Northern Ontario Senior, 2008-2010)

Former Intermediate Teams

Former Professional teams

University teams


Memorial Cup

Allan Cup

Royal Bank Cup

OUA Queen's Cup

Lakehead Thunderwolves conference championship 2005-06


  • Fort William First Nations Arena
  • Fort William Gardens (1953-Present)
  • Port Arthur Arena
  • Brent Park Rink
  • Carrick Park Rink
  • Castlegreen Community Centre Rink
  • Chapples Rink
  • County Park Rink
  • Current River Arena
  • Delaney Arena
  • Frank Charry Rink
  • Grandview Arena
  • Grandview Gardens
  • Jackpine Community Centre Rink
  • James Street Playfield Rink
  • John Jumbo Community Centre Rink
  • Neebing Arena
  • North End Recreation Centre Rink
  • North McIntyre Community Centre Rink
  • North Neebing Commuity Centre Rink
  • Oliver Road Rink
  • River Terrace Rink
  • South Neebing Community Centre Rink
  • Stanley Park Rink
  • Tarbutt Park Rink
  • Third & High Street Rink
  • Thunder Bay Tournament Centre (2 ice surfaces)
  • Vickers Heights Community Centre Rink
  • Volunteer Pool Rink
  • Wayland Park Rink
  • West Arthur Community Centre Rink
  • West End Rink
  • West Thunder Rink
  • Wilson Street Rink

In 2006 and 2007 discussion was held on replacing the Fort Williams Gardens with a new facility as the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium has taken over hosting most of the concerts in the area. Lakeview University has also entered the talks about a new arena as they have shown interest in building a new facility as well.  The Winnipeg Jets of the National Hockey League have been involved in trying to move their American Hockey League affliliate to a new arena in Thunder Bay when and if it is built.  Discussions had heated up in late 2013 and into early 2015 but no agreement had been reached and the Jets moved their AHL affiliate to Winnipeg to share their arena with them for the 2015-16 season.  The belief is that the move is a short term solution for the distance problem that the Jets have with their affiliate having been in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador halfway across the continent, If the arena does not come to fruition Saskatoon, Saskatchewan has also been mentioned as a possible destination the the team.



See Also