The section of road which joins the Twin Cities of Port Arthur and Fort William that we know as Memorial Avenue was not always named so. In fact, there was no official name to that section of street and its unofficial title was the Fort William Highway.

In 1926, years after the highway was built, the Port Arthur Rotary Club petitioned the city of Port Arthur to plant trees down the stretch of highway connecting both cities to pay respect to the fallen soldiers who sacrificed their lives in World War One. The organization also asked that the section of road be named Memorial Avenue to coincide with honouring the soldiers. An agreement was struck and very soon after a tree planting ceremony was underway and a city bylaw passed that officially named the stretch of road Memorial Avenue.

Memorial Ave -2Memorial Ave

A decade later, as memories and recollections faded as to the reasoning behind the trees being planted, the Rotary Club put up a sign detailing the naming of Memorial Avenue and the commemoration to the citizens who lost their lives. A re-dedication occurred in 1991 as a new sign went up in celebration of 75 years of Rotary in Thunder Bay.

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Years later in the 1950s, the section of May Street between the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition (CLE) fairgrounds and Central Avenue was renamed as well, and included in the present day section of Memorial Avenue.

The naming of Thunder Bay’s Memorial Avenue is a direct reflection of the people of the Lakehead and their commitment to honouring the city’s fallen soldiers in World War One.