THE CHURCH AND COMMUNITY
ST. THOMAS CHURCH HISTORY
The Parish of St. Thomas' was established in 1887 as a mission of the Diocese in the west end of the community of Fort William. Three years later, the physical construction of the church began, and the first service was held in November of 1890 on the first Sunday in Advent. The Church has been a reflection of the lives of its members over the years, sharing in their tragedy, growing and expanding as membership increased, experiencing the shortages of the depression and the boom of after war years.
The physical structure was twice destroyed by fire and rebuilt. As the Sunday School enrolment increased during the middle part of the century, an education centre was built adjoining the main building, and a basement was added. In 1948, a rectory was purchased adjacent to the Church on Edward St. Since 1890, there have been 12 rectors holding the position at St. Thomas'.
The West End of Thunder Bay, commonly known as"Westfort", is a community within a community. St. Thomas' Church is located just off of the main business section on the corner of Edward and Amelia Streets. Westfort is bordered by industry along the north bank of the Kaministiquia River, including Avenor, Bombardier, CN railway lines, which serve to transport grain and other products to the waterfront. These industries provide a backbone to sustain the economics of the area. Westfort is primarily a "blue collar" community with diverse ethnic characteristics.
The living stones that make up the Church of St. Thomas' are as diverse and varied as the community that the Church is situated in. Consistently recognized as a strength of the Church, St. Thomas' has a large number of young families and as a result, a very busy Sunday School. Many families have been attending the Church for several generations, and active toddlers are sometimes seen shuffling a few pews to sit with grandparents. Although many members live in the community of Westfort, there are just as many who have sought out the type of worship, sense of family, and Bible based teaching that are characteristic of St. Thomas'. People come from all over the city of Thunder Bay to join in the fellowship.