Chippewa Park has been a favorite with city residents and visitors since it opened in 1921.  Located on along the beautiful coast of Lake Superior, Chippewa holds  an amazing view of the Sleeping Giant, this is your destination for family fun, scenic beauty and relaxation.  With so much to see and do Chippewa is your perfect summer getaway.

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On Tuesday, November 7, Lisa Parr, a renowned carousel restoration specialist met with over 100 carousel enthusiasts at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery to provide an overview of the history of carousels in general and then talked about the C.W. Parker carousel located at Chippewa Park.

Earlier that day, Lisa Parr sat down with Lisa Laco at CBC. You can listen to that interview here:


Chippewa Park carousel in 'much better condition' than most says restoration expert

Lisa Parr says many Parker carousels are disregarded and not well taken care of



By Christina Jung, CBC News Posted: Nov 07, 2017 6:00 PM ET Last Updated: Nov 08, 2017 1:37 PM ET

An old photo of the Chippewa Park carousel shows how each horse was individually crafted to have its own unique look.

An old photo of the Chippewa Park carousel shows how each horse was individually crafted to have its own unique look. (The Friends of Chippewa Park)

For over a century, the beautifully-carved, wood horses at Chippewa Park in Thunder Bay, Ont., have been giving families and kids something to look forward to every summer. But after years of wear and tear, the C.W. Parker carousel is in need of some desperate rehabilitation.

"My favourite part of this carousel is that it has an energy and special carving in each of its horses and it promotes speed even though the carousel isn't running," said restoration specialist Lisa Parr.

Parr — who has over 30 years of experience restoring cultural carousels — has been invited to Thunder Bay by the Friends of Chippewa Park stewardship group to give her expert opinion and advice during efforts to fix up the historical ride.

Built sometime between 1918 and 1920, the carousel, commonly known as the Chippewa-merry-go-round, is in "much better condition," than similar models that Parr normally sees.

"Usually they are so disregarded because they are considered a simple horse that not many have survived," Parr explained. "Because of the work of the park helpers ... who have devoted their time to preserving these animals every winter ... they are able to be saved and that in itself is unusual."

Chippewa Park Carousel

This is one of the horses on the 102-year-old Chippewa Park carousel that has been stripped of its paint and primer, ready to be restored. (The Friends of Chippewa Park)

Parr continued to explain how each horse was individually crafted with "27 pieces of wood or more," by specific people in the Parker factory.

"Some people were designated to carve legs, some carved the bodies and then a master carver would carve the head and the neck," Parr explained.

Which is why each horse is individually different.

Lisa Parr with Chippewa Park staff

Carousel restoration specialist Lisa Parr says the condition of the horses on the carousel are much better than most of a similar vintage thanks to the dedication of park staff workers. (The Friends of Chippewa Park)

She said with a bit of elbow grease and lots of time and dedication, the merry-go-round will be able to be restored to a more stable condition than it is now.

Parr added that she's also writing a guide book with information on what each horse should look like after it's been restored, the kind of work it might need and possible problems that could arise during restoration.

An information session with Parr was scheduled at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery at 7 p.m on Nov. 7th.

With files from Lisa Laco





























































































Old Parr's Inc.

Highland Park, Illinois




After teaching fine arts, art history, and Latin for some years, Ms. Parr moved from

Ithaca, New York, to the Chicago area for more business experience and exposure to a greater variety of art. She now lives in Highland Park, Illinois.


While counseling at the University of Illinois and teaching at its Medical Center,

she worked on her own sculptures in her studio. People began to bring carousel animals to her for repair. According to Parr she learned by doing, asking old carousel survivors, reading the few available books, and researching restoration. She quickly began to incorporate her sculptural skills and historical knowledge of paint, and formed a business in which she restores as well as conserve the 3-dimensional as well as the 2-dimensional aspects of full-sized antique wooden carousel animals and related wooden figures. That beginning was over thirty-five years ago.


Ms. Carr notes that the old carousel carvers and painters were classically trained artisans from Europe. Their shapes were flowing and dynamic, and their paints glowed. She recognizes that she has much to learn from their techniques, and feels that she has no right to change them. Therefore, she purposely clings to the old carvers’ manner of joining, gluing, and painting. The repairs she does and paints she use are with regard to factory structure, joinery, and painting techniques. The paints are oil-base, which are hand applied and not sprayed.


Ms. Parr notes that restoration of antique wooden carousel animals has been her work and passion for over 35 years. She performs this recovery of original paint, re-carving and replacement of missing limbs, and re-painting--faithful to factory documentation--for museums, cities that own historically registered carousels, and private collectors.


 Examples of Ms. Parr’s work can be found at: Weona Park, Pen Argyle, PA., Rocky Springs,, Lancaster, PA, Pullen Park, Raleigh, NC (all three Dentzel carousels); Allan Herschell Chavis Park Carousel, Raleigh, NC. In addition, Ms. Parr has twice restored a sister C.W. Parker Carousel for Waterloo, Wisconsin. (The second restoration was after a flood seriously damaged the carousel).


Chippewa Park’s C.W. Parker Carousel

When people think about Chippewa Park, one of the first images that comes to mind is the Merry-Go-Round.  What most people are not aware of is that there has been a carousel at the park since 1927 and that the carousel we see today is actually the second carousel to delight our children.

In 1926, The Fort William Utilities Commission purchased a carousel to be operated by the Fort William Board of Parks Management.This newest addition to the park was erected at the foot of the beach path near the Tourist Store. It became a favourite diversion for many people and was a bargain at 3 rides for a nickel for children and 5 ¢ a ride for adults. After its opening in 1927, it had little rest except for the frequent times it broke down. According to Frank Banning, a long-time staff member at Chippewa Park, it was a unique model, in which the curved wooden floor, not the horses, moved up and down. He also noted that the whirring of the cable mechanism beneath the board was almost as loud as the musical accompaniment

The merry-go-round had been subject to many violent lake squalls and overuse since its implementation. It was deemed beyond repair in the early 1930’s and the Board searched for a replacement. They received and accepted an offer from Fort Erie’s Mrs. Maude King of “King’s Royal Canadian Shows”.

She sold them a 19-year-old C.W. Parker merry-go-round with an Eli engine and Wurlitzer organ on May 23, 1934, for $1,750.00 to be paid in 3 yearly instalments (a $32,000 value in 2017).  The Board renovated and painted their new merry-go-round in May 1935, and it was soon ready for the crowds of keen youngsters and adults.

Even the merry-go-round was affected by World War II. When Arthur Widnall, Secretary Manager of the Fort William Board of Parks Management attempted to procure a new top to replace the old one in 1944, he was informed that their request for a new top had been placed in the luxury category and would have to wait. He was persistent in his demands as the newly painted merry-go-round looked absurd without a canvas covering. He replied to the authorities that “….the health of our people must be considered and we as Recreational and Park Directors are called upon to provide recreation and entertainment for the children of our men in the forces, the children of the women working in the war plants and for the many war plant picnics we have to take care of and for that reason we hardly feel we should be placed in the luxury category.”

A canopy for the merry-go-round was shipped to Fort William the next day but within 5 years it had rotted and they were forced to order a new one.

In 1967-8, as part of the development of a new amusement ride area, the carousel was relocated to its current location next to the main parking lot. In 1991, the City of Thunder Bay designated the carousel a heritage property under the provisions of the Ontario Heritage Act. The plaque states “Constructed between 1918 and 1920 by the ‘Amusement King’ C.W. Parker of Leavenworth, Kansas, this carousel is a splendid example of three-dimensional folk art featuring 28 hand carved horses ornamented with corn cobs, dogs’ heads and fish. Our is only one of three of some 800 carousels produced by Parker that remain today.”

Over the years, with minimal resources, the staff at Chippewa Park have been able to keep the carousel in operation. The original Eli engine was replaced with a more efficient and much quieter electric motor. Unfortunately, other key aspects of the carousel have failed and have not been repaired or replaced., the electrical lighting system failed and was not restored. So too did the wonderful WurliTzer paper roll organ which used to belt out war time tunes and other favourites of the 1940’s to the delight of all.

Speaking of the WurliTzer organ we have recently learned from the Durward Center in Baltimore, that” “This organ was built by the Artizan Factories of North Tonawanda, NY.  They were in business from 1922-1929.  It is a Style "A".  Their production numbers were small compared to WurliTzer.  Many Artizan organs were later converted by WurliTzer to their own playing system and roll scale.  Such is the case with the Chippewa organ.  It now uses a WurliTzer style 125 music roll. “

After 102 years of thrilling young and old alike the Carousel is in desperate need of rehabilitation.

“Our horses have travelled millions of miles over the past 102 years and as a result are tired” said Lorraine Lortie-Krawczuk, the President of The Friends of Chippewa Park, “and that is why we are embarking on a major project to restore this wonderful children’s asset so that it will be here for another century.”

Submitted by Iain Angus with files from Jacquie Cleveland, Parks and Recreation Department Researcher (1982) and Thunder Bay City Archives.


Chippewa Beaches Permanently Open


June 30, 2017

The health unit has adopted a new approach to advising swimmers as to the conditions of area beaches. Instead of doing once a week testing where results can change within hours the health unit has opted to permanently post a rating based on five years of data. Like before swimmers must use their own judgement on whether to enter the water or not.



If you want to support the work of The Friends of Chippewa Park please click the icon immediately below to make your donation. You will receive a charitable receipt for your contribution.


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Check out some pictures ! 

If you have any pictures of Chippewa Park that you would like to share, please bring them out to the park and we will scan them into our computer and add them to our growing data base on the history of the park.  We want your stories too!

The Gateway to Northwestern Ontario History
Check out the link below!

  Chippewa Park has been a favorite with city residents and visitors since it opened in 1921.  Located on along the beautiful coast of Lake Superior, Chippewa holds  an amazing view of the Sleeping Giant, this is your destination for family fun, scenic beauty and relaxation.  With so much to see and do Chippewa is your perfect summer getaway.  


Click on the links on the side to see all that Chippewa has to offer, or telephone the Chippewa Hotline at 807-625-CHIP or call Toll Free at 888-711-5094.  Above is a live action look at the water at Chippewa Park and Pictures and Details of events here at Chippewa Park!