Beginning in the mid 1970's Chippewa Park was in decline. The park was no longer the prime recreational destination for Thunder Bay and area residents. Visitation levels to the park had fallen. The park went into a decline primarily when it experienced a series of water related problems causing frequent beach closures that in turn led to an overall neglect of the park. That in turn led to a reduction and eventual elimination of municipal transit service and annual cuts to the operating and capital budgets of the park. The Friends of Chippewa Park have managed to correct many of these issues regarding the beach and run down facilities. Chippewa Park is now once again serving the public and tourist with quality facilities in greater numbers. Although there is still some areas to be improved/completed, such as the RV Park, the rebuilding of additional new log cabins, an up grade of the electrical systems and some additional work on a few of the buildings, the current facilities as they exist are completely sufficient, enabling the park to function at full potential as visitation traffic increases.
Company and Organization Donors
AKI Peltonen, A-Z Rentals Sales and Service, Bearskin Airlines, Bell, Bruno's Contracting Ltd., Compu Smart, Confederation College, Construction Safety Association, Form & Pour Construction Ltd., Framing & Art Centre, Bob Hill, Home Building Centre, Intola Safety, K&A Variety, Landale Gardens, Mceachern Marketing & Communications Ltd., Northern Enterprises Inc., Pilot Concessions, Potter Plumbing Services Ltd., R M Catering, Sasi Spring Water, Signal Resources, St. Johns Ambulance, The French Fryer, The Keg Restaurant/Caribou, Thomas Cook Travel, Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board, Tim Hortons - Arthur Street Location.
$1000 - $4,999
City of Thunder Bay Facilities & Equipment Division, ENL Engineering Northwest Ltd., George Hughes, Grand & Toy, GRK Fasteners Canda Ltd., Intercity Industrial Supply Ltd., Jake Vander Wal Associates, Lawrence Wright Flooring, Poole Survey Service, Smith's R.V. Centre, Home Depot.
$5000 - $9,999
Barb Munshaw, Rene Larson and Associates, Thunder Bay Mobility.
$10,000 - $100,000
BDO Dunwoody Limited, City of Thunder Bay Communications and Stores Department, General Tools Manufacturing, Hertz Equipment Rental, Lafarge Concrete Canada, Nadine Contracting, Peterson & Habib Consultations Inc., Wardrope Engineering, Toolswood.
History of Chippewa's Reconstruction
In August of 2002 The Friends of Chippewa Park embarked on a journey to restore and enhance the historical Chippewa Park. Key elements of the enhancement and restoration continue to require attention and funding.
Construction aside, the media and public attention to the project has resulted in significant increases in park attendance. On the official opening day (July 15) a record crowd of 15,000 visited the park, while 20,000 rides were taken on the various amusement rides.
At the outset of construction it was found that the entire interior was contaminated with lead dust and that both the interior and exterior walls had been painted with lead based material. This discovery lead to both the cleaning of the interior and the removal of all of the original shiplap siding. New shiplap siding was installed on both sides of new stud walls placed on the inside of the exterior log structure. An insulated vapour barrier was also installed within the new walls. All windows were replaced with unbreakable material and some original windows were re-created where they had been walled over. The entire exterior was coated with a natural finish in the style of the 1930's rather than green or brown paint of the 50's through 90's.
The entire building was rewired and alarm systems for intruders and fire installed. A dry fire suppression system was installed throughout as a means of protecting this historical yet relatively remote structure.
The original budget for the pavilion was $400,000. The final cost is in the range of $1,400,000.
All three floors were rebuilt, with the outside two rooms done in hardwood and the centre room poured concrete. A new concession and office was constructed in the centre room.
The centerpiece of the restoration has been the redevelopment of the historical pavilion. Originally constructed in 1925, this unique log post and beam building was found to be in danger of collapsing within the next 3 to 5 years.
At the start of the construction program it was the intention that the floor of one of the three rooms would be replaced and minor repairs made to the foundations of the other two rooms. Once construction commenced it was found that the centre floor slab had dropped and was hollow underneath due to improper drainage. It was also found that two fifths of all of the supporting posts were rotted out, and that the foundations under the third room were no longer properly supporting the structure.
A key philosophy of The Friends of Chippewa Park as it applied to this project was “do it right the first time.” The original plan did not include any improvements to the water distribution system currently in existence in the park. It was only once changes in the landscaping were commencing that it was recognized that the areas being disturbed included the potable water lines.
It was also recognized that the entire system did not meet the post-Walkerton requirements for potable water and had to be replaced. It was also determined that the current method of supplying treated potable water to the Wildlife Exhibit was not only inappropriate for the animals but exposed the entire system to contamination.
The entire potable water system through the park was replaced and a number of backflow valves were installed at key points in the system. This included excavating in bedrock in some crucial locations. A separate water system was installed for the Wildlife Exhibit that draws on water from Lake Superior.
The original budget for the water system was $75,000. The final cost is in the range of $ 300,000.
The unexpected costs of the Pavilion upgrade, the water system, and Tourist Visitor Centre forced The Friends of Chippewa Park to re-order their priorities to ensure the completion of a number of the components with the funds available. In particular, those components that either dealt with the subsurface infrastructure or that were already underway and needed to be completed were deemed to be of the highest priority. Those components that had not yet commenced or could easily be deferred to a point in the future when additional funds were found were consciously delayed. In some cases components were scaled back to reflect the availability of funds.
The following are the components that have either not been proceeded with or have been modified:
• Refurbishing, Relocation and Enclosure of Carousel
• Seven cabins were constructed instead of the 18 planned.
The Carousel project and the remaining 11 cabins will be included in future applications for funding as will a number of other components including a water playground, additional landscaping, a new Lodge and Beach Change room and watercraft rental facility.