It's all systems ‘go!' as Fort William Historical Park prepares to officially launch its new website, Thursday, November 6th at 11 a.m. at the Fort's Administration Building.

Accessibility and information access are the underlying features that Fort management believes will make the website the information portal to Northwestern Ontario.

The site has several innovative components, beginning with its dynamic animated introduction, which features a battery of various Fort-related images with dynamic musical accompaniment illustrating the Fort's multi-component offerings, from its famous heritage site to its award-winning festivals and innovative programs.

The site also boasts another noteworthy aspect: it is the world's largest tourism and fur trade heritage site that is dedicated to the Oji-Cree language. The site is also devoted to English and French. 

"Our reason for this is that it allows us to better service one of our growing stakeholder audiences," says General Manager Sergio Buonocore. "This is a reflection of the fruitful partnerships that we currently enjoy with Nishnawbe Aski Nation and the Métis Nation of Ontario," he says.

Accessibility is further underlined by how the site addresses the needs of those with visual disabilities, employing high contrast screens and adjustable font sizes for users.

It's also a site rich in multi-media material, featuring high-definition movie, "Hinge of a Nation," plus over 40 video and sound clips.

There are also extensive education resources, with curriculum-based material, student learning plans and research projects.

Users can take virtual tours of all heritage buildings with downloadable floor plans and diagrams.

Another interesting aspect is the site's high-tech tracking system, which reveals the number of visits per day and origin. During an unofficial test run late this summer, the site received almost 700,000 hits over a 70-day period, averaging roughly 10,000 hits daily. While the majority came from Canada and the United States, other "visits" came from as far afield as Great Britain, Germany, Australia, The Netherlands, Finland, Italy, and to a lesser extent, China.

This significant number of ‘cyber' visits is one reason why Fort management sees the new website as the cornerstone of the Fort's evolving branding strategy. "It is becoming more and more obvious that greater market reach is now happening in the world of cyberspace," says Mr. Buonocore. "You will the Fort devoting less effort in print promotion and more towards our website to attract more visitors to Northwestern Ontario," he says.

All media are invited to observe the website launch, Thursday, November 6th at 11 a.m.  in the Administration Building of Fort William Historical Park. Refreshments will be served.

Search and Rescue Teams

Red parachute jumper landingThe amphitheatre at Fort William Historical Park (FWHP) has been the scene of award-winning rock concerts, aboriginal festivals and community but it also has become a handy spot where members of the Canadian Forces could literally “drop” in for a visit and “hang out.”

Such was the case September 25th as the Fort hosted some of the country’s best search and rescue teams who were participating in the National Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX) competitions that had been happening throughout the week within Thunder Bay.

Activities included dramatic 5000-foot parachute drops, helicopter landings and aerial manoeuvres involving a Canadian Hercules C-130 and a U.S. operated  HH-65A Dolphin helicopter.

Residents were invited to come to the Fort to witness the exercises free of charge. 

The SAREX is annual event staged by the Canadian Forces.

The event features all of Canada's primary search and rescue units, the Canadian Coast guard and representatives from the US reserves.  The events in Thunder Bay provided a rare glimpse for the public to see these dedicated units in action.

Roughly 300 of the best Canadian Forces search and rescue personnel (plus six Civilian Air Search and Rescue Association unites, a U.S. Air Force reserve squadron and a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter unit) had been in Thunder Bay since September 22nd for the SAREX competitions.

“Hosting a unique event such as this further enhances the Fort’s reputation as a multi-functional facility,” said FWHP General Manager Sergio Buonocore.

Thunder Bay Airport and Lakehead University were among other local sites seeing activity.

Rescue helicopter hovering








Plenty of Smoke and Fire During "Battle" of Fort William

Fort William Historical Park was awash with redcoats, bluecoats, militia, muskets, wall guns, and cannons as British and American forces clashed during the “Battle” of Fort William July 26th and 27th.

Military re-enactors from the U.S. and Canada put on a colourful show with plenty of “smoke and fire” as they demonstrated battle tactics from the early 19th century, with Fort William serving as the battlefield.

The fictional conflict and attendant scenarios reflected action from the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812, providing visitors with a close-up look at what period warfare was like during the early 19th century.

The action also served to illustrate how the North West Company and their rivals were affected by the war and the role the fur traders played during the conflict. During the War of 1812, the NWC’s Chief Director, William McGillivray, was appointed Lieutenant Colonel, in charge of overseeing the Company’s Corps of Canadian Voyageurs, who saw some action assisting the British for roughly a six-month period. 

A bit of drama was also evident as Fort inhabitants reacted to the engagements on the battlefield, witnessing the fallen. The captain on the British side was not immune to the gunfire, felled briefly by a stray musket ball, only to recover in time to witness the receipt of the sabre of the surrendering American commander.

A visiting teacher from London, Ontario commented on how impressed she was with how the event was staged, seeing history come alive in such dramatic fashion.

Over 40 re-enactors will be involved, coming from Manitoba, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Thunder Bay, their numbers complemented by Fort staff.

The “Battle” is a bi-annual event at Fort William Historical Park, alternating with The Fort under Siege.

Fort William Historical Park Wins Westjet Award

up-mag--westjet.pngFort William Historical Park has won the 2008 Cultural Attraction Award from up! magazine, the in-house publication for Westjet airlines.

In the congratulatory letter by up! Editor Tom Gierasimczuk, FWHP was chosen by “….thousands of Westjet guests who turn to up! Magazine for vital information about places, businesses and events that deliver a great bang for the travel buck and provide a high-quality and unique travel experience that over-delivers when compared to other similarly priced offerings….”

FWHP is already in the mix for consideration for Westjet awards next year.

FWHP Wins Ambassador Award

April 23, 2007

Fort William Historical Park achieved prestigious community recognition by receiving the Ambassador Award during the 13th Annual Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce Annual Business Awards Saturday night.

The Ambassador Award is presented to a business or association who exemplifies the "Spirit of Thunder Bay" and is an enthusiastic promoter of community projects.

General Manager Sergio Buonocore, Historical Operations Manager Peter Boyle and Communications Officer Marty Mascarin were on hand to receive the award on behalf of Fort William Historical Park.

"We would like to thank the community of Thunder Bay," said Sergio in his address to the audience. "This award is in recognition of our staff, our partners and service providers, volunteers and everyone who contributes to the success of the Fort," he said. "The Fort will continue to be a viable economic catalyst in the tourism industry of Northwestern Ontario."

Almost 70 businesses and community organizations participated in this year's award ceremony. Approximately 500 guests were in attendance for the gala event.