The Founder's Museum

June 2018

Stepping into the Upsala Train Station at the Founders’ Museum and Pioneer Village, I was transported back in time to the interesting and colourful past of the area. I sat down with an animated group of folks:Lois Garrity, the Curator and Manager of Founders’ Museum and The Duke Hunt Museum in Rosslyn, Rosie Summer, Lil Stieh and Sharon Walker. They were all bubbling over with facts and entertaining stories.

Lois began by saying that, “This place is where I grew up.” How amazing to be on the same site as her childhood and sharing all the knowledge of those days. “It’s like going home.”
It all started with Fred Goodfellow in the early 60’s. Fred collected all kinds of artifacts from the early years, and he needed a place for his large collection. He made a deal with Jim Wark, who had a service station on the site. And so it began.

The Founders’ Museum represents the Thunder Bay District and its rich and interesting past. The motivating idea that Fred Goodfellow had in forming the museum was to educate the kids about the history of where they lived, to come, see and touch artifacts that were part of the lives of their ancestors.

The Municipality of Oliver Paipoonge and Mayor Lucy Kloosterhuis recognized the value of the Founders’ Museum and saved it by taking over the management a few years back. Their foresight has saved a precious place where we can all have a ‘hands on’ encounter with the past.

The Duke Hunt Historical Museum located in the old Rosslyn Village School, just across Hwy. 130 is another gem for readers to discover. It features the extensive automotive collection of Russ Wanzuk. I was told that it is definitely worth the time to see it! Some of this collection will be for sale.

To help with the running of these museums, volunteers are always needed. The day I was there, I was introduced to Walter Saarimaki, a dedicated volunteer, who was clearly enjoying getting the museum ready for another season.

Fundraising is a big part of keeping the museums going as well. A donation at the door is your price of admission. Special fundraising events are sprinkled throughout the summer, beginning with a yard sale on June 9 from 9am-3pm, a Spaghetti Dinner on June 24th from 4-6 pm with tickets available by emailing On July 14th there will be Family Day from Noon-4:30 pm.

There are tours for schools and seniors available as well as bookings for special events such as birthday parties. Founders’ Museum and Pioneer
Village is open from Friday to Sunday, noon to 4:30 pm., until the end of August.

I hope you have the opportunity to experience the history of the Thunder Bay District at both the Founders’ Museum and the Duke Hunt Historical Museum this summer!

Karen Christie is a retired high school teacher and a regular contributor to Bayview. She can be reached at

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