Recapturing historic glory

June 2019

Thunder Bay’s downtown cores are home to some remarkable architectural gems that are often in need of champions with imagination and vision to bring them back to their original glory. One such property is the former Chronicle Printing company building at 12 St. Paul Street. Cory Stechyhsyn a lifelong Thunder Bay resident has been working in the architectural profession for more than 27 years and saw an opportunity to restore the original character in keeping with the current context developing along St. Paul Street.

In the fall of 2016, Cory’s firm i4architecture relocated into the innovative space after its remarkable transformation.

While restoring the building, Stechyhsyn says he found historic photos of the buildings original character, it was discovered that several features of the building had since been covered up or closed in. Metal paneling around the upper portion of the building exterior concealed the original hand painted wordmark of “Evening Chronicle” which was uncovered and re-painted to refresh the historic identity.

Previously bricked in windows have been re-opened along the Cooke Street facade and work has begun removing the previously installed aluminum siding and paint that covers the remainder of the upper brick veneer along Cooke Street. Interior renovations were completed in the 4,000 sq.ft. main floor space to create a vibrant, warm and creative environment that incorporates new glass demountable partitions, new LED lighting, vinyl plank and carpet tile flooring and new modular furniture throughout.

The exterior building signage has been designed to complement pre-existing building signage already in use on St. Paul Street in order to build a common character and theme along St. Paul Street-an attempt to encourage other building owners to follow suit and build on the street character.

The lobby incorporates a wall mural of a historic photo showing the former Evening Chronicle as well as the original deeds for the sale of the building to the Chronicle Printing Company in 1909. The lobby also has an open coffee bar and houses a foosball table and bubble hockey game for staff to unwind and refresh their creative mood, the presence of the game tables being somewhat reminiscent of the buildings previous use as Hanson’s Pool Hall, which is the most memorable use by the locals after the building was sold by the Chronicle Printing Company.

The main floor is predominantly occupied by i4architecture, with offices being rented by collaborating interior designer Lisa Sandham and hardware specialist NOVA Specialties. The remainder of the main floor is occupied by Flashback Photo, having their studio accessed off St. Paul Street. The second floor has four tenants, the largest space being occupied by long-term tenants Underground Ink and the latest tenant being Destination Northern Ontario – occupying a newly renovated space with vinyl plank flooring and coffee bar.

Stechyshsyn says clients who visit the building offer very positive reactions from “it looks like something you would only find in Vancouver” to “it reminds me of something you might find at the Google headquarters”.

12 St. Paul is a wonderful example of how older structures can be transitioned and transformed into modern work environments while recapturing their previous glory.

Bill Wrightsell is a marketing consultant and regular contributor to Bayview Magazine. Email him at

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