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Salvation Army Journey To Life Centre Opening

Salvation Army Journey To Life Centre Opening

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO  ~~~  October 22, 2021  (LSNews)   Today, The Salvation Army officially opened the new Journey to Life Centre with a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. 

Gary Ferguson, Executive Director of the Journey to Life Centre, hosted the event which included remarks from Patty Hajdu, MP Elect (Thunder Bay – Superior North), Michael Gravelle, MPP (Thunder Bay – Superior North), Kevin Holland, TBDSSAB Board Member, Mayor Bill Mauro, Chief Peter Collins, Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum, Joe & Barbara McEachern (Capital Campaign Co-Chairs), and Janet Sillman (The Salvation Army Thunder Bay Social Services Community Council Chair). 

“We are very grateful for our community partners who have helped make The Journey to Life Centre a reality,” said Gary Ferguson, Executive Director of the Journey to Life Centre. “This state-of-the-art centre will help our communities’ most vulnerable who are struggling with food insecurity, homelessness, addiction and unemployment.”

Lieut. Colonel Shawn Critch, The Salvation Army Ontario Divisional Commander, brought greetings on behalf of The Salvation Army.  Major Lori Mitchell, Executive Director from 2015 – 2020, brought good wishes to the clients and staff whose lives will be impacted by the new facility.

During the ceremony, a time capsule was buried with instructions to open it 50 years from now in 2071.  The residents and staff provided memoriabilia to include in the capsule.  Three students from the St. Ignatius Common Bonds class - April Burridge, Amanda Pacholczak, and Veronica Pacholczak assisted with this part of the event.  It is our hope that they will be present when the capsule is opened.

The ceremony concluded with the ribbon cutting by of the dignitaries present.  After the ceremony, guided tours were available attendees.

This facility replaced the aging, former hotel that was home to our residential and community programs for 50 years.  The 30,000 sq. ft. three story building doubled the size of the old


building and provides enhanced programing and a greater sense of privacy and dignity for the clients.  The building has been designed by i4architecture and their team that includes TBT Engineering, Lisa Sandham Interior Designs, and Werner Schwar Landscape Architect.  M Builds is the construction manager for the project.

Funding sources include The Salvation Army Territorial and Divisional Headquarters, CMHC – National Housing Co-Investment Fund,  Province of Ontario’s Investment in Affordable Housing program through TBDSSAB, Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, and the City of Thunder Bay.

The Salvation Army arrived in Thunder Bay in 1893 and established two Corps (churches). In the early years, the social work was provided through these ministries including the collection and distribution of food, clothing, and money.

In 1917, the first social service officers arrived who commenced services providing basic food and shelter for men. Two separate centres were established one in Port Arthur and the other in Fort William. During World War II, the Salvation Army operated a shelter for returning soldiers in the former Fort William post office.

The two centres operated until 1971 when the locations on Pearl St. in Port Arthur and George St. in Fort William where amalgamated. The former Northland Hotel at 545 Cumberland St. N. was purchased and developed into the new Men’s Hostel. When it opened, the Centre contained 110 beds for transients and 8 long-term beds. Over the years, the number of transients has decreased while services have increased for men with mental health issues and a focus on transitional programming to reduce the cycle of poverty and homelessness has been developed.

In 2018, construction of the new Journey to Life Centre began on the Cumberland St. property. Construction continued even after the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown most of the world. In October 2020, the move was made to the new facility and demolition of the old building followed immediately after. The finishing details continued over the next year.

Today, we celebrate the opportunities for change that each person can experience when they enter the doors of the Journey to Life Centre


Northland Hotel is Gone
Northland Hotel is Gone


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