Building Community by Building a New Pavilion
By Betty Carpick
Waverley Park, with its modest size, giant cottonwood trees, and view of Lake Superior, was established in 1871 as a community recreational space during the first official survey of Prince Arthur’s Landing. In 1988, the park became the centre for the 70 buildings in the Waverley Park Heritage Conservation District, the city’s only formal designation under the Ontario Heritage Act. Throughout time, there have been subtle changes to Waverley Park but its open green spaces and quiet, contemplative identity remain an attraction for residents and visitors.
Since the early 1990s, the Coalition for Waverley Park has advocated for the preservation of the public use of Waverley Park. In 2014, with support from Thunder Bay’s Supervisor of Parks and Open Spaces, the coalition met with Approach Design Inc. to discuss plans for building a new pavilion without disrupting the fabric of the familiar landscape. Through a concerted effort, funding was achieved through public, municipal, and federal avenues and construction began in fall 2017. On May 26, the Coalition for Waverley Park and the City of Thunder Bay will celebrate the grand opening of the Waverley Park Pavilion with free music and entertainment.
In keeping with cultivating conservation, the new pavilion has been built on the same concrete foundation as the former Rotary Thundershell built in 1979 and dismantled after 32 years of use. The hexagonal structure, with its distinctive heritage-based design, is a welcome focal point for inspiration and respite for people of all ages. It features timber framing, cedar shingles, a copper finial, interior lighting, and power outlets. The entertainment stage is ideal for intimate musical and theatrical performances, celebrations, and receptions with its accessible ramp, stairs, and low wall for sitting.
Everyone loves to spend time in a nice park. Thanks to dedicated community leadership, Waverley Park, with its 150-year-old history, has a lovely new pavilion to enhance and strengthen this important neighbourhood open space.