THUNDER BAY - From looking at the designs for the new Finlandia condo development, the first thing that comes to mind is the historic symmetrical façade.
The central polygonal tower, square end bay windows, and porch-covered main entrance to the Finnish Labour Temple. However, if you look closer, missing is the iconic stairs which welcomed two Socialist Finnish Labour organizations in their fight to secure immigrant worker rights in the once unsettled area of Port Arthur. Nevertheless, it is safe to say what has been lost will not be forgotten by the Finnish people of Thunder Bay.
The community witnessed a horrific tragedy in December as flames consumed the building. Ruled as an accident by investigators, Brad Mckinnon did not allow a disaster to ruin his commitment to the project. Mckinnon emphasizes that the building will honour the exciting legacy of the Finnish Labour Temple by ensuring the rebuild will keep as much as possible of the remaining structure.
This modern redesign still holds, what the building meant to the community, but it’s hard not to see the potential outlined in the drawing. There will be three new storefront properties positioned along the Algoma Street side, and two more properties will be available on Bay Street. These commercial spaces, once leased, will welcome a new batch of employment opportunities to the downtown area.
The Hoito restaurant will also be built back into the building; however, instead of walking through those iconic doors and seeing the Finnish scale before indulging in Hoito’s famous pancakes, patrons will be sitting on the ground level. Fundraising efforts have already begun as community members, and Mckinnon have several Finlandia and Finnish-themed products available for purchase. From Hoito’s pancake mix, Kiitos coffee blend, and Beer from Sleeping Giant to branded hoodies and refurbished bricks with embroidered pictures of the Finnish Labour Temple stencilled onto them to help ensure the Hoito Restaurant is a part of the new building. All these products can be purchased locally.
The second and third levels will have 90 units of high-end luxury condominiums complete with modern amenities. The apartment-style home isn’t petite in scale. The front apartments will view Algoma and Bay Street from their two-bedroom living space, complete with a full-size kitchen, dining room, bathroom, and built-in laundry facility. The smaller apartments are one-bedroom and hold the same amenities as the two-bedroom suits.
The exterior also has a modern feel with its inviting openness to the natural beauty of the Port Author scenery. From the penthouses to storefronts, windows encapsulate most of the exterior, allowing natural sunlight to peek through it from sunrise to sunset. Even the colour scheme reflects the burgundy colours of the original brickwork surrounding the Labour Temple.
“I would like to thank the people of Thunder Bay for showing their support and fundraising effects for the Hoito Restaurant,” said McKinnon.
The project will cost around $25 million to complete and is expected to be finished in two years. Depending on external factors like the cost of materials, labour shortages, and the outbreak of COVID-19 doesn’t put excessive strain on the project.