Thunder Bay Wayfinding Plan

  • peter j. smith & company, inc.
  • peter j. smith & company, inc.

Thunder Bay, Ontario

Applied Expertise

  • Wayfinding
  • Design Standards
  • Interpretive Planning
  • Public Involvement
  • Economic Development
  • Heritage and Tourism


Thunder Bay, Ontario, on the shore of Lake Superior is Canada’s gateway to the west and is considered one of Canada’s premier outdoor cities. Home to over 120,000 residents, it is culturally diverse and is the most populous municipality in Northwestern Ontario. The city is an important railway hub, and hosts an active port and one of Canada’s busiest international airports. It is also an important link in the Lake Superior Circle Tour, which brings many international visitors through Thunder Bay. These attributes contribute to the need for an effective wayfinding system. The Thunder Bay Wayfinding Plan develops a family of wayfinding signage that creates a consistent wayfinding system and presents a unifying graphic style to enhance the branding and image of the city. The overarching goal is to create a tourism wayfinding signage system for Thunder Bay that can be used as a pilot project or template for other Northern Ontario communities.

The Plan includes a hierarchy of wayfinding signs for automobile users, and lays the foundation of the system for pedestrians and bicyclists. It identifies criteria for selecting major attractions of interest to visitors and residents and concentrates proposed wayfinding signage on the gateway areas into the county and main routes that are likely to be traveled by visitors. The report includes a design guideline manual for the various signage types, specifications, signage location plans, and implementation recommendations.