Diocesan Archives

The exciting history of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Thunder Bay published in 2002 is still available in hardcover only. The launch of Hope & Charity: An Illustrated History of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Thunder Bay was intended to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Diocese.”

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Thunder Bay was erected in April 29, 1952, when Pope Pius Xll joined part of the Archdiocese of St. Boniface and part of the Sault Ste. Marie Diocese to form the new Diocese of Fort William. Bishop Edward Q. Jennings was transferred from Kamloops, B.C. to be the first Shepherd, appointed May 14, 1952. More information is available on the 'Recent History' sub section of the Diocesan Archives.

Previous Bishops

Previous Bishops

Since its creation in 1952, five bishops, each in their own way, have guided the spiritual and temporal affairs of the Diocese of Thunder Bay. Given below are four biographical sketches of previous bishops in PDF format

Baptism & Marriage Certificates

Baptism and Marriage Certificates

In order to obtain a copy of a baptism certificate or marriage certificateplease contact the parish at which the ceremony took place.  All of these records are kept at the individual parishes. Please see the list of parishes in our Diocese and their contact information.

If for any reason this is not possible, please contact the Archivist/Historian, in writing by email at archives@dotb.ca or by regular mail at PO Box 10400, Thunder Bay, ON P7B 6T8. Please include as much of the following information as you are able:

For a Baptism Certificate:

  • Name of individual
  • Date of Baptism (If unknown, then date of birth)
  • Names of mother and father
  • Parish at which baptism took place

For a Marriage Certificate:

  • Names of groom and bride (including bride's maiden name)
  • Date of marriage
  • Parish at which marriage took place

In some cases, a search and preparation fee of $15.00 will apply. Please allow a minimum of one week from date of receipt of request.

Mandate and Mission Statement

Mandate and Mission Statement


The Archives of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Thunder Bay has been given the responsibility through the Code of Canon Law and by the Bishop of Thunder Bay to maintain an archival holding of documents and records concerning the spiritual and temporal affairs of the Diocese. The Archives is the official repository of records and materials in any form created by the Diocese of Thunder Bay.

Mission Statement

The purpose of the Archive of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Thunder Bay is to collect, preserve, and make available for research the records of the Diocese that reflect the history and work of the church within the diocese and northwestern Ontario generally.

The archive is supplemented by a library of several hundred volumes. In addition, it includes architectural plans of most parish churches and over 1,500 digital images depicting religious events and services led by the various bishops of the diocese.

A special room of the archive has been set aside for the Father William Maurice, S.J. Collection which occupies approximately 15 linear meters of textual records relating to the history of indigenous peoples of northwestern Ontario and their families.

Father William Maurice, S.J. Collection

When he died in 2008, Father William Maurice, S.J. left behind a documentary collection that provides social historians and genealogists with unique insights into the lives of thousands of Indigenous Peoples living in the vast area north of Lake Superior for over a century beginning in 1848. The consolidation of baptisms, marriages, and burials recorded by Jesuit missionaries into one compilation continues to inform research ranging from Treaty rights and entitlements from the Government of Canada to facilitating the creation of over two hundred family histories. Although the Father Maurice Collection includes personal correspondence, a Jesuit mission house diary (1984-2008), a chronological historical collection, and an alphabetical historical collection, it was his transcription and organization of baptisms, marriages, and burials performed by Jesuit missionaries in northwestern Ontario during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries into a searchable system that will be of lasting value. In 2008 this collection was transferred from St Anne’s Parish on the Fort William First Nation Reserve to the Archive of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Thunder Bay on permanent loan from the Archive of the Jesuits in Canada, Montreal, Quebec.

Roy Piovesana,

In the above photograph members of the Thunder Bay Jesuit community stand among the ruins of the Jesuit residence on what was once the Immaculate Conception Mission on the Fort William First Nation Reserve. Front (l-r) Father William Maurice, S.J., Father Michael Murray, S.J., Father Larry Kroker, S.J. Back (l-r) Father John (Jack) Lynch, S.J., Mr. Sam Pervais, elder, Rev. Mr. Victor Pelletier (Deacon)

Chronology (Excerpt from Hope and Charity)

On April 29th, 1952 the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort William is created comprising that part of the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie west of 86 longitude and all territory in Ontario that once came under the aegis of the Archdiocese of St Boniface.

On February 22nd, 1999 the Most Reverend Frederick Joseph Colli, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Ottawa, is named fifth Bishop of Thunder Bay by Pope John Paul II.

Please download the included Chronology of the Diocese of Thunder Bay in PDF format.

Additional Information

Roy Piovesana

Roy Piovesana was the previous archivist / historian with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Thunder Bay.

Contact:  (807) 343-9313

Keeping Parish Records

The Diocesan Policy re: Retention of Parish Records PDF includes:

  • Registers
  • Financial Records
  • Episcopal letter / Documents and Correspondence
  • Parish history / Historical events
  • Inventory