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North Bay, Ontario Churches: Canadian History in Vintage Postcards


North Bay New Methodist Church 1 Here are some interesting vintage Canadian postcards of North Bay, Ontario. These old postcards regarding religious history are from the Nipissing District and that part of the Parry Sound District which is in the “Blue Sky Region,” are shown for educational purposes only, and are not for sale. These Canadian postcards are shown in digital museum format for educational purposes. If you have images or historical information which you’d like to share with our virtual museum, feel free to do so. To navigate these pages, mouse over the top navigation bar. Drop-down menus will appear of the areas of interest. Click on the thumbnails for larger images. Close the larger image before opening another thumbnail. The occasional duplicates for sale can be found using the search box on the main (home) page of This is an ongoing project; comments and questions to the webmaster at webmaster - at sign - are welcome.  

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North Bay Old Church North Bay New Methodist Church 1

The Methodist Church was organized by the Rev. Silas Huntington (1829-1905), who was North Bay’s first minister. Ordained in 1854, he was posted to Mattawa in 1882 and used the Mattawa mission as a base for extensive missionary travels to settlements along the CPR, including North Bay. In 1882, a railroad boxcar on a siding and in a rock cut was the location of Huntington’s first North Bay service. This was the nucleus of the Methodist denomination in North Bay, and the first Christian congregation in the bustling town. The church’s first Board of Trustees was elected in 1883 and, the following year, a small church was built at what was then 8 Main St. E. However, the congregation quickly outgrew the first church, which was replaced in 1887 with a modest frame building seating 175 to 200 people. The 1908 postcard at top left shows the “New and Old Methodist Church.” As you can see, the “old” church from 1887 was on Ferguson St., due west of the present Trinity United building. The “old” church was replaced in 1907 by this much grander brick church, which seats 700 in the sanctuary and is located at 111 McIntyre St. E., at the corner of Ferguson and McIntyre. In 1925, the congregation amalgamated with the United Church of Canada, and is now known as Trinity United. The c. 1907 postcard at bottom left shows Trinity United from a different angle, on a snowy day, while the c. 1930s to 1940s PECO postcard to the right shows the church’s interior.

North Bay New Methodist Church 2 North Bay, Trinity United Church Interior
North Bay St. Andrew Presbyterian Church 1

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church at 389 Ferguson St. (now St. Andrew’s United Church), with newly planted trees at curbside, is seen in the finely detailed private postcard to the left. Note the small frame homes and outbuildings. Druggist Cormak chaired the church’s building committee; it was his wife who, on 15 August 1904, laid the cornerstone. The similar 1911 image to the right was published by Sieber. A scarce private postcard below (left) shows the church’s interior, much as it would have appeared right after construction. At right (below) is one of a series of four patriotic private postcards published by the Young Bros. of Toronto for jeweler E. W. Ross of North Bay. From the “Original Owners of Our Country" series, it shows the church in a gold inset with a native American theme.

North Bay St. Andrew Presbyterian Church 2
Interior of New Presbyterian Church in North Bay, Just After Completion Patriotic Postcard of the Presbyterian Church in North Bay, c. 1906
North Bay St. Andrew Presbyterian Church 3

The horizontal view of the church additionally shows a modest frame cottage to the left of the church which is Gothic Revival in style and configuration and which would date the home to the 1850s to 1860s, making it one of the oldest houses in North Bay.

North Bay St. Mary Church

Barely two months earlier, on 19 June 1904, the cornerstone for St. Mary’s on the Lake, also designed by architect Angus, was laid, as depicted in a finely detailed 1906 postcard. St. Mary’s was in a small frame building on Main St. W. (where Cochrane Hardware later was) dating back to the mid-1880s, but the congregation outgrew it.

North Bay, Ontario Cathedral Under Construction in January 1905

Construction of the North Bay cathedral, which had begun in 1904, was well underway when this scarce real-photo postcard of the church was made in late 1904 or early 1905. The private post card was sent to Miss M. Barkson of North Bay, with the sender writing: “If you would like to see the interior of the Catholic Church, I will give you the desired boost.” It was signed by “Beller C.”.


Father David Joseph Scollard, born in Ennismore, Ontario on 4 November 1862 and ordained as a priest on 21 December 1890, was appointed to North Bay in 1896. He was consecrated as a bishop on 24 February 1905 in Peterborough and appointed as the first bishop of the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie, which Pope Pius X established on 16 September 1904 to accommodate the needs of the growing Northern Ontario population. The diocese was huge, extending 800 miles west from Callander to almost the Manitoba border.

North Bay Pro Cathedral 1 North Bay Pro Cathedral 2 North Bay Pro Cathedral with Car

Construction of the new $65,000 St. Mary’s church, designed by architect Angus, was finished in Fall 1905; it was blessed and dedicated on 17 December 1905. It had been renamed as the Pro-Cathedral by 1910, the date of the postcard at top left. The hand-colored postcard in the center shows the church from a different angle, and was published by Phillips & Wrinch for Mrs. Karp. The 1908-1913 view to the right, not postally used until 1920, features the proud driver of an early automobile, with part of the Bishop’s Palace seen in the background.

North Bay Cathedral Interior North Bay Cathedral Interior 2 North Bay Bishop Palace North Bay Convent, Bishop's Palace and Pro-Cathedral North Bay St. Rita Catholic Church

The cathedral interior looked like this in the J. A. Noel postcard, c. 1916, at top left. A second Noel postcard of the interior was published for W. J. Herbert, interestingly and erroneously referring to the building as St. Mary’s. The Bishop’s Palace was built in 1912. Another view of the Bishop’s Palace also shows the convent where the Sisters of St. Joseph lived. The convent, at 135 Klock Ave. (Algonquin), was torn down in the 1960s. The sidewalk intersection shown in the foreground at the front of the Bishop’s Palace is at Plouffe and McIntyre. St. Rita’s Catholic Church, seen in the 1940s postcard with a photo by local history buff Stan Richardson, is at 630 Douglas St. and was built in 1913, with much of the funding coming from the local Italian community.

North Bay, St. Vincent de Paul Church

North Bay has a large Francophone population, many of whom attend the Roman Catholic St. Vincent de Paul church. The church, located at 1265 Wyld St., was completed in 1932 — quite a feat during the depths of the Great Depression. Notice the bell tower to the left. A lady in a long Victorian pink dress strolls past the Bishop’s Palace in the upper portion of an unusual double-view postcard seen to the right. This image is mislabeled as the Catholic Church and convent; in reality, the convent was to the left of the Bishop’s Palace. A side view of the substantial Methodist Church is shown in the lower image.

North Bay, Bishop’s Palace, Pro Cathedral and Methodist Church
North Bay St. John the Divine

A c. 1907-1915 postcard depicts St. John the Divine, an Anglican (Church of England) house of worship which was built in 1895, opened in 1896 and is at 301 Main St. E. The sender worked in one of the booming town’s hotels, writing to her sister that she was being paid $25.00 a month for her efforts. The Anglican presence has been felt in North Bay since 1883, when their first service with a congregation of 15 was held in the CPR engine house. While not the earliest Christian congregation in North Bay, this is now the oldest church building in town.


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North Bay, First Baptist Church on Main St., c. 1903-1907 Here’s a scarce unused c. 1903-1907 postcard of the First Baptist Church when it was on Main St. Finely detailed, the post card was published by Rumsey & Co. of Toronto. North Bay’s first Baptist activities began in Spring 1886 and the church was organized in August 1887, continuing for a few years with the help of summer student pastors. Baptist services then languished until February 1892, when civic-minded women organized a Ladies Aid Group. In March, they requested a summer pastor and, on 17 April 1892, services were again held. In June 1892, worshippers decided to proceed with the organization of a regular Baptist Church. On 11 December 1892, the Reverend W. L. Palframan became the first settled pastor of North Bay First Baptist. Progress had been rapid, but services were still being held in the Old Blue School House, a pioneer log building. It was time to expand. In May 1893, church members decided to buy a lot on Main St. for church construction. Dedication services were held on 8 October 1893. While the population of North Bay was about 2,500, only 23 people were members of the First Baptist Church.

A committee was formed in 1956 to explore the need for a new church building; groundbreaking took place on 1 May 1960 at 1250 Cassells St. The cornerstone was laid on 16 October 1960. The last service in the old church was held on 8 January 1961.

North Bay Bethel Gospel Hall North Bay, Sands Motel and Wishing Fountain

A 1940s CKC real-photo postcard shows the Bethel Gospel Hall housed in a handsome late 19th c. brick building at the corner of Fisher and McIntyre Sts. which undoubtedly originally served some other purpose, as the structure is devoid of the usual religious ornamentation or architecture typically used to signify a house of worship. We’ve since learned that the Bethel Gospel Hall congregation building was originally the Orange Hall. When the brick building burned in 1963-1964, the church, now known as Bethel Gospel Chapel, relocated to the corner of O’Brien St. and McKeown Ave. (1710 O’Brien St.) Two of the four corners at the Fisher and McIntyre intersection are parking lots, including a parking lot for the Sands Motor Inn at 366 McIntyre St. E. which incorporates the stone foundation of the Gospel Hall. You can see part of Bethel Gospel’s stone foundation in the foreground of the c. 1960s chrome postcard of the Sands and its “Wishing Fountain.” Learn more about the Orangemen in North Bay and Powassan. Many thanks to Val Croswell of North Bay for information on the history of Bethel Gospel Hall.

Interestingly, the name of John C. Thompson of 317 Duke St. W. in North Bay is stamped on the postcard’s reverse. Mr. Thompson and his wife emigrated to North Bay from England in 1912. The Thompsons, along with Mr. and Mrs. Charles Vrooman, who came from the Odessa area near Kingston, ON, and Mr. and Mrs. John Poidevin formed the nucleus of what would became Bethel Gospel Hall. Mr. Thompson started a Sunday School and, in 1922, built a “Clubhouse for Children” in attendance. The clubhouse was at 333 Fisher St. and was described as a gospel hall in 1924 records. In 1942, the church moved to the Orange Hall building, where it remained until the 1960s fire. Mr. Thompson, a prominent church leader, served as treasurer and correspondent until the early 1960s, when he turned those tasks over to his son, Dennis.


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