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North Bay, Ontario: Canadian History in Vintage Postcards

North Bay TelevisionHave a seat and relax! Here are some interesting vintage Canadian postcards of North Bay, Ontario. These old postcards 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. 

Please note that while you are certainly welcome to visit the virtual museum as often as you’d like (and we encourage you to do so), these scans are owned by and, as such, they are not to be re-used or re-purposed in any way, for any other reason — including use on another website, on social networking websites, in brochures or print-outs, etc. — without our prior express written permission. Under the terms of the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act), such use without permission constitutes copyright infringement and intellectual property theft. We hate to have to make that so clear, as we want you to enjoy the museum and we put these images up due to our love of Canada, but the actions of a few have prompted this notice. For further information, please see the footer of this page.



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North Bay Lavase River at Champlain Park

The North Bay area was first settled by Nipissing Indians. Due to North Bay’s location on a system of interconnected waterways, one could navigate from Montreal up the Ottawa River, down the Mattawa to Lake Nipissing and then to Fort William (Thunder Bay) on Lake Superior. French explorer Samuel de Champlain traveled this “voyageur route” or “voyageur’s highway” as early as 1615. This ideal geographic location,encompassing the Ottawa River watershed to the east and the Great Lakes watershed to the west, opened the region to early fur trading.

Eustach de Laronde, a Métis fur trader associated with Montreal’s North West Company, established Fort LaRonde in the late 1700s or early 1800s; in 1821, it closed following the merger of the North West Company and the Hudson Bay Company. This was the white man’s first outpost in North Bay and was on the La Vase River, which was part of the “voyageur’s highway.” The voyageur route had been used for thousands of years by the First Nation people in the Lake Nipissing area (also see the Mattawa page). Below is an image (courtesy of Library and Archives Canada), of the oldest documented map accurately depicting La Vase portages. Prepared by provincial geologist W. E. Logan in 1845, the map shows portages simply noted in red lines.

William Logan's 1845 Map of La Vase River Portages Along the Voyageur Route to Lake Nipissing
North Bay Area Native American Indian Family 1

The c. 1907 antique postcard to the left, published by Phillips & Wrinch of Toronto for druggist H. S. Campbell of North Bay, shows a local native American family, with two white men posing by their tent. The postcard bears an RPO (railroad post office) cancel from the Ottawa & Port Arthur railroad, Train No. 8. A second colorful unused c. 1903 postcard, also published for Campbell, is captioned “Indian Family near North Bay, Ont.” Such early views of First Nation members are scarce. See the earliest known image of Nipissing Indians, created in 1801.

North Bay Area Native American Indian Family 2

Canadian Pacific Railway Advertising While the village of North Bay began as a trading center in 1851 and was chosen as the Nipissing District seat in 1858, rapid growth didn’t occur until about the time that William A. Ramsey, chief surveyor for the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) mapped the railroad’s path in 1881. From the time of Canada’s 1 July 1867 confederation, the CPR, described in this artist-signed (Cyrus Cuneo) advertising postcard as “The Empire’s Greatest Railway,” was seen as a means to link Canada from coast to coast and unite the new country by building the world’s longest railroad. Visit the Canadian Pacific Railway Archives for more information on this fascinating story. Frederick Jackson Turner’s seminal essay, The Frontier in American History, presented at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois, also offers much insight into the enthusiastic expansionism occurring in both the United States and Canada. It was a time of boundless optimism. See also Pierre Berton’s two seminal Canadian history books, The National Dream: The Great Railway, 1871-1881 and The Last Spike: The Great Railway, 1881-1885. The idealized patriotic postcard seen below, heavily embossed, highly detailed and judiciously glittered, reflects the optimism of the times. Nothing could stop the railroads, and progress!

North Bay Patriotic Glitter Postcard

North Bay Agricultural Fair North Bay as we know it today was founded in December 1882, when 19-year-old John Ferguson, a Scotsman who delivered mail for the CPR, arrived via the CPR’s “Lucy Dalton” train on the north bay of Lake Nipissing. “Lucy,” which had traveled west from Mattawa, was the first train to reach North Bay, with regular passenger service beginning the following year. Land speculation has always gone hand-in-hand with the westward expansion of railroads; not coincidentally, Ferguson was a nephew of CPR vice-president Duncan McIntyre. Upon his arrival, Ferguson built a log cabin, the stone for which apparently came from an earlier construction by explorer Samuel de Champlain, bought 288 acres for $1.00 an acre in what’s now the downtown area and the CPR yards area, opened a post office and became North Bay’s first postmaster. The earliest scene of North Bay from that time period that we’ve found so far is this view showing participants in the first agricultural show/fair, held at North Bay on 5 October 1894. It’s a private post card from 1901-1907.

North Bay Stock Yards, c. 1901-1907

Another private postcard from the 1901-1907 series showing the agricultural fair is this image of the stock yards at North Bay. The stock yards were located where the sewage disposal plant now is, at 640 Memorial Drive, i.e. “Ontario Water Resources.” As John De La Vergne wrote: “It is the obvious site for a stockyard, if you neglect environmental concerns. It is where the (CPR) rails start to peel away from the lake to provide enough room, and there is a creek (Chippewa) running nearby to provide water for the cattle.”


North Bay Richardson Tinware Notice the dirt roads and wooden boardwalk for pedestrians in this finely detailed, hand-colored 1907 postcard of Main St. looking east in downtown North Bay. On the left is Richardson & Co., with a large sign on its two-story frame building advertising “Stoves & Tinware.” This was the store of early settler and tinsmith John William Richardson, who arrived from Sturgeon Falls in 1885 and initially ran his business out of a tent; within the year, he was successful enough to open this storefront. Richardson served as mayor beginning in 1902 and also variously on the school board and Town Council. Beyond Richardson’s and a row of red brick storefronts, one sees a large white Catholic church, St. Mary’s on the Lake, which was located where the Cochrane-Dunlop building was built in 1911 (now Lefebvre Sports, 122 Main St. W.). There’s a livery on the right side of the street, likely the Cook & Armstrong stables seen below. The steeple of St. John the Divine is seen on the horizon, also on the right side of Main St. The image was published by Phillips & Wrinch of Toronto for W. J. Herbert & Co. of North Bay.


An early Canadian patriotic postcard, published by Knowles & Co. of London, Ontario, also shows a view looking east on Main St. The row of red brick storefronts and St. Mary’s on the Lake are seen in greater detail.

North Bay, Main St. Patriotic Postcard, c. 1903
Previously Undocumented North Bay Patriotic Postcard, Showing a Downtown Parade, 1905

A scarce undivided-back patriotic postcard, not listed in Mike Smith’s recent publication, Canadian Patriotic Postcard Checklist, 1898-1928, was published by the Atkinson Bros. in 1905 and shows a parade down Main St. It was postmarked in October 1905. A portional close-up view shows more of the postcard’s image.

Portional, Previously Undocumented North Bay Patriotic Postcard, Showing a Downtown Parade, 1905
North Bay Herbert Store 1

This charming 1907 real-photo postcard is a scarce view of W. J. Herbert’s store, which sold stationery and china. Children romp by a sleigh out front. The store has a concave mansard style roof popular in the Second Empire period of architectural history, dating the building to no later than about 1885.

There is interesting historical information on the reverse, with the sender, A. J. H., writing to her aunt, Miss Amy Harris of St. Catherines: “This is a snap of our store, our first one. Before this year is out, we expect to move into one of the best and biggest stands in the town.” Equally as interesting is the presence of the Cook & Armstrong livery stables to the right and behind Herbert’s store. Below the livery stable sign is one which appears in part to name the business owner as Baker, and I can make out the word “veterinary.” Real-photo postcards, also known as RPPC and RPPCs, are indispensable in documenting a town’s history.

North Bay Herbert Store 2 This c. 1908-1913 postcard provides an overall context for the location of Herbert’s store. The Pacific Hotel is across the street, with a sign for what was perhaps the Royal Theatre down the road. The location is thought to be the intersection of Klock Ave. (now Algonquin Ave.) and Main. The First Baptist Church anchors one corner to the left of Herbert’s store, while the Pro-Cathedral anchors the right-hand corner. An interesting aspect of this card is the prominent placement of two automobiles in the foreground, portending the beginning of the automotive era. In 1908, Henry Ford rolled out his first factory-built Model Ts. These two-seater, open cab vehicles were known as the “Tin Lizzie” and, at $850.00, were the first semi-affordable and reliable cars on the market. By 1913, cars had hardtops and were being built to accommodate four passengers; thus, this view showing open cab, two-seater cars can be dated to 1908-1913. Postcards of that era sometimes included images of cars and occasionally airplanes, to show how progressive and modern the town was. See the North Bay aviation page for more information.

Boosterism and Civi Pride in Small Towns, As the Automobile Arrived

One of the penultimate, most imaginative vintage postcards we’ve ever seen regarding civic pride, town promotion and boosterism due to easier transportation with the "Tin Lizzie" is this c. 1914 old postcard from Plankinton, South Dakota. A “multi-view” real photo (RPPC) postcard, it shows six images meant to demonstrate that the town had modern amenities, in a clever taxi cab or chauffeur-driven surround. The multi-views in this scarce antique postcard include churches, schools, a store and a bank. Along the bottom of the vehicle is the saying: “You Auto Be in Plankinton, So. Dak.” The left tire says “Exceeding the Speed Limit” and includes images of fine, upstanding citizens, while the right tire shows more fine, upstanding citizens and says “Our Specialty.” (Ironically, the sender wrote: “Just got here through mud and rain.”). The postcard was sent to Henry Wilson of Morse Bluff, Nebraska.

The photographer was C. C. Slack of Soo (Sioux) Falls, SD. The “iron horse” (railroads) was responsible for the creation of Plankinton, as was often the case with Canadian villages and towns. Plankinton sprang up with the 1880 arrival of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, with the town being named for Milwaukee-based meat packer and railroad official John Plankinton. Plankinton incorporated as a village in 1882. The village had an annual wheat palace, a successful regional attraction which inspired the Corn Palace in nearby Mitchell, SD. A Grain Palace also opened in Plankinton in 1891, but the last one occurred the following year, in 1892. The population was 707 at the 2010 Census. As a Canadian comparison, railroads reached Manitoba in about 1889.

North Bay Souvenir Folder 1North Bay Stock YardsNorth Bay Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Survey 1North Bay Souvenir Folder 2

A scarce 1903-1905 souvenir folder published by Phillips & Wrinch contains small images of other early North Bay scenes, most of which have been located in larger images, with the exception of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway (G. T. Pac) survey view. The G. T. Pac was incorporated in 1903; it was envisioned that it would compete with the CPR for traffic and trade in developing western Canada. Initial plans called for a line from North Bay to Winnipeg, which could later be expanded to Prince Rupert, British Columbia. This view shows surveying work being undertaken for the line in North Bay; however, the plan never came to fruition, as the government did not approve it.

Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Sleeping Car, Engineering Department

This important real-photo postcard, c. 1903-1910, shows a Grand Trunk Pacific sleeping car used by the railroad’s engineering department. Five men pose for the image, but there is no identifying information on the reverse as to their names or job titles.

North Bay, Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Survey 2

Another scarce private postcard shows a mail carrier on the G. T. Pac Survey. Postmarked in 1910, it bears a Railway Post Office (RPO) cancel, a single ring reading “Toronto & North Bay R.P.O. No. 6 46,” and the cancel was marked with number 0-383 in Ludlow. Interestingly, the correspondence was addressed to the “Daily Nugget” in Cobalt and says: “Reduce [illegible] Kelly’s order to 35 daily and send bill.”

The “Daily Nugget” is actually a reference to the Cobalt Nugget, forerunner of the North Bay Nugget. The Cobalt Nugget was established in 1907 in North Bay as a weekly newspaper by A. G. Davie, about whom little is known. It was shipped north to Cobalt. After the paper was sold to H. S. Browning and W. G. Ferguson, the paper was briefly published at the Haileyburian newspaper office in Haileybury. Browning and Ferguson built a new office for the paper in Cobalt, and the first daily edition of the Cobalt Nugget was printed on 23 January 1909. In 1921, the paper relocated to North Bay, completing an unusual circular journey.


While North Bay had incorporated as a village in November 1882 and had originally been part of the Widdifield Township organized in 1885, it grew quickly during this time period and incorporated as a town on 1 January 1891. It thrived in part due to the lumber industry in the area: with three major railroads and navigable waterways, it became a regional commercial hub such that three years later, in 1894, the Board of Trade was formed and four years later, in 1895 and after spirited competition from its neighbors in Sturgeon Falls and Mattawa, North Bay became the seat of the reorganized Nipissing judicial district. The three railroads which helped to solidify North Bay’s position as a regional hub were the CPR, the Canadian National Railway (CNR), which was originally the Northern Pacific and the Grand Trunk, and the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway (T. & N.O.).

North Bay CPR Roundhouse 1 North Bay CPR Roundhouse 2

Here are some CPR views, the first two on the left depicting their roundhouse on Lake Nipissing. The 1913 post card at bottom left shows several locomotives near the roundhouse, including No. 2248. Postcard collecting was wildly popular at the time and the sender wrote to his son, Willie, from Winnipeg, Manitoba, saying: “I am going to send you children some postcards to be mounted on ribbons and glue. So take care of them and keep very clean. Be a good boy and help mother in every way.” We have some examples in our own collection of postcards which were mounted in this way, to be hung as small pictures. At top right, a nicely detailed private post card published by local druggist Campbell shows a pushcart being used on one of the CPR’s railroad trestle bridges. The image at bottom right, also published by Campbell, identifies the location as Duchesney Creek; this trestle was on the left side of Highway 17 heading towards Sturgeon Falls.

North Bay CPR Bridge 1 North Bay CPR Bridge 2
North Bay, Canoeing by the CPR Bridge on Duchesney Creek

A 1910 postcard, published by the Thomas Co. of North Bay, shows canoeists paddling near the CPR bridge.

North Bay CPR Train Station Patriotic North Bay CPR Station Crowds

The depot at Oak and Ferguson (100 Ferguson St.) was a grand two-story structure built in 1903, as seen in the scarce 1905 undivided-back patriotic postcard at top left which was published by the aforementioned Knowles & Co. It replaced an earlier log station and was, in a way, a symbol of North Bay’s rising importance in the railroad era. Steam engines required refueling every 120 miles and North Bay’s location 120 miles west of Chalk River proved an ideal stopping point. Due to its fortuitous location, the CPR in 1881 had chosen North Bay as a home terminus and divisional point on the transcontinental line and thus additional facilities such as the roundhouse, storage, maintenance and repair facilities, a coal depot and additional facilities not usually found at smaller stopping points were built. A 1905 postcard shows throngs of people walking on the boardwalk to and from the station, with more crowds and horse-drawn vehicles on the dirt road. Eventually, the station would close when rail operations were relocated, but the city of North Bay bought it in 2001, restoring it as a heritage discovery centre.


North Bay CPR Train Station Patriotic 2 This 1904 patriotic private postcard, published in Toronto by the Atkinson Bros. as part of their well-known series of patriotics, was postmarked in North Bay on 23 December and in Stratford, ON the following day. Showing another view of the depot, it bears a practical message saying: “Tell Auntie Carrie that the spoon has not arrived yet.” Although Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1874 in Brantford, ON and his Canadian patent was issued in 1877, telephones remained a luxury for years to come. Postcard collecting was all the rage between about 1901 and 1915, and trains were a fast and reliable means of mail transport. Thus it was both practical and fashionable for “Cousin Maggie” to send her message on a postcard, which traveled the 285-mile distance to southwestern Ontario in one day.

Patriotic 1903-1904 Postcard of the CPR Depot in North Bay, Ontario

The Atkinson Bros. of Toronto also published this scarce 1903-1904 patriotic postcard of the CPR train station in North Bay. The importance of the railroad to North Bay’s growth and development can’t be overemphasized, and the railroad’s importance was certainly on the minds of early 20th century North Bayites.

Patriotic 1906 CPR Depot, Published for Jeweler E. W. Ross of North Bay

This seldom seen 1906 private patriotic postcard, part of a series created by the Young Bros. of Toronto, was published for jeweler E.W. Ross of North Bay. While the CPR Depot is shown, it is ironically juxtaposed with a teepee and two Indians, and is captioned “Original Owners of Our Country.” The contrast is somewhat ironic since the Iron Horse, as trains were nicknamed, played such a large role in displacing Native Americans during westward expansion. See one of the earliest known images of North Bay, published by Ross in 1884.


The scarce hand-colored postcard to the left below was published by Phillips & Wrinch for Mrs. R. E. Karp of North Bay. The second similar image of the CPR in the gold surround, in which a train has pulled into the station and passengers mill about, is included to show a fancier way in which postcard images were sometimes presented. The center image is a close-up of the station, while the vintage postcard to the right is interesting in that it shows an otherwise unseen view of a news stand occupying the right front corner of the building.

North Bay CPR Hand ColoredNorth Bay CPR Framed North Bay CPR Train Station 1 North Bay Union Station with News Stand
North Bay CPR Train Station 2 North Bay CPR Overview

The image at top left shows passengers at Union Station; the one below it is an overview of the CPR which illustrates its size and importance in relationship to the downtown area. In the second postcard and looking to the left of the train station, one sees the building which housed the CPR Lunch. We think the lunch counter may have originally been in the train station, where the newsstand was, but relocated. CPR Lunch closed in about 1975 and was torn down in either 1975 or 1976. Note the Mackey House, further discussed below, behind the train station. Next to the Mackey is a cafe, and a large sign that says “Rooms to Let.” Two doors down from the Mackey, a large sign along a building cornice says: “Canadian Employment, Steamship…,” the last word being illegible.

North Bay CPR Train No. 97

The bold c. 1907-1915 image of a steam engine, published by Rumsey & Co. of Toronto, is of CPR Train No. 97, Engine No. 1160, at North Bay. The unknown sender, writing at 10:00 a.m., said: “Am at North Bay now. This is the train to Moosejaw. Leave here at 10:30 and don’t have to change again. Left Sundridge at 3:20 this morning… was to South River… It’s cold and damp… Will drop a card at Winnipeg.”

North Bay Station Square 1

The Station Square image to the left, looking south on Front St. (now Oak St.) toward the CPR railway station, was published by Valentine & Sons of Toronto and shows many of the commercial buildings whose lifeblood was the railroad, including the Devlin Block built in 1910. The Dominion Café was in the Devlin building. The postcard was never mailed, but someone wrote on the reverse: “The young Prince of Wales was walking on this [sic] grounds during his stay, mixed along with all the people as though he was one of us.” The Prince of Wales (1894-1972) would grow up to be HRH King Edward VIII, best known for giving up the throne in 1936 to marry American divorcée Wallis Warfield Simpson in 1937. The c. 1907-1915 postcard to the right shows Station Square looking north, with the Queen’s Hotel turret and its large advertising sign seen in the distance.

North Bay Station Square 2

The Prince of Wales most likely visited North Bay during his 1919 visit to Canada. He’s shown below (left) on the day of his investiture as the Prince of Wales on 23 June 1910, on his 16th birthday. The center image shows him in 1919, at age 25, when it’s believed he visited North Bay. In this view, the Prince is camping near Nipigon. In 1936, at age 42 and now King Edward VIII, he abdicated to marry Simpson, an event which occurred the following year. King Edward’s reign was so short that he was never actually crowned.

The Prince of Wales at His 1910 Investiture, Age 16 The Prince of Wales Camping Near Nipigon, Ontario in 1919 King Edward VIII and Wallis Warfield Simpson
North Bay Station Square 3

Looking north along Oak St. between 1906 and 1915 provides a fine view of Victorian storefronts. A horse and wagon are stopped near a store named for McClavir. See a contemporary early 1900s collection of rare New Ontario Brewery artifacts.

North Bay CNR Depot 1

The CNR depot at Second and Fraser looked like this. Grand Trunk Train No. 68, with steam engine number 1010, is shown in a c. 1907 postcard, when the CNR was known as the Northern Pacific and the Grand Trunk. Although never postally used, the sender wrote a message on the reverse to his father, which says: “A train leaving for Toronto on the Grand Trunk. The government railway of Canada comes into here a lot, runs up into the mining district [of] Cobalt, Porcupine and Cochrane.” A side view of the CNR train station is shown below.

North Bay Grand Trunk Train No. 68
North Bay CNR Depot 2

Viewed left to right, two finely detailed private post cards, published by Stedman Bros. Ltd. of Brantford, show the new offices of the T. & N.O. on Oak St., designed by architect Henry (Harry) Westlake Angus of London, Ontario. A boardwalk leads to the offices, and smaller buildings can be seen on either side. The 1907-1915 split-view card shows the T. & N.O. roundhouse. Founded in 1902 in North Bay as the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway Commission, the T. & N.O. was a provincial government railroad intended to facilitate Northern Ontario colonization from Lake Nipissing to New Liskeard on the northern end of Lake Temiskaming. The name was changed to the ONR (Ontario Northland Railway) in 1946. The third 1911 postcard shows T. & N.O. Train No. 1, Engine No. 128, the tender, and some of the crew in North Bay. The c. 1907-1915 postcard to the right, published by Campbell, shows their office and freight sheds from a different angle.

North Bay TNO Offices 1 North Bay TNO Offices 2 North Bay TNO RoundhouseNorth Bay TNO Train No. 1 North Bay TNO Offices 3

White-border postcards were produced between 1915 and 1930; the white-border view of the T. & N.O. (below, left) probably dates to the late 1920s. The man at front left in the doorway has on a uniform and matching cap. Perhaps he was the conductor. Two bicycles are parked along the left side of the building, while three cars parked along the same side indicate that the automobile had gained acceptance in town as a means of commuting to work. The scarce private postcard seen (below, middle), probably dating to c. 1903 to 1907, shows the T. & N.O. railroad yards at North Bay. Finely detailed and of high quality, it was published by Campbell of North Bay. A 1914 postcard (below, right) shows the railway yards on the west end of the lake shore. This finely detailed and hard-to-find post card shows advertising for Blanchetts on the side of a warehouse seen in the foreground.

TNO Railroad Office, c. 1920s TNO Railroad Yards at North Bay, Ontario North Bay, Railroad Yards on the West End of the Lake Shore

F. E. Drake of Toronto, CPR Constable If you misbehaved on the trains, you were liable to meet someone such as F. E. Drake, a CPR constable from Toronto. The CPR had a police force of 400 men, stationed at principal points along the railroad’s 18,000 miles of right-of-way. Kathleen Shackleton (1884-1961), sister of famous Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, immigrated to Canada in 1912, settling in Montreal. During the 1940s, she spent eight months, including much travel, to create a series of 48 portraits of Canadian Pacific employees. The portraits were exhibited throughout Canada including in Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver. The portraits were also made available in two sets of postcards, 24 cards per set. You can see the artist’s signature just above the post card’s text area, on the right side. (And thus we have what is known as an “artist-signed” postcard.) The post cards were made available just before Christmas 1941, for employees to purchase as gifts. Or, you could buy the sets through CPR restaurants and newsstands, at a cost of 50 cents for the whole series.

North Bay Nipissing Junction ONR

The somewhat scarce Nipissing Junction postcard from October 1950, photographed by Omer Lavallée, shows a pair of new Ontario Northland RS-2 units — No. 1303 on the point — leading a northbound freight train on the approach to Nipissing Junction (ONR/CNR), a mile east of the CN station in North Bay. Lavallée was a recognized authority on railroad history, especially the CPR. He was inducted into the Order of Canada in 1989 and after his 1992 death, the reading room at the CPR’s archives was named in his honor.

North Bay Canadian Centennial 1 North Bay Canadian Centennial 2

Two chrome postcards to the left highlight the importance of the railroad to North Bay’s development. At top left is an image of a Class M-3-E engine, built in April 1913 by the Canadian Locomotive Company of Kingston and shown just after its June 1967 restoration. The photograph was taken at the ONR shops in North Bay by Carleton Smith. The ONR restored T. & N. O. steam engine No. 137 as its contribution to Canada’s 1967 centennial celebrations. William R. Forder, a prolific North Bay and area photographer, photographed the train when it made a Fall 1967 excursion north of town. Both of these centennial images were published by Audio-Visual Designs of Earlton, New York.

North Bay Ontario Northland 1 North Bay, The Northlander

ONR No. 1403, leaving North Bay for Temagami, is shown at top left. Below it is the famous Northlander, showing passenger train No. 122 stopped for boarding at North Bay on 20 January 1983. The Northlander connects Northern and Southern Ontario with service between Toronto and Cochrane six days a week, along the Highway 11 corridor. ONR steam engine No. 503 (right) is in Lee Park, commemorating the days of steam engines and North Bay’s role as a southern terminus of the railroad.

North Bay Ontario Northland 2

Nipissing District General Election Railroad development not only spurred development of the timber industry but also opened markets for the area’s other natural resources such as nickel, iron, copper, gold, platinum, silver and cobalt. North Bay became a supply center and a manufacturing base serving these industries. One of the lumber barons who rose to political prominence during this time period was Liberal Party member Charles Arthur McCool (27 February 1853-19 March 1926), seen in a scarce patriotic political postcard depicting Sir Wilfred Laurier and McCool. McCool, born in Chichester, Québec, served two years as a reeve in Mattawa before representing the Nipissing riding in the House of Commons from 1900 to 1908. He was defeated in the 1908 election by another lumber merchant, Conservative George Gordon. This postcard is No. UNK15-002 in Smith’s Canadian Patriotic Postcard Checklist, 1898-1928.


Important dignitaries such as Prime Minister Laurier would have traveled the country in a luxurious railroad car such as the “Sir James,” (left) which belonged to the Ontario Government Railway (OGR). We’d like more information on the OGR and the “Sir James.” If you recognize this location, let us know. The center real-photo postcard (RPPC) has a pencilled notation on the reverse, that this is the observation car of the CPR’s Imperial Limited at North Bay, Ontario. This vintage postcard was one of a series of RPPCs taken in the 1920s by a family of immigrants traveling across Canada by train. Speaking of as-yet-unidentified locations, one wonders where the train wreck (right), only described as being “near North Bay” occurred, as seen in a private postcard which is perhaps as early as 1903.

The Sir James, Ontario Government Railway Canadian Pacific Railway, Imperial Limited Observation Car in North Bay, Ontario Train Wreck near North Bay
Banff Springs Hotel in the Canadian Rockies, Canada

The Imperial Limited was the CPR’s premier passenger train between Montreal, Quèbec and Vancouver, British Columbia. Beginning operation on 18 June 18 1899, it traveled seven days a week as a seasonal service, supplementing the eastward-bound Atlantic Express and the westward-bound Pacific Express, each of which traveled six days per week. The Imperial Limited catered to well-heeled tourists wanting to see and vacation in the Rocky Mountains. It was these wealthy people whom Sir William Cornelius Van Horne, a CPR president, sought to attract to Canada, many sailing on Canadian Pacific’s ocean ships, then traveling on CPR trains and staying in CPR chalets at the Banff Springs Hotel (left) and at Chateau Lake Louise (right). Sir Van Horne famously remarked: “Since we can’t export the scenery, we will have to import the tourists.” The Imperial operations ceased during the Great Depression, in 1933.

Chateaeu Lake Louise, Canada

North Bay Road Construction

Here we see two circa 1907 Campbell postcards of public improvements in North Bay, as the town grew: a jackhammer is being used to work on McIntyre St. in front of City Hall, and there’s a steam boiler on Main St. to operate jackhammers. We believe that engineer L. O. Clarke, who worked in conjunction with architect Angus, may have masterminded many of these improvements.

North Bay Public Improvement
North Bay City Hall 1North Bay Courthouse

City Hall looked like this (top left and right), c. 1907-1915. The court house and district buildings as they appeared about the same time are seen at bottom left. M. W. Flannery, who had moved to North Bay in 1887, became the town clerk and division court clerk in 1897. It’s believed that Wesley Coleman was the first policeman, from 1882 to 1890. Coleman wore many hats, including those of bailiff and tax collector. The North West Mounted Police (NWMP), forerunner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), are said to have established their presence on the northeastern shore of Lake Nipissing in 1882 as well, although we’ve been unable to document that information. Isaac Kinsella was North Bay’s first chief of police, serving from 1895 to 1906. A handsome, if fanciful, patriotic view of City Hall is seen below, in which it appears improbably exalted to the level and grandeur of surrounding images of Niagara Falls, the prairies and their agricultural fertility, the Rocky Mountains and Parliament. High hopes abounded.

North Bay City Hall 2
North Bay City Hall Patriotic

Electricity was available beginning in 1894, when John Bourke built a steam-generated power plant, later owned from 1904 to 1912 by the North Bay Light, Heat and Power Company. But by 1907, North Bay Light Heat and Power had competition from the new Nipissing Power Company, which would provide the first hydroelectric power for the town. Owned by a Toronto firm, Nipissing Power developed hydraulic power 20 miles south of North Bay at McNabb Chutes near South River, two miles from the village of Nipissing. Both companies also supplied electricity to run pumps that supplied water to North Bay.

Nipissing Power Company Interior By 1908, the race was on between North Bay Light, which could supply steam-generated power, and Nipissing Power’s hydraulically generated power. There was much jockeying for position between the two companies. The Nipissing Power plant was completed in March 1910 and, later that spring, a 22,000-volt transmission line was completed which ran from Nipissing Power’s South River location to the current Worthington St.East substation near John St. The interior of Nipissing’s powerhouse is shown here in a scarce real-photo postcard. We think this confident, suited gentleman was William Robertson (“Bill”) Stewart (1883-1969). Born in McNabb Township on 10 September 1883, he began working for North Bay Light when he came to town in 1906. He stayed with Nipissing Power when they bought out North Bay Light in 1912, and with Ontario Hydro when they bought out Nipissing Power on 10 March 1916, eventually retiring from North Bay Hydro in 1952. And thus began the modern era in which power is supplied to customers at cost.


North Bay Fire Department Another early service was the fire department, located in the rear of City Hall. The postcard to the left was published by J. B. Cornell of North Bay. Many thanks to North Bay Fire Department Chief Ted McCullough for supplying the names of these 1908-1910 firefighters. Left to right, they are: Driver Jack Mulligan; Fire Chief J.W. Sewell; Deputy Chief Joe Burke; J. Schoefield; Seaforth McKenzie; T. Schoefield; J. Dyer; J. Setchell; Vic Casper; and Oliver Garvin. The man in the back is Mr. Jamieson, a blacksmith, and the horses are Paddy and Barney.


Eleven members of the fire brigade and three civilians are shown in the c. 1915 postcard at bottom left. Notice what appears to be a brass hand pump on the horse-drawn vehicle at far right. Where was the large 1902 fire seen in the image at bottom right? The postcard is simply titled “The Fire at North Bay,” with no mention of what building this was. It appears to be frame. One identical 27 June 1907 image references this as a factory fire in which several homes were also lost, while another indicates that the fire occurred at about 10:00 p.m. See other photographs of historic North Bay fires at the North Bay Fire Department’s web site.

North Bay Fire Brigade North Bay Fire

North Bay Ferguson Block 1 North Bay Ferguson Block 2

In downtown North Bay at the corner of Main and Algonquin, the Ferguson Block looked like this. It replaced an earlier grand, turreted Victorian building of Mr. Ferguson’s which burned; ironically, the building seen here also burned, in 1964. In addition to being a successful land speculator and the town’s first postmaster, Ferguson had mining interests in the Cobalt and Montreal River areas, at one time managed Sudbury’s Dominion Mineral Co., owned substantial amounts of North Bay Light, Heat and Power stock, was president of North Bay’s Board of Trade and apparently had an interest in the North Bay Brick & Tile Co. This old private post card was published by A. C. Rorabeck, a North Bay druggist. At bottom left, we see another approach to the Ferguson Block. Just beyond the Ferguson building and in this early Stedman Bros. private postcard, we see in the distance a three-story Empire style brick building with a mansard roof, c. 1865-1885, and a large two-story residence which was likely one of the earliest homes in town. The Second Empire commercial building was the Pacific Hotel, before its major additions.


A 1920s postcard below shows a larger view of how the Ferguson building was situated on the block. Some sort of stop sign is in the street, and (Patrick) McCool Drugs (advertising candy and Kodak film) and Nichols Real Estate are seen.

North Bay Ferguson Block 3
North Bay Main and Front

The image to the left, published by Warwick Bros. & Rutter of Toronto for the Thomas Co., shows construction at Main and Front Sts., in front of what we believe was John Bourke’s similar “flat iron building.” More public improvements are occurring. Some of the other area businesses near Main and Front can also be seen.

It would be interesting to know who the architect of these North Bay buildings was. It has been suggested that it may have been the firm of Angus and Angus, architects and engineers, and that Thomas McKelvey was the builder. H. W. Angus still lived in London, ON at the time he designed the T. & N.O. offices. Born in London on 27 March 1882 and schooled there, he worked for H. C. McBride of London from 1897-1900. He moved to Sault Ste. Marie in 1901, working for and partnering with J. Thomson until 1903. Thomson & Angus worked out of North Bay as well. In 1904, Angus and Angus was formed with H. W.’s brother, Robert. H. W. Angus died in North Bay on 28 November 1929. Thomas McKelvey is listed as a married 38-year-old carpenter in the 1891 census. McKelvey’s 22-year-old wife was named Isabella and they had two children at the time, Lotty, age one, and Thomas W., age three months.

New York Flatiron Building

Ferguson and Bourke were forward thinking in their choice of a “flat iron” design. The original Flatiron Building in New York City, one of the great monuments of 20th century architectural history, is located at the corner of Broadway and Fifth Ave. and was designed by noted architect Daniel H. Burnham. Built in 1902, it was innovative in its use of a steel frame and is considered by many to be the first skyscraper. It was ridiculed as “Burnham’s Folly” during its construction, as people thought it would collapse (It’s still there.). Bold and sophisticated in design and only six feet wide at its apex, the 21-story, wedge-shaped structure has been likened to the bow of a ship. In this regard, the choice by Ferguson and Bourke to use a flat iron design was appropriate to the shores of Lake Nipissing.

Learn more about Ontario’s architectural history.

North Bay Rorabeck Pharmacy Bottle 1 North Bay Rorabeck Pharmacy Bottle 2

Mr. Rorabeck’s drugstore was at the corner of Main St. and Klock (Algonquin Ave.), probably in the Ferguson Building. He bought the business from John G. Cormak, the first druggist in town. A small park is now located at the former site of the Nipissing Drug Store, as it was known. By about 1906, Rorabeck relocated to 158 Main St. West, which would be the location from where these particular postcards were sold. He created several well-known products, including Rorabeck’s 110 cough preparation. Perhaps the cure was worse than the disease, as this concoction contained cod liver oil, creosote and Scotch whiskey to wash it all down. It was made in-house and was wildly popular. It was later manufactured for him by the Sterns Co. and by Wampoles. To the left are two images of the pharmacy’s bottles. This one was dug in Tillsonburg by Jay Preston, who kindly supplied the photographs. The text reads: “The Nipissing Drug Store/A.C. Rorabeck, Phm B./North Bay, Ontario.” The bottle itself was manufactured in the United States. Pharmacist Frank Tipler started work there in 1928. Reg Harris purchased the store in 1933; the name changed to Harris Drug Store. Speaking of alcohol, Nipissing Lager beer was available from the New Ontario Brewery from 1905 until the brewery burned down in 1915.

North Bay, Rorabeck Pharmacy 1 North Bay, Rorabeck Pharmacy 2

A glimpse of Rorabeck’s Pharmacy is seen at right front in this 1910 Campbell postcard. Rorabeck’s name is etched into the streetside glass window, and a second-story sign says “Rorabeck Chemist & Druggist.” In between the red-and-white striped awning and the blue-and-white striped awning is the storefront of the Thomas Co. jewelry store, which published several of the postcards on this page. One sender, named Hannah, wrote: “This is the Main St. Our house is behind that building with the flag on it. It is the post office and Will works across the way.” A private postcard at bottom left offers a different view of Main St., with Rorabeck’s at front left and the N. McCubbin menswear store next door.

North Bay Main St. Traders Bank North Bay Main St. in Winter

The Rorabeck-published postcard at top left is a view of Main St. looking east which shows the Traders Bank of Canada — the first bank in town — at right front. It opened on 18 March 1895 with we believe L. P. Snyder as the manager and John Stephens following after that. Can’t quite read the other store names. Does anyone know? Another postcard publisher who published an almost identical view of the Trader’s Bank was D. St. Onge of North Bay. (We’ve also seen an example of a St. Onge postcard of the Presbyterian Church.) Incidentally, Traders opened a Sturgeon Falls branch on 16 February 1899. That branch of Traders was absorbed by the Royal Bank on 3 September 1912. A wintry 1908 view, finely detailed and published by Campbell, shows many more Main St. storefronts. Notice the large advertising clock on the left side of the street.

North Bay Thompson Jewelers Front

Streetside advertising clocks were often employed by jewelers to promote their businesses; perhaps the one seen in the wintry view denotes the location of jeweler Gerald C. Thompson’s W. Main St. location (in the same block as Harry Mulligan Woolens). This scarce 1908 advertising postcard from Thompson suggested holiday gifts including a series of ornate and bejeweled Victorian lockets manufactured by the W & H Co., which we believe was the Wightman & Hough Co. of Providence, Rhode Island, in operation from 1856 until 1922.

North Bay Thompson Jewelers Back

The postcard was sent to Frank Bosworth of North Bay, with the message reading: “As an article of jewelry, lockets are very much in vogue this year and also make desirable receptacles for precious mementoes and photos. The W & H make for 50 years have been the best known and most generally used.”

North Bay Greetings

Just as the manufacturer had pre-printed Thompson’s advertising message, so postcard publishers printed generic greeting postcards, into which the town name was inserted upon receipt of an order. The publisher of this floral North Bay greeting is unknown, although the verse is charming. It says: “Well, here I am in North Bay/Enjoying its sights and cheer;/Everything’s great and I’m feeling first rate,/But, O, how I wish you were here!”

North Bay Main St. Framed

These two “Souvenir of North Bay” postcards appear to be in picture frames, which is a trompe l’oiel (“fool the eye”) artistic technique not commonly seen in vintage postcards, but is employed here in the suggestion of a three-dimensional wooden picture frame surrounding each image. The Atkinson Bros. of Toronto, noted for a series of Canadian patriotic postcards such as the CPR train station (above) and Duchesney Creek (below), also published a series of town views such as these two postcards. An early group of Main St. stores is shown in the 1907-1915 postcard to the left. One of the stores has a canopy which says “The Old,” but I can’t make out the rest of the name. Who knows the answer? The unsent Main St. postcard contains an interesting message which demonstrates the relative ease and speed with which travelers could now travel via the railroad. The sender wrote: “Dear friend, I am sorry that I could [not] let you know that I had to leave in a hurry and this is my first chance to let you know. From your Kid. I will be in Dekota (sic) [Dakota] in two days.” The second Atkinson image in this North Bay series depicts the post office, about which more is written below.

North Bay Post Office Framed

North Bay Mission Cigar Store Harry Stiner’s Mission Cigar Store was in a modest one-story frame building immediately between the Chicago Café, further described below, and what was at one time Campbell & McDearmid’s clothing store. (Is this the same Campbell family which published postcards?) The interior of the cigar store, as seen in this real-photo postcard, had a central aisle, with display cases on either side, moose antlers hung on the right-hand wall above shelving, and a pressed tin ceiling and walls. The sign in the window says: “Our system retains all the natural flavor and aroma of the tobacco.”


North Bay Crystal Palace Movie Theatre Interestingly, the bottom of the cigar store sign gives the name of photographer J. A. Noel, who worked in North Bay between 1904 and 1925, partnering with his brother, Alex P. Noel, between 1916 and 1925. There are 24 photographers presently documented as having worked in North Bay in the late 19th and 20th centuries. See the Northern Ontario Postcard Photographers page for more information. J. A. Noel also published postcards, such as this c. 1913 view of Main St. looking west, which wasn’t postally used until 1930. In this image, one sees the storefront of E. W. Ross, who also published postcards, at right front. Several examples of Ross postcards are shown on this page. The Crystal Palace movie theatre and the Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank) are across the road.

North Bay Beamish Store 1 North Bay Beamish Store 2

The Beamish & Smith dry goods store was on Main St. by 1905. It’s the one-story building with the red-and-white striped awning and the concave mansard roof. Use of the Second Empire style mansard roof dates Beamish & Smith to the 1880s. The second view of the store was published by the Thomas Co. At top right, one sees a graphically striking 1905 postcard showing tan two-story frame buildings on the right side of Main St., including a bakery. The 1907-1909 postcard at bottom right shows Main looking towards Ferguson, with a jewelry store being the second store in on the right side.

North Bay Main St. Bakery North Bay Main towards Ferguson

The view towards Ferguson St. is an interesting example of how time frames involved in the dating of vintage postcards can be narrowed down and pinpointed. Divided-back postcards — in which separate areas for the message and address were first provided, as with modern postcards — first appeared in 1907 and the “divided-back era” lasted from 1907-1915. However, automobile transportation began c. 1909, thus dating this image in which all vehicles are horse-drawn to the 1907 to 1909 time frame. Learn more about postcard styles on the Old Postcards and Antique Postcards page, and find postcard price guides and other reference books on the Postcard Price Guides page.

North Bay Campbell's Drug Store

Strangely, although Campbell Drugs was the source for many fine early North Bay postcards, this c. 1915 view of it, in an image looking west on Main St., was printed in France for the Pugh Specialty Co. of Toronto. Campbell’s is the three-story brick building at right front. Druggist Campbell came to North Bay in 1902; his pharmacy was originally in the Queen’s Hotel block.


The Queen’s Hotel

North Bay Queen's Hotel 1

There were a number of nice hotels downtown, including the Queen’s Hotel at the intersection of Front St. (now Oak St.), Fraser and Main, as seen in this 1909 postcard which was published by E. H. Ross of North Bay. Built c. 1888 by contractor Robert Wallace and his son and owned by Edward Lynch, it had lavish ornate wooden gingerbread trim, typical of Victorian tastes, on balconies overlooking the CPR. This view shows the entrance to the Queens’ dining room. This part of the hotel is still standing and has the original ceilings. It later became Lovell’s Music Shop, which closed in 2000. A second private post card (right), published by druggist H. S. Campbell of North Bay and sent to Florence Darling of Wisawasa, shows the hotel in relationship to the post office.

North Bay Queen's Hotel 2
North Bay Royal Cafe

Hand-colored postcards, such as this image of the Queen’s as viewed from Oak St., are usually of very good quality and are highly collectible. The nicely detailed image of the Queen’s also shows a barber shop pole at curbside, the Royal Café and Beamish & Smith. It was not inexpensive to stay at the Queen’s, which could accommodate up to 100 guests, with room rates between $1.50 to $2.00 a night when the hotel opened. Most of the Queen’s burned in the 1930s, with the dates we’ve found variously reported as 1936 and 1938. The CIBC bank at 195 Main St. W. now occupies most of the former site of the hotel.

North Bay Queen's Hotel Lobby

The Victorian opulence of the Queen’s is seen in the 1913 view of the lobby, when the hotel was owned by Harry Shepherd. Heavy Edwardian chairs, upholstered in black leather, are scattered throughout the room (erroneously labeled as a “rotunda” on the card), with an almost equal number of brass spittoons strategically placed beside the chairs. Two potted palms, de rigeuer for interior decorating of the era, are shown. To one side of the desk clerk’s counter, stairs are seen leading to upstairs rooms. The image to the right shows the Queen’s as viewed on Front St. While it looks similar to the images above, window and door placement appears to be slightly different, perhaps as a result of remodeling at some time. This postcard was published by the Atkinson Bros. of Toronto.

North Bay Queen's Hotel on Front St.
North Bay, Ontario, Queen's Hotel

A scarce vintage postcard of the Queen’s Hotel, postmarked on 12 August 1913, depicts a carful of men showing off their new car. Henry Ford first produced Model Ts in 1908; by 1913, four-seater automobiles with hardtops were available. Vintage postcards such as this were intended, in part, to show how progressive and modern the town was. In addition, this postcard shows the wonderfully detailed gingerbread used on the Queen’s. Strangely, an unusual post is used to prop up the third floor porch, with the base of the post jutting out into the street, unlike other support columns. We doubt that any building inspector would have approved this jerry-rigged solution to provide adequate support. Two people and a long settee can be seen on the second floor porch, while a curtain blows in the wind on the third floor. There seems to have been some sort of exhibit, show or circus in town, as the unknown sender, writing to Miss Kate Mitchell of 345 Livingston Ave. in Lyndhurst, NJ, wrote: “Well, the first show went fairly well. The lights and mechanical end was off at times…Not so cold this a.m. Leave here at 10-10 a.m. for Sudbury.” One wonders what the weather was like that day, for the sender to complain of being cold in August.


Below, we see a highly romanticized 1908 image of the Queen’s, with the hotel inset against an improbable background evoking the sweeping majesty of the Rocky Mountains, with the final touch being a cottage at lake’s edge. We are brought back to the more mundane realities of life in North Bay when reading the sender’s message, which says: “I am here at last and don’t find that things have changed very much. One thing sure, it is awfully hot here and not many shade trees.” So much for romantic fantasies!

North Bay Queen's Hotel Romanticized

North Bay Grand Central Hotel The Grand Central Hotel (also known as the Grand Union Hotel), was built by John Flannigan and was at the intersection of Foren and McIntyre Sts., as seen in this c. 1905 postcard in a view looking east. It’s the prominent yellow or tan building with a Second Empire-style mansard roof, which dates the Grand’s construction to about 1885. It perhaps predates by a few years most of the other hotels mentioned here. Patrick M. Bourke, a machinist with the CPR, bought the hotel in 1903. Mr. Bourke, who was only 49 when he died on 24 May 1913, was also the head volunteer fire chief of North Bay at some point in time. He was known for his fondness for horses and horse racing, with one of his mares, Gracie Pointer, finishing second in a 1906 Montreal race. The postcard image is thought to have been taken from the top of the Pro-Cathedral, during the cathedral’s 1905 construction. Klock (Algonquin) Ave. heads off to the right, while McIntyre heads off to the left. St. Andrews’spire is seen in the distance. The business in the right foreground bears the name of J. E. Farrell & Co., Plumbers & Fitters.


North Bay Mackey House 1 The aforementioned Mackey House, built in 1886 by George Fee and J. J. Mackey, was also clustered near the CPR. This scarce private post card, published by E. E. Sieber of North Bay and bearing a 1911 Train No. 8 RPO cancel from the Ottawa & Sault Ste. Marie (a.k.a Ottawa & S.S. Marie), shows the intersection of Front (Oak) St. and Ferguson and the corner entrance to the Mackey House, which is the large two-story white frame building in the foreground. The Mackey extended to Main St. In 1945, it was destroyed by fire. To the left of the Mackey entrance is a store which is probably either “The American Fair,”; owned by W. J. Parsons, or “The Cheap Cash Store,” whose wares included dry goods, groceries and glassware. Adjacent to that store is a streetside, life-sized barber pole, with a liquor store to the left of it. F. A. York’s name is on one of the store canopies.


North Bay Mackey House 2 A second vintage postcard also shows the liquor store to the left of the Mackey House and the three-story brick Winnipeg Hotel, complete with a grand second-floor balcony ornamented with Victorian gingerbread trim, on the opposite corner. It would appear from the Italianate-style of the large eave brackets, placed on a deep trim band, that the Winnipeg was built c. 1885. The popularity of the Italianate style waned by about 1890.


The Hotel Cecil, built by the Wallaces for owner Thomas McAuley in 1898, was a handsome four-story brick building at the corner of Main and Wyld. The center c. 1912 view of it, looking west on Main St., was published by Stedman Bros. Ltd. of Brantford. It shows many of the surrounding buildings, including a laundry in the modest one-story gray frame building across the street. Today, the Hotel Cecil is known as the Continental, which is further discussed below. Dole & Son’s five-and-dime store published the c. 1907-1910 postcard of the Pacific Hotel, also built in 1886 to cater to rail traffic. As was the case with the Queen’s, its balconies overlooked the CPR yards and, like some of the other hotels, it ferried its passengers back and forth between the hotel and the train station. Demolished in 1981, it was at the corner of Toronto (now Oak St.) and North Bay Road (now Algonquin). G. H. Mackey was the manager in 1887. The Pacific had a bar at the far end, and there’s an interesting sign hanging in a first-floor window which says “Committee Room - Hospital Campaign.” A fourth private post card, published by the Stedman Bros. of Brantford, shows another side of the building. What is the building to the right? The final view of the Pacific, published by Rumsey and mailed in 1913, shows its ornate roofline advertising sign.

North Bay Hotel Cecil North Bay Hotel Cecil 2 North Bay Pacific Hotel 1 North Bay, Pacific Hotel 2 North Bay, Pacific Hotel 3

North Bay, Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital 1 North Bay, Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital 2

The dating of the Pacific Hotel view is an interesting example of how small details can help date vintage postcards, as the hospital campaign referred to in the window sign occurred in either 1907 or 1910. It concerned construction efforts at Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital, seen in the 1907-1910 postcard at top left and in the 1927 postcard at bottom left. The Dutch gambrel roofline incorporated in the gables was somewhat uncommon but fashionable during the latter years of Victorian architecture, and was part of the Neo-Colonial Revival style which swept the nation in its various permutations from about 1910 to 1925. One of the drawbacks to use of gambrel roofs in Canada was that they tended to collect snow more than other rooflines did.

North Bay, Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital 3

The first Separate School, with its Victorian bell tower, is seen to the left of the Queen Victoria Hospital in the image above. Although the c. 1907 postcard, published by Thomas of North Bay, was never mailed, it bears a somewhat cryptic message to Mary Ann Cochrane of Douglas,Ontario. Another lady named Mary wrote: “I am sending you this card of the hospital. It is up on what they call Priest Hill. I pass where it is but never was in it. It is not a very nice place where it is built.”

Lady Minto

As early as 1899, the Victorian Order of Nurses for Canada (VON) (now Canada’s largest, national, nonprofit, charitable home and community care organization) had established a “Queen Victoria Cottage Hospital” in North Bay, with a nurse in charge. In 1902, a temporary hospital opened and in 1904, Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital was built on Klock (Algonquin) Ave. That same year, Dr. Edgar Brandon, specializing in pediatrics and surgery, came to Memorial Hospital from Toronto. Monies for hospital construction came via a grant from the “Lady Minto Hospital Fund.” Lady Mary Caroline Minto (1858-1940), wife of Canada’s Governor-General, lived in Canada from 1898 to 1904. She was a prominent philanthropist; one of her causes was providing health care to then-remote areas of Canada. Her health care motto was “caring together.” In all, 38 hospitals across Canada were built in part with monies from the Lady Minto Hospital Fund. (Some sources give the number as 43.) Learn more about the Minto family.

Lady Minto Hospital at Cochrane, Ontario Chapleau, Lady Minto Hospital

Today, only two Canadian hospitals still bear Lady Minto’s name; one is the Lady Minto Hospital at the north end of Eight St. in Cochrane, seen here in a c. 1915 Azo real-photo postcard. In July 1911, a fire nearly destroyed Cochrane and, after government relief funds paid out claims, the remaining money was used as seed money for Cochrane General. Construction began in 1915; the name was changed to Lady Minto Hospital on 20 December 1915, to meet eligibility requirements for a $3,000 VON grant. The Minto Hospital at Cochrane opened on 24 May 1916 and was significantly altered and expanded in 1955. Many thanks to Marc Larose of Shannon, Québec for this image. The Lady Minto Hospital in Chapleau apparently had an “Indian wing.” One can only imagine what conditions were like in the “Indian wing.” Mail to the hospital was sometimes misaddressed to “The Lady’s Mental Hospital.”

Lady Minto Hospital at New Liskeard, Ontario

Another Minto hospital was built in New Liskeard, as seen in the private postcard (left) published by the Stadelman Bros. of Cobalt and New Liskeard. Notice the similar configuration of the Chapleau and New Liskeard hospitals; many Minto hospitals throughout Canada were similar in layout. A scarce private post card (right) shows the Minto Hospital under construction at New Liskeard. Learn more about Lady Minto’s husband and his importance in Canadian history on the Lord Minto page.

Lady Minto Hospital Under Construction at New Liskeard, Ontario

North Bay Civic Hospital Additional building referred to in the hospital campaign sign in the Pacific Hotel window in North Bay occurred in 1907 and, in 1910, an added wing brought the number of hospital beds to 46, with 10 bassinets. On 31 December 1924, the VON ceased its connection with cottage hospitals throughout the country; Queen Victoria Hospital in North Bay became self-governing. The City of North Bay accepted the property in 1931, by a special Act of Parliament, operating the facility as a general hospital. Nurses were trained there until 1933. We believe the old Queen Victoria Hospital was demolished during construction of the 100-bed North Bay Civic Hospital, which opened on 8 April 1951 and is seen to the left in a Forder real-photo postcard of great clarity. The Civic Hospital was further expanded in 1969 and 1991, finally consolidating with St. Joseph’s Hospital in 1995; the consolidation produced the North Bay General Hospital.

North Bay St. Joseph's Hospital 1

To the left is a c. 1951 Forder real-photo postcard of St. Joseph’s Hospital, earlier than the PECO view to the right, which shows that parking has been expanded at St. Joe’s. Plans are now underway to build a new North Bay General Hospital on College Drive across from the Nipissing University residences. Northeast Mental Health Centre, at 4700 Highway 11-N, is the region’s psychiatric hospital. Built in 1956, it opened in 1957.

North Bay St. Joseph's Hospital 2

North Bay McIntyre St. 1North Bay McIntyre St. 2

Two views of McIntyre St., both published by Rorabeck, are seen to the left. The 1908 image at top left was taken looking east on McIntyre towards the Pro-Cathedral of the Assumption. The second Rorabeck postcard, from 1909, shows more substantial brick homes and, interestingly, another glimpse of the old court house at far left, at the intersection of McIntyre and Plouffe. The court house was torn down in the 1980s, replaced by a larger one; this site is now a parking lot. John Bourke, North Bay’s first mayor, lived in this neighborhood. One can catch a glimpse of the Methodist church, of which there is a larger c. 1907-1915 image below. Both postcard images are also occasionally found with a patriotic “From the Land of the Maple” theme. The patriotic to the left (below) was published by the Atkinson Bros. c. 1907; the patriotic at bottom right, postmarked in 1907, bears a caption identifying the view as “The West End” of North Bay.

North Bay, Patriotic Postcard Published by the Atkinson Bros. of Toronto, c. 1907 North Bay, Patriotic Postcard of West End
North Bay Worthington St. Homes

Worthington St. homes and the school, discussed below, are seen in this 1908 postcard. Published by Campbell, it contains an honest message on the reverse which says: “I am having a good time. No, I ain’t.”


See the pages on North Bay, Ontario churches and North Bay education. There are also pages on aviation; North Bay military history; rare breweriana collectibles from the New Ontario Brewery; an 1884 Orangemen Parade; and a page on North Bay winter sports.

North Bay Mayor Ferguson House 1 North Bay Mayor Ferguson House 2

In 1919, John Ferguson was elected mayor, a position he held until 1922. (He also variously served on the town council and as a reeve.) Here’s a charming 1907-1915 postcard showing the Ferguson home and the terraced lawn for which they were known, set up for a picnic and with two Union Jacks flying proudly. The second postcard is also from the 1907-1915 divided-back postcard era but was published slightly later than the picnic view, as demonstrated by the saplings seen planted in the second image and their absence in the picnic image. Mayor Ferguson and his wife are sitting in front of their large frame home, which was in central North Bay and which replaced his original log home. A portrait of Ferguson is seen to the right.

John Ferguson, Pioneer Settler of North Bay, Ontario
North Bay Ascot Motel North Bay Mayor John Ferguson's Cottage Along the French River

Mrs. Ferguson, née Jennie Fraser McFarlane, was the daughter of early settler William McFarlane. The Fergusons had two sons, William and Duncan. While they had sold much of their original 288 acres, the lot for this home occupied an entire city block. The Ascot Motel, later purchased by Day’s Inn (255 McIntyre St. W.), was built here. The Fergusons also owned a large two-story cottage on a knoll overlooking the French River. It’s seen to the right in a finely detailed view and, although not postmarked until 1926, this private post card dates to about 1907. Two canoes are in the foreground along the shore, and a lone woman stands on the dock. A scarce French River patriotic postcard, previously undocumented in books addressing patriotic postcards, is shown below. It’s perhaps as early as 1903, and was published by Knowles.

French River Patriotic Postcard, c. 1903

North Bay Homes 1 Looking north from the Normal School, one sees two frame homes being built on First St., near its intersection with Fraser. Other frame and brick homes are in the neighborhood. The Pro Cathedral and Lake Nipissing are in the background, and the steeples of St. Andrews and the First Baptist Church are also visible. Roads are still dirt, although concrete sidewalks appear to have been poured. Our readers may fondly recall Ma’s Diner, which was the smaller of the two houses (the one with the black roof) on Fraser. The front porch was removed prior to the diner opening. The house next door with the white porch and black paper on the second floor burned about three years ago. The empty lot next to the two houses under construction now houses Todd’s Vacuum Center, formerly Ernie’s Vacuum. Ernie advertised as “The Doctor of Vacuumology.” Who remembers Ernie’s radio commercials?


Below at left is a c. 1915 birds-eye view of the same neighborhood, with the homes near First and Fraser now completed and St. Mary’s Separate School seen in the distance. From an identical black-and-white postcard not shown here, we know from a sender named Sister Wilhelmina that the population was about 11,000, with 6,000 Catholics and three Catholic churches. At bottom right, a c. 1910 postcard shows a view looking southeast, with more modest frame homes along First St. W. still fronting on boardwalk instead of concrete sidewalk. The Worthington St. school is seen to the left, with the McIntyre school, Trinity United and City Hall at middle right.

North Bay Homes 2 North Bay Homes 3

North Bay, Working Class Home

Speaking of North Bay neighborhoods, here’s a scarce 1912 real-photo postcard of a home in a working-class neighborhood of North Bay; many similar homes were on Second St. E. The CNR railroad tracks were behind the Second St. homes. Many such homes were hastily constructed in cookie-cutter fashion: early subdivisions to accommodate the burgeoning population. The postcard is important from a social history perspective because it shows an ordinary home and vernacular architecture rather than the landmarks and prosperous areas most often seen in old postcard images. Two young girls, clothed identically but about a year or so apart in age, are posed in the front yard of the plain wooden home, which has not yet seen a coat of paint. Both trees are newly planted. The sender, writing to Annie Walker of Chalk River, said: “Do you like the postcard? We all got taken on Sunday…Guess who the kids are?” Several photographers were working in North Bay at the time although, unfortunately, no photographer’s name is listed on the postcard’s reverse side.

North Bay, Steamer Booth on Lake Nipissing North Bay, Steamer Booth at Frank's Bay

The lake was vital to commercial development as well. Lumber barons such as John R. Booth used Lake Nipissing to tow logs to market in Ottawa. At Gormanville, on the west side of North Bay, Booth built a sidewheeler named (what else?) the “Booth.” By 1885, the Booth was in regular service. When not towing logs, she took sightseers on special occasions such as Dominion Day. The steamer burned in 1898, apparently in a fire at Wisa-Wasi (Wasi Falls). Thomas Darling, Booth’s superintendent at Wasi, oversaw construction of a second steamship named the Booth. Completed in 1899, the second Booth was the largest steamer to ply the waters of Lake Nipissing. It, too, burned, on 7 January 1908 at Wasi. Two scarce private postcards of the Booth are seen to the left. In the top image, a canoe is seen in tow. Sightseers are most clearly seen in the bottom image, where some of them are ashore at the Frank’s Bay dock, which was on the south shore of Lake Nipissing, just east of the mouth of the French River. A c. 1903-1907 postcard showing Frank’s Bay and what appears to be dock building activity is seen below. Another notable steamer was the “Northern Belle,” about which more can be learned on the Sturgeon Falls page.

Frank's Bay, Near North Bay The Famous Northern Belle Steamship at North Bay

Shown above at top right is a scarce private post card, published by Campbell, of the Northern Belle at North Bay. There’s interesting historical information on the reverse, with the sender writing in August 1911: “We, the Bison Fishing Club, are having a great time in this wilderness. It is great up here and I like it. Of course, we fish and take trips in motor boats but at night we have a high time: play cards and celebrate birthdays. Capt. Lawry and the rest of the crew are okay. This is the ship that brought us here.” The sender gave the Bison Club’s location as Camp Lawry, Island No. 96, on the French River.

North Bay Wharf 1

The view to the left is a handsome 1910 patriotic postcard, published for the Thomas Co., showing the wharf in a great maple leaf surround. Another c. 1910 view of the dock done in color and published by Phillips & Wrinch for W. J. Herbert provides more detail for the patriotic wharf scene.

North Bay Wharf 2
North Bay Dock 1

Two additional postcards, published by Campbell of North Bay, offer more dock details. The one to the left is c. 1910, while the one to the right is a 1901-1907 undivided-back postcard.

North Bay Wharf 3
North Bay, Government Dock and Lake Nipissing by Moonlight, c. 1907

An unusual and finely detailed c. 1907 Phillips & Wrinch postcard (above) shows the Government Dock at North Bay in a moonlight view. Birch trees anchor the shoreline of the beach, which normally appeared quite polluted at the time. The sender wrote: “This would deceive you if you didn’t know the place. How in the world they ever got it to look like that is a wonder to me.” A special thank you to Kerri Stewart for retrieving this postcard for us.

North Bay Nipissing Logging

A finely detailed 1906 private postcard shows men salvaging logs along the shoreline by the government dock. We don’t know why the weather would differ substantially in Powassan from that in North Bay, but the sender wrote: “The sun is very weak up here.” The card was sent to Lizze [sic] Maloney of Powassan on 23 March. A 1907-1915 view shows a boathouse and a fishing boat in the foreground named the “Swallow.” A finely detailed 1904 patriotic postcard, seen below and published by the Warwick Bros., shows a lone home along the lakeshore.

North Bay Dock 2
North Bay, 1904 Patriotic Postcard of Lake Nipissing

Looking left to right below, four fishermen on the lake show off their catch in a 1907-1915 postcard which was published by the Copp, Clark Co. of Toronto. A charming 1912 postcard shows children enjoying the day out, fishing at the harbor, while another Copp, Clark postcard shows eight anglers in a canoe on Lake Nipissing including a female angler, which is a somewhat unusual portrayal of female activity in the early 20th century. Canoeists are shown by a water break along the shores of Lake Nipissing in a Valentine & Sons postcard, while a more traditional fishing image is shown in the Copp private post card at far right. Novelty postcards often portray “tall tale” fishing images; learn more about Canadian novelty postcards. More novelty postcards, including a silk patriotic postcard, can also be found on the North Bay military history page. There are also Mattawa military history and Sundridge military history pages, as well as information on Alderdale military activity.

North Bay, Lake Nipissing Fishing 1 North Bay, Harbor Fishing North Bay, Lake Nipissing Fishing 2 North Bay, Canoeists at Lake Nipissing by a Water Break North Bay, Lake Nipissing Fishing 3

The 1910 vertical view (below, left), of a lone fisherman at the dock, was published by Campbell of North Bay. The private post card entitled “Out of Lake Nipissing” and showing a fine specimen of northern pike, was also published by Copp, Clark.

North Bay Lone FishermanNorth Bay Northern Pike
Canoe at the Juncture of the Lavase River and Lake Nipissing, 1907

As best we can determine, this delicately hand-colored private postcard of a lone canoeist is a scene at the juncture of the Lavase River and Lake Nipissing (The Lavase would be to the left.). In the distance, one sees an unnamed island which had a farmhouse on it at the time. Did this island ever acquire a name?

North Bay, Spring Breakup

Campbell published a series of finely detailed scenic postcards of the North Bay area, c. 1901-1907. To the left is a 1907 dramatic view of a spring ice breakup. We wonder if this is Duchesney Falls. Three additional 1901-1907 private postcards, seen below and all published by Campbell, show scenic spots on Lake Nipissing, including in the second view a split-rail fence next to a small dirt road. Does anyone recognize this bay? The postcard to the right, entitled “Good Camping Ground,” is interesting in that it shows a pioneer’s log cabin and modest farm across the water. Does anyone recognize the location?

North Bay Quiet Spot on Lake Nipissing North Bay Lake Nipissing Split Rail Fence North Bay Pioneer Log Cabin
North Bay Chief Commanda

The Chief Commanda, first generation, was owned by the ONR (later the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission, or ONTC). To the left is a colorized real photo postcard of it, c. 1940s. It operated from 1947 to 1974, ferrying people, mail and freight on Lake Nipissing and the French River, and was named for Indian chief Raymond Commanda, who drowned in 1944 in the French River. After it was replaced by the Commanda II tour boat in 1974, Commanda I was donated to the Dokis Indian Reserve on the French River. It was later returned to North Bay and is now a dockside restaurant. A c. 1940s Forder RPPC shows a pleasure craft resembling the “Muscalunge,” which was owned by Johnny Size, a local radio celebrity.

North Bay Muscalunge
North Bay Ice Skating Rink

More fun could be had at this ice skating rink shown in 1907, The North Bay Rink Company Ltd., which was in the vicinity of King St. and Ferguson. The rink burned in 1928. This was also probably the location of the “Fair of All Nations.” More information on the “Fair of All Nations” is sought. The skating rink has additionally been seen in a 1909 image, with a location next door to ex-Mayor David Purvis’s mansion. Or, you could play baseball at Wallace Park, at the intersection of King and Ferguson, as shown in 1918. See our page about winter sports in North Bay.

North Bay Baseball

Here’s a good day’s hunt in the fall, in a 1907-1915 postcard (far left). Eight deer were bagged and seven hunters and their dogs are posing for the picture. An even earlier 1904 private postcard shows a week’s hunt in the Lake Nipissing District; it’s part of a series of “Typical Canadian Scene” postcards published by the Illustrated Post Card Co. of Montreal. In the center, a nicely detailed c. 1907 private postcard shows a young boy posing against a log cabin, with partridges bagged. The postcard, published by Copp, Clark of Toronto, was sent from North Bay to Miss M. Ross of Alexandria, Ontario. Fast forwarding to the 1930s, we see campers relaxing near an unknown lake in the area. Perhaps this was one of the many approved camping sites along the Ferguson Highway. In the last c. 1940s-1950s postcard, we see two men who have bagged a bull moose in the area.

North Bay Deer Hunting 1 North Bay Deer Hunting 2 Partridge Season along Lake Nipissing in North Bay, Ontario North Bay, Lakeside Camping Amidst White Birches North Bay, Two Men Bag a Bull Moose, c. 1940s-1950s
A Native in Moccasins Calling a Moose with a Moose Horn on the French River, c. 1915

Moose hunting, always an adventure, was aided by the use of a moose horn, as shown in this c. 1915 real-photo postcard of a native American, or First Nation person, wearing moccasins and using a moose horn to call the mating moose into range along the French River. Learn more about local moose hunting on the Frederic Remington moose hunt page, which describes famed artist Frederic Remington’s 1889 moose hunting trip to the Nipissing District. We’ve transcribed the tale for you from an original October 1890 issue of Harper’s New Monthly Magazine and included the original illustrations of the expedition. The postcard is of further interest insofar as it bears a Bigwood post office cancel; Bigwood is now a dead post office, or DPO.


A different kind of sport is found at the North Bay Golf & Country Club, which looked like this in the 1950s. It’s at 100 Tupper Drive and has an 18-hole championship golf course. The larger Len Leiffer continental postcard shows the playground king and queen being chosen on a Sunday afternoon in Lee Park. Pedestrians could find pleasing vistas at the rustic bridge in Lee Park, photographed by Richardson, and at the lookout on Airport Hill seen in a 1950s chrome PECO postcard.

North Bay Golf ClubNorth Bay, Lee Park Playground North Bay, Lee Park North Bay, Airport Hill Lookout
North Bay, Ferguson Highway Lookout 1

An earlier lookout along the Ferguson Highway is seen in this delicately rendered postcard (left), done in similar pastel colors and from the same Toronto-based Valentine-Black Co. as the Ferris beach scene found below. The lookout’s rock construction appears to be c. 1890-1910. In the distance, one can see what appears to be some of the larger North Bay buildings, hugging the shoreline of Lake Nipissing. John De La Vergne indicates that it was “on the east side of Highway 11 North, at the crest of the escarpment.” Barbara Treleaven owned the property when, “ about 10 years ago, the MTO (Ministry of Transportation) decided to four-lane the highway up the escarpment and improve the grade. They expropriated the Treleaven property and demolished the house. Then they blasted a huge rock cut to widen the highway…Today, even the old driveway up to the house is gone.” The postcard to the right, from about the same time period, shows the lookout in a black-and-white image.

North Bay, Ferguson Highway Lookout 2

The more sedentary could stay indoors and use their ham radios. Ham radio operators such as Georgina and Joseph Sasseville, Jr. of North Bay, whose QSL card is seen below (top left), often sent these cards, which are similar in size to a postcard, through the mail. (Their traditional use was to serve as written confirmation of either a two-way amateur radio communication or one-way reception of a signal from a radio or television station. QSL stands for “I acknowledge receipt.”) The other ham radio cards are from Terry Brown of Hornell Heights; Jim Holman; Ennis and Joyce Scobie; Matson’s Esso gas station; and Reg and Dianne Ruttan. The Hornell Heights QSL card was printed by Runnin Bare QSL Cards of McMinnville, OR, and is Runnin’ Bare Artist Series No. 110. The North Bay Amateur Radio Club, Inc. was founded in 1950.

North Bay, QSL Ham Radio Card from Georgina and Joseph Sasseville North Bay, QSL Ham Radio Card from Terry Brown in Hornell Heights North Bay, QSL Ham Radio Card from Jim Holman
North Bay, QSL Ham Radio Card from The Lone Ranger North Bay, QSL Ham Radio Card from Matson's Esso North Bay, QSL Ham Radio Card from Reg Ruttan
Curly McFarlane and the North Range Cowboys

Another source of entertainment was radio station CFCH in North Bay. Curly McFarlane and His North Range Cowboys, as seen here c. 1937 in a promotional postcard, was featured weekly on CFCH. The country-and-western band included (left to right and seated in the front row) Bernie (also known as “Dead Pan Willie”), Mel and Mac. In the back row (left to right) are Leo, Buck, Curly, an announcer from CFCH radio named Hal, and Stan.

CFCH started in Iroquois Falls, about 200 miles northwest of North Bay on Highway 11, in 1922. The Abitibi Power & Paper Co. owned it. Abitibi had used the radio station for communication with its lumber camps but once they had telephones, they no longer needed CFCH. In 1930, Roy Thomson gave Abitibi $1.00 to rent the station for a year. If, after a year, Abitibi didn’t ask for return of the license, CFCH would become Thomson’s. Thomson moved the station from Abitibi to North Bay; on 3 March 1931, CFCH became the first commercial radio station in Northern Ontario, with its studios and transmitter located in the Capital Theater building on Main Street. CFCH moved several times in the North Bay area, and eventually was sold by Thomson. On 12 August 1996, the station went from a news-talk format to country music as CKAT; in 2002, CKAT and two other North Bay radio stations were sold to Rogers Broadcastng.

Speaking of Lee Park, North Bay’;s famous “Gateway of the North,” originally built in 1928 by the North Bay Travellers (which later became a chapter of the Associated Canadian Travellers, or A. C. T.), is in the park now but used to welcome visitors on Highway 11 (Lakeshore Dr.), when it was commonly referred to as the Toronto Highway. Actually, the City of North Bay added a stone gateway to its crest beginning in 1925, predating construction of the iconographic “Gateway of the North” built by the Travellers. In the c. 1940s postcard, the beaver atop the span faces to the left and the curving road is delineated with painted white rocks, a carry-over from a custom popularized in the 1920s and 1930s. A sign saying that the “North Bay Lions Welcome You” is just beyond the gateway. In the 1950s Forder RPPC, in which a bus approaches, the white rocks have been removed, the original span has been replaced with an arch, and the beaver has been replaced with a larger beaver which faces right on a maple leaf surround. The Gateway was moved to Lee Park in the 1960s. A c. 1970s chrome postcard at bottom right shows a tourist information booth operated by the Nipissing Regional Tourist Association, near the junction of Hwys. 11 and 17 East at North Bay.

North Bay Gateway 1 North Bay Gateway 2 Nipissing Regional Tourist Association Information Booth at North Bay, Ontario

North Bay Memorial Gardens In 1955 and at a cost of $800,000, Memorial Gardens Sports Arena, now with a seating capacity of 4,025 people, was built. It hosted the North Bay Centennials ice hockey team for 20 years, from 1982 to 2002, until the team moved to Saginaw, Michigan. At the time this c. 1970s Forder postcard was published, the arena was the home of an international summer hockey school and a power skating school. Today, the North Bay Trappers of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League (NOJHL) are headquartered here. The arena, at 100 Chippewa St. W., also houses the North Bay Sports Hall of Fame, which was founded on 20 October 1977. Bryan Adams, The Guess Who and Barenaked Ladies are some of the musical groups who’ve delighted North Bayites at the arena.

North Bay Old Home Week Parade

Having achieved the requisite population of 12,000, North Bay received its charter of incorporation as a city on Monday, 3 August 1925 amidst Old Home Week celebrations which ran from 2 August through 8 August, with founding father Ferguson serving as president of the Old Home Week committee. The actual ceremony in which North Bay was formally recognized as a city took place in Memorial Park, with thousands in attendance. A grand parade was held just prior to the ceremony. Nipissing Stores, at the northwest corner of Main and Nipissing Sts., is behind the costumed rider on horseback who headed up the parade representing French explorer Samuel de Champlain, as seen in this scarce real-photo postcard. Who was the rider?

It’’s estimated that about 10,000 people visited North Bay during the week-long celebration, with one advertisement in the Toronto Globe exhorting potential visitors to “Bid the Little Old Town Good-Bye and Wish Success to the New Born City.” (Seeing as how the drive from Toronto to North Bay at the time took 14 hours, we’re not so sure this was much incentive to travel the distance.) As for Nipissing Stores, W. J. Parsons and N. J. McCubbin were partners for a time in that business, before McCubbin opened shop on Front St. The site of Nipissing Stores is now a parking lot in front of Bay Flooring (1210 Main St. W.).

North Bay Rankin Flour and Feed

This image, from about the same time as the 1925 Old Home Week postcard, shows East End Drugs in the right foreground and R. Rankin’s Flour and Feed and a storefront bearing the name “Oakman” on the left side of the street. Robert Rankin, who arrived via Mattawa in 1887, was a butcher; the following year, he established a grocery store on Main St. which was in business until at least 1960. He became a reeve and a North Bay mayor and was a member of many community organizations. Like Bourke, he was a racing enthusiast, and his “black mare” came in first in an 1894 race.

In addition to its enviable role as a railroad transportation hub, North Bay’s role as a regional commercial hub was further solidified with the 1937 paving of the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 17). The Trans-Canada intersects in North Bay with Highway 11 (formerly locally known as the Ferguson Highway), which starts in Toronto on Lake Ontario as Yonge St. and terminates hundreds of miles north in Cochrane. North Bay was booming by this time.

North Bay Capitol Theater North Bay Arcadian Tea Room

The Capitol Theatre, at 150 Main St. E., was built in 1928 and is shown here in a row of stores which included the Capitol Tea Room, a butcher shop and Atlin’s, which advertised on its canopy that it sold luggage and coats. The Capitol was restored in 1986. The drug store of J. A. Lambertus, a pool hall and the Arcadian Tea Room are seen on the far side of the movie theatre. A Sylvia Sidney movie was playing when this real-photo postcard was made, dating the image to 1931 or 1932. The CNR station, the North Bay Nugget’s newspaper office and the Hotel St. Regis are seen in the postcard at bottom left. The post office, with Hector Bentley’s colorful yellow newsstand next to it, and the Arcadian Tea Room (at the corner of Main and Fraser) are on the right side of the street, along with Dan J. Saya’s drugstore.

The Arcadian, known as the “Arc,” started as an old-fashioned ice cream parlor. Demosthenes (Dave) Loukidelis, a native of Smyrna, Turkey, John Christofolakos and George Maroosis were some of the Arc”s business partners. See the Ethnic History and Oral History page for more information on North Bay’s Greek community and information on how to collect your familial oral history.

North Bay Citizens Band North Bay Post Office and Homes

A c. 1908 side view of the post office shows it without the newsstand next door, and with an alley or vacant lot between the post office and Richardson’s Hardware, which was at 177 Main St. W. One wonders if this was the Citizens’ Band, playing in celebration of the 1908 post office opening. The undivided-back postcard was published by Campbell of North Bay. The post office was built in the Beaux Arts architectural style, which incorporated Greco-Roman and Renaissance stylistic elements and which was popularly used in the construction of Canadian and American government buildings from about 1885 to 1925. It’s been speculated that the 1902 fire seen earlier on this page involved the post office area and alleyway; perhaps there was an earlier factory here, as referenced in the 1902 fire postcard. The postcard at bottom left, hand colored and by Phillips & Wrinch, shows the modest homes that were on the side street behind the post office. Often, the details of similar-looking postcards yield very different information.

North Bay, Richardson's Hardware Advertising Jewel Stoves North Bay Post Office 2

The c. 1914 postcard at top left shows much more of Richardson’s and the alleyway, while the c. 1908 postcard at bottom left, published by Rumsey, shows other Victorian storefronts along Main St. Richardson’s advertised that they carried “Jewel Stoves.” In 1955-56, the new post office at Ferguson and Worthington opened; the old post office was demolished shortly thereafter, replaced with a nondescript structure typical of the times which housed a Kresge’s store beginning in 1958-59. The building, at 194 Main St. W., now houses the Wellspring Christian Fellowship. Many thanks to Deryk Hagar for researching this location.

North Bay S. S. Kresge Co.

North Bay Richardson Hardware The other scarce Jackman’s Book Store postcard in the collection is an additional image of the post office, as seen looking east on Main St. Several North Bayites pose in front of the post office, Richardson’s has merchandise at streetside, and additional Main St. buildings are shown. The original 1882 post office which Ferguson had built was a modest one-story log cabin, to which a board-and-batten second story was later added. Decorative barge board was applied to the gable end, which faced the street. The new post office was, indeed, grand in comparison to its humble beginnings, and there was much cause for celebration. The variety of vintage postcards commemorating this building attested to the pride the community took in this building.

North Bay Richardson Hardware

Richardson’s also offered Wedgwood china and school supplies for sale. The Canadian Café was across the street. A nicely detailed 1930s postcard shows a shoe shine stand and a hot dog stand, with Homer L. Gibson & Co. also on this stretch of Main St. looking west. Liggett’s Drugs and the United Cigar Store are to the right.

North Bay Main St. Shoe Shine
North Bay Main St. West 1 North Bay Main St. West 2 North Bay Main St. West 3 North Bay Main St. West 4

One can see subtle changes looking west on Main St. by comparing images dating from about 1908 to the 1940s. At top left is a c. 1908-1915 Raphael Tuck & Sons postcard of Main St. W., with an unpaved road. It’s from Tuck’s “North Bay, Ont.” Series No. 1002. (The Tuck firm of Great Britain produced high-quality postcards and were publishers to Their Majesties, the King and Queen.) The 1920s PECO white-border postcard shows the street has been paved. A store whose named ends in “Northern Life” is at left front, with Nichols Real Estate, the hydro company and the Arcadian now advertising. Canadian National Railways is on the right side of the street in the Ferguson “flat-iron” building, as seen in the third postcard, and has small signs advertising its telegram and cable capabilities. The Queen’s Hotel and the Canadian Café advertisements are up. The 1940s CKC real-photo postcard at far right, sharply focused and nicely detailed, shows little change occurred during the Great Depression, which began in 1929 and lasted throughout the 1930s. From 1931 to 1941, North Bay’s population remained static at about 15,000. Other than the United States, Canada is sometimes thought to have been the country most affected by that catastrophic economic downturn.

North Bay, McDivitt Drug Store

Another 1920s white-border postcard, nicely detailed, shows the McDivitt Drug Store, on the corner across from the post office. A portional view below shows a close-up of the drugstore’s façade.

North Bay, McDivitt Drug Store  
North Bay Nipissing Raw Fur Co.

Another 1940s CKC real-photo postcard, sharply focused and with great clarity, shows additional stores, including Maher Shoe Stores at right front and a sign for the Nipissing Raw Fur Co. upstairs over Barnes Wines. The dramatic 1940s real-photo postcard to the right shows the Torbay restaurant at the intersection of Algonquin and Main Sts. It has a large Art Deco neon sign out front which says “Chick ’n Bar” at the top. Another sign advertising the Torbay’s chicken is over the front door. Earl Miller Real Estate adjoins.

North Bay, Torbay Restaurant with Art Deco Sign, c. 1930s
North Bay Bus Station

A brightly colored Collotype postcard of Main St. shows the bus terminal to the left, with the Capitol Theatre, Nate Riveli’s Footwear, Aline’s Hairdressing, a pool hall, Barnes Wines, Niagara Loans and Tamblyn Drugs on the right side of the street. Maureen O’Hara and Peter Lawford were starring in “Kangaroo,” which was playing at the Capitol, dating this image to 1952. Doug McDonald’s Shell gas station was at the corner of Main and Fisher in 1939. Notice the Meldrum’s truck beyond the service station. Was this a bread or milk delivery truck?

North Bay McDonald's Shell Gas Station

North Bay, Empire Hotel 1 North Bay, Empire Hotel 2

Travelers could stay at the Empire Hotel (top left), built in 1927 by Leo Mascioli at the corner of Fraser and McIntyre (425 Fraser St.). In the background, one can see the Normal School. The postcard at bottom left shows the Empire in the 1940s. By the 1930s, the Empire Hotels chain was in Timmins and Huntsville as well, as seen in the vintage postcard at top right, and advertised as some of “Northern Ontario’s leading hotels.” The Empire in North Bay is remembered as the place where some of the crew stayed when Jimmy Cagney’s first color movie, Captains of the Clouds, was being filmed in 1941 in the Trout Lake area. It’s said that Cagney was quite the popular guest at the Empire, as he was in the habit of throwing $5.00 bills out of windows to waiting children. North Bay’s Empire was also grand enough to host Queen Elizabeth II on her 1951 visit to Canada. The multi-view postcard at bottom right, c. 1960s, shows the Empire hotel chain at its height, with an additional location in Sault Ste. Marie. The 1960s postcard, in shades of yellow, blue and white, advertises the “Empire Motor Hotels” as being “Northern Ontario’s largest and friendliest” hotels, offering a famous smorgasbord buffet luncheon and dinners. Two views of the Empire’s dining rooms in North Bay are shown below. Renovated from 1997 to 2004, the former hotel is now the Empire Living Centre for senior citizens.

North Bay, Empire Hotel 3 North Bay, Empire Hotel 4

The Empire Hotel, with its elaborate Empress dining room and Regency Room, offered a “complete menu of leading Canadian dishes.” We believe these dining rooms were open until the 1970s or early 1980s.

North Bay Empire Hotel Empress Dining Room North Bay Empire Hotel Regency Dining Room

North Bay Continental Hotel The four-story Continental Hotel, since restored and renamed as the Cecil, is seen here in a 1950s postcard with signs at the Main St. entrance for a grill and a restaurant, which we think has an Italian name but we can’t quite make it out. Notice the entrance on the side of the building that says “ladies” and “gents.” Ladies and gentlemen, according to provincial law, imbibed in separate lounges. A gentleman could accompany a lady into the ladies’ area but could not remain there unaccompanied, nor could unaccompanied ladies remain in the gentlemen’s area. The advent of women’s liberation ended this custom. The side entrance led to the Wylders bar, while the Elba, as it was known in the 1960s, was accessed via Main St. At some unknown later point, the Elba was known as “The Zoo,” and is now the “Cecil Eatery.”


North Bay St. Regis Hotel The St. Regis Hotel, at the corner of Main and Algonquin, flies the Union Jack in this late 1930s to 1940s postcard. It began as the Pacific Hotel, seen above on the page, but was renamed as the St. Regis between 1925 and 1933, when it was heavily remodeled and expanded such that the old Pacific façade was hidden from view. Dr. Leo Regimbal managed the building. When it was remodeled, Vitrolite was applied to the first floor. Notice that the North Bay Nugget was in this building, with its logo saying: “The North’s Leading Newspaper.”


Eau Claire Wisconsin Cafe with Vitrolite Vitrolite was a type of structural glass often used decoratively on the façades of Art Deco and Art Moderne buildings for its bold impression, when people went window shopping. It was last manufactured in 1947. Here’s a classic example of a Vitrolite-embellished roadside café. The Eau Claire (Wisconsin) Café, owned by Peter Ekos, even advertised as “the glass front café.”Unlike terra cotta, which had been used experimentally and primarily for ornamentation in earlier 20th c. architecture, Vitrolite didn’t warp or swell and wasn’t prone to fading or staining. Impervious to moisture and easily cleaned with a damp cloth, it made streetside maintenance easy. It could also be brilliantly colored, as was the case with its application to the St. Regis, this café and the Chicago Café, discussed below. Looking at the cornice of the Eau Claire, we can see from the architectural detailing that this is a Victorian building in the Italianate style, probably built in the 1880s — as was the nucleus of the St. Regis.

De La Vergne writes: “About 1970, the St. Regis was refurbished by a new owner who was also the Sheriff of North Bay… In 1981, the old part of the hotel was demolished. I remember watching. During the wrecking, the old Pacific was brought to view once again, if only for a few days. It looked to me just as it was depicted in the old postcards that show mansards on the top floor. I remember thinking how small the guestrooms were when some were opened up by the wrecking ball.” The long-empty St. Regis has been restored, and the Nugget, now part of the Osprey Media Group, relocated to its new headquarters at 259 Worthington St. W. in the early 1950s.

North Bay Chicago Cafe 1

Great places to eat included the Chicago Café, a local institution at 167 Main St. W. since about 1915 and which sported a sleek, multi-colored Vitrolite Art Deco façade in this c. 1930s to 1940s postcard. It advertised as “the only air-conditioned restaurant in the North.” By the time the c. 1960s or 1970s postcard to the right was made, the Chicago had lost its first-floor stylized Art Deco Windows. The black Vitrolite at ground level, the entryway and the notable neon sign still remained.

North Bay Chicago Cafe 2
North Bay, Golden Dragon 1

The Golden Dragon at 561 Lakeshore was another notable eatery, as shown in the two vertical views from a double-wide postcard which folds out, published by Ken Hollington of North Bay. In the series of images below, a 1950s chrome postcard at bottom left bears a Forder image of the restaurant. A real-photo postcard from the same time period is unusual in that it shows a map of the area. To the right of the map postcard is a c. 1940s to 1950s real-photo postcard of the dancing and banquet hall at the Golden Dragon, with the location being given as Sunset Park. Mike Zaversenuke was the owner of this Chinese restaurant, which had seven licensed dining rooms and could seat several hundred people. The 1950s aerial view to the right was photographed by Rideau Air Photos of Seeleys Bay, Ontario. Sadly, the Golden Dragon closed in we believe the 1980s.

North Bay, Golden Dragon 2
North Bay, Golden Dragon 3 North Bay, Golden Dragon 4 North Bay, Golden Dragon 5 North Bay, Golden Dragon 6
North Bay, Rosebud Restaurant and Tavern, c. 1980s

The Rosebud restaurant and tavern at 2215 Algonquin Ave., open from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m., was a popular local eatery. The reverse of the postcard advertises “mouth-watering dinners, taste-tempting lunches, sizzling steaks, chicken and roast beef.” Gert Nadon was the proprietor.

Downtown North Bay had lots of great neon signs at night in the 1950s. Here are two by Forder, the left chrome postcard showing Household Finance Loans, Harvey Jeweler, the bus station, the Capitol theater’s sign outlined in neon, a pool hall, Barnes Wine, Niagara Loans and Tamblyn Drugs. The c. 1960s daytime roadside Canadiana image by Leiffer shows City Cab, Falconi’s menswear, and a restaurant. The Elba Lounge, the Continental Hotel, a furniture store and the Capitol theater are across the street. The card was published by World Wide Sales Agencies Ltd. of Snowdon, Montreal. The Forder chrome postcard (center) shows Aline’s Hairdressing at bottom right, Barnes Wines, billiards, the Royal Bank, the taxi stand of Deluxe Taxi (later taken over by Union Taxi), and restaurants across the street. The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce is at right front in a 1960s postcard published by Northern Toy and Novelty of Sudbury. The Greyhound bus station on Cassell St. is shown at far right, when it was managed by Don Grassi in the 1970s. It advertised an “excellent lunch counter on the premises.” Its advertising slogan was: “It’s such a comfort to take the bus/And leave the driving up to Us.” The bus station postcard was published by Ontario Film Laboratories, still in operation at 191 Lakeshore Dr. Downtown was the heart of the city then, before the advent of malls and Wal-Mart.

North Bay Neon 1North Bay, Main St. West North Bay Neon 2 North Bay, Main St. Looking East North Bay, Greyhound Bus Station in the 1970s
North Bay Lakeshore Bay Post

Two notable stores were The Bay Post, at 573 Lakeshore, which sold Canadiana such as Hudson’s Bay coats and blankets, moccasins, other woolens and handicrafts, and Allison the Bookman, still going strong at 342 Main St. East. A c. 1970s aerial view of the Bay Post and nearby buildings is shown below.

North Bay Allison the Bookman
North Bay, Aerial View of the Bay Post

O. K. McCluskey’s drug store, which operated as part of the I. D. A. (Independent Druggists Association), is shown to the left in a mid-1950s real-photo postcard. A bus stop is out front and cabins or cottages appear to be next door. McCluskey’s was in Sunset Park on Lakeshore, about three miles south of downtown North Bay. A front view of the pharmacy is seen in the 1959 post card to the right. We think this is perhaps the location of Greco’s Pizza at 221 Lakeshore.

North Bay, McCluskey's Drug Store on Lakeshore Drive, Mid-1950s North Bay, McCluskey's Drug Store, 1959
North Bay Main St. Liggett Drug Store

Main St. looking west in the 1950s, with Liggett’s Drug Store anchoring the northwest corner, was still vibrant. By the early 1970s, sometime around Christmas, many of the older businesses are gone, with Liggett’s replaced by a Singer Sewing Center. Household Finance and Woolworth’s are next to Singer Sewing, and Avco is across the road. The commercial flight to suburbia was on. A real estate firm of the time was Kennedy Agencies, seen below in a c. 1960s split-view postcard which was published by Ontario Film Laboratories of North Bay. The Kennedy office was on Fraser St.

North Bay Main St. and Singer Sewing
North Bay, Kennedy Real Estate

Two more contemporary images offer an overview of downtown North Bay. The 1950s postcard to the left (below) and showing a view looking west, was published by the Peterborough Post Card Co. and is probably an Oakman image. John McNeill photographed the aerial view looking north.

North Bay, Oakman Aerial View in the 1950s North Bay, McNeill Aerial View in the 1960s

North Bay Lake Nipissing North Bay, Ezylyfe Canoe Club 1

There are miles and miles of beautiful beaches along Lake Nipissing, including the delicately rendered stretch of shoreline shown in the 1907-1915 postcard to the left, which we believe shows a Ferris location. The Ezylyfe (“Easylife”) Canoe Club, founded in 1910, was a social club for young men fond of canoeing and tennis. They had a cottage in Ferris, which was then a popular resort outpost of North Bay. Where was their cottage, seen at bottom left? This c. 1920s to 1930s image shows a capacious bungalow, with five young men posing amidst canoes. The 1927 image (top right) is murky but, again, one sees five men seated amidst canoes, under a full moon on the shores of Lake Nipissing. The popular Italian Lucenti Orchestra played at the club’s 25th anniversary dance in 1935, which is the last mention we can find of the Ezylyfe.

North Bay, Ezylyfe Canoe Club 2
North Bay Sunset Park Gas Station North Bay Sunset Park CabinsNorth Bay Sunset Park Bungalow

At Sunset Park, there was a homey-looking c. 1920s to 1930s log roadside restaurant and Shell gas station, which had modest cabins to the right. The large sign on top of the building advertises Neilson’s Jersey Milk Chocolate. Underneath the milk chocolate signage is advertising for cabins, meals and boats at the store. Coca-Cola and Wrigley’s chewing gum signs are near the front entrance. Who was the owner? We believe this is the location of the White Owl restaurant at 639 Lakeshore. J. E. Evans of Walsingham published the postcard. Probably under different ownership were the cabins at Sunset Park seen in the 1938 views. One of them was Bungalow No. 30. The location of both is given as the Ferguson Highway, three miles south of North Bay. The Glenwood Park Cabins were on Lakeshore, as seen in the c. 1940s CKC real-photo postcard at top right. At least one of the cabins had a rock chimney. Their roadside sign, neon at the top, offered cabins on the beach for $2.00 a day, with a notation that they were “insulated or heated.” A restaurant and groceries were also available on the premises. A different complex of cottages at Sunset Park is shown at center and bottom right, in additional c. 1930s to 1940s Evans postcards. The same complex, viewed from a different angle, is seen below.

North Bay Glenwood Park Cabins North Bay Sunset Park Beach 1 North Bay Sunset Park Beach 2
North Bay Sunset Park Beach 3

Sunset Park, Pirie's Grocery Store and Shell Gas Station, 1950s Here’s a hard-to-find 1960s Oakman aerial view of Pirie’s grocery store and a Shell service station at Sunset Park. This old postcard bears a Sunset Park postmark; this is a dead post office (DPO), having opened in April 1948 and closed in October 1957. Its later name was North Bay Sub No. 3. According to Library and Archives Canada, this was the business place of R.D. Wilson: specifically, “Part of Twp, Lot 40, Block A, Con 15, Ferris.” We think this was later the location of Horton’s, owned by Gerry Horton (brother of hockey legend Tim Horton, who also founded the Tim Horton Doughnut Shop chain). Pirie’s later became Woody’s restaurant. It was owned by Bob Wood, a radio announcer with a notable morning radio show named ”Woody in the Morning.” Wood, a member of the Liberal Party, served in the House of Commons from 1998 to 2004. Churchill’s restaurant now occupies the former Pirie’s location, at 631 Lakeshore. The Shell gas station served as the original garage of North Bay Mazda.

North Bay, Hainescott Lodges Cottages 1 North Bay, Hainescott Lodges Cottages, 2

Hainescott Lodges, a series of modest frame cottages seen in the 1939 real-photo postcard at top left, was also in the Sunset Park area. A circa 1940s CKC real-photo postcard of the Hainescott cabins at bottom left is sharply focused, finely detailed, and has great clarity. In reading the notation on the reverse, it becomes clear that the photograph was taken by a professional, with the message reading: “Mrs. Haines sent you this picture with her love. She is the one on the left as you look at the picture. Her nephew Dick, who is a photographer, took the three views of the place.” (We only have the one view available which we know was taken by her nephew.) At top right is a c. 1940s Ansco roadside RPPC of the lodge, showing several visitors relaxing in lawn chairs. The Hainescott real-photo postcard at bottom right bears a 1945 Sunset Park post office cancel.

North Bay, Hainescott Lodge from the Road North Bay, Hainescott Lodge Cabins at Sunset Park

North Bayites will recognize “the point” in Sunset Park, always a favorite bathing spot and seen at bottom left. The Golden Beach Lodge and its cottages at 15 Howard Ave. was a lot of fun in the 1950s, as seen in three deckle edged (scalloped) real photo postcards. Forder photographed a series of these views.

North Bay The Point at Sunset Park North Bay Golden Beach 1 North Bay Golden Beach 2North Bay Golden Beach 3
North Bay Trailer Park

In the 1960s, you could camp at the Municipal Trailer Park, photographed by Forder. It was bordered by Chippewa Creek and Lake Nipissing. The sender wrote: “It is really prettier than this.” Let’s hope so. Park’s Creek looked like this, as seen in the Forder image to the right which shows a handsome cedar strip boat in the foreground.

North Bay Parks Creek
North Bay Dream House

While postcards depicting subdivisions are rare, here is one showing what’s described as a “Dream House,” built on Lake Nipissing in Ferris by the A.C.T. (Associated Canadian Travellers) Charities Club, whose membership fee was $1.00. Visitors were welcome to visit this model home. We’re unsure why a charity would build a “dream house,” unless it was to demonstrate how to build affordable housing and perhaps to hold a raffle. Let us know, if you know the answer to this one. We believe the postcard is from the 1940s. Perhaps these building efforts were an adjunct to the post-World War II building boom.

North Bay Lakeview Inn Roadside Cottages

And who could forget the Lakeview Inn, seen here in 1938? J. W. Billington was the owner of what was described as a “beautiful summer hotel.” A two-story log hotel is to the right and cottages are to the left. Closer up, the hotel looked like this in the 1940s. Here’s the dining room in 1952. The coffee shop also had a soda fountain. And look at the great vintage jukebox and parquet work in the banquet hall! Sadly, what was left of the Lakeview was torn down in 2004 to make way for…condominiums. An extra-large matchbook from the 1940s or 1950s also depicts the Lakeview, which offered nightly or weekly accomodations. The matchbox indicates that a banquet hall and dancing were also available. The matchbook describes the Lakeview as “Lake Nipissing’s All Season Resort Hotel.” The phone number was 510 and the mailing address was P. O. Box 113, North Bay.

North Bay Lakeview Inn Hotel North Bay Lakeview Inn Dining North Bay  Lakeview Inn Soda Fountain North Bay Lakeview Inn Jukebox
North Bay, Lakeview Inn Matchbook Cover 1 North Bay, Lakeview Inn Matchbook Cover 2

North Bay Little Joe

Due to its location, North Bay has always had a lot of interesting roadside Canadiana motels. A scarce 1930s to 1940s panoramic view which folds open and is the size of two postcards shows “Little Joe” (J. C. Raymond) posing in a tuxedo in an inset to the left of “Little Joe”s White Line Cabins.” The roadside tourist cabins were on Highway 11, five doors south of the South Gateway (seen earlier on this page), in Ferris. Mr. Raymond, born on 08-08-1888, was 48 inches tall and weighed 58 pounds.

North Bay Little Joe Business Card Front North Bay Little Joe Mileage Chart

Little Joe&’s c. 1930s business card provides a nice sketch of the cabins and their amenities. The units had individual parking places, and the business card advertises screened verandahs, heat, hot and cold running water, showers, “clean flush toilets” and inner-spring mattresses. An extra touch of home was provided with the flowerboxes. Tourist courts, one of the predecessors of modern motels, began appearing in the United States and Canada in the 1920s. As automobiles provided a convenient means of travel not dependent upon fixed railroad schedules, tourism’s popularity increased. While earlier roadside accommodations were in the form of campsites, tourists began to yearn for “the comforts of home,” and campground owners realized that customers would pay for more comfortable structures, such as those seen at Little Joe’s, in Sunset Park, and in the larger Ferris area. The back of Little Joe’s business card offers additional insight in the form of a mileage chart to various towns considered to be within driving distance. Today’s motor home behemoths are the logical extension of the idea of taking the creature comforts of home with the traveler.

North Bay Moonlight Cabins CoverNorth Bay Moonlight Cabins 1 North Bay Moonlight Cabins 2 North Bay Moonlight Cabins 3 North Bay Moonlight Cabins Back

Moonlight Bay Cabins, shown above and owned by S. V. Young of Ferris, offered “Modern Cottages on the Beach” at Lake Nipissing. The cabins were in Ferris, on Lakeshore. The panoramic postcard which contains the five images above was published by the Temiskaming Printing Co. of New Liskeard, in business since 1906.

North Bay Moonlight Bay RPPC

When seen again in the c. 1950s RPPC, Moonlight Bay has lost the large, nautically-inspired signs to either side of the office. Notice that the postcard has deckled (or scalloped) edges, which were occasionally found on postcards from the 1940s and 1950s.

North Bay, Leighaven Cottages Cover North Bay, Leighaven Beachside Cottages North Bay, Office of Leighaven Cottages in Ferris North Bay, Another View of Leighaven Cottages North Bay, Grounds at Leighaven Cottages

Where were the Leighaven Cottages, located along Lake Nipissing in the Ferris neighborhood of North Bay? This c. 1940s panoramic postcard folder was published by the Bracebridge Gazette.

North Bay, Windmill Lodge in West Ferris

Were the Leighaven Cottages once called the Windmill Lodge? Mrs. Allan Leigh owned the lakeside Windmill Lodge in West Ferris. The back of the c. 1930s to 1940s triple-view postcard instructs the visitor to “watch for cream, black and orange windmill and cabins.” The postcard also advertises a delicatessen on the premises, which must have been in the modest windmill which bears signs for hot dogs and Sweet Caporal cigarettes.

North Bay, Bear Cubs

After the 1934 birth of the Dionne quintuplets in nearby Corbeil, many roadside tourist attractions and motels began advertising their proximity to “Quintland,” where the quintuplets were literally on display. This 1936 Curteich linen postcard of two bear cubs “learning table manners” depicts one such otherwise-unnamed tourist attraction.

North Bay Labelle Zoo North Bay, Bouncer the Buck at the Labelle Zoo in Ferris

Labelle’s Zoo, on the Callander Highway one-half mile south of North Bay (in Ferris), was another of the roadside attractions. “Snowball,” a black bear, is shown feeding himself in a c. 1920s to 1940s RPPC at top left; Bouncer, a buck, dances for food in the c. 1930s RPPC at bottom left. A c. 1940s postcard (right) published by Evans shows black bears at Sunset Park. Was this also at Labelle’s Zoo?

North Bay Sunset Park Black Bears

Below are four real-photo postcards, taken in the 1940s, of “Fuzzy,” a black bear at Tee-Bo Camp. Tee-Bo was on the wedge, at an acute angle, where Collins Drive and Highway 11 North intersect; Ray Bertrand was the owner. Manitou Studio took the first and fourth pictures, of Fuzzy sitting in a tire and in a bathtub. The star emblem of a Texaco gas station is seen in the background of the first image. A photographer known only by the name “Scott” took the two RPPCs in the center. On the back of the third postcard — the one in which a man is feeding “Fuzzy” — the sender wrote, in 1951: “How do you like the big bear? We saw 6 deer going through Al[gonquin] Park and a fox near Mattawa. This is a sweet little cabin here. Pretty drapes and a nice easy chair. Lovely, clean. Had a rug on the floor. Clean white bath towels.”

North Bay Fuzzy at Tee-Bo Camp 1 North Bay Fuzzy at Tee-Bo Camp 2 North Bay Fuzzy at Tee-Bo Camp 3 North Bay Fuzzy at Tee-Bo Camp 4
North Bay, Log Cabin Park with Roadside Gas Station North Bay, Pine Log Cabins with Roadside Gas Station

Here are three “mystery” roadside Canadiana postcards for our readers to identify. Log Cabin Park (top left) is a c. 1930s to 1940s tourist complex with very modest cabins, a log restaurant to which a later façade has been applied, and two gas pumps. We think it was about eight miles north of town on Highway 11, in the vicinity of the now-closed Pastry Monk bakery and the former Hi Vue Motel (seen below) and across the road from the Blue Spruce Motel, which burned in the late 1980s to early 1990s. Does anyone recognize “Pine Log Cabins,” (bottom left) which is thought to have been in the North Bay vicinity? This real-photo postcard has an Azo Square stamp box on the reverse, dating the card from approximately 1924 to 1949, although we suspect that either the 1920s or the 1930s are the correct decade. There’s one gas pump to the left of the log cabin office. Any information about either of these tourist lodgings would be appreciated. Morgan’s Island View Motel and some of its cabins are seen to the right. This CKC real-photo postcard is from the 1950s, but the motel’s location is currently unknown.

North Bay, Morgan's Island View Motel
North Bay, Brae Burn Cabins

And where were the Brae Burn cabins which, in this c. 1930s to 1940s postcard, shows a rather desolate-looking complex with five cottages baking in the sun?

North Bay, Birch Cove Cabins

Where were the Birch Cove Cabins (left), described as being three miles east of North Bay on Highway 17? A Dreany Lake location has been suggested to us, especially the present site of the Dreany Haven Campground. In this image, we see a Victorian cottage with a notable at least six-sided, gazebo-like addition to the porch, with the Birch Cove name over the entry. Does anyone know the answer to this one? Russ Stonehouse, a painter who operated the Russ Stonehouse Art Galleries in North Bay, published this c. 1940s postcard. Robertson’s cabins and cottages (right) were in Ferris, two miles south of North Bay and seven miles from Quintland, on the shores of Lake Nipissing, as seen in a 1939 quadruple-view postcard. The sender wrote: “We are going to see the Quints tomorrow, or at least try to. Have had terrible roads in Canada so far.”

North Bay, Robertson's Cabins and Cottages
North Bay Star Cabins 1 North Bay Star Cabins 2

These three colorful linen postcards from the early 1940s show Star Cabins on Highway 11 at North Bay. Advertising as “the finest in the North,” the cabins were on Lake Nipissing and offered modern cottages and a sandy beach. We think that some of the cast and crew from the 1941 filming of a Jimmy Cagney movie, “Captains of the Clouds,” are shown here with their catch, and that the man in the dark suit on the left may be Cagney himself.

North Bay Star Cabins 3
North Bay Camp Friendship Dining North Bay Camp Friendship Cabins

Another early roadside camp, with postcards shown from the 1930s, was Camp Friendship on Highway 11, one mile south of North Bay (in West Ferris). The modest frame dining hall, shown at top left, catered to many parties and weddings, and a fast-order bar offered food such as hamburgers and hotdogs to Camp Friendship guests. Five of the tiny cottages are seen in the center postcard. Arthur Ross, Sr. and his wife, Gertie, bought the 30-cottage camp in 1948, operating it until 1958. During this period, the cabins were modified to include indoor plumbing and heating and became 19 cottages with full facilities.

North Bay, Camp Friendship Trailer Park and Playground

Two c. 1940s postcards of the Camp Friendship grounds are shown below; the left-hand image shows a shady nook on the beach with a cottage to the left, while the right-hand image shows a grove of trees with one cottage to the right.

North Bay, Shady Nook at Camp Friendship North Bay, Grove at Camp Friendship
North Bay Art and Gertie Ross with Gordon and Carrie Leader, Guests from Kitchener

In the c. 1953 photograph to the left, the people seen (left to right) are Art Ross Sr., an unknown man, Gertie Ross (standing), Carrie Leader (seated) and Gordon Leader. The Leaders were long-time Camp Friendship guests from Kitchener. In 1957, Mr. Ross built 15 motel rooms on adjoining property and opened the Friendship Motel. In 1958, Camp Friendship was sold; the property is now the location of the Lancelot Inn at 295 Lakeshore.

North Bay Friendship Motel
North Bay Roadside Cabin

In July 1938, a traveler identified on the reverse of this postcard-sized photograph as “Fred” posed in front of one of North Bay’s numerous roadside cabins, the number of which increased with the flood of visitors coming to the area to see the Dionne Quintuplets. This may be one of the Camp Friendship Cabins, but we’re not positive. If you recognize the cabin, let us know.

North Bay, Imperial Motel and Restaurant

In 1958, the Ross family added 15 more rooms, an indoor pool and a new home to the Friendship Motel and renamed the facility as the Imperial Motor Hotel. The Imperial House Dining Room, built in 1959, completed the complex. The motel and dining room were sold in 1972. On 21 August 1987, the motel and the former family residence were destroyed by a mysterious fire. Today, the former dining room, which escaped the blaze, is operated as Eastside Mario’s at 285 Lakeshore. This c. 1964 postcard was used to promote their 30-unit motel. Art and Gertie Ross had three children, Lynne, Art Jr. and Shelly, and we thank Lynne and her husband, A. B. (Arnie) Lucas of Mississauga, for this information.

North Bay, Idylholm Cottages 1

Idylholm Housekeeping Cabins and Cottages, owned by P. H. Torrance and seen to the left, were at 10 First St. E. on Lake Nipissing, as seen in the scarce c. 1930s triple-view postcard published by Evans of Walsingham. We can’t quite place where this would be, can you? Another view of Idylholm, postmarked in 1948, more clearly shows the office. Two handsome horses, one with a rider, are in front of the office building. Notice how narrow Lakeshore Drive, seen in the foreground, is at this time.

North Bay, Idylholm Cottages 2
North Bay, Torbay Lodge 1 North Bay, Torbay Lodge 2

Torbay Lodge, with its coffee shop, cabins and chicken dinners is seen in a c. 1940s CKC real-photo postcard at top left. It was described as being 2-1/2 miles south of North Bay. The postcard at bottom left describes the location as being in Ferris on Hwy. 11-B. (The present Torbay Cottage Resort lists its location as 585 Banner Ave.) Torbay was originally much larger than it is now: It was on about 2.5 acres of land and included the lodge and 24 cottages. Torbay cabins are seen at top right; a later c. 1950s postcard shows some of Torbay’s housekeeping cottages and gives the address as 585 Lakeshore Drive. Thurlow and Velma Guppy, whose office address was at 108 Sherwood Ave., owned the units then.

North Bay, Torbay Lodge Cabins North Bay, Torbay Lodge Cottages on the Shores of Lake Nipissing

A c. 1930s to 1940s split-view postcard (below) shows the cozy lounge and fireplace at Torbay. Today, the complex known as Torbay Cottages is only one-half acre, with six cottages, two efficiency units and owners’ quarters.

North Bay, Torbay Lodge Lounge and Fireplace
North Bay, Dunrovin Cabins 1 North Bay, Dunrovin Cabins 2

Dunrovin Cabins was also in Ferris, where much of North Bay’s roadside Canadiana was concentrated along the shores of Lake Nipissing. A Union Jack flies out front next to the neon sign, in the postcard seen at top left. Two of the rustic log cabins are to the left, while the main dwelling is to the right. W. E. Neily was the owner, and he advertised that each cabin had a Marshall mattress, an icebox, a two-plate electric cooker, and a toilet and shower. A second view of Dunrovin at bottom left indicates that there was a fireplace in each cabin, and what appears to be an information booth has been constructed next to the road. By the 1960s, the cabins have been replaced with the unremarkable Dunrovin Motel, at 415 Lakeshore Dr. The original home can be seen at far right, behind the swimming pool.

North Bay, Dunrovin Motel, c. 1960s
North Bay, Albay Cottages and Cabins in Ferris, c. 1930s

The Albay cottages and cabins in Ferris, seen here in a c. 1930s real-photo postcard, advertised that the complex was on a sandy beach, 3-1/2 miles south of North Bay. Where was the Bayview Lodge? Shown in a 1940s RPPC to the right, it appears to be a large cottage such as those found in Ferris.

North Bay, Bayview Lodge, c. 1940s
North Bay Hyland Motel

The c. 1940s Hyland Motel was at 104 Hyland Rd., at the corner of Hyland Rd. and Delaware, but was torn down in the last 10 to 12 years. It was across the street from Dashnay’s grocery store. The Hyland bears a sign touting its membership in the Ontario Tourist Courts Association. We think that the Grove Cottage complex, seen in a c. 1924 postcard (below, left), was probably in West Ferris. It’s described as being 2-1/2 miles east of North Bay and offered extremely modest tourist cabins along the lake, as well as “refreshments, city water and lights.” The owner was Mrs. A. L. Charland of 69 Fraser St. A later version of this postcard (below, right), printed after the 1934 birth of the Dionne quintuplets and probably printed c. 1936, shows a larger tourist cabin and gives the Grove Cottage location as being on the North Bay-Toronto Highway, 2-1/2 miles south of North Bay and nine miles from Quintland.

North Bay, Grove Cottage Tourist Cabins 1 North Bay, Grove Cottage Tourist Cabins 2
North Bay, Cosy Rest Auto Court and Texaco Gas Station

North Bayite Val Croswell has identified the Cosy Rest Auto Court as being on Algonquin Ave., across from KFC on the property now occupied by the Canadian Tire Gas Bar; the gas bar is at 1403 Algonquin. In this great roadside Canadiana post card from the 1940s, we see that the Cosy Rest had a Texaco service station, a complex of modest cottages and a roadside cafe with prominent Coca-Cola and 7-Up advertising signs. Cosy Rest was owned by Mr. and Mrs. S. Privett, who advertised that each unit of the tourist court was oil heated.

North Bay, Sleepy Hollow Trailer Town 1

Another early roadside etablishment on Algonquin Ave. was the Sleepy Hollow Trailer Town, as seen in this c. 1940s to 1950s business card. Owned by Art and Jean Oliver, Sleepy Hollow’s trailer park also offered groceries, meats and confectioneries. Can anyone further pinpoint this Algonquin Ave. location?

North Bay, Sleepy Hollow Trailer Town 2
Nipissing Junction, Hillcrest Cabins

Nipissing Junction postcards are hard to find; here’s a great roadside Canadiana view of Hillcrest Cabins, which began as a White Rose gas station and a small store in the 1920s. By 1937, in this image, Hillcrest advertises its proximity to the Dionne Quintuplets. The option of taking a shower has been inexplicably (and inconveniently!) removed as one of the camp’s amenities. J. D. Lindsey owned the cabins prior to J. McLeod. The now-defunct Nipissing Junction post office is given as a mailing address.

Postcard and stamp collectors use the term “;dead post office,” or DPO, to describe closed post offices. Interestingly, the Nipissing Junction post office, established in September 1882, was known as the La Vaux post office and then the name changed to the La Vase post office in December 1886, to reflect the name of the nearby river. It’s unclear at what point the name changed to Nipissing Junction. A Rory McLeod, probably a relative of the Hillcrest’s owner, served as postmaster from March 1912 to October 1944, followed by Mrs. Germaine Lucienne LaFleur. A Mrs. Jean McLeod was the postmistress from May 1952 until August 1954; could this be the J. McLeod who owned the Hillcrest? The Nipissing Junction post office closed permanently in December 1980.

North Bay Vernacular Architecture, Windmill Entrance to the Dutch Village Motel The Dutch Village Motel in Ferris at 811 Lakeshore featured distinctive vernacular architecture incorporating a Dutch windmill into the office entry. Windmills were a fanciful element sometimes employed in roadside Americana and roadside Canadiana architecture, especially in the 1920s and 1930s. The 1940s postcard at bottom left shows two of the original cabins, with the sender commenting that they had “a nice cabin right on the lake.” The architectural evolution of these roadside cabins is clearly seen in this series of views. By about 1957, as seen in the Forder real-photo postcard (second from left) with the Chevy parked in front of the Dutch Village office, one of the original cabins has been replaced with a more modern multi-unit structure, behind a newer and larger advertising sign. Gilbert Bowness and Mr. and Mrs. McKercher owned the Dutch in the 1960s, as seen in the third and fourth postcards from the left. Later owners were George and Lydia Holowko, who owned the Dutch Village in 1975, when the fifth postcard from the left was used. The Dutch had 14 housekeeping cottages and eight motel units at this time. The sign seen in the previous image remains. At some as-yet-undetermined point in time, the Dutch was demolished, and North Bay lost its finest example of vernacular architecture.

North Bay Dutch Village Motel 1 North Bay Dutch Village Motel 2 North Bay Dutch Village Motel 3 North Bay Dutch Village Motel 4 North Bay Dutch Village Motel 5
North Bay Dutch Village and Lake Nipissing 1 North Bay Dutch Village Motel 6 North Bay Dutch Village and Lake Nipissing 2

Two c. 1959 Forder real-photo postcards (above) show the Dutch Village’s lakeside grounds. The Dutch Village was later owned by Bruce Bowes, as seen in the center image, which was published by Sterling Photos of Cornwall.

North Bay Hi Vue Motel 1 North Bay Hi Vue Motel 2

You could stay at the 10-unit Hi Vue Motel, owned by Charles and Muriel Price and located in Widdifield north of North Bay on Highway 11, as seen in the real-photo postcard at top left and the chrome Oakman aerial view below it. The Manitou Motel, owned by Doug and Virginia Allin and seen to the right, had 15 units with room phones and radios. It was in the Sunset Park area. Another view of the Manitou gives an address of 710 Lakeshore Dr. Oakman took the c. 1960s aerial photograph of the Manitou seen below. The North-West Motel was five miles north of town on Highway 11. The owners, Betty and Stan Pocock, advertised on their business card (below) that “dining and dancing” were nearby.

North Bay Manitou Motel 1 North Bay Manitou Motel 2
North Bay, Manitou Motel 3 North Bay, North West Motel Business Card

A 1950s real photo of the Lincoln Motel in Ferris (below) was published by the Arthur Lane Studios of Toronto. The center chrome Forder image of it indicates that the Lincoln contained 42 units and was operated by Lazarou Enterprises, Ltd. Each unit had a car plug-in, telephone, radio and TV. The Anchor Inn, seen in the 1950s at bottom right, was owned by Myrtle and Larry Wilson and was at 276 Lakeshore, where Shoppers Drug Mart is now. Notice that Lakeshore was a narrow two-lane road at the time. The Wilsons offered fully equipped housekeeping cottages and cabins which were available all year.

North Bay Lincoln Motel 1 North Bay Lincoln Motel 2 North Bay Anchor Inn Motel

In 1957, Ormond W. Churchill owned the Ormondie Beach Motel at 673 Lakeshore in the Sunset Park area. No mention is made of television in the rooms yet. Forder took the picture in the 1950s chrome postcard, second from left, of the Ormondie. It then advertised “ultra-modern” rooms and was owned by Claude and Lena Gordon. A 1960 image of the Ormondie, published by the Canadian Post Card Co. of Toronto, shows its beachside rooms. Postcards of the Glenwood Motel at 467 Lakeshore from the 1960s and 1970s show a 12-unit motel which also had lakeside cottages. Bruce Passmore and Peter Croghan owned it when Forder took the first photo; Yvette Hebert owned it when the 1970s image was taken by Gerald Eckert of 621 Gormanville Rd., North Bay. We believe this is where the Glenwood Park Cabins of the 1940s, seen earlier on this page, were located.

North Bay Ormondie Beach Motel 1 North Bay Ormondie Beach Motel 2 North Bay Ormondie Beach Motel 3 North Bay Glenwood Motel 1 North Bay Glenwood Motel 2

Other Lakeshore Drive motels have included the Holiday Plaza located at 416 Lakeshore, owned by Al and Pat Foster; the Rockhaven Motel and Cottages at 812 Lakeshore, owned by Helen and Bill Buchowski; and the Bonny Vu Motel. Forder took the first two photos, while Harry R. Oakman took the aerial photograph of the Bonny Vu (when it was owned by Sadie and Ike Bowness), which was published by the Peterborough Post Card Co. Seen second from the right is an earlier c. 1950s chrome postcard of the Bonny Vu. Located in Ferris on Lakeshore, it was then owned by Mr. and Mrs. G. A. Timmins. The reverse describes the motel as “one of Northern Ontario’s most modern motels. Central hot water heat. Open year round. All rooms large and airy with private shower. In a secluded spot on the beach of beautiful Lake Nipissing. Away from traffic noise.” At far right is the Glen Garry Motel, seen in a c. 1960s split-view postcard. The Glen Garry, owned by the Poulin family at the time this image was made, is at 785 Lakeshore and is now known as the Glen Garry Motel and Cottages.

North Bay, Holiday Plaza Motel North Bay, Rockhaven Motel North Bay, Bonny Vu Motel 1 North Bay, Bonny Vu Motel 2 North Bay, Glen Garry Motel
North Bay, Del Rio Motel

The brick Del Rio Motel at 676 Lakeshore, owned by Peter and Ann Vandenheuvel (left) and seen in a Forder chrome postcard, was previously known as the Del Rio Cabins. Seen to the right in a c. 1930s to 1940s postcard, it had small frame housekeeping cabins, painted white, and was advertised by owner R. S. Burnett as being “modern” and “fire proof.” At the time, its location was given as Sunset Park, on the Callander Highway, as opposed to what we know today as Lakeshore Drive. The antique postcard was printed by Nipissing Printing of 50 Kennedy in Ferris.

North Bay, Del-Rio Cabins

The Regal Motel and Esso gas station, photographed by Forder and seen in both a chrome image and a real-photo postcard, was at 284 Main St. E. and advertised itself as being “fit for a king,” with the “largest and most modern rooms in the north.” The Baywood Motor Hotel, which has changed names since Forder photographed it, was at 307 Algonquin and advertised that “some rooms are air conditioned.” Mr. and Mrs. Frank Schaffer were the owners. Also on Algonquin, at its intersection with Delaware Ave., is the Voyager Motor Hotel, shown in a stylized c. 1960s rendering which advertised that the 35 rooms had television and telephones. Beginning in the mid-1950s, motels began to advertise that television was available for guests. In 1957, the Villa Motel, photographed by Sterling Photos, was at 360 Main St. E. and had 10 units.

North Bay Regal Motel 1 North Bay Regal Motel 2North Bay Baywood Motor Hotel North Bay Voyager Motel North Bay Villa Motel

The Comet Motor Hotel (seen below in another example of a panoramic postcard), owned by Ruth and Ron Gorham and located at 330 Lakeshore between Clifford Ave. and Howard Ave., offered a dining room and a heated swimming pool. A Travelodge motel is located there now.

North Bay, Comet Motel in Ferris
North Bay, Bo-Mark Motel

The Bo-Mark, or Bomark, Motel at 3207 Highway 11 North is about two miles north of town. It takes its name from the Bomarc missiles which were once located nearby. Two miles up the road, at 4319 Highway 11 North, is the White Fawn motel, run by Red and Gladys McEachern and seen to the right in an image taken by Preston Quirt.

North Bay, the White Fawn Motel
Nipissing Junction Texaco Gas Station North Bay Gateway Restaurant 1

In the 1950s and 1960s, you could gas up at Campbell’s Texaco gas station in Nipissing Junction, seen at top left Or, if you preferred in the 1970s, you could buy Sunoco gasoline and have a charbroiled steak or Italian food at the Gateway restaurant and service station, one-half mile south of Highway 11 on the Lakeshore Bypass. Leiffer took the Gateway photo at bottom left. Oakman made an aerial photograph of the Gateway (top right), with a Shell gas station to the right of the Gateway. Camille and Jenny Noel owned it then. Leiffer also took the photo at bottom right of McConnell’s Esso gas station and the adjacent restaurant on the south end of North Bay. The Ricci family eventually ran both the Gateway restaurant and this one, which was replaced by a Fifth Wheel truck stop at 230 Pinewood Park Dr. Camille and Jenny Noel also owned the Wonder Bar restaurant, seen below in two Quonset huts on Highway 11 North.

North Bay Esso, Gateway Restaurant 2 North Bay Esso Gas Station
North Bay, Wonder Bar Restaurant

The Pinewood Park Motel and Restaurant, seen at bottom left in an Oakman image, had 37 rooms, an 18-hole golf course, miniature golf and shuffleboard to entertain its guests. Located at 201 Pinewood Park Dr., it’s now the Clarion Resort Pinewood Park. A second c. 1960s aerial view of Pinewood shows the golf course and grounds in greater detail. The Pine Hill Motel is seen in a 1950s real-photo postcard and in a 1960s Forder chrome postcard. It had 12 units, “free TV” and picnic grounds. It was owned by C. Vernon Gray. Jim and Evelyn Kitts owned the Motel Evelyn in the 1950s, seen at far right below.

North Bay, Pinewood Park Motel 1 North Bay, Pinewood Park Motel 2 North Bay Pine Hill Motel in the 1950s North Bay Pine Hill Motel in the 1960s North Bay Motel Evelyn

In January 1968, North Bay amalgamated with the West Ferris and Widdifield townships.

North Bay Duchesney Falls North Bay Duchesney Creek

As one leaves town and heads west on the Trans-Canada Highway towards Sturgeon Falls, Duchesney Falls (“Sheeney Falls”) is on the right side of the road, seen in the image at top left. Lumber magnate J. R. Booth and other timbermen built a log slide at the top of the Falls in the 1880s, down which they sent virgin pine to Lake Nipissing, soon after the CPR arrived and provided a means to carry the timber to market. The log slide was still there in the 1920s, and Cooks Mills was in the immediate vicinity. What we see now is second-growth pine. The 1904 Atkinson patriotic postcard at bottom left shows the first rapids of Duchesney Creek. The sender speaks of travel to Temagami. Forder took a close-up view of the falls, seen to the right in the c. 1950s postcard. Below is a scarce c. 1903 patriotic postcard simply entitled “Falls, North Bay.” The falls are in an attractive golden horseshoe surround. Never mailed, the card was intended to be sent from a Mr. Mulligan to Miss M. Gagnon of North Bay.

North Bay Deschene Falls
North Bay, The Falls, as Seen in a Rare c. 1903 Patriotic Postcard
North Bay Trans-Canada Highway

Lake Nipissing, seen in a sharply focused and finely detailed c. 1940s or 1950s RPPC, is on the left as one leaves town. Forder took the picture, and the woman standing by the lake is probably his sister Hilda, who posed in many of his images. See the Ferguson Highway page for more information on Highway 11 headed north towards Temagami.

You never can tell who will turn up in North Bay, or what can be learned from a postcard. Our feelings are best summed up in Neil Young lyrics:

“There is a town in North Ontario,
With dream comfort memory to spare,
And in my mind I still need a place to go,
All my changes were there.”

Learn more about collecting vintage postcards on the postcard collecting, Northern Ontario Postcard Photographers, and Canadiana pages, and more about the author on the page About Us.

You might also enjoy visits to our Alderdale, Bear Island, Bonfield and Rutherglen, Callander and Corbeil, Commanda, Dokis, Ferguson Highway (Highway 11), Lavigne and Verner, Marten River, Monetville and Noëlville, Nipissing Village and Restoule, Powassan and Trout Creek, South River, Sturgeon Falls, Sundridge, Temagami, Tilden Lake, Tomiko Ontario, Trout Lake and Trout Mills pages. Enjoy the story of Frederic Remington’s moose hunting trip to Mattawa over 100 years ago, and see an 1880s Orangemen parade. We also have a collection of rare New Ontario Brewery breweriana collectibles.

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For collectors of vintage postcards, old postcards and the antique postcard. Deltiology, the hobby of collecting vintage postcards, is one of the fastest-growing collectibles hobbies. Old postcard collections interest collectors of antiques, memorabilia and ephemera; collectables such as old vintage postcards are used by museums and historians to document what was.

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