History of Old Home Week Celebrations
Old Home Week celebrations began around the turn of the last century and took place throughout the Eastern United States and Canada. They were similar to Old Boy Reunions and slowly began to repace them. In Ontario they were particularly popular in the 1920s. Older cities and towns had them to celebrate important anniversaries. Owen Sound used it to celebrate Canada’s Diamond Jubilee in 1927.
North Bay, Ontario had its first Old Home Week to celebrate becomming a city in 1925. It was held through the first week of August, the Monday being a civic holiday. Provincial government officials were present to hand over the charter of the new city. The week was filled with parades, sporting events, promotions, music, dancing, and entertainment. Invitations were sent out to all the “Old Boys” who, with their ladies, came back from all over Canada and the United States to celebrate and reminisce. The local newspaper, the Nugget, was filled with stories of the week’s events as well stories about the history of the town. Long lists of visiting Old Timers were published in the local paper as well. A special pageant parade was held on Civic Day to commemorate the history of the place since 1615, the year of Samuel de Champlain’s travels through the area. His image adorned the cover of the souvenir book and was a key figure in the pageant parade.
The second Old Home Week held in North Bay was ostensibly to celebrate North Bay’s tenth anniversary, but really, it was an opportunity to highlight the city as a tourist destination as thousands of visitors began their summer trek north to seek out the Dionne quintuplets, born only twelve miles away, in May 1934. The summer of 1935 they were displayed to the public several times a day. Despite the depression, the week was a success and virtually paid for itself. It had to be organized by local clubs and organizations, however, because the city did not have money to spare for such an event. The cost of providing relief was taking its toll on public funds. The week-long celebrations were very similar to those in 1925 with sports and entertainment of various kinds. There was also a commemorative ceremony unveiling the monument erected by two French Canadian groups in honour of the 400th anniversary of Jacques Cartier’s arrival in Canada.
Later Old Home Weeks
North Bay had several other Old Home Week celebrations in the period after World War II. The North Bay public library has a copy of a souvenir book published for the one in 1948, but the exact dates of the others have not been verified. They do not appear to have left a mark in the same way as the first two. From a historical perspective, the 1925 and 1935 Old Home Week celebrations were particularly important because of the records they left as to the early history of North Bay.
For more history, images, and links to documents relating to North Bay’s Old Home Week Celebrations click on the link to the “Old Home Week” tag below.