The 1925 invitation was in Old English and took the form of a proclamation from George V. It was addressed to all “Olden Boyes and Girles, far and nygh” asking them to assemble in North Bay on August 2nd through 8th for the celebration of Old Home Week. It was signed by John Ferguson as President of OHW. Produced on thick cream paper with decked edges and with a red seal affixed to it, the invitation looked very official. Music, parades, sports and dancing in the street was promised. Everyone who knew anyone who had lived in Norrth Bay in the past was therefore asked to help by providing names and addresses so those people could be personally invited and over 5000 invitations were sent out. If you are a collector, note that a facsimile of this invitation on thin paper and somewhat smaller was printed at a later date.
R.S. Huntingdon’s Logo for the Envelope
The envelope that was used to send ot the invitations and the letterhead paper that was used by the committee was totally different. The logo on it, a drawing by local artist R.S. Huntingdon, shows two men, explorers, emerging from a thick forest, one of them portaging a canoe. They are approaching a lake with a sunset which proclaims “Prosperity for all”. The trunks of two tall trees are crossed by a banner to form the shape of a gateway. The banner proclaims: “The Gateway to the North .” In the corner is the text ” Back to ‘the Bay ‘ Aug. 2nd. to 8th. -1925.” The image is inviting and bids you to walk into the light and the promised prosperity along with the travelers.
Poetry Competition Winner
“Come back to the lake where you fished and swam,/ And rolled on the sun-drenched sand,…”
|The Women’s Canadian Club held a competition in 1925 for the best poem on the history of North Bay, Old Home Week, or the incorporation of the city. The winning poem by Miss Oneita McEwan was in the “Call to Old Home Week” category.
List of Old Timers
A large number of Old Timers attended OHW and helped to shape the nature of the celebrations. Veterans were remembered on Soldier’s Day. Old Timers played lacrosse and other sports. Mostly, they must have met old friends and reminisced. Unfortunately these stories were never recorded and the guest books that carefully recorded the names of all the guests that registered were lost with the rest of the Board of Trade records in a fire. The names of those who registered with the OHW committee, however, were published in the paper and a full list of these names could be compiled, although in some cases the microfilm is light and hard to read. The names of Old Timers (with the place they came from) published on August 7th, 1925 have been transcribed. Even from these names alone, one can see that people did come from great distances, but more came from Toronto than anywhere else. For anyone interested in these Old Timers from a genealogical purposes, the list is somewhat limited as women are often referred to only as Mrs. John Smith.
List of Old Timers published in The Nugget August 7 1925
Local Archival Material
This old photograph shows the beginning of construction of the North Bay Methodist Church, now Trinity United. Courtesy of Kevin Reeves.
Researching the history of North Bay has its challenges. There are no city archives and most public documents from the city, the school boards, and the registry office are still held by those bodies and have not been deposited with the Archives of Ontario. This makes access more difficult as the main mandate of these bodies is to deal with current issues, not historical ones. The city disposed of most, if not all, the historical documents it was not legally required to keep. It therefore has council minutes, bylaws and assessment rolls. The bylaws are online but the earlier ones are not indexed. Discovery North Bay has an important collection of material but there is no online catalogue to date. The Dionne Quint Museum has the Fred Davis collection of images and a collection of scrapbooks but most of its collection consists of actual artifacts and printed sources. A major collection of Orange Order material is available at Nipissing University. Indexes to the census, cemetary records and many other useful sources can be found at the library of the Nipissing Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society housed in the Public Library.
The Archives of Ontario does have some material relating to North Bay, usually in a series created for other purposes such as the theatre files, educational material, or material relating to licensed premises. There is a good online search engine. Some of the collections at the Laurentian University Archives and the Centre de recherche en civilisation canadienne-française in Ottawa also have records relating to North Bay.
There are many private collections of material which can sometimes be accessed. The most important are those belonging to North Bay’s oldest churches, Pro-Cathedral, Trinity, St Andrew’s and St John the Divine. Fraternal groups, service clubs and other social organizations also often have material but there is no central listing of who to contact. Some family collections are also important.