Category Archives: Voluntary Organizations

“Women Played a Great Part in Development of City,” The Nugget, August 5, 1935, p. 10.

[Transcribed by F. Noël with permission.]

Women Played Great Part In Development of City

Responsible for Developing Spirit of Fellowship in Early Days

True Pioneers

The North Bay of today, with its fine city streets and modern structures is a far cry from the little settlement huddled about the C.P.R. station which marked the site when the first woman arrived at this Gateway to the North, about 50 years ago.
The one board walk extending along the only travel way, now Oak street, was laid with planks placed lengthwise. The few make-shift dwellings faced the station and the C.P.R. “Red Row,” the last house of which stands on C.P.R. property at the corner of Ferguson and Oak streets.
About this little active spot in the wilderness, pierced only by the twin rails of a great transportation company, the C.P.R., lay an area dotted with innumerable stumps, the first evidence of clearing operations.
At first, social and church activity was nil but, in the secluded settlement a spirit of friendship in common sympathy soon sprung up and the populace turned their minds to entertainment.
Travelling troupes of entertainers were soon including North Bay on their itineraries and it was not long until an amusement hall was erected west of the settlement proper. Since church services were at this time held only upon the visits of missionaries and in box-cars on the rail tracks, church organization was devoid.

Develop Fellowship

It was not until Methodists, Roman Catholics and Presbyterians had united in their respective bands that the spirit of fellowship really bloomed. The “Park,” now Amelia Park, was a popular location in those out-of-town gatherings which characterized the early days of North Bay.
Church congregations organized picnics and the whole colony turned out. Visitors from as far as Ottawa arrived by train for these far-famed events when jollity and care-free merriment were the only watchwords. Large banquet tables were laid in the open air and the country picnic of tradition was on.
A remarkable annual event, organized as the town grew in population and the surrounding territory became broken by farm houses, was the Agricultural Fair also held at the Park. It was an occasion long looked forward to each year. Fine specimens of animals and farm produce were exhibited for awards.

First Women’s Society

The first women’s society active in the settlement was the Women’s Christian Temperance Union which still functions in the city of today. Its organization was prompted by the open bars of that time which were the mecca of lumbermen travelling through the little colony.
The first sport participated in was lacrosse. Enthusiastic encounters of this play, originated on the Ottawa River, drew practically the whole village.
The early days were hard for women, no lights, now water and no conveniences, such as are taken for granted today. Water was carried from Lake Nipissing for some time and later it was hauled in barrels by team, to be sold for 25 cents a barrel.
There was only limited hotel accommodation for new arrivals who were not yet established, and the village folk were forced to take them into their homes. “The Blue School” will be remembered by pioneers of the district. It was built on McIntyre street when accommodation at the first little schoolhouse was found wanting.

Railways Cause Growth

The start of the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario, and C.N.R. railways expanded the settlement. The three transportation systems put North Bay on the map. Except for the passing of Samuel de Champlain, the North country was shrouded in oblivion until the C.P.R. rails pushed through the wilderness. The establishment of T.& N.O. connection with the North made North Bay a terminal point, through which all traffic to the rich mining areas must pass.
After the construction of the first churches, the ladies of the town centred their activities about them. Picnics and social affairs were arranged and advertising was done by announcements from the various pulpits. Dramatic societies were organized and their efforts provided a variety of entertainment.
In the early days of the 20th century many social organizations were formed providing gathering places for the women of the town. The most prominent of these was one which is still flourishing in the present-day city, the Women’s Canadian Club, a society alive with patriotism.
Reminiscent tales of North Bay’s early days were on the tongues of everyone as pioneers were reunited.

Old Home Week Programs, 1925 and 1935



A full page ad in the Nugget highligted the main events of the week.

In 1925 each day of the OHW celebration had a theme.

  • Monday – ‘Civic Day’ – granting of the city’s charter after the pageant parade, sports
  • Tuesday –  ‘Soldiers’ Day’ – parade of the Returned Soldier, sports, regatta
  • Wednesday – ‘New Ontario Day’ – pageant parade, sports
  • Thursday – ‘Children’s Day’ – children’s sports tournaments and fireworks
  • Friday – ‘Pioneer Day’ – old-timers sports, horse racing
  • Saturday – ‘Railroad Day’ – open house at the railyards, sports, and fireworks

A six-page “Official Programme” with the complete details on every event was printed once all of these were finalized. There were parades, sports, and dancing every day as well as many special events.

Come Back

A four-page advertising brochure entitled “Come Back Old Pal” provided the highlights of the event and information as to who to contact for billeting, on special rail rates, on parking for motorists, and on the major promotional device of the week. This brochure was designed to answer questions that people might have before coming and to encourage locals to send the names of any former residents to the secretary so that an invitation could be sent to them.


The prizes to be awarded for each events were listed in the programme. These were suited to the age group and gender specific. Boys would receive a baseball glove and a knife; girls would receive an eversharp pencil. Gramophone records were the only item that went to both.


In 1935, each day of OHW was sponsored by one or more community organization and the days of the program were named for their sponsors.

  • Sunday and Monday – 159th Battalion Reunion Days
  • Tuesday – Motor Club Day
  • Wednesday – French Canadian Day (Cercle Canadien Français, Fédération des Femmes Canadiennes-Françaises (FFCF)
  • Thursday – Knights of Columbus Day
  • Friday – Shriners Day
  • Saturday – Associated Canadian Travellers Day

The Motor Club put the emphasis on swimming and water sports. The Knights of Columbus prepared a program that was much like Children’s Day in 1925. French-Canadian day was like a Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day celebration and differed from any of the days in 1925 in that sourrounding communities were invited to join in the celebrations. The unveiling of a monument to Jacques Cartier at McMurchy Park was the highlight of the day and warranted attention in the Globe. Sports and parades were featured every day.

The 1935 program was published in the Nugget.

French Canadian Day activities were printed in their program.

Old Home Week Organization 1935

In 1935, the city of North Bay decided that it could not afford to spend money on an OHW celebration. Initial plans had already been made to hold a second OHW the first week of August. The promoters turned to local groups and organizations to see if any of them might be able to sponsor a day. In the end, enough groups came forward that OHW went ahead. The organizers were aware from the beginning that the Dionne quintuplets would be generating tourism to the area and they hoped to capitalize on this.

2_Barker2_PalmerThe central committee of OHW in 1935 was chaired by Dan Barker and the secretary was Alderman G.E. Palmer. The remainder of the committee was made up of two or three representatives from each of the community groups sponsoring a day. The Central Committee coordinated their efforts and dealth with the city on general matters relating to the event while the individual groups focussed on their parades and program.

The organizing groups were: the 159th Battalion, the North Bay Motor Club, the Cercle Canadien Français and the North Bay branch of the Fédération des Femmes Canadiennes-Françaises (FFCF), the Knights of Columbus, the Rorab Shrine Club, and the Associated Canadian Travellers.

It is worth noting that although French Canadian Day was organized by both a men’s and a women’s group, only the men’s group (Cercle Canadien-Français) had representatives on the Central Committee. The women’s group (Fédération des Femmes Canadiennes-Françaises) was responsible primarily for the banquet on the evening of French Canadian Day, although they were also involved in fundraising for the Jacques Cartier Monument. The French souvenir book, however, lists the full executive of both groups.

Articles in the Nugget on the organization of OHW in 1935 are listed and summarized in the attached pdf file.