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
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.
See also my article in Urban History Review available at Erudit.
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.