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June 19, 2009

Some North Bay Heritage Resources

I have had several inquiries recently about sources of information about the history/heritage of North Bay.  Community Voices has only been delivered  to North Bay for the last year (to those who don’t get the Nugget) as compared to its 10th year elsewhere, so my greater interest in North Bay has only been recent.  The following are some sources general and specific I have used on occasion. 


The North Bay Public Library has excellent material on its shelves both in general circulation and in their reference and archives sections.  They have a large audio visual section and lots of computers available for online searches.  You can see The Nugget etc. on microfilm and you can print material for a small fee. 

The Nipissing Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society has a library on the second floor next to the francophone library with volunteer staff available to help access on some afternoons their large general collection of interesting material. You don’t have to be a member. 

If you are a member of an area library you can get a free membership in the Nipissing University Library which has a wide range of resources.  Back copies of the Globe and Mail (online) and the Nugget (microfilm) are available on request.  Materials can be borrowed and copying is available. 

The history department at Nipissing has some excellent material available on line and on file from their courses in Community Studies and Oral History. 

The North Bay Mattawa Conservation Authority has a good accumulation of material related to their jurisdiction although material cannot be borrowed – only referenced and copied. 

The Quints Museum has Quint material and the Canadian Forces Museum of Aerospace Defence has material related to their mandate.  Discovery North Bay Museum has some excellent general material but accessibility is a problem.  Their bookstore is excellent and other local bookstores are usually well worth a look. 


My accumulation of books on North Bay provides a wide variety of information and most of them are available in the libraries mentioned.  2009 is the centennial of North Bay’s oldest reference book The Gateway to Silverland written by Anson Gard in 1909.  A copy is available in the North Bay Public Library and online at www.ourroots.ca where it can be referenced and copied if desired.  It is a unique book that plays up the successful men and events in North Bay’s early history. The book talks about the Georgian Bay Ship Canal as if it was a fait accompli. There is little reference to women. Gard had many patrons who ended up in the book.  There are some excellent old photographs.  The book also has a large section on Cobalt.  There are rumours that the North Bay section may be reproduced as a Centennial project for sale this fall. A real keepsake. 

First house with shingled roof in North Bay 1883.  All from Gateway to Silverland book 1909 John Ferguson who came to North Bay in 1882 and pioneered North Bay development and his home
Cover of Anson Gard book 1909

The 1925 Old Home Week Book provides an update and additional information on North Bay after Gard’s 1909 effort.  Numerous photographs and reports on every phase of North Bay life are profiled. 

W.K.P. Kennedy wrote the fact packed 300 page book called North Bay in 1961.  It is long out of print but some copies are available in libraries.  It was not indexed but a man by the name of Robert Graham did an excellent index in 2000 and it is available. 

Murray Leatherdale’s From Nipissing From Brule to Booth (1975) provides an excellent overview of the pre settlement days of the North Bay area. 

In 1982 Michael Barnes edited a book of columns by newspaper columnist Hartley Trussler which has some interesting insights.  The same year Barnes also published The Gateway City: The North Bay Story which is an excellent read.  Barnes also wrote a later book (1997) called North Bay: Northern Gateway – this time with many photographs. 

Bill Steer, newspaper columnist and historian wrote a book Boosting the Bay in 1994 with his own focus and many photos.  Bill, who is now Director of the Ecology Centre has produced several useful maps including North Bay’s Heritage and Tourism Map which provides some excellent general information especially for people with GPS equipment. 

Cup Gunning a retired librarian at Nipissing University has produced several North Bay books of general and specific interest.  Using direct references to newspaper reports and local interviews he has created a picture of North Bay ‘s early years, The Lean Years 1929 – 1939, and North Bay The War Years Before, During and After World War 2 are examples. 

The computer is the most important resource now with a remarkable amount of reading material on almost every topic simply by Googling the topic.  The Anson Gard and the W.K.P. Kennedy books are online at www.ourroots.ca which is a great place to start. Roy Summers has some interesting material online on North Bays geographical and geological history and its impact on settlement. There are several of my North Bay related Heritage Perspective printable articles among the 330 online including 3 on the Manitou Islands. Happy Hunting! 

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