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November 17, 2006

New Book on the Capitol Centre


A fascinating history of the Capitol Centre on Main Street North Bay is hot off the press in advance of the 20th anniversary of “The Capitol Centre – North Bay’s Home for Arts & Entertainment” in 2007.  The book is dedicated to Betty Speers, a driving force behind the Centre’s restoration, who died in June 2006. 

The cover of the new book with painting by author Barry Burniston

Barry Burniston, a retired secondary school art teacher took on the task of writing the book and has made a significant contribution to the history of North Bay with it.  Barry has served on the Centre’s Board and has exhibited his art in the W.K.P. Kennedy Public Art Gallery in the Centre.  The painting of the Centre in 1930 on the cover of the book is one of his works.  

The book tells a lot of North Bay history beyond the Capitol along with a detailed profile of the Centre itself.  Louis Rosenbaum a Sturgeon Falls businessman purchased the site in 1927 and immediately began construction.  When he ran out of funds Famous Players bought the project.  It opened on June 1, 1929.  The building served as a movie theatre and as a stage for hundreds of events over the years.  Many offices and even a bowling alley used the building over its 77-year life. 

One well-known tenant was Roy Thompson who had a radio station there and went on to become a billionaire.  Another interesting note for me was a reference to a dentist Dr. Ralph Foster who had an office there for many years where the Galaxy Lounge is located upstairs today.  Barry did not know anything about him but tracked down his daughter and found out about him.  He found that Dr. Foster’s father was a lumberman who retired to North Bay.  Coincidentally the father, Bill Foster, is probably a person I have written about more than any other.  Bill Foster worked in logging in Trout Creek and played a major role in the Trout Creek Logging Railway before moving to Chisholm Township.  He had four logging operations in Chisholm including the property I currently live on.  He built on the new CNR in 1915 and established Foster’s Mill, which became Fossmill.  He sold out to another company that built a major lumber operation in the 1920-30s.  The story of Fossmill is told in the book my son and I wrote called The Fossmill Story, which along with the Burniston book is available at Gulliver’s, The North Bay Museum, and other outlets. 

The Capitol book is loaded with many great photographs and anecdotes from many interviews.  A major part of the book is the two chapters on “The Fight to Save the Capitol” and the “Arts Centre” which tells the story of all the wonderful events that have been provided to North Bay and environs for the past two decades.  The art scene is also featured in detail with reference to the W.K.P. Kennedy Public Gallery in the Centre which has developed into a major location for art in the area with many outstanding exhibitions and programs.  


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