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North America > Canada > Ontario > Northern Ontario > North Bay

North Bay

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North Bay is a city of approximately 52,000 people (2016) in Ontario. It has about 70,000 people in its metropolitan area (2016).

Understand[edit]

North Bay calls itself the "gateway to Northern Ontario". The region was first populated by Aboriginal tribes, and was explored and charted by Samuel de Champlain.

Downtown North Bay in the morning

History[edit]

The site of North Bay was on the main canoe route west from Montreal. Apart from Indigenous people, voyageurs and surveyors, there was little activity in the Lake Nipissing area until the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) in 1882. The CPR started its westward expansion from Callander Station (later renamed Bonfield), just to the east of North Bay, which was the point where the Canada Central Railway (CCR) ended. In 1882, John Ferguson decided that the north bay of Lake Nipissing was a promising spot for settlement. North Bay was incorporated as a town in 1891.

North Bay was selected as the southern terminus of the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway (T&NO) in 1902 when the Ontario government established a development road to serve the Haileybury settlement. During construction of the T&NO, silver was discovered at Cobalt and started a mining frenzy in the northern part of the province that continued for many years. The Canadian Northern Railway was built to North Bay in 1913.

North Bay grew through a strong lumbering sector, mining and the three railways in the early days.

The Dionne Quintuplets were born in Corbeil, Ontario, on the southern outskirts of North Bay in 1934. Their births had a tremendous impact on tourism in the area, and may have saved the economy in the district during the Depression and beyond. North Bay and area lived off this legacy well into the 1960s. Many visitors to the area discovered lakes and summer retreats that were easily accessible and the businesses thrived on the tourist dollars.

In 1951, as a result of rising tensions in the Cold War, the Royal Canadian Air Force established an air base at North Bay. Construction of RCAF Station North Bay took three years, during which it became the largest industry in the community, a status it held for more than four decades. In 1963, the North American Air Defence Command (NORAD) opened its Canadian operations centre at the base. Manned by American and Canadian military personnel, the centre, situated 60 storeys underground to withstand a nuclear strike, monitored Canada's northern, east-central and Atlantic airspace, identifying and tracking all air traffic in this airspace, and responding to airborne emergencies, crime, and suspicious, unknown and potentially hostile aircraft. In 1983 this responsibility was expanded to all of Canada, and in October 2006 the base's NORAD operations moved into a new facility above ground where it continues to provide surveillance, identification and tracking of aircraft, and warning and response to emergencies, attacks and other crises, for the air sovereignty of Canada and North America.

By the 21st century the base was no longer the city's top industry. The current engines driving North Bay's economy are the university and college population, and the North Bay Regional Health Centre, opened in January 2011. Tourism and a stable provincial government service centre also contribute to the robust economy.

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

From Toronto, take Highway 400 north to Barrie and then take the Highway 11 cutoff just north of the city. From Sudbury (and the west), take Highway 17 east. From Ottawa, follow Highway 17 west. From Timmins, take Highway 101 east to Matheson and then follow Highway 11 south. From Rouyn-Noranda, take Highway 101 south (in Quebec) which becomes Highway 63 (in Ontario) south.

By plane[edit]

By bus[edit]

Three inter-city bus carriers service the North Bay terminal (Autobus Maheux, Greyhound Lines of Canada & Ontario Northland) at 100 Station Road in North Bay.

By train[edit]

There is no train service to North Bay.

Get around[edit]

Map of North Bay

North Bay City Transit and ParaBus is an efficient public transit system servicing the city and ski-hills (in the winter months).

See[edit]

  • The North Bay Waterfront. On the shores of Lake Nipissing.
  • Dionne Quints Museum, +1 705-472-8480, toll-free: +1-888-249-8998, fax: +1 705-472-8027. The original Dionne farmhouse commemorates the May 28, 1934 birth of identical quintuplets (Annette, Emilie, Yvonne, Cecile, and Marie) in nearby Corbeil. Their fame was exploited to attract three million visitors to the area during the Great Depression. The farmhouse was relocated to North Bay in 1985 as a seasonal museum displaying artefacts from the quintuplets' bizarre childhood. The North Bay and District Chamber of Commerce ran the museum at the Hwy 11/17 crossroads until it closed in 2015; the city relocated the building to a site on the local waterfront and plans to re-open the museum in 2019.
  • Callander Museum, 107 Lansdowne Street E, Callander, +1 705-752-2282. Community museum in former doctor's residence, collection includes artefacts related to the Dionne Quintuplets, the shipping industry on Lake Nipissing, the sawmills around Callander Bay, and the general history of Callander.

Do[edit]

A beach on Lake Nipissing in West Ferris, a neighbourhood of North Bay
  • Discovery North Bay features a wide range of exhibits on local history as well as special exhibitions from the Royal Ontario Museum and other national and provincial museums.
  • Nipissing Lakers Hockey. North Bay's newest hockey team. The Lakers will compete in the Ontario University Athletics Men's Hockey circuit and compete against other Ontario- & Quebec-based university clubs.
  • The North Bay Triathlon. Usually offered the first weekend in July. Notable among the world's triathlons in that triathletes are allowed to wear wet suits for the swimming part of the competition, because of the cold waters.
  • Laurentian Ski Hill. Nice ski hill in the middle of the city with a good mix of runs and a terrain park.
  • There are a number of multi-purpose trails in and around the city. [1]

Buy[edit]

  • Northgate Shopping Centre. A great place to get whatever you need. Many restaurants and specialty shops are also scattered throughout the immediate area.
  • Downtown North Bay. Has many shops with fine, handcrafted goods.

Learn[edit]

  • Nipissing University used to be a campus of Sudbury's Laurentian University but became a separate institution in the early 1990s. It has a full undergraduate program.
  • Canadore College of Applied Arts and Technology. Shares a campus with Nipissing University.

Eat[edit]

Budget[edit]

Mid-range[edit]

  • Dave's Green Papaya, 652 Fraser Street, +1 705 476-8883. Asian food, eat-in, take-out and delivery.
  • Kelsey's, 1899 Algonquin Avenue, +1 705 476-8880.
  • The Moose, 134 Main Street East, +1 705 472-8834.
  • Raven and Republic, 246 First Ave West, +1 705 478-6110. Live music, wide selection of beers.
  • Twiggs Coffee Company, 473 Fraser Street, +1 705 474-9463. Serving freshly roasted fair-trade organic coffee, Montreal-style bagels, and soups in a lively café atmosphere. Also includes an outside patio.

Splurge[edit]

  • Crown and Beaver, 786 Lakeshore Drive, +1 705 495-4114.
  • The Boat Dockside Bar & Grill, Memorial Drive (North Bay Waterfront), (705) 472-
  • Churchill's Prime Rib House, 631 Lakeshore Dr., +1 705 476-7777.

Drink[edit]

Sleep[edit]

Budget[edit]

There are many parks in the region that are great for camping. Visit http://www.parkscanada.ca for more information on camping in the region.

Mid-range[edit]

  • The Comfort Inn, 1200 O'Brien Street, +1-800-260-8261. Clean, comfortable rooms. Free breakfast.
  • The Canadian Ecology Centre - Beautiful cabins in a wooded environment. Located at the Canadian Ecology Centre at the Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park. Book ahead as many conferences take place here, and space can be limited. Medium-sized function facilities also available.

Splurge[edit]

Nearby[edit]

Mattawa[edit]

A tiny town of 2000 people on the Trans-Canada Highway between North Bay and Algonquin Provincial Park. Mattawa is located at the junction of the Mattawa and Ottawa rivers and serves as point of departure for canoeing or boating on the Ottawa River. The drive along Highway 17 is pretty in the fall when the leaves are changing colours. The area offers fishing, camping, and hiking as well as numerous motels, campgrounds, and retreat centres. Many large wooden statues in the town depict local historical figures.

  • 1 Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park, 6905 Highway 17 E, Mattawa, +1 705-744-2276. Hiking trails, scenic views, Voyageur canoes, Mattawa River Visitor Centre and Canadian Ecology Centre, an eco-friendly retreat centre. Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park on Wikipedia Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park (Q3364683) on Wikidata
  • Mattawa Voyageur Days Festival, toll-free: +1-800-267-4222. Last weekend of July, four days (Th-Su). Live music, regional talent night, lumberjack competition, canoe race, fireworks at dusk on closing day. Past headline acts include April Wine, Trooper, Saga, Loverboy, Honeymoon Suite, Chuck Labelle, David Wilcox, Peter Frampton, Heart and Tom Cochrane. $40/person.
  • Voyageur Multi Use Trail System, 119 Argo Run, Mattawa (Hwy 533 to Murphys Rd), +1 705-744-0003, toll-free: +1-866-819-6888. Over 300 km (180 mi) of year-round ATV, horse, bike, motorbike and snowmobile trails. $12/day (trail pass includes map).
  • Mattawa Adventure Camp, 4601 Hwy. 17E, Mattawa, +1 705-744-5127. Swimming, fishing, snowmobiling, hunting, skiing, cottage and room rental.
  • Valois Motel, 701 Valois Dr, Mattawa, +1 705-744-5583, fax: +1 705-744-0799. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. Licensed restaurant (7AM-9PM), 42-room motel, two seasonal cottages on Ottawa River, wi-fi, a/c, higher rates and restrictions apply during Voyageur Days. $80-110.

Go next[edit]

North Bay is surprisingly central despite its perceived location. Sudbury and Muskoka are only an hour and a half away by car, west along Highway 17. Ottawa and Toronto are both within a few hours' driving distance as well. Timmins is about 360 km to the north.

Routes through North Bay
KapuskasingTemagami  N Ontario 11.svgTCH-blank.svg S  TCH-blank.svg ENDSHuntsvilleBarrie
Sudbury ← Sturgeon Falls ←  W Ontario 17.svgTCH-blank.svg E  PetawawaOttawa


This city travel guide to North Bay is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.