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History of North Bay, ON

Early History

Nicknamed ‘Gateway to the North’, North Bay is a picturesque spot on the Canadian map. The history of this place goes back to the year 1882, when the first train reached the area. John Ferguson is known to be the first settler of North Bay: he thought that the area was a promising spot for future settlement. It was John Ferguson who became the first postmaster of the town, and bought 288 acres of land. In the years that followed, new residents starting to come to North Bay in search of a better future.

North Bay’s development was fueled by the arrival of the railway (Canadian Pacific Railway). As the rail connections to other areas developed, North Bay became a major rail point in Ontario. North Bay benefited from a favorable geographical location, which allowed for the development of strong lumbering industry, mining operations, and railway systems. In the late 19th century, North Bay saw accelerated construction of schools, churches, retail stores, and other facilities. John Bourke became the first mayor of the new town.

In 1925, North Bay was incorporated as a city. By that time, North Bay had already been a town with skillful leadership, developed architecture, and relatively strong economy. In 1934, the famous Dionne Quintuplets were born in the southern part of North Bay — the event that sparked avid interest among tourists. In 1951, the Royal Canadian Air Force built a military base in the town, in an attempt to strengthen the system of national defense. By the beginning of the 21st century, however, the base was no longer needed and since then has been used as a storage facility.

North Bay, ON in 1925
North Bay, ON in 1925

Latest History

Today North Bay is an economically diverse community with most people employed in health, education, and retail. In 1992, Nipissing University was established in North Bay, a liberal arts college overlooking Lake Nippising. The university brought additional interest to North Bay and the surrounding area, with 5,100 students as of 2020. North Bay is a mid-sized city with a population of over 51 thousand people. The city has an artistically talented community of musicians, artists, and writers.

Tourists who are traveling in Ontario will find plenty of opportunities in North Bay, from golfing and biking to birdwatching and boating. North Bay’s hospitality, together with its convenient location and inspirational nature, make the city a sought-after holiday destination!