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Opinion: North Bay through the eyes of visitors from the other side of the world

The Greater Dhaka Area has more than 21 million people, with nine million within the city limits
Marathon beach turl 2015
Marathon beach. Photo by Jeff Turl.

It’s refreshing to see North Bay through the eyes of first-time visitors.

I had the pleasure of hosting two business associates who split their time between Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, and Ajax, Ontario. They own a thriving travel business in Dhaka and are now embarking on an immigration business as well.

A married couple, they have travelled the world, but were still impressed by what they saw in North Bay.

On our fairly short driving tour I included the Canadore College and Nipissing University complex, hospital, and, of course, our magnificent waterfront. They were impressed and decided to return to Nipissing University for a closer look after I left them, and then head to the waterfront for a walk before returning to Ajax.  At Nipissing they hoped to find someone to talk to about sending students from Bangladesh here to study.

As we drove down Main Street she said streets that look like this should be for pedestrians only. She thought it would make a good movie set.  “As a matter of fact…,” I said, and told her the story. She was not familiar with the Cardinal or Carter TV series, but she knew about Hallmark movies.

At one point she asked if we had a mosque. Check.

We sat on the deck at the North Bay Golf and Country Club for lunch. He took a a lot of photos and was enthralled watching golfers’ shots to the 18th green and then their putts, on what is likely the toughest green in Northern Ontario.

He told me about a golf club in Dhaka that had a restricted membership. To get in you had to go through an interview process and pay a lot of money. Openings didn’t come up often. I told him anyone can join this club, and compared to southern Ontario the membership fee is a bargain.

What excited them most was the space. We do not live in a crowded city.

Dhaka is the ninth-largest city in the world and the sixth most densely populated. The Greater Dhaka Area has more than 21 million people, with nine million within the city limits. No wonder they marvelled at the space, all the way to North Bay on their first trip north, and in the city itself.

“You can swim in the lake?” she asked when we were on Memorial Drive. “Certainly, there is one of our many beaches,” I said.

“Do you swim in the lake?” she asked. “Only when my granddaughter visits,” I said, wondering why I don’t do it more often. After living 14 years on Lake Nosbonsing until moving back to the city I guess I used up my swimming quota. She thought her two daughters, nine and 11, would love Lake Nipissing beaches.

Mayor Al McDonald has been busy on social media recently touting the joys of living in North Bay, and he has been doing a good job of it. The mayor’s 10-minute commute to anywhere in the city mantra caught my visitors’ attention.  He talked about the more than 300-kilometre drive they took to North Bay taking less than four hours.

“In Bangladesh to travel 300 kilometres by car would take eight to 10 hours with the traffic,” he said.

She was very interested in further discussing the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot, even though we had discussed it previously on Zoom calls. Patricia Carr of the North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce expects the pilot to start soon, with North Bay being one of the last two of the 11 cities to get started. The project has the potential to noticeably make a difference in our population and its diversity.

Before we parted ways for the day he said, “Don, you have a good life here.”

Yes, indeed we do. We shouldn’t need visitors to North Bay to remind us.

Editor’s Note:  Don Curry is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant living in North Bay.

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Don Curry

About the Author: Don Curry

Don Curry is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant and president of Curry Immigration Consulting and a former journalism instructor
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