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Archival footage shows how North Bay threw a party 86 years ago this week

The 1935 Old Home Week, held in the midst of the Great Depression, 'was organized, in part, to encourage tourists to link a visit to see the Dionne Quintuplets in Corbeil with a visit to North Bay.'

The video below has no audio but the stunning visuals of a civic celebration in North Bay come courtesy of Library and Archives Canada.

The footage was shot in North Bay during the Old Home Week of August 4–10, 1935. It was the follow-up celebration to the inaugural 1925 Old Home Week, held to commemorate the incorporation of the City of North Bay in August of that year.

North Bay Museum Director/Curator Naomi Hehn has noted the 1925 Old Home Week is "the earliest example of a huge festival that the city created." 

Old Home Week celebrations were held in North Bay in 1925, 1935, 1948 and 1960, and included fireworks, midways, parades, bands, sporting events, street dancing, and more, according to the research of the North Bay Museum

The 1935 event, held 86 years ago this week in the midst of the Great Depression "was organized, in part, to encourage tourists to link a visit to see the Dionne Quintuplets," born the year prior, "in Corbeil with a visit to North Bay." 

The thinking of the day was bringing back Old Home Week would be a fine way to mark the 10th anniversary of the City of North Bay — it was an idea that originated with the 1934 City Council, which recommended providing $5,000 to support the festival. Except, the newly-elected City Council of 1935 decided to withhold the funding due to the financial pressures of the Great Depression.

The problem organizers faced centred on the 125,000 promotional envelopes that had already been circulated to promote the event. The 1935 event needed and received a boost from local businesses and organizations to pull it off. 

The museum shares the 1935 parade "included a 159 Battalion float (a dugout with sandbags and a battle scene), a city float, a few historical scenes, and a float containing Miss Old Home Week and children born during the 1935 Old Home Week. A tableau depicting the landing of Jacques Cartier on Canadian soil which was put together by the Le Cercle des Canadiens Français won first prize in the parade. The Travellers’ battleship float of HMS Traveller took second prize. French Canadians, Italian Canadians, and Native populations were represented in the celebrations. Video footage of the time shows that the HMS Traveller float was followed by an HMS Richardson float full of local children."

According to the museum, which hosted a North Bay Celebrates exhibit in 2020, events held during the 1925 Old Home Week included the presentation of the city charter in Memorial Park and a street pageant and parade featuring various floats and costumes — inspired by North Bay's history dating back to 1615 with the fur trade, followed by the lumber industry, and railways.

In her research paper focusing on the 1925 and 1935 celebrations, Nipissing University History Professor Francoise Noel noted the events were "sometimes referred to as 'Old Boys Reunions,' these civic events may well have borrowed from the notion of the school reunion. Cast at the grander scale of the town, however, these reunions sought to bring all previous residents back for a look at the old town and a visit with former acquaintances. This created the unusual situation where the tourist was at once the tourist and the attraction. If one could meet up with old friends there was greater motivation to attend. This, and the promotion of these events as civic celebrations, tended to mask their overt promotional goals."


Stu Campaigne

About the Author: Stu Campaigne

Stu Campaigne is a full-time news reporter for BayToday.ca, focusing on local politics and sharing our community's compelling human interest stories.
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