North Bayites often have conversations about identity. What we are and what we are not, as a city. One thing that most agree about is that we live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Yet, the cover photo of the new tourism brochure is a gorgeous shot of ice huts...on Big Lake Abitibi?
Three sources confirmed to BayToday Tuesday that they are quite familiar with the photo that graces the North Bay travel brochure cover, with two of the three adding that they were present on frozen Big Lake Abitibi, near Cochrane, Ont., on the night when the photo was taken six years ago.
"The message is that it's North Bay, and it's the ice fishing mecca of Northern Ontario. The first thing I noticed when I got here were those ice huts on the bay," said Tourism North Bay executive director Stephen Hollingshead by phone Tuesday, in defence of the photo selection.
"I really don't know [if the photo is taken in North Bay] and I think it's irrelevant. I think the message is very clear. It's a beautiful photo of North Bay, and that's one of the most iconic things about North Bay. If you come to North Bay in the winter, that's what you'll see," added Hollingshead.
When it was suggested that the photo is a misrepresentation, Hollingshead responded, "There's nothing dishonest. The whole book is full of North Bay." Just inches below the ice huts on the cover, "North Bay" and "Ontario, Canada" are printed over the ice. Then, farther down, the tagline "Truly northern experiences for over 100 years."
North Bay needs tourism dollars to make up for a lack of steady employment, an aging population, and shrinking population base. The efforts of the Tourism North Bay group should be commended, filling a gap of over a decade without an organization devoted solely to tourism. Selling North Bay to potential visitors is paramount. North Bay has had designs on being known as a sports tourism destination for years, and results have demonstrated that that dream is becoming a reality.
Should the organization tasked with selling North Bay, and funded by the City ($50,000 over two years), not be able to find a local photo of one of our greatest natural resources? Were there not enough local photos to fill the brochure?
"The artistic direction was something that Clark Communications and I discussed from the beginning. There's not a lot of great-quality photos in any library in North Bay for anything. The message is that the bay on Nipissing is 'this' in the winter. A high-quality, stage one photo was a photo that we got from a person who is a professional photographer, and it was the quality and the size that we needed for the cover of the guide, so we went with what we had," said Hollingshead.
Hollingshead continued, "We would like to be able to start using local photos and get stuff on Facebook, ASAP. We're working on a couple of other projects so people can upload photos and videos, which will allow us to amass a library where we can use more photos for more projects. Being that this was the first attempt at this guide, and the quality, and the message we wanted, we needed a high-quality photo and that's the photo we used."