North Bay's Downtown & Waterfront Walking Tour

Chief Commanda II - Callander Bay Scenic Tour Package

Includes accommodations, breakfast, boarding pass and choice of dinner on the boat or at the resort.
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Main Street, North Bay



While visiting North Bay, you may want to consider a walk in the vibrant downtown community which is nestled along the waterfront. Following this tour will ensure you don't miss anything along the way.

Starting Point: Corner McIntyre and Fraser Street

The Empire Retirement Living Centre was formally known as the Empire Hotel. Accented with authentic Italian architecture, the hotel was once graced by Queen Elizabeth II, during her stay in 1951. The hotel also hosted the infamous James Cagney in 1941 while he filmed Captains of the Clouds right here in North Bay.

Turn right onto First Avenue

The Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services is on the left which in part occupies the historic former “North Bay Normal School”. The Normal School first opened its doors in 1909 to 25 students and was one of several identical structures built in Ontario. Originally established to increase the number of educated teachers in the province, North Bay has embraced a tradition of teacher education that has spanned over 100 years - From the North Bay Normal School, to the Teachers College, to the nationally recognized Nipissing University.

In the 1990’s, the Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services expanded the space by surrounding three sides of the original building and keeping the historical integrity of the Normal School in tact. The atrium of the building exposes the exterior wall of the original building and has incorporated pedestrian bridges to connect new offices with the old.

Memorial Park

Next to the Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services.

Next to the Ministry of Corrections is the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #23. The beautiful Cenotaph on this property was unveiled in 1922 in honour of the men and women who fought in World War I. At the time it was built, it was the largest bronze statue in our country and was sculpted by C.D. McKenzie of Toronto with local contractor Andrew Craig.  By 1923 the land was dubbed Memorial Park with the addition of the North Bay and Area Wall of Honour which is the largest municipal memorial in Canada and displays the names of the men and women who lost their lives in World War II, the Korean War and several other military undertakings.

The Cenotaph in Memorial Park

Right onto Wyld Street – Right onto Main Street

North Bay’s Capitol Centre was constructed in 1928 and serves as North Bay’s hub for the arts. As North Bay’s original Famous Players and Vaudeville Theatre, the centre has been the venue for many of the City’s cultural and entertainment events. Restored and renovated in 1986, the theatre is now home to the W.K.P. Kennedy Gallery which has earned acclaimed reviews in showcasing the city’s artists.

Continue down Main Street West onto Algonquin Avenue

The Pro-Cathedral of the Assumption is a prominent structure in North Bay and its steeple has made it one of the most recognized buildings in the city. The Pro-Cathedral – being North Bay’s largest Catholic Church was originally built in 1904 and was designed by Harry Angus Thompson and Angus Architects. In 1911, the addition of the “Bishop’s Place” was created using the same materials and structural design as the church’s original structure.

 The Pro-Cathedral taken by Greg McGuinty

Continue Along Algonquin Avenue

Ecole Secondaire Catholique Algonquin is formerly known as the North Bay Collegiate

Institute and Vocational School.  The building was constructed in 1930 and housed North Bay’s first public secondary school – it remained the City’s sole public high school until well after World War II had resolved.

This institution is now a Catholic secondary school for the area’s French-speaking population.

Turn Left onto Copeland Street and Left onto Murray Street – Straight onto Memorial Drive

We are now approaching North Bay’s Waterfront area, which is a staple in this city for both residents and visitors alike. To the right is the Government Dock, housing North Bay’s largest municipal marina and the notable Chief Commanda II. The original Chief Commanda resides further down the dock and cruised the waters of Lake Nipissing (as you see on the right) and the French River from 1947-1974. It now serves as North Bay’s Waterfront restaurant called “The Boat”.

To the left is the Heritage Railway Company Mini-Train. Two North Bay residents, Stan Lawlor and Rod Johnson, brought the miniature railway to life in 1994 to preserve the heritage of rail in the City.

Note: Rail began in North Bay with the arrival of the CPR’s Lucy Dalton – the first passenger steam train, on Nov. 9, 1882.

Next to the railway you’ll notice the Waterfront’s two newest attractions: the Heritage Carousel. Thousands of hours of volunteer work was dedicated to the design and construction of each whimsical ride. The Heritage Carousel represents a hybrid of different horses from the past century including the realistic Philadelphia Style, the elaborate Coney Island Style and the traditional Fairground Style. The Winter Wonderland Carousel was made for those who would prefer to ride a bear, moose or a beaver.

The Heritage Carousel

Note: The Discovery Channel’s program “How Things Work” has filmed the Heritage Carousel in May 2009 as one part of their 13-part series “How Machines Work”.

Continue Along Memorial Drive

Lake Nipissing is Ontario’s 5th largest lake covering an area of 873 square kilometers and has an average depth of only 15m. At the extreme east of the lake is Callander Bay – which is actually an eroded volcanic pipe that was formed by an ancient volcanic eruption.

Lake Nipissing is also home to the Manitou Islands, located approximately 10km SW of North Bay – and are also remnants of a volcanic pipe.

One of this lake’s most renowned characteristics relate to the 2-3 very interesting weeks this city has each summer. Shadflies are to some an inconvenience and to some quite the fascination – Shads don’t have mouths (which really is a saving grade for residents here), they have no legs, and they only have a life of around 14 days. The only problem is that they inhabit North Bay in astronomical numbers.

A Shadfly

What on earth could be the point of these little sticky yet harmless things?

Believe it or not – the Shadfly is an extremely important source of food for the walleye population of Lake Nipissing. In years where there has been a decline in the shadfly population, there is a warranted concern for Lake Nipissing’s fishing health for the whole following year.

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