North Bay was a remote lakeside destination until the Canadian Pacific Railway arrived in 1882, securing its future. Located four hours north of Toronto by car, this city now bursts with activities and cultural attractions for all ages.
The fun begins at Lake Nipissing’s waterfront, a top attraction in North Bay, where Kate Pace Way welcomes runners, walkers, cyclists and roller bladers. You can find a unique form of transport at Fun Rentals on the waterfront, with a steampunk-like bike called the Sirenetta, perfect for a family of three. The Delfino is another buggy contraption that carries up to four adults. Fun Rentals offers traditional tandem bikes, too, along with kayaks, tubes and toys for splashing on the lake.
Water lovers can swim or water ski the lake as well as navigate a canoe or another craft. Likewise, windsurfing, wakeboarding and kayaking hold summertime appeal.
Anyone can cruise the lake in classic style on Canada’s first all-aluminium catamaran, the Chief Commanda II, sailing from Pinewood Park Resort. The 30-metre-long vessel makes 90-minute round-trip excursions to the Manitou Islands. Other destinations include Callandar Bay and the Upper French River, and a fall colour tour goes where the foliage glows. The ship’s three decks make the most of on-board Sunday entertainment in July and August.
For winter fun, you can visit Laurentian Ski Hill to ski, snowboard and ride snowmobiles right in the centre of town. Nearby there are a host of outdoor ice-skating rinks.
Things to do in North Bay include visiting the Heritage Railway, created in 1994 by Stan Lawlor and Rod Johnston. Volunteers knowledgeable in rail lore tell the stories of North Bay’s beginnings. You and your family may embark on a miniature train ride, enjoying the open-air route. The newest addition to this mini-locomotive fleet is the Lucy Dalton, a replica of the unique 1882 steam engine that once made its rounds in North Bay.
In 1998, the founders added the Heritage Carousel to this waterfront attraction. The carousel boasts hand-crafted chariots and rideable creatures such as moose, beaver and skunk. Open daily, the Heritage Railway and Carousel together draw tens of thousands of visitors.
Summer in the Park Festival is another top attraction in North Bay, ranking highly among Ontario’s festivals in a 2013 poll. The August Waterfront Park weekend showcases art with workshops, artists and displays. You can enter a contest, learn about aboriginal culture and take the little ones to a petting zoo. Music offerings are the main draw, with world-famous acts luring visitors by the busload.
For more things to do in North Bay, many visitors take in the interesting story of the “Dionne Quints” in the Farmhouse Museum off Seymour Street. In 1934, the Dionne Quintuplets were born, amazing the world with their survival. These babies became a source of inspiration during the depression years, and millions came to North Bay to celebrate the identical Marie, Annette, Emilie, Yvonne and Cecile, who defied incredible odds. That plucky North Bay spirit still shines today.