||May 11, 2007
Doors Open North Bay
One of the best heritage ideas to come along in a long time
is the opening of interesting historical buildings for the public to see and
hear about. The idea started in Europe in 1984 and spread widely there before
coming to Toronto in 1984. Since then it has spread across Ontario and North
America, and has finally come to North Bay.
Eleven buildings will be open for you to drop in and have a
look, a tour, and ask questions to people assigned by the North Bay Museum
(Discovery North Bay). The museum in the old CPR Train Station is on the list
and is the best place to start and get maps and other details. You can start at
any one of the sites and see any or all from 10-4pm, free of charge. The Friday
Nugget will have a full and detailed supplement on the event.
The following are featured:
Canadian Pacific Railway
Station/Discovery North Bay
W.K.P. Kennedy Gallery
Clothes Encounters (of the 2nd
Empire Living Centre
King George V School
North Bay Collegiate
Institute and Vocational School Ecole Seconaire Catholique Algonquin
Northeast Mental Health
St. Johnís Anglican Church
Trinity United Church
North Bay Masonic Temple
The Empire Living Centre
I was asked to be a guide at the Empire Living Centre and
will be there from 10-4. I recall one or two nights there years ago while in
town on business when it was the Empire Hotel and I recall several visits to the
restaurant after I retired to the area.
||The Empire Hotel, Discovery North Bay Photo.
The museum gave me an item on the hotel written by a late
Living Centre resident Claire Baldasaro who got her information from the Nugget
in 1928 at the hotel opening. Two general contractors from Timmins built the
hotel. They used a large local work force and purchased their supplies here.
There was a drug store, barber shop and restaurant along with porters and
bellhops. A richly adorned marquee, and rotunda were features as were mosaic
tile floors laid by master craftsmen. The hotel in the heart of North Bay and
close to two railway stations was considered the best in Northern Ontario.
The Hotel was eventually bought and refurbished as a
leisure living centre. A large addition was later added. Many of our senior
citizens live there and enjoy the beautiful setting, food, housekeeping and
||Ann Montemurro at the Empire Living Centre,
I had the recent pleasure of visiting with resident Ann
Montemurro who has lived there for three years and is very satisfied with her
stay. She recalled riding her bicycle to the hotel with friends while still a
teenager to watch the people dancing through the large window. She met her
husband Richard before the war and when he came back and they married their
reception was held at the hotel. They lived on Scollard Street when it was just
being built up and had three children. They visited the hotel on occasion, and
especially at Christmas over the years. Her children loved the Chinese food.
She recalled the making of the James Cagney movie Captain
of the Clouds and their stay at the Empire. Cagney, when a little under the
influence, opened his hotel window and yelled at the kids and threw $5 bills to
the crowd below. She also remembers riding her bike with friends to see the
movie being made. Ann also remembered formal dances where a dozen couples would
rent a room and leave their coats and walk down the big staircase as a group to
the dance. The staircase remains. Ann showed me the nicely done family history
she has prepared on the Montemurro and Mitchell families. She also mentioned
her connection with John Macfie the outstanding local historian from Parry
For those with the interest and the stamina there are 12
venues in the same general area as Doors Open that are displaying some 20
outstanding photographers. Three are at the Museum and three are at the Kennedy
Gallery which are in Doors Open. A catalogue and map for Camera Frontera is
available for $5.
Motherís Day Studio Tour
Another great spring excursion is the Country Roads Studio
and garden tour May 12 & 13. Pick up a brochure at the Chamber of Commerce on
Seymour Street or log on to
www.countryroadstour.com or call 752-3663.
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