North Bay (pop. 53,651; “Gateway to Opportunity”) was originally a fur-trading post that boomed after the 1882 arrival of the railway. These days North Bay is still a trade and transportation center, and its fur auctions are among the largest in the world. Many tourists use the city as a jumping-off point for wilderness expeditions.
Just southeast of town, Hwy-17 joins Hwy-11, which runs south to Toronto. Near the junction there’s a visitors information center and the Dionne Quintuplets Museum (1375 Seymour St., 705/472-8480, daily mid-May-mid-Oct., C$3.75), housed in the cabin that was their 1934 birthplace.
Apart from the Dionne quintuplets, the main attractions of North Bay line up along the Lake Nipissing waterfront park; from here, the Chief Commanda II cruises (705/494-8167) follow the old voyageurs’ route across the water. In midsummer, the guided tour will likely tell you all about the locally famous shad flies, mouthless, fish-smelly bugs (also known as mayflies) that swarm out of the water and make a nuisance of themselves on North Bay sidewalks in their short, 24-hour lives.
Most of the motels are along Main Street and Lakeshore Drive, as are fast-food burger bars, pizza places, and a wide range of ethnic places. Besides the very good Indra’s Curry House (454 Main St. E., 705/478-6000), check out Lebanese, Japanese, Thai, and more, all within a few blocks of each other.