North Bay (pop. 5,533; “Gateway to the North”) was originally a fur-trading post that boomed after the 1882 arrival of the railroad. 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. 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 international places. Besides the 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.