Community Service: The Early Years
The information on used book sales, the restoration of historical paintings, and the hands-on children’s museum project comes from the 80th-anniversary display at the North Bay Museum in the fall of 2021. Credit goes to Nat Brunette for heading this project and writing much of the material. Photos of the displays are available on this website in the form of a slide show:
Used Book Sales
Although primary purpose of selling used books was to raise money for scholarships, this sale provided an affordable way for people in the community to purchase books as many of them were educational and best sellers. And the first used book sale in 1967 raised money for the North Bay’s new library building.
Restoration of Historical Paintings
During the early 1970s, North Bay CFUW coordinated and funded the restoration of ten historical Canadian paintings created during a time of important Canadian heritage. William Kennedy, a local artist, donated his
time and expertise to restore the works which had been damaged by train soot while they were being stored away in the basement of the North Bay Teachers’ College.
In 1975, in honour of the 50th Anniversary of CFUW North Bay, the restored paintings were presented to Nipissing University at their first homecoming event. As Nipissing University's Faculty of Education has direct ties to the North Bay Teachers’ College (which began in 1909), this donation helped to preserve valuable local historical material.
Below: 1987 article in the North Bay Nugget covering the opening of an exhibit at the WKP Kennedy Gallery that featured the restored art.
Until recently, five of these paintings hung in the boardroom at Nipissing University while another is displayed at Queen's Park in the Ontario Legislature.
Hands-on Children's Museum Project
Creating the Children's Museum was probably the most ambitious project undertaken by CFUW North Bay. The idea came from discussions during the International Year of the Child (1979) to create a special project geared to children. It was the brainchild of Martha Kennedy, who inspired other CFUW women to join a committee to set up a summer children's museum.
In 1981 this committee applied for and received a federal grant to hire three university students to run the museum. The Nipissing Board of Education generously offered space at Sunset Park Elementary School, which was at that point located on Lakeshore Drive.
The university students began working in May in the basement of Calvin Presbyterian Church to prepare the exhibits and activities for that summer.
In an effort to showcase North Bay's history the group chose the theme "Voyageurs" for that first summer. All activities and exhibits were hands-on for children and included all aspects of the fur trade. Admission was free and geared towards children aged four to twelve.This first summer Children's Museum was a great success.
The theme for the Children's Museum changed each year. In 1982, the theme was "Discovery Trains" in conjunction with 100 Years of Rail celebrations in North Bay. In 1983, the theme was "Timber-r-r," which focused on North Bay's logging history, and in the final summer in 1984, the theme was "Architecture." At the end of each summer interactive kits were put together and given to the Learning Resource Center of the Nipissing Board of Education.
This project resonated with CFUW goals of promoting education and community involvement. It would not have been possible without the support of many community partners and the CFUW women who generously volunteered their time.