Learning About the Emerging Emergencies of North Bay

We’re in North Bay on a residency as we prepare for an exhibition this fall at the White Water Gallery. After spending Monday getting acquainted with the downtown, we ventured further out. Of course, we had to stop at the North Bay arch. Getting a sense of these kinds of structural parts of the city that have, in a way, become shorthand for the entire geography has been helping us to shape the outlines of the exhibition.

City as gateway.

Back at homebase, we begin to draft the instructions for the psychogeographic walk we were planning for Tuesday evening.

Some early sketches.

Then, assembled into a foldable booklet.

Staples was conveniently around the corner from where we’re staying.

Dan, Hiba, and Ro fold.

Meanwhile, we were also doing some planning for Wednesday’s workshop.

Working on some design elements … emergencies in a city of no emergencies?

We were originally thinking of developing some posters, but the bylaws on signage here are apparently actually enforced.

Hiba pulls up a bunch of iconography as studies.

Some very complex icons.


In the evening, we begin out walks, taking notes together.

We put together 16 instructions.

Along with a few North Bay locals, we had some friends join us, up from Waterloo.

Two groups headed out into downtown North Bay.

We’ll be looking through these notes to compile our projections.

Downtown North Bay.

Edge of the lake, on a hill.

Some documentation of the bylaw signage.

Kyle takes note.

Group 2, Clayton and Danielle discuss one of the instructions.

One of our favourites — walk a path only a local would take.

Cutting through this narrow in-between space and through parking lots.

Back at White Water, we compare notes. While entirely accidental, it was really interesting to get a mixed perspective of long-time residents, recently relocated, and vacationers to understand the range of experiences of North Bay, spatially.

The next morning, we start to work on polishing the workshop format for Wednesday evening.

Always tougher than we anticipate, planning out not just the flow of the workshop, but what we want out of it can take time time to develop.

Dan takes notes.

On-screen, we start to develop a form to tease out ideas of emergency.

We compiled some headings, or categories for types of emergencies to frame discussions.

At White Water, with a stack of paper and pile of pencils, we get ready to start asking how we define emergencies in a community, how we might think about declaring our own emergencies as we see them unfolding, and what doing so might provide us in terms of re-negotiating power with a municipality.

The workshop provided a ton of great insight for us, with lots of conversation being generating from the themes.

We asked about environmental emergencies.

Economic emergencies.

Existential emergencies.

And emergencies around civic pride.

Each round turned into reflections on what it means to live in North Bay — and really to be living in a place that is trying to determine its own existence as a big small town or small big city.









We spoke for over two hours — this has been our favourite part of the residency so far — we learned a lot, and it’s helped us to get a better handle on the forms that the exhibition might take.

Huge thanks to Geoff, Sid, Adam, Kathleen, Robyn, Clayton, Eric, David, Leah, Holly, Nathan, Trenton, Robbie, Amanda, Paul, and Henry for coming out and telling us about your city.

Next up, projections …

One Reply to “Learning About the Emerging Emergencies of North Bay”

Comments are closed.