History

From its beginnings as a settlement of the Nipissing First Nation, North Bay has been a transportation centre. North Bay lies on the Route of the Voyageurs; a famed network of rivers and waterways that leads to the interior of North America, along which many legendary explorers traveled in search of fame and fortune.A historical photo of the "Gateway of the North" sign in North Bay

The Ottawa and Mattawa River waterway, explored by Samuel du Champlain in 1615, follows an ancient fault in the Canadian Shield that now forms the backdrop from urban North Bay, which is known as the North Bay escarpment. This escarpment became a barrier to the construction of a transcontinental railway, the Canadian Pacific Railway, and the railway’s selected route hugged the shores of Lake Nipissing to avoid this topographic constraint.

The building of the Canadian Pacific Railway, the Canadian National Railways, and the Ontario Northland Railway, established North Bay as the major transportation centre for the region. The arrival of the railways opened new markets for both lumber and the other natural resource activities in the area.

Easy access to primary resources (nickel, iron, copper, gold, platinum, silver and cobalt) drew a wide range of light and heavy industry to the area. As mining and lumber industries developed in regions to the north and east, North Bay became a supply and a regional centre for education and health care. North Bay also developed personal and professional services.A historical photo of downtown North bay

Today, North Bay’s excellent location sits at the crossroads of major highways, railways, and air carriers. North Bay’s first inhabitants came with the railway in the early 1880’s and it grew to be incorporated into a city in 1925. In 1968, North Bay amalgamated with surrounding townships to, at that time, become the largest municipality in terms of area in Canada.

Through its rich history and development, North Bay has built on key relationships and strategies to foster an environment for success.  The Economic Development Team is looking forward to building on past successes in order to showcase North Bay’s many amenities and demonstrate the advantages businesses can expect from expanding or relocating here.