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Our 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 led to the interior of North America, along which many legendary explorers traveled in search of fame and fortune.

The Ottawa and Mattawa Rivers' waterway, explored by Samuel du Champlain in 1615, follows an ancient fault in the Canadian Shield that now forms the backdrop for urban North Bay, known as the North Bay escarpment. This escarpment became a barrier to the construction of a trans-continental 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 the nearby regions, North Bay became a supply and a regional centre for education and health care. North Bay also developed personal and professional services.

Today, North Bay’s excellent location sits at the crossroads of major highways, railways, and air carriers. North Bay was 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.

Some of the major attributes of North Bay are the quality and diversity of its heritage and natural environment. Residents of North Bay and area enjoy fresh air, abundant clean water, plenty of green space for outdoor activities and low density living with all of the benefits of full urban services. From condo-by-the-lake living, to modern executive-style dwellings, to old-world Victorian housing, living in North Bay is both safe and affordable.

Urban North Bay straddles a land bridge between the Ottawa River watershed and that of the Great Lakes. On its eastern doorstep lies Trout Lake, the headwater of the Mattawa River and the source of the City’s drinking water which holds the distinction of supplying some of the best quality drinking water in the province. North Bay’s waterfront, on Lake Nipissing, is the heartbeat of the City, featuring a magnificent walkway adorned by beautiful gardens, a museum and a public marina.

North Bay is a great place to live if you enjoy the outdoors and want larger city amenities while maintaining a sense of small, safe community.