Discover Moosonee, Ontario: The Gateway to the Arctic
Moosonee, Ontario, is a unique town nestled in northern Canada on the Moose River, approximately 19 km south of James Bay. Known as "the Gateway to the Arctic," Moosonee is home to Ontario's only saltwater port. Despite its lack of road access, the town is a bustling hub of activity, with flights provided by Air Creebec and Thunder Airlines via Moosonee Airport. The Ontario Northland Railway also ends here, where goods are transferred to barges and aircraft for transport to more northerly communities.
The Rich History of Moosonee, Ontario
The history of Moosonee, Ontario, dates back to 1900 when Annie Hardisty and her two daughters became the first settlers. Significant development began in 1903 when the Revillon Frères company established the Moose River Post. This Parisian furrier had ambitious plans to set up a chain of fur trading posts in direct competition with the Hudson's Bay Company. The Revillon Frères Museum, located on First Street, commemorates this era.
The Moose River Post quickly became the most important location for Revillon Frères, expanding with a staff house, carpenter's shop, warehouse, and sawmill. Despite its prosperity, the post was isolated, supplied only once per year by ship from Montreal. In 1932, the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway extended to Moose River Post, which was then renamed Moosonee, derived from the Cree word môsonihk meaning "at the Moose [River]".
In 1962, Moosonee became the site of RCAF Station Moosonee, part of NORAD's Pinetree Line chain of radar stations. It closed in 1975, and some of its buildings were used by the Town after the closure. In November 2000, it was incorporated as the Town of Moosonee.
Demographics of Moosonee, Ontario
According to the 2021 Canadian census, Moosonee, Ontario, had a population of 1,512 living in 487 of its 629 total private dwellings. The population is mainly First Nations (66.8 per cent), 32.5 per cent non-indigenous and 1 per cent Métis. The mother tongue was 86.0 per cent English, 8.5 per cent Indigenous (mainly Cree), 1.0 per cent French, and 4.4 per cent other languages.
Services in Moosonee, Ontario
Moosonee, Ontario, is home to two elementary schools, a public high school, and Northern College's Moosonee campus. Health services are provided through the Moosonee Health Clinic of the Weeneebayko Area Health Authority. Payukotayno Family Services provide child care and social assistance to Moosonee and surrounding communities.
Climate of Moosonee, Ontario
Moosonee, Ontario, has a humid continental climate with subarctic influences. James Bay acts as a thermal reservoir to moderate spring and fall temperatures. Mean annual precipitation is 703.6 mm, and mean annual snowfall is 226.8 cm.
Transportation in Moosonee, Ontario
Moosonee, Ontario, is a major transportation hub for Ontario’s Far North. The main method of access is by Ontario Northland Railway, which provides passenger and freight train service to Cochrane. The town is also accessible via the Moosonee Airport, served with scheduled flights by Air Creebec, and Thunder Airlines. During the winter, ice roads are plowed and maintained on the ice across the Moose River to Moose Factory and winter roads are maintained to the coastal First Nations communities.
Attractions and Tourism in Moosonee, Ontario
Tourism agencies recommend the Polar Bear Express as a "great rail excursion" in summer, between Cochrane and Moosonee. Notable attractions in Moosonee include the Railway Car Museum, MNR Interpretive Centre, and excursions to the bird sanctuaries of Shipsands Island and the Southern James Bay. The Tidewater Provincial Park is on nearby Charles Island, adjacent to Moose Factory Island.