Moosonee is a city in Northern Ontario, referred to as the "Gateway to the Arctic" and is Ontario's only saltwater port where goods are transferred from trains to aircraft and barges to more northerly communities. Although it is on the same latitude (51 N) as Calgary, Saskatoon, London (UK), and Berlin, it is still an isolated community as there is no road access
The site of Moosonee was originally settled by Annie Hardisty and her two daughters in 1900. However, the place was not fully developed until 1903 when a crew of 21 fur traders of Revillon Frères arrived to establish the Moose River Post, which became their most important location and was quickly expanded with a staff house, carpenter's shop, warehouse, and sawmill. Although this outpost was prosperous, it remained isolated with supply ships only arriving once a year from Montreal and mail only arriving four times a year. Scows that travelled along the Pagwachuan, Kenogami, and Albany Rivers from Pagwa were the only supply lines for Moose River Post until 1932 when the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway was extended to Moose River Post from Cochrane and the town was renamed Moosonee from the Cree word Moosoneek meaning "at the Moose (River)".
In 1936, Revillon Frères sold its Canadian operations to the Hudson's Bay Company and the Moosonee post closed. The HBC also exited the fur trade and opened a retail store in Moosonee (now Northern Store part of The North West Company). With the end of the fur trade business, Moosonee's economy became centered on transportation.
In 1962, Moosonee became the site of RCAF Station Moosonee that was 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, including the base swimming pool and recreation centre.
In 1968, the town was classified as a Development Area Board. In November 2000, it was incorporated as the Town of Moosonee.
The Ontario Northland Railway's Polar Bear Express passenger train from Cochrane is the main method of access to Moosonee, which operates six trains per week during the summer months and five trains per week during the rest of the year.
There is no road access into Moosonee except for winter ice roads to Moose Factory, Fort Albany, Kashechewan and Attawapiskat, which are mostly used by trucks for mining operations. The nearest all-season road is 150 km south in Otter Rapids.
Air Creebec provides scheduled air service from Moosonee airport to Attawapiskat, Fort Albany, Kashechewan, Peawanuck, Timmins, and Waskaganish as well as general aviation and air charter services for propeller and turboprop aircraft. Seaplanes arrive and depart from the Moosonee Water Aerodrome.
Notable attractions in Moosonee include:
- Railway Car Museum. displaying the cultural history of the area in an old Baggage Car of the Temiskaming & Northern Ontario Railway.
- MNR Interpretive Centre. displays and videos at the office of the Ministry of Natural Resources highlighting the wildlife, geological, and geographical features of the region.
- Revillon Frères Museum. featuring the history of the Revillon Frères company (closed).
- Cree cultural interpretive centre.
- Self-guided bicycle tour.
- Annual Pow-wow (February).
- Local hockey tournaments.
- Excursions to the bird sanctuaries of Shipsands Island and the Southern James Bay.
- Absolutely nothing!. You are about as far away from the hustle and bustle of city life as possible, so why not enjoy the relaxed pace of life that the locals are accustomed to.
- Tamarack Suites and Lodging, 21 Wabun Road, ☎ +1 705 336-2496.
- Moose River Guesthouse, 51 Gardiner Road, ☎ +1 705 336-1555, fax: +1 705 336-6450, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. $105-$145.
- Tidewater Provincial Park campground, ☎ +1 705 336-2987. 20 sites on the island campground.
- Cree Village Ecolodge, Moose Factory, ☎ +1 705 658-6400, fax: +1 705 658-6401, e-mail: email@example.com. Steeped in Cree culture and history, the accommodation features a modern rooms and facilities, all made of natural products and named after animals of the sub Arctic region. The on-site restaurant is modeled after a traditional Cree dwelling, the Shabatwon, meaning long teepee with doors at each end.
Ontera, formerly Ontario Northland Telecommunications, provides postpaid telecommunications service in Moosonee (+1-705-336 exchange). This was originally analogue (AMPS, band B) but digital cellular service began in December 2009 for Moosonee and Moose Factory (only) using GSM on the 850 and 1900 MHz bands.
- Moose Factory. accessible by water taxi in the summer and by ice road in the winter.
- Tidewater Provincial Park. located on four islands between Moosonee and Moose Factory in the Moose River Estuary.