Moose Factory

For the island, see Moose Factory Island.
Moose Factory

Moose Factory
Coordinates: 51°15′30″N 80°36′00″W / 51.25833°N 80.60000°W / 51.25833; -80.60000Coordinates: 51°15′30″N 80°36′00″W / 51.25833°N 80.60000°W / 51.25833; -80.60000
Country  Canada
Province  Ontario
Region Northeastern Ontario
District Cochrane
Settled 1673
Renamed 1686
  Type multiple governments
  Federal riding Timmins—James Bay
  Prov. riding Timmins—James Bay
  Land 5.25 km2 (2.03 sq mi)
Elevation 7 m (23 ft)
Population (2006)[1]
  Total 2,458
  Density 473.3/km2 (1,226/sq mi)
Time zone EST (UTC−5)
  Summer (DST) EDT (UTC−4)
Postal code P0L 1W0
Area code(s) 705

Moose Factory is a community in the Cochrane District, Ontario, Canada. It is located on Moose Factory Island, near the mouth of the Moose River, which is at the southern end of James Bay. It was the first English-speaking settlement in Ontario and the second Hudson's Bay Company post to be set up in North America after Fort Rupert. On the mainland, across the Moose River, is the nearby community of Moosonee, which is accessible by water taxi in the summer, ice road in the winter and chartered helicopter in the off-season (break-up or freeze-up).[2]

The settlement is mainly inhabited by the Cree, but the hospital which provides healthcare services to the people of the island and surrounding area (collectively known as the Weeneebayko Area Health Authority)[3] attracts a diverse group of people as an employer.

The term "Factory" refers to the jurisdiction of a factor (a business agent or merchant in charge of buying or selling) of the Hudson's Bay Company. Just as a rector presides over a rectory, a factor holds authority over a factory.


Moose Factory circa 18681870

The area was explored by Pierre-Esprit Radisson in the winter of 1670/71 from the base at Rupert House. In 1673, Charles Bayly of the Hudson's Bay Company established a fur-trading post originally called Moose Fort. Besides trading, it was also intended to protect the company's interests from French traders to the south. The fort was profitable and had a direct impact on the fur trade in New France. So in 1686, Chevalier de Troyes led a small contingent of French soldiers north on an expedition to raid HBC forts. The English defenders were caught by total surprise and surrendered. The French captured Moose Fort and renamed it to Fort St. Louis. Ten years later in 1696, the English recaptured it and burned it to the ground. No trace has remained of this original fort.[4]

The Hudson's Bay Company set up a new fort in 1730, one mile upstream from the old site, to accommodate Cree traders for whom travel to the other James Bay posts was too dangerous. Five years later, this one also was destroyed by a fire that started in the kitchen, but was rebuilt over a period of seven years.[4]

In 1821, when the Hudson's Bay Company merged with the rival North West Company, there were no longer any serious threats and the post expanded beyond the fort's palisades. Thereafter it came to be known as Moose Factory. It became HBC's main base on James Bay, being the administrative headquarters of the Southern Department. The Governor of Rupert's Land and Council met frequently there to plan for the coming year's operations.[4][5]

In 1905, the Cree signed a treaty (Treaty 9) with the government that established the Factory Island Indian Reserve.[1] Around the same time, the Parisian furrier company Revillon Frères set up a trading post on the west bank of the Moose River. This post, first known as Moose River Post, grew into the town of Moosonee and provided stiff competition to the HBC Moose Factory post.[6] In 1931, the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway was completed at Moosonee. This allowed supplies to be delivered from the south by train, thereby making sea voyages redundant that could only be done once per year. In 1936, the last supply ship arrived.[4]

After World War II, the Hudson's Bay Company transformed into a retail business, and in 1960 it opened a modern retail store in Moose Factory. The HBC staff house and other historic properties were converted into the open-air museum of Centennial Park that opened in 1967. The HBC continued to operate in Moose Factory until 1987, when its operations in northern Canada, including Moose Factory, were sold to The North West Company.[4] Today, the North West Company operates a grocery and general goods store at the Moose Cree Complex and a furniture, outdoor vehicles, fast food outlet and convenience store near some of the historic HBC buildings.


The Moose Factory and Moosonee area has a very cold humid continental climate. The climate data is from the Moosonee around 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi) to the west.

Climate data for Moosonee (1981−2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high humidex 7.2 8.9 26.6 29.6 36.8 39.3 44.7 43.4 40.8 28.8 20.7 12.9 44.7
Record high °C (°F) 7.2
Average high °C (°F) −13.6
Daily mean °C (°F) −20.0
Average low °C (°F) −26.3
Record low °C (°F) −46.7
Record low wind chill −55.6 −53.0 −49.4 −36.8 −26.1 −9.6 −4.0 −5.3 −10.0 −20.4 −40.5 −51.5 −55.6
Average precipitation mm (inches) 33.0
Average rainfall mm (inches) 0.1
Average snowfall cm (inches) 39.9
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm) 14.8 11.3 10.9 10.2 12.5 13.9 16.4 15.2 18.5 16.5 15.7 15.9 171.7
Average rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm) 0.23 0.95 2.2 5.1 10.8 13.8 16.4 15.2 18.5 13.4 4.8 1.1 102.3
Average snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm) 15.0 11.0 10.1 6.7 3.1 0.17 0.0 0.0 0.09 5.0 13.1 15.6 79.7
Mean monthly sunshine hours 93.6 128.7 161.6 192.0 221.2 213.5 249.2 219.7 134.8 88.5 52.9 55.2 1,810.7
Percent possible sunshine 35.8 45.7 44.0 46.3 45.9 43.1 50.0 48.6 35.4 26.6 19.7 22.3 38.6
Source: Environment Canada[7]


The economy of the island is based on the healthcare, service, tourism, and construction industries. The largest employer is the Weeneebayko General Hospital, followed by Moose Cree First Nation and Northern Stores.[1]

Northern Stores, G.G.'s and QuickStop are the main stores on the island. "The Complex" is the retail and community centre containing a grocery store (Northern Stores), a restaurant, a Canada Post outlet, a pharmacy, and offices.

Although few people practice a solely traditional lifestyle (i.e. living only off the land), the majority of people still participate in the spring and fall goose hunt. Traditional skills such as preparing and tanning of moose hides as well as the creation of moccasins and moose hide mitts with beading are still practiced today. Other crafts practiced in Moose Factory include the production of tamarack geese, snowshoes, and soapstone carvings which are sold locally.[1]


Weeneebayko General Hospital

In 1949[8] the Moose Factory General Hospital was built - a $3 million project - as a sanitarium for tuberculosis patients on Moose Factory Island[9] "in order to isolate the disease"[8] in response to a tuberculosis epidemic. It served both First Nations and Inuit patients.[10]

Today the Weeneebayko General Hospital provides medical services to Moose Factory, Moosonee as well as Fort Albany, Ontario, Attawapiskat First Nation, Kashechewan First Nation and Peawanuck First Nation. The medical staff (consisting of 12 family physicians, 1 anesthetist and 1 surgeon) work with their tertiary care facilities in Kingston, Ontario, Toronto, Ontario, Sudbury, Ontario, and Timmins, Ontario. Weeneebayko General Hospital is also the only island hospital in Ontario and one of the oldest hospitals in the North East LHIN.

The hospital provides various specialized services:

Chartered aircraft "schedevacs" or "medivacs" are used to provide patients with transportation to diagnostic tests (e.g. CT and MRI) and specialize care. Queen's University is the primary university[8] link with many medical students completing placements at the hospital. However, there are also associations with the University of Toronto, McMaster University, University of Ottawa, and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine.


Moose Factory has three schools:

Some post-secondary programs are provided by Northern College via distant learning (correspondence, video, and web-based courses) or Ontario Learn Courses (web-based). James Bay Education Centre Northern College-Education Complex is a liaison base for the community college.

In Moose Factory, Bishop Horden Memorial School also known as Horden Hall Residential School, Moose Factory Residential School, Moose Fort Indian Residential School (1907-1963), named after Bishop Horden, serving all the communities in the James Bay area, was run by the Anglican Church.[14] The Truth and Reconciliation Commission investigated the school which, like others across Canada, where the highest number of premature deaths among children at these schools was from tuberculosis.[15][16]

Political organization

The island is politically divided into two political entities:[1]

The Electoral districts include:

The Mushkegowuk Tribal Council, a non-profit Regional Chiefs' Council representing eight Cree First Nations in northern Ontario, has its headquarters in Moose Factory.

The namesake Moose Factory 68 Reserve, also belonging to the Moose Cree First Nation, is about 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) upstream on the east banks of the Moose River.

Attractions and tourism

Notable attractions include[4] the Centennial Park with its 19th-century buildings associated with the Hudson's Bay Company post, Cree Cultural Interpretive Centre, the Cree Village Eco Lodge and St. Thomas' Anglican Church. Outdoor tourism in summer and winter, such as trap-line tours, canoe expeditions, and snowmobile trips, are locally provided. The Tidewater Provincial Park is nearby on the adjacent island facing Moosonee. Visitors also take freight canoe tours that leave from Moose Factory or Moosonee downstream to James Bay at the mouth of the river, or upstream to Fossil Island.

Cree Cultural Interpretive Centre

Cree Cultural Interpretive Centre is an interpretive centre that displays many aspects of Cree culture and crafts.

Cree Eco Lodge

Cree Eco Lodge dining room

Cree Village Eco Lodge[20] is an eco-tourist lodge and restaurant. Traditional bannock and goose (in season) is prepared in a teepee adjacent to the Lodge. From the Lodge you can see Sawpit Island on the southern side of the canal and Charles Island on the opposite side of the canal.

Centennial Park

Hudson's Bay Company staff house
Centennial Park - foreground: historic cemetery; background (from left to right): blacksmith shop, McLeod House, Sackabuckiskum House, Powder magazine.

The Moose Factory Buildings National Historic Site of Canada "consisted of several buildings, of which only the Staff House is at its original location. Built in 1847-50, it is the last surviving fur trade officer’s dwelling in Canada and the oldest building in the James Bay area. The Powder Magazine, built in 1865-66, is situated some distance away on its original location, in what is now Centennial Park."[21]

The 19th century buildings associated with the Hudson's Bay Company post were designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1957.[22][23]

The Moose Factory Hudson's Bay Company staff house was originally the "officers' dwelling" for HBC doctors, captains, clerks, and secretaries, it is now used as a museum and tourism office. The staff house was built between 1847 and 1850, making it the oldest building in the James Bay area and the last surviving HBC officers' dwelling.

In the Hudson's Bay Company cemetery the oldest tombstone is dated 1802 and marks the grave of the Cree wife and children of John Thomas who was the post's factor at that time. There are only a few graves of British men, since they would return home upon retirement or completion of their contract. In total, 51 graves stones can be found here.[24]

Joseph Turner House is the oldest known surviving servant house of the HBC, built in 1863 and named for HBC trader Joseph Turner (1783-1865), son of an English surveyor and Ojibway wife.[25]

William McLeod House was the carpenter's house built in 1889-90 by HBC carpenter William McLeod.[26]

Ham Sackabuckiskum House is the only surviving Cree summer home and one of the first balloon-frame construction house in Moose Factory, built in 1926 by the HBC as an incentive to ensure loyalty from Cree trappers.

The Blacksmith shop is last known surviving HBC blacksmith shop, built in 1849 and was used until 1934.

The powder magazine is the only stone structure, built in 1865, was part of the palisaded warehouse complex. In the early 20th century, it was converted from gunpowder to general storage.

St. Thomas' Anglican Church

St. Thomas' Anglican Church

St. Thomas' Anglican Church is a historic Carpenter Gothic style Anglican church built by the Hudson's Bay Company. Construction began in 1864 and was completed in 1885.

Notable residents of Moose Factory

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Wakenagun Community Futures Development Corporation - Moose Factory Community Profile
  2. "Visiting Moose Factory", Moose Cree First Nation, nd, retrieved 3 January 2014
  3. "Weeneebayko Area Health Authority", Weeneebayko Area Health Authority, nd, retrieved 3 January 2014
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Moose Factory - An Exploration of Frontier History, Ontario Heritage Foundation, 2002, 07-02-12M-9002-2002
  5. Our History: Places: Forts & Posts: The Staff House at Moose Factory, nd, retrieved 3 January 2014
  6. Revillon Frères, The Moosonee Development Area Board, 2002
  7. "Moosonee UA". Canadian Climate Normals 1981–2010. Environment Canada. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  8. 1 2 3 MacDonald 2009.
  9. Blythe, Brizinski & Preston 1985.
  10. Grygier 1997.
  11. "Ministik School", Ministik School, Moose Factory, nd, retrieved 3 January 2014
  12. "Delores D. Echum Composite School", Moose Cree Education Authority, nd, retrieved 3 January 2014
  13. "Moose Factory Academy", MANTA, nd, retrieved 3 January 2014
  14. Logotheti 1991, p. 17.
  15. Curry & Friesen 2008.
  16. Curry & Howlett 2007.
  17. "Factory Island 1 community profile". 2006 Census data. Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
  18. "Timmins-James Bay", Elections Canada, nd, retrieved 3 January 2014
  19. "Timmins-James Bay", Elections Ontario, nd, retrieved 3 January 2014
  20. "Cree Village Eco Lodge", Cree Village, nd, retrieved 3 January 2014
  21. "Moose Factory Buildings National Historic Site of Canada", Parks Canada, Canada's Historic Places, nd, retrieved 3 January 2014
  22. Moose Factory Buildings, Directory of Designations of National Historic Significance of Canada
  23. Moose Factory Buildings. Canadian Register of Historic Places.
  24. "John Long's sketch plan of Moose Factory HBC graveyard" (PDF), Moose River, nd, retrieved 3 January 2014
  25. "Joseph Turner", Red River Ancestry, nd, retrieved 3 January 2014
  26. "Moose Factory Buildings National Historic Site of Canada:William McLeod House", Parks Canada, Canada's Historic Places, nd, retrieved 3 January 2014


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