James Bay Frontier

Ontario's vast wilderness region
teeming with wildlife in natural habitats

james bay The James Bay Frontier is by far the largest region in Northern Ontario and in fact all of Ontario for that matter. It is otherwise known as Ontario’s wilderness region and for good reason as it is a sparsely populated land filled with muskeg, tundra, lakes and forests. It is where the rocky Canadian Shield ends in a vast, boggy lowland plain.

The huge area runs from the towns of New Liskeard and Englehart in the east to the Town of Hearst in the west all the way north to shores of Hudson Bay. A large Aboriginal population inhabits many small isolated communities with the major population centres of the region being the towns of:
  • Timmins
  • Cochrane
  • Hearst
  • Kapuskasing
  • Kirkland Lake

Tourism has a huge impact on the local economy as the area is dotted with many fly-in fishing and hunting resorts. Eco-tourism is also increasing as many adventure travelers make the long journey north to see the abundant wildlife in their natural habitats. Popular species include Polar Bears, Beluga Whale’s, Moose, Caribou and Black Bears.


The James Bay Frontier area

james bay map


Getting to the James Bay Frontier region of Ontario Canada:

This region is by far the most remote area of Ontario. There is only one highway of any size, that being the Trans-Canada Highway #11 that skirts the southern boundaries of the region as it heads from east to west. There are numerous secondary and logging roads throughout the region but depending on the weather and time of year traveling they may be impassable. In any case a 4-wheel drive off road vehicle is definitely recommended.

By Car:

If driving from Ottawa to Cochrane, the main gateway to the James Bay Frontier, it is about 700 kilomteres (354 miles) or about a 10-hour drive. Simply take the Trans-Canada Highway #17 North out of Ottawa until reaching the City of North Bay. Then take the Trans-Canada Highway #1 North right into Cochrane.

From Toronto it is also about a 10-hour drive. Take Highway 400 North to the City of Barrie then the Trans-Canada Highway #11 North the rest of the way.

By Air:

There are no international airports in the area so if you would like to fly into the region you will most likely have to transfer to a smaller plane at one of the larger airports to fly into your desired location. Many of the small northern communities do offer commuter services from Toronto, Ottawa, Sudbury and Thunder Bay. For some, it is the only way they are linked to the outside world due to their remote location. Check my respective community page for your desired destination to see if flying is an option.

By Public Transport:

By Rail:

From Cochrane during weekdays there is the Polar Bear Express train that travels north from Cochrane to the small town of Moosonee. Visit the www.ontarionorthland.ca site for more information as to schedules and fares. After disembarking the train you can board a native freighter canoe for the short trip across the Moose River to Moose Factory, the oldest English speaking settlement in North America.


The Ontario Northland Railway's Northlander previously travelled north from Toronto to Cochrane. As of Sept. 28, 2012 this service was permanently discontinued as the Provincial government stopped all subsidies therby effectively making this route extremely unprofitable.

Please disregard any information you may see on the web with respect to this service as it is outdated. Service is now only provided by the Polar Bear Express which travels north from Cochrane to Moosonee.

By Bus:

Passenger bus service is available to many of the larger communities in the region. Check out www.ontarionorthland.ca and www.greyhound.ca for routes, timetables and fares.


james bay frontier While not the first place to visit on most people’s itineraries, the James Bay Frontier provides visitors a glimpse of the arctic they most likely will never ever have a chance to see again. All within a days drive of the most heavily populated areas in Canada.

While fishing, hunting and other outdoor activities are definitely the main attractions to this area and draw adventure seekers from around the world you can also visit:
  • Timmins, the hometown of singing superstar Shania Twain and North America's biggest city (in area, that is)

  • The Polar Bear Habitat in Cochrane where you can swim with the world’s largest carnivore (in summer months only) separated only by a glass divider. For more information check out www.polarbearhabitat.ca.

For a complete list of the James Bay Frontier attractions and sights visit the pages below for more information.


James Bay Frontier Attractions

Polar Bear Provincial Park

Ontarios largest and most northerly park is home to the bulk of the province's polar bear population. Remote and little visited, advanced planning must be undertaken for those widhing to visit. For those that do, it will become a memory of a lifetime. Visit my Polar Bear Provincial Park page for more information.

Timmins Ontario

The "City With The Heart of Gold" was founded on mining and while still huge today it has also grown to become a hub to adventures further north. At the heart of such outdoor activities such as snowmnobiling visit my Timmins Ontario page for more information.

Moosonee Ontario

Sitting just upstream from James Bay this small community is the only saltwater port in the Province. Getting to the edge of the arctic on the Polar Bear Express train is an adventure in itself. If you plan on making the journey, check out my Moosonee Ontario page first for more information.

Moose Factory

A small but historic Cree community located on Moose Factory Island in the middle of the Moose River it is the oldest English speaking community in the Province of Ontario. With its original Hudon's Bay Company buildings still intact it is well worth the journey to this isolated but thriving outpost. Visit my Moose Factory page for more information.

Tidewater Provincial Park

Located on 5 small islands in the estuary of the mighty Moose River just upstream from where it flows into James Bay it's geographical features are unlike any other provincial park in the province. If you are in the vicinity it is definitely worth taking a boat ride over for a short visit. Check out my Tidewater Provincial Park page for more information.


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