Moose Factory | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Moose Factory

Moose Factory, Ontario, unincorporated place. Moose Factory is located on Moose Factory Island in the Moose River opposite of Moosonee, and 20 km from James Bay. Most of the island is part of the reserve lands of the Moose Cree First Nation. These lands are officially known as Factory Island Indian Reserve No. 1 (see also Reserves in Ontario).


Founded in 1672–73 by Charles Bayly, Moose Factory was the Hudson’s Bay Company’s second post and the first English settlement in what is now Ontario. Originally called Moose Fort, it was captured in 1686 by the French in an overland attack led by Pierre de Troyes. It was returned to the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1713 by the Treaty of Utrecht. Trading activities resumed in 1730. Fire destroyed most of the post in 1735, but it was quickly rebuilt.

Economy and Cultural Life

Among the restored buildings at this historic site is the blacksmith’s shop (1740), likely the oldest wooden building in Ontario. This building is part of the Moose Factory Centennial Museum Park. A staff house for employees of the Hudson’s Bay Company and a powder magazine are part of the Moose Factory Buildings National Historic Site, designated in 1957. The altar cloth and liturgical vestments at St. Thomas Anglican Church (built between 1864 and 1885) are of beaded moosehide. Former National Hockey League forward Jonathan Cheechoo was born in Moose Factory and is a member of the Moose Cree First Nation.

Many residents are employed by the hospital, which provides medical services for the entire James Bay region. Tourism is also an important economic sector. It focuses on outdoor experiences and Cree culture. The Cree Cultural Interpretive Centre tells the area’s history and presents the culture of the Omushkegowuk Cree.