By the time the Jesuit missionaries and French fur traders arrived in the 1600s, the region north of Lake Huron and surrounding Lake Superior had been dominated by the Anishnaabe-Ojibwa people for centuries.
Hudson Bay Company establishes a post in Whitefish in 1824 to trade with the Anishnabe for fur pelts. When the Robinson – Huron Treaty is signed in 1850, the agreement establishes the Whitefish Lake Reservation. The post is relocated in 1887 to Naughton, to be closer to the CPR line to Sault Ste. Marie. Faced with competition from Sudbury, the post closes in 1896.
While laying out a meridian line in 1856, provincial land surveyor Albert Salter observes severe compass needle deflections in the area that would become Creighton Mine. Analysis of rock samples reveal nickel, copper and iron.
In 1867 the region that would become the City of Greater Sudbury was included in the new Province of Ontario. The area of south of the Great Lakes had been part of Upper Canada or Canada West since 1791. Previously, following the Quebec Act in 1774, this land mass was part of the province of Quebec.
In the 1860s lumbermen begin to show an interest in the forest around the rivers of the French, Whitefish, Spanish, and Wanapitei. The original community of French River is a small lumbering site in the Georgian Bay around 1875.
The Great Chicago fire of 1871 and a timber shortage in the northeastern United States creates a market for lumber from the Sudbury District to help rebuild the American city.