Red Lake History

Read the Red Lake history and its importance

The Early History

The story begins around 9000 years ago, when stone-age people first inhabited the present-day area. Into this region – how long ago or from what direction no one knows yet – came the ancestors of the Cree and Ojibway people who live here today. This period was known as the Woodland Era. Aboriginal people were ingenious, hardy people, familiar with the properties of plants and wood, and with the habits of wild animals. They lived off the land along the many waterways, and carved tools from stones, wood and the bones of wild animals.

Fur Trading History

The first Hudson Bay Post in Red Lake opened in 1790 at Post Narrows, and ran intermittently until 1822, when it closed due to overharvesting. It re-opened again in 1918 and served the area until 1926, when the building was moved to Johnson’s Point, closer to Red Lake, to accommodate the gold seekers. Until the 1950’s, trapping was the principle occupation of most Native people in the area. Except for a small number of men who went to work in the gold mines of Red Lake and Pickle Lake, virtually every male over the age of sixteen was a licensed trapper. Over the last twenty years the animal rights movement has nearly destroyed the fur industry, severing the very lifeline of many of the First Nations people in the region, leaving trapping today more of a hobby than a way of making a living.

The Legend of Red Lake


According to Ojibway legend, thousands of years ago two hunters came upon a very large moose beside a lake. Believing the beast was Matchee Manitou (evil spirit) they attempted to kill it. Wounded, the animal escaped by diving deep into the lake. A large pool of blood coloured the water red, and the hunters named the body of water Misque Sakigon, or Colour of Blood Lake. Over the years it became known simply as Red Lake.


Red Lake Fishing

Cottage Ontario
Bow Narrows