James Bay

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James Bay (French: Baie James) is a large body of water on the southern end of Hudson Bay in Canada. Both bodies of water extend from the Arctic Ocean. James Bay borders the provinces of Quebec and Ontario; islands within the bay (the largest of which is Akimiski Island) are part of Nunavut. The James Bay watershed is the site of several major hydroelectric projects, and is also a destination for river-based recreation. Several communities are located near or alongside James Bay, including a number of Aboriginal communities such as the Kashechewan First Nation and nine communities affiliated with the Crees of northern Quebec.

As with the rest of Hudson Bay the waters of James Bay routinely freeze over in winter. The waters of James Bay are the closest of any seawater to the equator that freeze over in winter.

Contents

History

The bay first came to the attention of Europeans in 1610, when Henry Hudson entered it during his exploration of the larger bay that bears his name. James Bay itself received its name in honour of Thomas James, an English captain who explored the area more thoroughly in 1630 – 1631.

James Bay is important in the history of Canada as one of the most hospitable parts of the Hudson Bay region (despite its low human population), and as a result its corresponding importance to the Hudson's Bay Company and British expansion into Canada. The fur-trapping duo of explorers Pierre-Esprit Radisson and Médard des Groseilliers convinced the English Crown, primarily Prince Rupert of Bavaria, a favoured cousin of both Charles I and Charles II, that a colonial enterprise in the north would yield wealth in minerals and fur. Des Groseilliers accompanied Captain Zachariah Gillam on the ketch Nonsuch and they jointly founded the first fur-trading post on James Bay, Charles Fort. Their success, though lacking in minerals, was such that the company was chartered by Charles II on their return. This charter granted a complete trading monopoly of the whole Hudson Bay basin (including James Bay) to the company. At the same time, the first English colony on what is now mainland Canada, Rupert's Land, was formed, with the first "capital" being at Charles Fort. The fact that the first colonial governor, Charles Baley (various spellings exist, including, but not limited to "Bailey"), was a Quaker might have been an important factor in the style of relations established between the company and its "trading partners", Canada's First Nations.

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