Our history

Since its inception in 1899, Atikokan has proven time and time again its resilience and its people make it amazing. Peter Mansbridge once said he’d never seen a town so determined to survive against tremendous odds until he visited Atikokan.

A Long and Rich Tradition


Authors Robert and Kathrene Pinkerton built and lived in this cabin at Wagita Bay 1912 to 1916. Two books by Kathrene describe their experiences living there, “Wilderness Wife” and “Two Ends to our Shoestring”.

The name Atikokan is believed to be derived from the Aboriginal language Ojibwa-Chippewa meaning “caribou bones” or “caribou crossing”; the town site was once the wintering ground for herds of caribou – many of them died here. Numerous rock paintings and lake names attest to the First Nations legacy of the Atikokan-Quetico area, an area blessed by Queticom, the Ojibwa Spirit of Unusual Beauty.

In 1688 Jacques de Noyon became the first European to travel through the area. La Verendrye followed in 1731, opening the interior to fur traders from the east. In 1741, the French fur traders were well established in the area and competing with the Hudson’s Bay Company. In 1798 Roderick MacKenzie traced de Noyon’s journey to establish a trading route for the Northwest Company (formed in 1779 by independent traders). By 1821 declining fur catches caused the Northwest Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company to merge together.

Something for Everyone

Atikokan is on the doorstep of one of Ontario’s most traditional wilderness areas, as Quetico Provincial Park stands among the best for its beauty and its ruggedness. We’re only too happy to have you here, whether it’s for a day, for a week, or a lifetime. We are the Canoeing Capital of Canada. We are the Gateway to Quetico Provincial Park. We are Naturally Wild.