Ojibway peoples have inhabited the northern shore of Lake Superior for thousands of years and were known to have covered significant territorial ranges in their pursuit of game, fish, and a variety of different plant foods.
The mouth of the Pic River has been a center of native trade and settlement for thousands of years. It was a strategic location in the region's water transportation network because it offered access to northern lands and a canoe route to James Bay.
The halfway point for canoers travelling the north shore of Lake Superior, "the Pic" first appeared on European maps in the mid-seventeenth century. Local natives began to trade furs with the French in the late 1770s, prompting a French trader to set up a permanent post here by 1792. The Hudson's Bay Company operated the post from 1821 until encroaching settlement led to its relocation in 1888 and, in 1914, the Pic became a reserve as defined under the Indian Act.
In the mid-1980's, Pic River suffered from many of the economic and social problems that plague First Nations peoples across Canada. In 1987, Pic River First Nation was invited to participate in a renewable energy project review for an upcoming hydroelectric facility on Pic River's traditional territory. Instead of participating as a reviewer, a visionary Chief and Council believed that this was time to cultivate a spirit of self-sufficiency and, in the process, sustainably develop strategically important resources. Opting to blaze a new path, Pic River submitted a request as a proponent. Wawatay generating station was commissioned in 1991, with Pic River holding a significant minority equity stake. This was only the beginning of Pic Rivers renewable energy journey...