James Bay Road website

James Bay Road

Located in northeastern Canada, in the province of Quebec, the James Bay Road runs north from its beginning at Matagami to Radisson, 620 km (388 miles) away. It is a very remote road - there are no towns along the road (except at either end), and only one place to buy gas in between (at km 381).

It was built in the 1970s for the Hydro Quebec James Bay Project, a massive hydro-electric project. The road was started in 1971 and finished in only 420 days. It was specially built to accommodate very heavy equipment (up to 500 tons). All equipment and supplies for the James Bay Hydro-Electric project had to be transported over this road. Please note that many maps mark this road as Hwy 109. This is incorrect. It is not a Province of Quebec highway - rather, it is owned and maintained by the Municipality of James Bay.

Don't underestimate just how far north this road is.  Radisson (at the end of the James Bay Road) is about 1500 km north of Toronto, Ontario. The James Bay Road starts 6 hours north of North Bay (Ontario).  From there it is a full 620 km to Radisson, and a further 100 km to the shores of James Bay near Chisasibi. You should only drive this road with a well-maintained, reliable vehicle. A vehicle breakdown of any sort will likely be costly in terms of towing fees. However, that being said, on the other hand it's not really all that far to drive to get a real taste of the far north.

Scenery: Generally the scenery is fairly level (some people will say it's downright boring). The road crosses some really big rivers. For most of the length it runs through taiga: spruce and jack pine forest, bogs, rocks, and low hills. This is about all you'll see apart from birds and some wildlife, and the occasional cabin a short distance off the road. Make sure you stop and view the spectacular rapids of the Rupert River, at km 257. It is a sight you will not forget for some time!
The year 2009 will be your LAST CHANCE to see this sight. The river will be DIVERTED by Hydro Quebec by the end of 2009!!

Weather: The road is open year-round, however, it gets VERY cold up there in the winter, so if you go in the winter, or even the fall or spring, be prepared.  In the summer it can get just as hot as down south.

Language: After you leave Matagami, most people you're going to meet on the road will speak English. About 99% of the Crees speak only English and Cree. French is the main language in Matagami, Relais 381 & Radisson. In all Cree communities, services are in English; a few young people speak French.

Please be sure to read Driving the James Bay Road before you make a trip up to this region.

  • Virtual Tour of the James Bay Road
    A detailed guide to the road, with lots of photographs. Almost like visiting without leaving home! Includes a few photos of the James Bay Road in the winter.

  • Travelogues
    Trips I have made up the James Bay Road

  • Rupert River
    Be sure to stop and see this magnificent river at km 257, which will be DIVERTED by the end of 2009!!

  • Overview map of the James Bay Road
    A larger version of the overview map above
James Bay Road     Virtual Tours     Travelogues    Travel Info    Roads    Towns

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