Sault Ste. Marie has a long and fascinating history as one of the oldest French settlements in North America and was at the crossroads of the 3,000-mile fur trade route, which stretched from Montreal to Sault Ste. Marie and to the North country above Lake Superior. This area was originally called Baawitigong, meaning "place of the rapids," by the Ojibwa, who used the site as a regional meeting place during whitefish season in the St. Mary's Rapids.
After the visit of Étienne Brûlé in 1623, the French called it "Sault de Gaston" in honour of Gaston, Duke of Orléans, the brother of King Louis XIII of France. In 1668, French Jesuit missionaries renamed it Sault Sainte Marie, and a fur trading post was established and the settlement expanded to include both sides of the river.
Modern Sault Ste. Marie was founded because of its strategic location in the middle of the Great Lakes. Its industrial history stretches back to 1894 when industrialist F.H. Clergue harnessed the hydropower of the rapids to establish an empire, including a steel company and paper mill. From this time, the community has emerged as a resilient one that enjoys its beautiful surroundings and position as a border community, situated on the international boundary between Ontario and Michigan.
From its rich history and quality-of-life benefits to its growing economy and competitive advantages for businesses, Sault Ste. Marie is a great place to live, learn, work, and play.
The Sault Ste. Marie area has a population of more than 125,000. The community is experiencing unprecedented growth as a result of economic diversification efforts and the city's numerous competitive advantages.
For a more detailed look at Sault Ste. Marie, download our Community Profile.