James Bay Road website

General Introduction
to the James Bay Road & Region


The James Bay region of Quebec is a very remote area in northern Quebec that is nevertheless accessible by paved highway. However, because of the distances involved, you've got to like driving to enjoy this trip! Generally speaking, the scenery is not spectacular like the Rocky Mountains (some people will say it's downright boring). The main appeal of this area is the northern remoteness and emptiness. This is the farthest north you can drive in eastern Canada (Ontario eastward).

As part of the James Bay project, the James Bay/Northern Quebec Agreement created the Municipality of James Bay, the largest municipality in the world with an area of 350,000 square kilometres, yet with a population of only 40,000. The Municipality of James Bay owns and maintains these roads.

The only reason for the existence of these roads this far north is the multi-billion dollar James Bay Hydro-Electric power project, started in the 1970s by Hydro-Quebec. Click here for more info.

The main access to this area is via the James Bay Road. An alternate access from the east is the North Road. The Trans Taiga Road is an extremely remote road that travels east from near the top of the James Bay Road. Along the James Bay Road, branch roads run westward to Cree communities on the shores of James Bay.



  • The 381 km (236 mile) stretch of the James Bay Road that is without services is the longest service-free stretch of road in Canada, and the second longest service-free stretch of road in North America! This is second only by a hair to the Dalton Hwy in Alaska, which has a 394 km (244 mile) stretch without services. The Dempster Hwy running from the Yukon to NWT in Canada has a stretch of 363 km (225 miles) without services.
  • The end of the Trans-Taiga Road is 745 km (462 miles) from the nearest town, which is the farthest you can get by road from a town anywhere in North America!
  • The Municipality of James Bay covers an area of 350,000 square kilometres (135,136 square miles), making it by far the largest municipality in the world!

Where is the James Bay area?


Satellite photo of the James Bay region


The roads of the region are shown on this map, but aren't named (see next map below)


Don't underestimate just how far north these roads are.  Radisson (at the end of the James Bay Road) is about 1500 km north of Toronto, Ontario. The James Bay Road starts at Matagami, which is  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.  However, that being said, on the other hand, it's not really all that far to go to get a real taste of the far north. See the Trip Planner / Distances page for more detailed info.

Generally the scenery is fairly level (some people will say it's downright boring). The James Bay Road crosses some really big rivers. Most of the length of the James Bay and Trans Taiga Roads run 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.

These roads are open year-round, however, it gets VERY cold up there in the winter (down to -40 degrees C), so if you go in the winter, or even the fall or spring, be prepared. In the winter you may be in very real trouble if you break down or go off the road. In the summer it can get just as hot as down south. See the Weather page.

There are lots of blackflies and mosquitoes.  Go prepared for them. They last right through August.

The locals speak primarily French; a few people speak English. The Native people (Cree) speak primarily English.

If you are planning to travel to this area, please read this entire page.
Please also read the travel guides for each of the roads that you are planning to travel on.
See also the Roads page.


Overview map of the Roads


The Silence ...

Up there the SILENCE pounds at you relentlessly.  It assaults you.  It beats you into submission.  It quells your inner chatter.
Stop the car, get out, close the door.  All you will hear is the odd bird sound and the sound of the breeze, along with a thundering in your head until you shed the noise of driving, along with your own internal noise. When it rains the only sound you will hear will be the rain. Have you ever heard JUST the rain as it falls?
If a vehicle is coming you will sometimes hear it a few minutes before it actually reaches you.

Take some time to listen to and appreciate the SILENCE. You don't hear it very often in today's world!

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