The Nbisiing Anishinaabeg, people of Ojibwe and Algonquin descent, have lived in the Lake Nipissing and Sturgeon Falls area since time immemorial. Though the townsite was known to European fur traders beginning in the 17th century, Sturgeon Falls’ growth coincided with the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1882. Earliest to arrive were English Canadians from Simcoe and Muskoka; their numbers were engulfed by lumber and pulp-and-paper workers, the pulp industry beginning 1884.
Closure of the Abitibi Power and Paper plant in 1930 caused a considerable English exodus; the town became 75-80 per cent French speaking, and an early voice for French-language rights and culture in Ontario. Cardboard recycling, tourism, outdoor recreation and local agricultural supply provide economic sustenance in the still largely francophone and Roman Catholic community.