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Discover our History

Sault Ste. Marie, with its mid-sized population of 75,000, offers the amenities of a big city with the friendliness of a small town. Located on the St. Mary's River between Lake Huron and Lake Superior, Sault Ste. Marie is surrounded by easily accessible pristine wilderness, perfect for the outdoor enthusiast.

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. (The anglicized form of this name, Bawating, continues to be used in institutional and geographic names in the area.)

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 established a settlement that is now Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan on the river's south bank.

As fur trading expanded into the interior of the continent, the Northwest Company constructed the first canal and lock system at Sault Ste. Marie in 1798. The community slowly grew as a major transportation and trading point. This lock system remained operational until 1814 when it was destroyed by American troops during the War of 1812.

Sault Ste. Marie was incorporated as a town in 1887 and as a city in 1912.
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