This riding, which covers the northeast corner of the province, is the
second largest in Ontario. According to the 1996 census, 46 per cent
of residents call French their mother tongue, which is the second highest
rate in Ontario.
The riding extends from Hudson Bay in the north to James Bay and the
Quebec/Ontario border in the east. The city of Timmins, which is located
in the southeast of the riding, is the biggest population centre, but
the riding also includes Kapuskasing, Smooth Rock Falls, Moosonee, Hearst
and many native reserves.
The economy is resource-based in such industries as mining and forestry.
In the 1999 redistribution, the new riding of Timmins-James Bay combined
81 per cent of the former Cochrane North with an equal portion of the
old Cochrane South.
In the old riding of Cochrane North, Tory Rene Brunelle served from
1958 to 1981, winning seven elections. Tory candidate Rene Piche followed
up with a victory in 1981, but was defeated by Liberal Rene Fontaine
in 1985. Fontaine resigned from the Legislature in 1996, but re-claimed
the seat in a subsequent byelection and was re-elected in 1987. Fontaine
was defeated by NDP candidate Len Wood in 1990, and Wood was re-elected
In the former riding of Cochrane South, NDP candidate Bill Ferrier
won in 1967, 1971 and 1975. He was defeated by Conservative Alan Pope
in 1977, and Pope was re-elected in 1981, 1985 and 1987. Pope did not
stand for re-election in 1990 election, and the riding was won for the
NDP by current incumbent, Gilles Bisson.