Located in Northern Ontario is the small, Francophone town of Hearst. Better known as the Moose Capital of Canada, Hearst is a community with a unique blend of rich cultural French, Oji-Cree and Euro-Canadian heritage. Located in the Boreal Forest, Hearst offers an abundance of outdoor activities all year round – from canoeing and kayaking in the summer, to snowmobiling on over 1,000km of marked trails in the winter.
Land Area, km2
Construction, Manufacturing, Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting
Timmins, Thunder Bay
Developed with the construction of the National Transcontinental Railway in 1913, Hearst was officially incorporated in 1922, with many of the town’s settlers originating from Quebec. Forestry is the town’s current primary industry, with mills and tree planting work available throughout the area. Tembec, a manufacturer of forest products and Columbia Forest Products, a manufacturer of hardwood plywood and veneer, are two of the largest employers in the area. Like many rural and remote towns across the country, the recent recession hit the community hard – and employers are still having a hard time finding employees with the right skills and qualifications for the jobs that are available.
Economic developers are looking to other opportunities to help build the community back up again – with the potential development of a graphite mine in the next few years, as well as talks of rehabilitating the local airport and developing their tourism industry. The city has been proactive at preparing the community as well as garnering interest from youth and local employers through their event – Destination Hearst – where employers, students and jobseekers can meet and learn about employment opportunities in Hearst. In addition, Collège Boréal, Hearst University, La Boîte à lettres and the town’s employment services work closely together with employers to create opportunities and initiatives that are relevant to the community’s needs.
A predominantly Francophone town, residents are proud of their French culture and heritage, and the Hearst Arts Council which is known for encouraging local talent, has also won a provincial award for their innovative programming. Innovation and resourcefulness could very well describe the community of Hearst as a whole. As an isolated community, residents have had to be resourceful, starting enterprises like La Maison Verte – a social economy enterprise that grows small trees for replanting as well as vegetable gardens in the summer. Originally La Maison Verte began as an organization that employed single mothers and vulnerable women, and is now a viable organization that provides opportunities for people to reinsert themselves into the labour market.
The pride of the residents of Hearst in their culture and heritage extends as well to local businesses such as Villeneuve Construction Co. Ltd. a family owned enterprise that has grown from a single small-wheel backhoe operation back in 1971 to a full fleet of modernized equipment and facilities. It operates throughout Northern Ontario and continues to be engaged in its community as it did in its early beginnings. These achievements, along with other potential opportunities coming to the town, have Hearst well positioned for future growth.