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The city has been a resort area since the 19th century, with several well-known hotels and summer resorts in the vicinity. History [ edit ] The first European to visit this region was Étienne Brûlé in 1610, who passed through the Nipissing watershed near North Bay. The French explorer Samuel de Champlain visited it again in 1615, and he found that Algonquins had begun to settle there. In 1874 John Ferguson of the Geological Survey of Canada explored Lake Nipissing and gave its present name. A settlement developed around Fort Henry (built by soldiers from nearby Fort William during Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee year), as seasonal tourism became popular with residents of Toronto. The North Bay Railway reached here in 1904; after World War II roads improved so much that most tourists now arrive by car or bus rather than train.