Hundreds of years ago, before Etienne Brule scouted this area for Samuel de Champlain, Ojibwe people called this lake home. In fact, archaeological studies have found that this area was occupied by native peoples for about 9400 years before the arrival of the first Europeans. These Natives were a nomadic people who were expert traders, trappers, and hunters. Usually they summered in various villages around the shores of Lake Nipissing. These Natives hunted and travelled through a wide area that also included the Great Lakes.
Lake Nipissing was probably referred to by early Natives as ‘N’bisiing’ or ‘little water’ because of the size of this lake in comparison to the Great Lakes. In Algonquin, (the linguistic group of the Ojibwe), ‘N’bisiing’ comes from ‘Nbi’ meaning ‘water’ and ‘siing’ meaning ‘little.’ When early scouts and voyageurs heard the Natives call the lake ‘N’bisiing,’ most likely these scouts and voyageurs started to refer to the Natives as the ‘Nipissings’ meaning ‘people of the little water.’ The name stuck and eventually the lake itself was named ‘Lake Nipissing’ after the ‘N’bissings’ or ‘Nipissings’ (as it was later spelled), the original ‘people of the little water.’
In 1647, after brutal battles with the invading Iroquois, the Nipissings left the area and did not return to Lake Nipissing until 1670. In 1850, as part of the Robinson Huron Treaty,the Nipissings retained the northern shores of Lake Nipissing.