Moosonee is the railhead on James Bay of the Ontario Northland Railway where goods are transferred to barges and aircraft for transport to more northerly communities. Moosonee is not particularly far north (51°N) but is isolated due to its lack of road access to the rest of Ontario. The community was the site of a fur trading post set up in 1903 by Revillon Freres, competitors to the Hudson's Bay Company which later bought out Revillon.
The main method of access is by Ontario Northland Railway which provides passenger and freight train service to Cochrane. There is a passenger train from Cochrane that runs six days per week during the summer months and five days per week during the rest of the year. There are also two freight trains per week. During the summer and early fall shipping season, goods can be transported from Moosonee by barge. In January 2007, responsibility for the Port of Moosonee was transferred from the federal government to the Town of Moosonee. During the winter, ice roads are plowed and maintained on the ice across the Moose River to Moose Factory and to the coastal communities of Fort Albany, Kashechewan and Attawapiskat. In recent years, much of the traffic heading up north has been destined for the Victor Diamond Mine operated by De Beers Canada to the west of Attawapiskat.
Moosonee was formerly Ontario's only "Development Area" and was governed by a locally elected board subject to formal appointment by the Ontario provincial government. It became incorporated as a town in 2000 with an elected mayor and four person council. The most recent council took office on December 1, 2006 after being elected on November 13, 2006. The mayor of Moosonee is Wayne Taipale and the councillors are Richard Grom, Melody McComb-Uiselt, Clifford Trapper and Bob Gravel.
The population is about 3000 people (by municipal government estimate, the Statistics Canada 2001 census figures for Moosonee are inaccurate due to incomplete enumeration, a common problem with remote communities). More than 80% of the population are native Cree. The number of private dwellings was shown as 297 but this has been revised to 659 and the population was revised from 936 to 1916. Population density per square kilometre is 1.8 in the original 2001 census figure, density using the revised figures would be 3.6 persons per square kilometre of the census subdivision. Land area shown for the census subdivision is 533.82 square kilometres but the actual town site is considerably smaller. For the 2006 census, Statistics Canada sent in a crew of enumerators to avoid the problems that arose in 2001. The 2006 Canadian census showed a population of 2006 people.
Health services are provided through the Moosonee Clinic of James Bay General Hospital and the Weeneebayko Health Ahtuskaywin which operates Weeneebayko General Hospital in Moose Factory. Plans exist for the merger of the two hospitals.