The current incarnation of the NOJHL comprises seven teams located in Ontario. With teams in North Bay, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Blind River, Iroquois Falls, Kirkland Lake, and Elliot Lake, the league is spread across the southern region of Northeastern Ontario.
The NOHA Jr. B Hockey League was formed in 1970 with a North and South division and teams in Capreol, Levak, Kapuskasing, amongst others. In their first season, the Capreol Hawks won the league championship. In 1971, Espanola jumped on board, followed by Chelmsford in 1972. In 1973, the Canadians moved to Rayside-Balfour and became the Canadians. The Onaping Falls Huskies moved from Levack in 1974, and the Nickel Centre Native Sons, Coniston Flyers, and Sudbury North Stars joined in 1976 when the NOHA merged their small Juvenile league into Jr. B.
In 1978, the top teams of the NOHA Jr. B Hockey League created the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League and were promoted to Tier II Junior "A". With the five former Jr. "B" clubs and the Sudbury Cubs, the league was back in action. In 1981, the Elliot Lake Vikings jumped into the fold. In 1983, the Onaping Falls Huskies dropped out despite winning three league titles in the past four seasons. After a one season hiatus, they came back for two more years and then folded for good. In 1986, Rayside-Balfour went on hiatus and Capreol folded, dropping the league down to four teams. The Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League, also down to four teams, operated with the NOJHL as essentially two divisions of the same league. With an interlocking schedule, the NOJHL survived the 1986-87 season, the OPJHL did not and folded after the season concluded. Also, after 8 years of trying and failing, an NOJHL champion defeated an OPJHL champion for the Ontario Hockey Association championship. The Nickel Centre Power Trains defeated the Owen Sound Greys 4-games-to-2 for the right to compete for the Dudley Hewitt Cup -- the Central Canadian Junior "A" Championship. The next year, the Canadians were back and a new team known as the Thessalon Flyers entered the league. In 1988, the Haileybury 54's joined the league and in 1989 so did the Rouyn-Noranda Capitales. Thessalon folded in 1990, Haileybury moved to Powassan in 1991 and the Timmins Golden Bears joined as well. A season later, Sudbury became Nickel Centre and then later folded. In 1994, Powassan moved to Sturgeon Falls and the Parry Sound Shamrocks joined the league. In 1996, Rouyn-Noranda folded to make way for a new Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team that was moving to their town. In 1999, Timmins moved to Iroquois Falls, Elliot Lake moved to Nickel Centre, and the Soo Thunderbirds were founded. Also in 1999, Parry Sound moved to a new OPJHL (founded in 1993). A year later, Nickel Centre moved to Blind River and the Sudbury Jr. Wolves were founded. In 2002, Sturgeon Falls moved to North Bay. A season after that, a team from Manitoulin joined and Espanola jumped over to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Finally, in 2005, the league's most dominant team in history and the last remaining shred of the original NOJHL, Rayside-Balfour, folded. They did not go without leaving their mark. From 1996 until 2002, the team won 7 straight NOJHL Championships, three Dudley Hewitt Cups, and once came within one win of winning the Royal Bank Cup as national champions.
There were six teams in the NOJHL as of 2007. The 2006–07 league champions, the Soo Indians, took a year off in an attempt to sell. A year later they came back as the Soo Eagles. Also, in the summer of 2008 the Temiscaming Royals jumped from the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League to the NOJHL to expand the league to eight teams. Temiscaming was the second Québécois team in NOJHL history, after the Rouyn-Noranda Capitales who were in the league from 1989 to 1996. In the Spring of 2011, the Royals failed to find new ownership and folded.
During the 2011-12 season, the NOJHL implemented concussion safety policy and drug testing programs. The NOJHL is the first league in Canadian Junior A hockey to target either of these hot button issues.
In 2012, the Soo Thunderbirds became only the second NOJHL franchise to qualify for the Royal Bank Cup, ending a 10-year drought that saw no NOJHL franchise at the Royal Bank Cup, despite making the Dudley-Hewitt Cup finals three times since the round-robin format in 2002.
In 2013, the NOJHL granted expansion to Espanola. A community that have been without an NOJHL team since 2003 when the Screaming Eagles relocated to Northern Michigan. The re-addition of Espanola to 8 teams - the most since the 2004-05 season.
1978 - NOHA Jr. B Hockey League is promoted to Junior A and renamed Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League - League includes: Sudbury Cubs, Nickel Centre Native Sons, Onaping Falls Huskies, Capreol Hawks, Rayside-Balfour Canadians, and Espanola Eagles