Hay River, Northwest Territories Canada

Discover Hay River, Northwest Territories: The Hub of the North

Hay River, known as "the Hub of the North," is a vibrant town in the Northwest Territories, Canada. Nestled on the south shore of the Great Slave Lake, at the mouth of the Hay River, this town is a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. The town is divided into two sections, the new town and the old town, with the Hay River/Merlyn Carter Airport situated between them. As part of the South Slave Region, Hay River, along with Fort Smith, houses one of the two regional offices.

The Rich History of Hay River, Northwest Territories

The area around Hay River has been inhabited by First Nations, known as the Long Spear people, as far back as 7000 BC. The first buildings in the area were constructed by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1868, followed by a Roman Catholic Mission in 1869 and an Anglican Mission in 1894. The first permanent settlement in the area of Hay River was established between 1892 and 1893 in what is now the Katl'odeeche First Nation or Hay River Reserve.

The town has seen significant development over the years, with the establishment of a school, health centre, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The United States Army Corps of Engineers built a runway on Vale Island in the Hay River delta as part of the Canol Road project. In 1948, the Government of Canada built the Mackenzie Highway, linking Hay River with southern Canada. This led to an economic boom, with the establishment of a commercial fishing industry and the town becoming the terminus of all-season trucking.

In 1964, the town was moved to a new location upstream due to severe flooding. The same year, the Mackenzie Northern Railway was constructed as part of the Pine Point Mine development. This railway connection makes Hay River the northernmost point in Canada, and all of North America, connected to the continental railway system.

Services in Hay River, Northwest Territories

Hay River boasts a full hospital, the H.H. Williams Memorial Hospital, a women's shelter/transition house, a dental clinic, and an ambulance service. The RCMP detachment has eight members, and the South Mackenzie Correctional Centre is located here. The town has two grocery stores, branches of both the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and the Royal Bank of Canada, and a Home Hardware store. A museum detailing the history of Hay River and the Hudson's Bay Company is located in Old Town.

Airlines servicing Hay River include Buffalo Airways, First Air, and Northwestern Air. The town also has several religious services, including a Catholic church, an Anglican/Grace United church, a Baptist church, a Pentecostal church, and a Community Fellowship within New Town.

Climate of Hay River, Northwest Territories

Hay River experiences a subarctic climate with summer lasting for about three months. Although winter temperatures are usually below freezing, every month of the year has seen temperatures above 10 °C (50 °F). Rainfall can occur throughout the year, averaging 217.4 mm (8.56 in), and snowfall averages 138.9 cm (54.7 in).

Demographics of Hay River, Northwest Territories

In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Hay River had a population of 3,169 living in 1,274 of its 1,541 total private dwellings. The Indigenous population in Hay River is 1,630, made up of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit. The main languages in the town are South Slavey, Chipewyan, Michif, and English.