Historic Sites of Manitoba: Hayes River - Canadian Heritage River (York Factory, Northern Manitoba)

The Hayes River has played a profound role in Canada’s history. Ancient campsites and pictographs testify to its importance as a route for Manitoba’s First Nations long before Europeans arrived. The Hayes River was the main route from York Factory on Hudson Bay to the interior of western Canada for fur traders, settlers, and explorers from 1670 until 1870, and played a key role in the integration of the Aboriginal way of life with the fur trade.

The Hayes remains much as it was when the fur traders travelled on its waters, unaltered by dams and development. It is still an important transportation route and a source of traditional harvesting for First Nations peoples. For adventurous paddlers, its pristine wilderness, the First Nations communities along the river, and archaeological sites, including the remains of early fur trade posts, provide a link to its legacy as a trade and travel route.

In 2006, the Hayes River was designated a Canadian Heritage River. The entire 600 km Hayes River route from York Factory on Hudson Bay to Norway House on Lake Winnipeg, including the Echimamish River, remarkable for its two-way flow system, and 43 km of the Nelson River, is designated to the CHRS. Commemorative plaques were installed at York Factory and Norway House.

Hayes River commemorative plaque at York Factory

Hayes River commemorative plaque at York Factory (July 2023)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N57.00317, W92.30225
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: York Factory Depot Building (Hayes River, Northern Manitoba)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Norway House Plaques (Norway House, Northern Manitoba)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Bloodvein River - Canadian Heritage River

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Red River - Canadian Heritage River

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Seal River - Canadian Heritage River


The Canadian Heritage Rivers System

This page was prepared by Sheila Grover and Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 22 October 2023

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