- May 2017
Hay River is a town in the Northwest Territories, Canada that was incorporated at a town in 1963. It is located on the south shore of Great Slave Lake, at the mouth of the Hay River. This town is located 201 air kilometers southwest of Yellowknife. The town was permanently settled in 1868 by the Hudson’s Bay Company to establish a trading post with Anglican and Catholic missions. The Catholic church built during the late 1800s in Hay River is still being used today in the Hay River Reserve. The Hay River Reserve is home to about 300 K’atlodeechee First Nation and was created in 1974. Before the arrival of the Hudson’s Bay Company, the area was used by the Slavey Dene people. The town had a population of approximately 3,606 in 2011. Most members of the current Hay River community have ties to the postwar construction of the Mackenzie Highway. Due to its important transportation and communication amenities and abilities, Hay River earned the nickname “the hub of the north.” This town houses the staging point for shipping up the Mackenzie River and the commercial fisheries of Great Slave Lake. The economy of Hay River today relies heavily on private enterprise (The Canadian Encyclopedia, n.d.).
The Canadian Encyclopedia. (n.d.). Hay River. Retrieved from Historica Canada: http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/hay-river/
The Mackenzie Highway is the longest in the Northwest Territories. It begins at the Northwest Territory and Alberta border and ends at Wrigley, Northwest Territory. It is approximately 690 kilometers or 429 miles long. About 280 kilometers are paved while the rest of the highway is covered with gravel (Government of Northwest Territories, n.d.). The construction of this highway was ongoing between the 1940s and 1970s. In 1945, the Canadian federal government and the government of Alberta signed an agreement to build an all-weather road that would replace the existing Caterpillar tractor trails from Grimshaw to the Great Slave Lake of Hay River (Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Center, n.d.). As time passed and focus shifted to fossil fuel collection, the motivation behind further construction of the Mackenzie Highway was in “anticipation of a major oil pipeline development along the Mackenzie River valley” (Pomeroy, 1985). The intended use of the highway was to enable the pipeline developers to haul construction materials throughout the area. During its construction, many chiefs of the Indian Brotherhood opposed the completion of the Mackenzie Highway. There was additional opposition voiced from the people of Wrigley who also did not support further construction of the Mackenzie Highway (Cox, 1975).
Cox, B. (1975). Changing Perceptions of Industrial Development in the North. Human Organization, 27-33.
Government of Northwest Territories. (n.d.). Transportation Highway 1. Retrieved from Government of Northwest Territories: http://www.dot.gov.nt.ca/Highways/Highway_System/NWTHwy1
Pomeroy, J. (1985). An Identification of Environmental Disturbances from Road Developments in Subarctic Muskeg. Arctic, 104-111.
Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Center. (n.d.). Historical Timeline of the Northwest Territories. Retrieved from Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Center: http://www.nwttimeline.ca/1925/1948_MackenzieHighway.htm