Saturday, June 19, 2010

Day 30 - Hay River NWT

The early history of Hay River can be dated back some 800 years ago when the Slave Dene of the area probably set up camps on the west banks of the Hay River where it empties into the Great Slave Lake. This is earliest that archeological has been able to establish to date of human activity. Dene tradition records that the Hay and Meander Rivers was used as a travel-way by the Dene throughout what is now northwestern Alberta.

IMG_0212Dene Cemetery 

More modern history records visits to the area on the east bank by today’s K’atl’odeeche First Nation Reserve. No permanent settlement took place until around 1893 when Chief Chiatlo brought his group to settle from the southwest end of the Great Slave Lake.

IMG_0211 Mouth of the Hay River at the Great Slave Lake

It was not until the 1930’s that commercial fishing began to take hold and Hudson Bay Trading built a post and people started living on Vale Island on the west side of the river. During WWII the U.S. Army Engineering Corps built a gravel runway on Vale Island for a staging area for the construction of the Canol Pipeline. After the war more business move to the community and what is now Old Town was developed on Vale Island.

In 1949, an all-weather road was completed from Grimshaw / Peace River towns, now known as highway 35, and Hay River became the first major community in the NWT to be linked year-round by road to Sothern Canada.

In 1963 ice backed up the Hay River flooding Vale Island. A “new Town” was established on the west bank. The town of Hay River was incorporated in 1956. Today Hay River is one of only six tax-based communities in the NWT.

Visitors have a large variety to choose from. There is golf, hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, hiking, canoeing, birding and road trips exploring the area’s history and wild life.

IMG_0210 St. Anne’s Catholic Church on the K’atl’odeeche First Nation Reserve

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