Hudson Bay

Hudson Bay, or Hudson’s Bay, as it was commonly referred to historically, is a large body of saltwater that can be found in northeastern Canada. Bordering it are no less than four Canadian provinces. These provinces are Nunavut, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. Hudson Bay drains parts of these provinces, as well as parts of the Alberta province, the Saskatchewan province, and the U.S. states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Montana. Linking Hudson Bay to the open waters of the North Atlantic Ocean is Hudson Strait. Hudson Bay is also linked to the Arctic Ocean via Foxe Basin and Fury and Hecla Strait.

The location of Hudson Bay and the fact that it links to larger oceans helped to make it a body of water that European settlers in the New World just couldn’t overlook. English explorers and colonists were among the first Europeans to arrive in the area, and they named Hudson Bay after the famous English explorer and navigator, Henry Hudson. Hudson began to explore the bay that would eventually be named after him in 1610. His explorations of the area came to an end in 1611 when his crew mutinied. As a result of the mutiny, Hudson and several others were left stranded, never to be seen or heard from again.

Hudson’s Bay Company

In 1668, a ketch by the name of the Nonsuch reached Hudson Bay. Commanding the watercraft was a New England sea captain by the name of Zachariah Gillam. Gillam and his crew successfully traded for beaver pelts with the indigenous peoples. This success led to the creation of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Soon thereafter, the Hudson’s Bay Company negotiated a trading monopoly for the Hudson Bay watershed from the British Crown. Several forts and trading posts were built along the Hudson Bay coast by the Hudson’s Bay Company, most often at the mouths of major rivers. These forts and posts were used by the company up until the early 1900s. The end of this era didn’t spell the end for the Hudson’s Bay Company, however. The corporation remains in existence to this day, and that makes it the oldest commercial corporation in all of North America. These days, the Hudson’s Bay Company no longer trades furs. It now operates retail stores that can be found in both Canada and the United States. Its head office is in the Simpson Tower, which can be found at 401 Bay Street in Toronto.

Outdoor Recreation

Hudson Bay Polar Bay Tours
Hudson Bay Polar Bay Tours

Hudson Bay and the lands that border the large body of water offer a number of outdoor recreation possibilities. Fishing is understandably one of the most popular pursuits that are undertaken by Hudson Bay visitors. Guided angling trips can be arranged in the bordering provinces. Among the fish that are most commonly caught by anglers who target Hudson Bay and its affiliated rivers are cod, halibut and salmon. Another activity that is popular among visitors to the Hudson Bay region is wildlife viewing. Polar bears figure among the creatures that are most highly sought after by wildlife viewers, and it is possible to arrange polar bear tours. A good example of a place to arrange Hudson Bay polar bear tours is the Manitoba town of Churchill. Fall is the polar bear viewing season of choice, but there are also summer tours.

Rail Travel

The settlements that can be found along the shores of Hudson Bay are pretty remote. There is no road connecting Churchill to the rest of Canada, for example. As such, getting to such settlements can be a bit of a chore. Flying is the option of choice when it comes to convenience. Travelers can also take a train. Among the most popular Hudson Bay train trips are the Churchill Explorer trips that can be arranged through VIA Rail. These all-inclusive train packages most often include a transfer from Winnipeg to Churchill. Once in Churchill, such activities as skiing, snowshoeing, kayaking and polar bear watching can be enjoyed. There are all-inclusive Churchill Explorer packages to suit a variety of interests, and they can all help travelers plan stress-free Hudson Bay escapes.

Hudson Bay Lodging

Hudson Bay lodging isn’t exactly in good supply. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t available, however. A number of hotels and bed and breakfasts can be found in Churchill, for example. Wilderness lodges arguably reign supreme in the region, however, and they are often situated in remote locations. Ways to get to the various Hudson Bay area wilderness lodges include taking a floatplane, a boat, a snowmobile, or a dogsled. Guests of wilderness lodges often find it easy to arrange and enjoy any number of recreation activities during their stay, and there is usually the option to either purchase meals or prepare them on your own. Camping is also a Hudson Bay lodging option. In Nunavut, for example, you can pitch your tent almost anywhere on the open tundra, and there are some communities that have special designated campgrounds that feature such amenities as fire pits, tent platforms, windbreaks and outhouses. National parks are good places to consider when searching for camping opportunities in the Hudson Bay region, but you don’t have to limit yourself to these protected areas. Hiring an experienced camping guide can be a good idea if it is your first time camping in the region. Go it alone, and you should be prepared to be very self-sufficient.

Top image: subarcticmike (flickr)

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