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Hay River


Community Name: Hay River
Traditional Name: Xatl'o Dehe (hay river)
Electoral Districts:
Hay River South, Hay River North
Members of the Legislative Assembly:
Jane Groenewegen, Hay River South
 Robert Bouchard,Hay River North
Member of Parliament: Dennis Bevington
Nick G. Sibbeston
Community Leader:
His Worship Mayor Kelly Schofield
Town of Hay River
73 Woodland Drive
Hay River, NT  X0E 1G2
Phone:  867-874-6522

Location:  Hay River is on the south shore of Great Slave Lake on the mouth of the Hay River at 60'51'N latitude and 115'44'W longitude and is 200 air km southwest of Yellowknife and 134 km from the Alberta border via the Mackenzie Highway.

Population:  3,724 (NWT Bureau of Statistics, 2010)

Languages:  South Slavey, Chipewyan, Michif, English

Access:  The community is both accessible by road and air year round with scheduled air service operating daily.

History:  The Long Spear people from the western plains were the first inhabitants of the area dating back to 7,000 years B.C. however the occupation site then was the area known today as the Hay River Reserve. Nothing of permanence was constructed.

The community of Hay River first appears on maps in 1854 but no permanent structures were built until 1868 when the Hudson Bay Company established a post and the Roman Catholic Mission coming a year later. The Post operated intermittently until 1892 and marked the start of continuous European occupation of the site. An Anglican Mission was built in 1894 and attracted by excellent fishing the Slavey people gathered in the area. Soon a school and nursing station were constructed by missionaries, the RCMP opened a detachment in 1925 and a hospital followed. Houses were built on Vale Island in 1939 and by 1940 the community had become an educational centre, fishing village and a minor trading post. The west channel grew in importance and became a distribution point for goods being sent to Yellowknife and beyond. A gravel road was built by the Federal Government in 1946-47 from Grimshaw, Alberta to Hay River. More buildings soon followed however severe floods in 1951 and 1962 caused much damage to the community as both required almost the entire population to be evacuated.

In response a new community site on the mainland (higher ground) was developed and in the 1960s and 1970s the local economy expanded and Hay River became known as the "Hub of the North." It was hoped that with the opening of the mine in nearby Pine Point and the completion of the Great Slave Railway in 1964 that the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline system would develop but in 1975 a lack of commitment to the pipeline ended development in that area.

Today Hay River is the origin of most barge travel in the NWT and depends on the transportation/communication industry, commercial fishing, government, commercial logging, local businesses and services and market gardening for its economy. Tourism and Slavey arts and crafts are also important.

Today the Hay River Reserve is located across the river from the main community. The reserve is predominantly inhabited by Slavey Dene and is represented in the Legislative Assembly by Michael McLeod, MLA for the Deh Cho.

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