Jul 21, 2014

Historical Context


York Factory by A.H. Murray

Cultural Heritage

The history of this route runs deep. The termination point of our trip is York Factory National Historic Site, housing the oldest and largest wooden structure in Canada that is standing on permafrost. It is also where my dad finished paddling the same river 40 years ago.

The building now at York Factory was constructed between 1831 and 1838 and should actually be referred to as York Factory III as it is the third large structure historically haven been constructed on the site. Older forts constructed here would not withstand the unforgiving climate. The heaving of the permafrost cracked and destroyed the foundation of a fort built here between 1788 and 1795s. The sites of two older forts dating back to 1684 have been completely engulfed by the river as intense erosion has dramatically claimed large portions of the Hayes` northern bank.

The Hayes route is unique in that it is a river that is used far less than it was 200 years ago. It is one of the largest naturally flowing rivers that has not been dammed for hydroelectricity. The First Nation peoples have been using these routes for thousands of years and were crucial to the success of the fur-trade (permitting permanent establishment of Europeans in North America).
It is interesting to note that all types of cargo were hauled up and down the Hayes River in York boats. Even live animals were transported, including bison. The bells of St. Boniface Cathedral were also sent over from Europe, received on the shores of Hudson Bay then transported south via the Hayes River and on to Winnipeg.

This link has more information about York Factory National Historic Site: Parks Canada

Natural Heritage

We will travel primarily through the Boreal forest biome and then transition into the Hudson Bay Lowlands, one of the world's largest wetlands. Here is a link to learn more about the Boreal Forest in Manitoba: Manitoba Wild lands

This is the Hayes River management plan for its designation as a heritage river Hayes Management Plan