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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hudson Bay
Hudson Bay - Hudson Bay, Canada.
Hudson Bay, Canada.
Location Arctic Ocean
Coordinates 60°N 85°W / 60°N 085°W / 60; -085 (Hudson Bay)Coordinates: 60°N 85°W / 60°N 085°W / 60; -085 (Hudson Bay)
Countries Canada
Max. length 1,370 km (851.28 mi)
Max. width 1,050 km (652.44 mi)

Hudson Bay (French: baie d'Hudson) is a large body of water in northeastern Canada. It drains a very large area that includes parts of Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Alberta, most of Manitoba, southeastern Nunavut, as well as parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Montana. A smaller offshoot of the bay, James Bay, lies to the south.

The Eastern Cree name for Hudson and James Bay is Wînipekw (Southern dialect) or Wînipâkw (Northern dialect), meaning muddy or brackish water. Lake Winnipeg is similarly named by the local Cree, as is the location for the City of Winnipeg.



Hudson Bay is 1.23 million km², making it the second-largest bay in the world (after the Bay of Bengal). It is relatively shallow, with an average depth of about 100 meters (compared to 2,600 meters in the Bay of Bengal). It is approximately 1,370 km (850 mi) long and 1,050 km (650 mi) wide.[1] On the east it is connected with the Atlantic Ocean by Hudson Strait, and on the north with the rest of the Arctic Ocean by Foxe Basin (which is not considered part of the bay) and Fury and Hecla Strait. Geographic coordinates: 78° to 95° W, 51° to 70° N.


Canada, Routes of Explorers, 1497 to 1905

Hudson Bay was named after Henry Hudson, who explored the bay in 1610 on his ship the Discovery. On this fourth voyage he worked his way around the west coast of Greenland and into the bay, mapping much of its eastern coast. The Discovery became trapped in the ice over the winter, and the crew survived onshore at the southern tip of James Bay. When the ice cleared in the spring Hudson wanted to explore the rest of the area, but the crew mutinied on June 22, 1611, and left Hudson and others adrift in a small boat. No one to this day knows the fate of Hudson and the crewmembers stranded with him.

Sixty years later the Nonsuch reached the bay and successfully traded for beaver pelts with the Cree. This led to the creation of the Hudson's Bay Company, which bears its name to this day. The British crown awarded a trading monopoly on the Hudson Bay watershed, called Rupert's Land, to the Hudson's Bay Company. France contested this grant by sending several military expeditions to the region, but abandoned its claim in the Treaty of Utrecht (April, 1713).

During this period, the Hudson's Bay Company built several forts and trading posts along the coast at the mouth of the major rivers (such as Fort Severn, Ontario, York Factory, Manitoba, and Churchill, Manitoba). The strategic locations allowed inland exploration and more importantly, facilitated trade with the indigenous people, who would bring fur to the posts from where the HBC would transport it directly to Europe. The HBC continued to use these posts until the beginning of the 20th century. The port of Churchill is still today an important shipping link for trade with Europe and Russia.

This land, an area of approximately 3.9 million km², was ceded in 1870 to Canada as part of the Northwest Territories when the trade monopoly was abolished. Starting in 1913, the Bay was extensively charted by the Canadian Government's CSS Acadia to develop the bay for navigation. This resulted in the establishment of Churchill, Manitoba, as a deep-sea port for wheat exports in 1929 after unsuccessful attempts at Port Nelson.

Due to a change in naming conventions, Hudson's Bay is now called Hudson Bay. As a result, the names of the body of water and the company are often mistaken for one another.




The International Hydrographic Organization defines the northern limit of Hudson Bay as follows:[2]

A line from Nuvuk Point (62°21′N 78°06′W / 62.35°N 78.1°W / 62.35; -78.1) to Leyson Point, the Southeastern extreme of Southampton Island, through the Southern and Western shores of Southampton Island to its Northern extremity, thence a line to Beach Point (66°03′N 86°06′W / 66.05°N 86.1°W / 66.05; -86.1) on the Mainland.


In early November ice at Hudson Bay starts to form

Hudson Bay was the growth centre for the main ice sheet that covered northern North America during the last Ice Age. The whole region has very low year round average temperatures. (The average annual temperature for Churchill at 59°N is -5°C; by comparison Arkhangelsk at 64°N in a similar cold continental position in northern Russia has an average of 2°C.[3]) Water temperature peaks at 8°-9°C on the western side of the bay in late summer. It is largely frozen over from mid-December to mid-June when it usually clears from its eastern end westwards and southwards. A steady increase in regional temperatures over the last 100 years has been reflected in a lengthening of the ice-free period which was as short as four months in the late 17th century.[4]


In late spring (May), large chunks of ice float near the eastern shore of the bay, while to the west, the center of the bay remains frozen. Between 1971 and 2007, the length of the ice-free season in the southwestern part of the Hudson Bay—historically the last area to thaw—increased by about seven days.

Hudson Bay has a salinity that is lower than the world ocean on average. This is caused mainly by the low rate of evaporation (the bay is ice-covered for much of the year), the large volume of terrestrial runoff entering the bay (about 700 km³ annually; the Hudson Bay watershed covers much of Canada, with many rivers and streams discharging into the bay), and the limited connection with the larger Atlantic Ocean (and its higher salinity). The annual freeze-up and thaw of sea ice significantly alters the salinity of the surface layer, representing roughly three years' worth of river inflow.


The western shores of the bay are a lowland known as the "Hudson Bay Lowlands" which covers 324,000 km². The area is drained by a large number of rivers and has formed a characteristic vegetation known as muskeg. Much of the landform has been shaped by the actions of glaciers and the shrinkage of the bay over long periods of time. Signs of numerous former beachfronts can be seen far inland from the current shore. A large portion of the lowlands in the province of Ontario is part of the Polar Bear Provincial Park, and a similar portion of the lowlands in Manitoba is contained in Wapusk National Park, the latter location being a significant Polar Bear maternity denning area.[5]

In contrast, most of the eastern shores (the Quebec portion) form the western edge of the Canadian Shield in Quebec. The area is rocky and hilly. Its vegetation is typically boreal forest, and to the north, tundra.

Measured by shoreline, Hudson Bay is the largest bay in the world (the largest in area being the Bay of Bengal).


There are many islands in Hudson Bay, mostly near the eastern coast. All are part of the territory Nunavut. One group of islands, with a reputable name, is the Belcher Islands. Another group includes the Ottawa Islands.


When Earth's gravitational field was mapped starting in the 1960s a large region of below-average gravity was detected in the Hudson Bay region. This was initially thought to be a result of the crust still being depressed from the weight of the Laurentide ice sheet during the most recent Ice Age, but more detailed observations taken by the GRACE satellite suggest that this effect cannot account for the entirety of the gravitational anomaly. It is thought that convection in the underlying mantle may be contributing.[6]

The southeastern portion of the bay may be the remnant of a gigantic prehistoric impact structure with the Belcher Islands forming the central uplift area. Geologists still debate what created the semicircular feature of the bay—some say glaciers, others say an impact that predates the glaciers. The feature is known as the Nastapoka Arc and has been compared to Mare Crisium on the Moon. (See references below for more geological discussion on this and other bay features.)

Coastal communities

The coast of Hudson Bay is extremely sparsely populated; there are only about a dozen villages. Some of these were founded in the 17th and 18th centuries by the Hudson's Bay Company as trading posts, making them part of the oldest settlements in Canada. With the closure of the HBC posts and stores in the second half of the 20th century, many coastal villages are now almost exclusively populated by Cree and Inuit people.

Some of the more prominent communities along the Hudson Bay coast are:

Military development

Not until the Cold War was there any military significance attributed to the region. In the 1950s, a few sites along the coast became part of the Mid-Canada Line, watching for a potential Soviet bomber attack over the North Pole. The only Arctic, deep water port in Canada is located at Churchill, Manitoba.


Arctic Bridge

The Arctic Bridge shipping route is hoped to link North America to markets in Europe and Asia using ice-free routes across the Arctic Ocean

The longer periods of ice-free navigation and the reduction of Arctic Ocean ice coverage have led to interest in Russia and Canada in the potential for commercial trade routes across the Arctic and into Hudson Bay. The so-called "Arctic Bridge" would link Churchill, Manitoba and the Russian port of Murmansk.[7]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Limits of Oceans and Seas, 3rd edition". International Hydrographic Organization. 1953. Retrieved 6 February 2010. 
  3. ^ GHCN climatic monthly data, GISS, using 1995–2007 annual averages
  4. ^ General Survey of World Climatology, Landsberg ed., (1984), Elsevier.
  5. ^ C. Michael Hogan (2008) Polar Bear: Ursus maritimus,, ed. Nicklas Stromberg
  6. ^ Young, Kelly (10 May 2007). "Satellites solve mystery of low gravity over Canada". New Scientist. Retrieved 2007-05-11. 
  7. ^ [1] The Globe and Mail, Toronto, 18 October 2007, Russian ship crosses 'Arctic bridge' to Manitoba
  • Atlas of Canada, online version.
  • Some references of geological/impact structure interest include:
    • Rondot, Jehan (1994). Recognition of eroded astroblemes. Earth-Science Reviews 35, 4, p. 331-365.
    • Wilson, J. Tuzo (1968) Comparison of the Hudson Bay arc with some other features. In: Science, History and Hudson Bay, v. 2. Beals, C. S. (editor), p. 1015–1033.

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

HUDSON BAY (less often, but more correctly, Hudson'S Bay), an inland sea in the N.E. of Canada, extending from 78° to 95° W. and from 51° to 70° N. On the east it is connected with the Atlantic Ocean by Hudson Strait, and on the north with the Arctic Ocean by Fox Channel and Fury and Hecla Strait. Its southern extremity between 55° and 51° N. is known as James Bay. It is J90 m. in width, and 1300 from S. to N., including James Bay (350 m.) and Fox Channel (350 m.). The customary use of the term includes James Bay, but not Fox Channel. The average depth of water is about 70 fathoms, deepening at the entrance of Hudson Strait to loo fathoms. James Bay is much shallower, and unfit for shipping save for a central channel leading to the mouth of the Moose river. The centre and west of the main bay are absolutely free from shoals, rocks or islands, but down its east coast extend two lines of small islands, one close to shore, the other at 70 to ioo m. distance, and comprising a number of scattered groups (the Ottawa Islands, the Sleepers, the Belchers, &c.)..

Into Hudson and James Bays flow numerous important rivers, so much so that the water of the latter is rather brackish than salt. Beginning at the north-west, the chief of these are Churchill, Nelson (draining Lake Winnipeg, and the numerous inland rivers of which it is the basin), Hayes (the old boat route of the voyageurs to Winnipeg), Severn, Albany, Moose, Rupert river (draining Lake Mistassini), Nottaway, East Main, Great Whale and Little Whale.

Save for some high bluffs on the east and north-east, the shores of the bay are low. Around much of James Bay extend marshes and swampy ground. Geologically the greater part of the Hudson Bay district belongs to the Laurentian system, though there are numerous outcrops of later formation; CambroSilurian on the south and west, and to the north of Cape Jones (the north-eastern extremity of James Bay) a narrow belt of Cambrian rocks, of which the islands are composed. Coal, plumbago, iron and other minerals have been found in various districts near the coast. The climate is harsh, though vegetables and certain root crops ripen in the open air as far north as Fort Churchill; cattle flourish, and are fed chiefly on the native grasses; spruce, balsam and poplar grow to a fair size as far as the northern limit of James Bay. Caribou, musk ox and other animals are still found in large numbers, and there is an abundance of feathered game - ducks, geese, loons and ptarmigan; hunting and fishing form the chief occupations of the Indians and Eskimo who live in scattered bands near the shore. The bay abounds with fish, of which the chief are cod, salmon, porpoise and whales. The last have long been pursued by American whalers, whose destructive methods have so greatly depleted the supply that the government of Canada is anxious to declare the bay a mare clausum. Hudson Strait is about 450 m. long with an average breadth of loo m., narrowing at one point to 45. Its shores are high and bold, rarely less in height than l000 ft., save on the coast of Ungava Bay, a deep indentation on the south-east. No islands or rocks impede navigation. Its depth is from ioo to 200 fathoms. Owing to the violence of the tides, which rise to a height of 35 ft., it never absolutely freezes over.

After three centuries of exploration, the navigability of Hudson Bay and Strait remains a vexed question. To Canada it is one of great commercial interest, and numerous expeditions have been made and reports issued by the Geological Survey. From Winnipeg to Liverpool via Churchill is over 500 m. less than via Montreal, and from Edmonton to Liverpool almost moo m. less. Were navigation open for a sufficient time, such a route for the grain of the Canadian and American west would be of enormous advantage. But the inlet from the Arctic sends down masses of heavy ice, which drift about in the bay and the strait. Past the mouth of the strait flows a stream often over loo m. wide, of berg and floe ice, carried by the Arctic current. Owing to the proximity of the Magnetic Pole (in Boothia) the compass often refuses to work. For sailing ships, such as the Hudson's Bay Company has long employed, the season for safe navigation is from the 15th of July to the 1st of October. In over 200 years very few serious accidents have occurred to the company's ships within these limits. It is claimed that specially built and protected steamers would be safe from the 15th of June till the 1st of November, and the problem may be solved by icebreaking vessels of great power. The only good harbour available is Fort Churchill, at the mouth of the Churchill river, which is large and easy of access. Moose Factory (at the foot of James Bay) and York Factory (at the mouth of the Nelson) are mere roadsteads. Marble Island, south of Chesterfield Inlet, where the whalers winter, is too far north for regular shipping.

The Cabots entered the strait in 1498, and during the next century a series of Elizabethan mariners; but the bay was not explored until 1610, when Henry Hudson pushed through the ice and explored to the southern limit of James Bay.

See Lieutenant Gordon, R.N., Reports on the Hudson's Bay Expeditions (1884, 5, 6); William Ogilvie, Exploratory Survey to Hudson's Bay in 1890 (Ottawa, 1891); R. F. Stupart, The Navigation of Hudson's Bay and Straits (Toronto, 1904).

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




From Henry Hudson, English sea explorer

Proper noun

Wikipedia has an article on:


Hudson Bay

  1. An inland sea in northeastern Canada.


Simple English

[[File:|thumb|right|Hudson Bay map]] The Hudson Bay is a bay that goes into East-central Canada. It is the fourth largest sea in the world with an area of 316,000 square miles (819,000 square kilometres). The northern and western shores belong to Nunavut, the southern shore is split between Manitoba and Ontario, and the eastern shore belongs to Quebec. It is connected with the Atlantic Ocean through the Hudson Strait, which is in the northeast of the bay, and with the Arctic Ocean through the Foxe Channel in the north part of the bay.

It was named for the English explorer Henry Hudson, who, in 1610 on the ship Discovery, found the bay and clamed it for England.

Other websites

Britannica Online-Hudson Bay


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