Hudson Bay - Canada's Icebox


Hudson Bay is a large body of water in the northeastern part of Canada. It has an area of about 500,000 square miles (1.2 million square kilometers) and is connected with the Atlantic Ocean.  Surface water and rivers from large parts of central and eastern Canada flow into the bay. Hudson Bay is very shallow, on average about 100 meters deep. Although, it is a part of the open sea, the salt level of Hudson Bay is low because many rivers bring fresh water into the bay. While the eastern coastline is rocky with many islands, the western coast is low and swampy.

Canada’s greatest body of water lies in the middle of the Canadian tundra, a stretch of flat, barren plains. Hudson Bay is, geologically, the center of the Canadian Shield, an area of Canada that consists of old rock formations.  The weight of the ice during the last Ice Age lowered the surface of the land. After the ice had melted, water filled the bay.

Hudson Bay

Hudson Bay and the land around it has a very harsh climate. It is often called “Canada’s icebox”.  January temperatures go down to an average of -29° C while summers hardly reach more than 10° C. During the winter months, pack ice covers most of Hudson Bay. Shipping is possible in the bay during the summer time, when the ice has melted. Grain, one of Canada’s most important agricultural products, is exported from small ports on the west side of the bay.

A wide variety of animals inhabits the Hudson Bay area. Among them are seals, walruses, polar bears, foxes and caribou.  Over 200 species of birds include geese, ducks and other migrating birds.

The coastline around Hudson Bay is very sparsely populated. Inhabitants are mostly Inuit who live in small villages near the water. They make their living by fishing and hunting, some are in the trade industry and tourism.

Hudson Bay was named after Henry Hudson, an Englishman who first explored the region looking for a northwestern passage to Asia at the beginning of the 17th century. In 1670, the English set up the Hudson’s Bay Company, a fur trading business. In 1870 the Canadian government bought the land and made it a part of Canada.

In the past few decades, the Canadian government has been working on projects to build hydroelectric power stations in the southern part of Hudson Bay.





Related Topics



  • although = while
  • barren = without any plants or trees
  • body = area
  • caribou = North American reindeer
  • century = a hundred years
  • coastline = where the sea and land come together
  • connect = link
  • consist of = made up of
  • decade = ten years
  • explore = to travel around an area in order to find out more about it
  • formation = layer
  • fur trading business = company that hunted animals and bought and sold their skin
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • grain = seeds of corn, wheat or rice that are used as food
  • hardly = not very often
  • harsh = very difficult to live in; extreme weather conditions
  • hydroelectric power station =building that produces power from a lake or river
  • inhabit = live in a place
  • Inuit = group of people that live in the northern parts of Canada and Alaska
  • melt = when ice turns into water
  • migrate = animals or birds that regularly travel from one place to another
  • pack ice = mass of ice floating in the sea
  • passage = way through something
  • plains = flat land
  • port = harbor ; place where ships load and unload their products
  • salt level = the amount of salt in sea water
  • seal =large animal that eats fish and lives around the coast
  • shallow = not deep
  • sparsely = thinly
  • species = group, type
  • square mile = a mile that is one square long in each direction
  • surface water = water that flows on ground
  • swampy = land that is always very wet or covered with water
  • trade = buy and sell things
  • tundra = large flat area of land in northern Canada where  there are no trees
  • variety = mixture
  • walrus = large sea animal with two long curved teeth
  • weight = how heavy something is