The Hayes River, 483 km long, rises in Molson Lake (399 km2
) northeast of Lake Winnipeg, flows northeast to Oxford Lake (401 km2
) and Knee Lake, through the rock and bush of the Canadian Shield, across the clay flats of the Hudson Bay Lowlands and into the bay at YORK FACTORY
. It has a DRAINAGE BASIN
of 108 000 km2
and a mean discharge of 694 m3
/s. Its main tributaries, the Fox and Gods rivers, drain numerous lake north and south of its course. The river, named for Sir James Hayes, a charter member of the Hudson's Bay Co, was the chief FUR TRADE
route between Lake Winnipeg and York Factory for nearly 200 years. Though swift and rough in places, it was easier to travel than the turbulent Nelson, which the traders joined, via the shallow Echimamish River, at Cross Lake.