Hay River, NWT, incorporated as a town in 1963, population 3606 (2011c), 3648 (2006c). The Town of Hay River is located on the south shore of GREAT SLAVE LAKE at the mouth of the Hay River, 201 air km southwest of Yellowknife. The original homeland of the Slavey DENE, Hay River first became permanently settled in 1868 with a Hudson's Bay Co trading post and Anglican and Catholic missions. The original Catholic church, now on the HAY RIVER RESERVE, is still used.

The present community dates back to the postwar construction of the MACKENZIE HIGHWAY. The community became an important transportation and communications centre. Known as "the hub of the north," it is the staging point for the shipping industry up the MACKENZIE RIVER and also the centre of the Great Slave Lake commercial fishery.

In 1963 a serious flood at the old town site required the evacuation of the entire population and the creation of a new town site upriver. In 1964 the community's economy was stimulated by the completion of a CNR railway link. Today, Hay River remains one of the few NWT communities that is largely dependent on private enterprise.