Churchill River (Hudson Bay)

The Churchill River (French: Rivière Churchill)[1][3] is a major river in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Canada. From the head of the Churchill Lake it is 1,609 kilometres (1,000 mi) long.[2] It was named after John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough and governor of the Hudson's Bay Company from 1685 to 1691.

Churchill River
Otter rapids.jpg
Otter Rapids (Churchill River)
Churchill river hudson basin map.png
Churchill River Basin in Canada
EtymologyNamed after BYB Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough
Native nameMissinipi
ProvincesSaskatchewan, Manitoba
Physical characteristics
SourceChurchill Lake
 ⁃ locationSaskatchewan
 ⁃ coordinates56°6′22″N 108°14′46″W / 56.10611°N 108.24611°W / 56.10611; -108.24611
MouthHudson Bay
 ⁃ location
 ⁃ coordinates
58°47′45″N 94°12′15″W / 58.79583°N 94.20417°W / 58.79583; -94.20417Coordinates: 58°47′45″N 94°12′15″W / 58.79583°N 94.20417°W / 58.79583; -94.20417[1]
Length1,609 km (1,000 mi)[2]
Basin size281,300 km2 (108,600 sq mi)[2]
 ⁃ average1,200 m3/s (42,000 cu ft/s)

The Cree name for the river is Missinipi, meaning "big waters".[4]

The river is located entirely within the Canadian Shield. The drainage basin includes a number of lakes in Central-East Alberta which flow into a series of lakes in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The main tributary, the Beaver River, joins at Lac Île-à-la-Crosse.

Nistowiak Falls—the tallest falls in Saskatchewan—are on the Rapid River, which flows north, out of Lac la Ronge into Nistowiak Lake on the Churchill just north of La Ronge.

A large amount of flow of the Churchill River after Manitoba–Saskatchewan border comes from the Reindeer River, which flows from Wollaston and Reindeer lakes. Flow from Reindeer Lake is regulated by the Whitesand Dam. From there, the Churchill River flows east through a series of lakes (Highrock, Granville, Southern Indian and Gauer), then flows via a diversion for hydro-electric generation into the Nelson River (60% of flow), and the rest flows as the Churchill River into Hudson Bay at Churchill, Manitoba. (see also Nelson River Hydroelectric Project)[5]


The Churchill formed a major part of the "voyageur highway" in the 18th to 20th centuries after Dene people showed Peter Pond the Methye Portage which connects the Hudson Bay watershed with the ClearwaterAthabascaMacKenzie rivers which flow to the Arctic Ocean.[6] See Canadian Canoe Routes (early).

Fish speciesEdit

The Churchill is also home of several fish species including: walleye, sauger, yellow perch, northern pike, lake trout, lake whitefish, cisco, white sucker, shorthead redhorse, longnose sucker, lake sturgeon and burbot.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Churchill River". Geographical Names Data Base. Natural Resources Canada. Retrieved August 29, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c "Principal rivers and their tributaries". Statistics Canada. February 2, 2005. Archived from the original on September 9, 2006. Retrieved 2010-01-13.
  3. ^ "Names of pan-Canadian significance". Natural Resources Canada – Mapping Services. Archived from the original on December 10, 2009. Retrieved January 13, 2010.
  4. ^ "Churchill River (Manitoba)". The Canadian Encyclopedia
  5. ^ "Churchill River". Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. Canadian Plains Research Centre. 2006. Archived from the original on October 7, 2011. Retrieved January 13, 2010.
  6. ^ "La Loche". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved July 28, 2008.

External linksEdit

Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap 
Download coordinates as: KML · GPX