The Churchill River is one of the major rivers of Canada. It flows through the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. The river is named after John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough. The river flows for 1,000 miles from the Churchill Lake in northwest Saskatchewan to the Hudson Bay in Manitoba. The ancient name for the river is “Missinipi,” meaning “the big waters.” The Churchill River is located within the Canadian shield; its drainage basin includes a series of lakes in Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. The river formed a crucial part of the part “voyageur highway” from in the 19th and 20th centuries. The river provides a convenient habitat for several species of fish including the yellow perch, shorthead redhorse, lake whitefish, walleye, lake trout, lake sturgeon, and longnose sucker.
The Churchill River begins at the Churchill Lake in northwest Saskatchewan. The glacial lake is fed by Peter Pond Lake and Frobisher Lake. The lake forms part of the river’s drainage basin and remains frozen from November to May. In addition to feeding the river, it also provides a habitat for several species of fish and other animals as well as water for both recreational, domestic, and commercial use.
After leaving Churchill Lake, the river flows for 1,000 miles to Hudson Bay in Manitoba. The bay is over 470,000 square miles and drains the Canadian territories of Nunavut, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec. It is also fed by smaller water channels from Minnesota, the Dakotas, and Montana. The southern arm of the bay is known as the James Bay. It is the second-largest bay in the world after the Bay of Bengal. The bay is considered an epicontinental sea due to its shallow average depth of 330 feet compared to the Bay of Bengal (8,500 feet). The Hudson Bay connects to the Atlantic through the Hudson Strait and to the Arctic Ocean through the Foxe Basin Fury and Hecla Strait. It is considered part of the Arctic Ocean although it lies a few miles south of the Arctic Ocean.
The two main tributaries of the Churchill River are the Rapid River and the Beaver River. The Rapid River flows for just 8 miles from the Iskwatikan Lake to meet the Churchill River at the Nistowiak Lake. The Beaver Lake flows for 305 miles from the Beaver Lake in Alberta to Lac Île-à-la-Crosse on the Churchill River.
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