Norway House

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Norway House, Manitoba
National Historic Site of Canada
SS Colvile.jpg
Steamboat Colvile docked at Norway House, Manitoba, circa 1880
Province Manitoba
Website Norway House Cree Nation
Norway House is located in Manitoba
Norway House
Norway House in Manitoba

Norway House is a rural community of approximately 5,000-6,000 people some 30 km (19 mi) north of Lake Winnipeg, on the bank of the eastern channel of Nelson River, in the province of Manitoba, Canada. The community shares the name Norway House with the Norway House Cree Nation Indian Reserve (Kinosao Sipi Cree Nation).[1] Thus Norway House has both a Chief and a Mayor.

The community is located 456 km (283 mi) by air north of Winnipeg, 208 km (129 mi) by air east of The Pas, and 190 km (120 mi) by air south of Thompson. To drive from Winnipeg it is approximately 800 km (500 mi), from Thompson it is about 300 km (190 mi). Major economic activities include commercial fishing, trapping, logging, and government services. Seasonal unemployment varies, with peaks as high as 70%.


After the arrival of Europeans in North America, the Hayes River became an important link in the development of Canada. The Hayes was the favoured route between York Factory and the interior of western Canada for explorers, fur traders and European settlers from 1670 to 1870 because transit was easier and food was more readily available. After Anthony Henday's explorations, Joseph Smith was sent in 1756, from York Factory, to explore the area. He ascended the Nelson River seeking Lake Winnipeg. He reached Little Playgreen Lake on September 21 that year.[2]:250

In 1816 Lord Selkirk sent out a band of Norwegians, apparently ex-convicts,[2]:594 to build a road from York Factory to Lake Winnipeg and a series of supply posts. They built Norway House at Mossy Point (west side of outflow) in 1817 replacing the former Jack River post at that location.[2]:603 In the last days of the rivalry between the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company prior to their union in 1821, Colin Robertson, of the Hudson's Bay Company from their office in Montreal, organized a brigade of mostly French-Canadians led by John Clarke, bound for the Athabasca country[2]:600 to compete with the North West Company by developing the trade of supplying the colonists in addition to the company's usual business of trading furs.

In 1822 Governor Simpson passed through Norway House in the depth of winter on his way to Cumberland House.[2]:695 Simpson traveled through Norway House to the Columbia District in 1824-25, journeying from York Factory. He investigated a quicker route than previously used, following the Saskatchewan River and crossing the mountains at Athabasca Pass. This route, which passed through Norway House, was thereafter followed by the York Factory Express brigades.

In 1825 or 1826 much of the post was destroyed by fire. In 1826 the company abandoned its position on Mossy Point in favour of its present position on the East River, or as it is now known, the Jack River in order to be nearer to the fishery, the food supply of its population. In 1830, Cumberland House, formerly the most important post in the interior, was supplanted by Norway House.[2]:695 From the 1830s, the Councils of the Hudson's Bay Company, (annual meetings of its chief factors) met at Norway House rather than York Factory. These meetings would involve planning decisions for the following year and promotions from clerk to Chief Trader and from Chief Trader to Chief Factor. Such promotions were within the authority of the Governor and Committee. The recommendations of the council would be given to Governor Simpson who would make his recommendations to London.[2]:692

The last of the great Northern Council meetings that were started by Simpson a half century earlier, was convened at Norway House by Donald Smith in July 1870. The men met around a great oak table with Smith as the new Governor, following his success in negotiations earlier that year concerning the Red River Rebellion on behalf of Canada, and empowered him to represent them in London concerning the rights of the Chief Factors and Chief Traders to share in the £300,000 transfer fee payable upon the surrender of Rupert's Land.[3]:54

Transportation, education and services[edit]

Provincial Road (PR) 373, an all-weather road, leads from Norway House past PR 374 which leads to Cross Lake, through Jenpeg and then joins Provincial Trunk Highway 6.

There is a ferry that shuttles vehicles across the Nelson Channel just north of Norway House. This ferry runs most of the year, except into the winter months when an ice bridge is opened. The ferry is known to get stuck occasionally in the freeze up season and cause delays.

The most important means of transportation in this remote territory is the airplane. Manitoba Northern Airports maintains Norway House Airport with a 1,189-metre (3,901 ft) crushed-rock airstrip. There are daily flights to Winnipeg on two private airlines: Perimeter Air and NAC Air.

Norway House is one of the most well developed reserves in Canada and is well known for common references in the news and is also developed in many ways. There are several restaurants, 2 hotels, a Royal Bank, 2 Northern stores, a full service post office, 2 video stores and paved roads within the community to name a few things. The Kinosao Sipi Mall and the recently added cell phone service are improvements to this northern community. It is home to a regional centre of the University College of the North and has satellite degree programming from Brandon University's Faculty of Education and the University of Manitoba. The Helen Betty Osbourne Ininew Education Resource Centre preceded the Rossville Residential school, and is one of the most technologically advanced schools in the province.

Norway House is serviced by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and also have NHCN Band police.

Helen Betty Osborne Ininew Education Resource Centre (HBOIERC) is the biggest school out of the frontier school division.


Climate data for Norway House
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 5
Average high °C (°F) −17.7
Average low °C (°F) −26.8
Record low °C (°F) −47
Precipitation mm (inches) 17.6
Source: Environment Canada[4]

Treaty and York Boat Days[edit]

Held annually each summer, the York Boat events serve as the main attraction.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Norway House Cree Nation
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Morton, Arthur S; (Lewis G Thomas) (1973) [1939]. A History of the Canadian West to 1870-71 (2nd ed ed.). Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-4033-0. 
  3. ^ Newman, Peter C. (1991). Merchant Princes, Company of Adventurers, Volume III. Toronto: Penguin Books Canada Ltd. ISBN 0-670-84098-X. 
  4. ^ Environment CanadaCanadian Climate Normals 1971–2000, accessed 27 September 2009

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°59′25″N 97°48′56″W / 53.99028°N 97.81556°W / 53.99028; -97.81556