Manitoba Heritage Council Commemorative Plaques

Middle Track

Middle Track
(Courtesy of Eric W. Morse,
Fur Trade Canoe Routes of Canada/Then and Now,
Ottawa: Queen's Printer, 1969)

Installed 1990
Devon Park, The Pas

The Middle Track canoe route used three great rivers of northern Manitoba - the Saskatchewan, the Nelson, and the Hayes. It ran from York Factory up the Hayes River, over to Cross Lake, then followed the Minago River, took a short portage over to Moose Lake and from there led to the Saskatchewan River.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, Saskatchewan River Natives canoed through this maze of lakes and rivers, carrying furs collected from the tribes of the Western Interior. At York Factory, they exchanged furs for European goods which they brought back to trade for more furs. These middlemen led Henry Kelsey of the Hudson's Bay Company along the Middle Track to the Saskatchewan River in 1690.

Heavy York Boats, which could be used only on the Lower Track, were introduced in the early 19th century. As a result, Native middlemen using canoes on the Middle Track ceased to be major participants in the fur trade.