Sitting on the southwestern edge of the Great Slave Lake (the deepest lake in North America and the ninth-largest on earth) alongside the Hay River, this small community of the same name also goes by the nickname of "The Hub of the North." It is one of the two administrational centers of its South Slave Lake region and is given more life by its still being connected to the railway system; in fact, the most northerly station in all of the Americas connected with the main bulk of the U.S. and Canadian railway systems. Hay River MICE venues cater to these industries and to groups hankering to see one of the world's last great wildernesses.
Hay River has a small airport, the Hay River/Merlyn Carter Airport (YHY), which is a mile from the center of town and also often sees breeding Sandhill cranes close to its runway in summer. Service is on regional airlines to Fort Smith, Yellowknife and, more connected to elsewhere, Edmonton.
There is no dedicated convention or conference MICE venues in Hay River, although the Don Stewart Recreational Centre, which essentially is Hay River's center and its community hall, has an arena for up to 700 persons, a curling rink that can be covered for up to 400, and additional space for events of up to 150 persons, including its Don Wieterman Room for 80. Most hotels here offer little meeting space. These include the 42-room Ptarmigan Inn, which has banquet space and three meeting rooms; the 27-room North Country Inn; the accommodations options offered by Greenway Accommodations, including the 36-room Cambridge Executive Suites, which has two meeting rooms; the 11-room Anchorage Bed & Breakfast, and eight-room Harbour Guest House, which is perched up onto a series of stilts, with a great view of the Great Slave Lake from its deck.
Unique MICE venues in Hay River and nearby include—as with Fort Smith, golfers wishing to tee off this far north are well—Hay River Golf Club, which has wonderful boreal scenery, nine holes and a clubhouse for receptions of up to 350 persons and dinners for up to 150; the facilities of the Royal Canadian Legion, which has two meeting rooms 100 and 350 persons, respectively; and the headquarters of the Katlodeeche First Nation Reserve (the indigenous inhabitants) that has two meeting rooms that combined can host 50 persons and the larger Chief Lamalice Complex that has room for 300 people.
There are not too many restaurants here, but good for groups are the Back Eddy Cocktail Lounge & Restaurant, which has live music; Keys Dining Room & Dog House Sports Bar, both inside the Ptarmigan Inn and serving fish from the Great Slave Lake; and Driftwood Inn, another concern managed by Greenway.
As with Fort Smith, to its southeast, summer does not last long here, and June to the end of August might be the only sure bet for clement temperatures. Must-see sites are two waterfalls close to the city, Alexandra and Louise falls, both inside the Twin Falls Gorge Territorial Park.