Hudson Bay is a large body of water in northeastern Canada. It drains a large portion of the northern areas of Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba, exiting into the Arctic Ocean via the Hudson Strait. A smaller offshoot of the bay, James Bay, lies to the south. The placename used to also be, but now rarely, Hudson's Bay. On the east it is connected with the Atlantic Ocean by Hudson Strait, and on the north with the Arctic Ocean by Fox Channel (which is costumarily not part of the bay) and Fury and Hecla Strait.
The area around the bay is a lowland known as the Hudson Bay Lowlands. The area is drained by a large number of rivers and has formed a characteristic vegetation known as muskeg. Much of the landform has been shaped by the actions of glaciers and the shrinkage of the bay over long periods of time. Signs of numerous former beachfronts can be seen far inland from the current shore.
Hudson Bay was first discovered by Henry Hudson in 1610, while sailing on the Discovery. On this fourth voyage he worked his way around the west coast of Greenland and into the bay, mapping much of its eastern coast. The Discovery became trapped in the ice over the winter, and the crew survived onshore at the southern tip of James Bay. When the ice cleared in the spring Hudson wanted to explore the rest of the area, but the crew mutinied on June 22, 1611.
Sixty years later the Nonsuch reached the Bay and successfully traded for beaver pelts with the Cree. This led to the creation of the Hudson's Bay Company which bears its name to this day. The British crown awarded a trading monopoly on the Hudson Bay watershed, called Rupert's Land, to the Hudson's Bay Company. This land, an area of approximately 3,9 million sq.km., would in 1870 be ceded to Canada as part of the Northwest Territories when the trade monopoly was abolished.