A bay is a body of water partly surrounded by land and connected to a larger body of water. It is typically bigger than a cove and smaller than a gulf. However, this is not always the case. For example, Hudson Bay is much larger than the Persian Gulf. Strictly speaking and by international agreement, to be defined as a bay, a water body’s mouth (the boundary between itself and the larger body of water to which it is connected) must not exceed 24 nautical miles. In addition, its area must exceed that of a semicircle drawn with the mouth as its diameter.

Hudson Bay

The shore of Hudson Bay at Churchill, Manitoba. 

Bays in Canada

Since it is surrounded on three sides by water, Canada has many bays. The largest and most widely known is Hudson Bay. In fact, Hudson Bay is so vast that it is considered an inland sea. At its southern end is James Bay. Hudson and James bays played an important role in the fur trade between Indigenous peoples and the Hudson’s Bay Company. Both bays are used for small-scale fishing and the hunting of sea mammals. Baffin Bay, which borders Greenland, is about half the size of Hudson Bay and is also considered a sea.

Canada’s east and west coasts also include many bays of importance. Their importance is due to a combination of tourism and the easier navigability of bay waters, which tend to be calmer than ocean coasts. For example, some of Canada’s largest commercial ports include Vancouver Port (with anchorages in English Bay) and the Port of Saint John (in Courtenay Bay, within the Bay of Fundy).

Bay of Fundy
Caves and coastal features are seen at low tide along the Bay of Fundy at St. Martins, New Brunswick. Photo taken 16 April 2012. 

The Bay of Fundy is also a particularly notable Canadian bay. It is known for its extremely high tides. The tides provide unique ecosystems, tourist attractions and potential for renewable energy production from the water’s flow.