weLCOME TO spectacular Northwest territorIES
Written by: Wendy Williams (a.k.a. Mom!)
Sometimes called The Barren Land, the Northwest Territories consist of three main regions: Arctic Archipelago, Arctic mainland and MacKenzie Valley. The NWT was acquired by Canada in 1870 and Yellowknife became the capitol city.
The Arctic Archipelago consists of 94 islands. Ice and permafrost inhibit soil development. The Arctic mainland is situated on the Canadian Shield with an undulating bedrock surface and a maze of rivers and lakes. The more southern Mackenzie Valley is home to boreal forests of: birch, pine fir and aspen.
Three main community populations are: Dene (Chipewyan, Slavey, Quich’in), Inuit/Inuvialuit and Metis. Before European contact, the Inuit inhabited the harsh northern areas and survived by fishing and hunting whales and seals.
The Vikings were the first explorers (ca 1000 CE) and were later followed by Martin Frobisher (in 1578) seeking a north west passage to the Pacific Ocean. Some other explorers to follow were: Hearne, Mackenzie, Franklin, McClure and Amundsen. The fur trade later moved northward in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Forts, missions and the RCMP were established.
Mineral and transportation developments increased the population of non-Aboriginal presence. The aftermath of the Red River Rebellion (1869-70) resettled some Metis further North. Contact with outside cultures resulted in disease and reduced Aboriginal populations in the NWT.
Commercial whaling followed the fur trade. Oil was discovered. Mining and fuel exploration provided industries. Mining products are: uranium, lead, gold, zinc, tungsten and diamonds. Operating hydro plants are: Snare Hydro System, Bluefish Hydro Facility and Taltson Hydro. Commercial fishing of whitefish, pickerel and lake trout operate primarily out of Great Slave Lake.
The approximately 49 NWT schools use their own curriculum from Kindergarten to grade 8. The secondary schools follow the Alberta curriculum. Inuit and Dene languages and culture are integrated into school programming.
Music and art festivals, community museums, historical societies and heritage groups operate in the NWT. Traditional games and sports are popular in the Winter Olympics. Radio, television, newspapers, telephone and internet link many communities.
Some noted people from the Northwest Territories are: the first Aboriginal woman elected to Parliament, Ethel Blondin-Andrew, hockey player, Zac Boyer, hockey player, Jason Elliot, politician, Glenna F, Hansen and artist, Helen Kalvak.
The Mackenzie Highway, the Dempster Highway and other transportation routes cross the NWT to facilitate travel. Fly-in services to hunting lodges and camps are available. In 2018, a road project was completed between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk. Five interesting National Parks are: Aulvik, Naats-ihch’oh, Nahanni, Tuktut Nogait, and Wood Buffalo.
Visitors to the Northwest Territories should seek out the many archeological discoveries which shed light on the early Native peoples of the Arctic and Subarctic regions. Important historic sites highlight fur trade in the subarctic, exploration for the North West Passage and the Franklin Expedition. The Northwest Territories is well-known for its spectacular aurora borealis (northern lights). Snowshoeing, dogsledding and ice fishing are among many winter attractions.
Visit the unique Canadian Northwest Territories.