Interesting facts about the Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories is a federal territory of Canada.

Located in northern Canada, the territory borders Canada’s two other territories, Yukon to the west and Nunavut to the east, as well as three provinces: British Columbia to the southwest, and Alberta and Saskatchewan to the south.

The Northwest Territories extend far above the Arctic Circle to incorporate numerous islands, the largest of which are Banks and Prince Patrick – several islands also are divided between the territories and Nunavut, notably Victoria and Melville.

The Northwest Territories is the 3rd largest province in Canada in terms of total area with 1,183,085 square kilometers (456,792 square miles).

The land area of the Northwest Territories is vast enough to be roughly equal to France, Portugal and Spain combined, although its overall area is even larger courtesy of its vast lakes that freeze over in winter.

As of January 2021, the population of Newfoundland and Labrador was estimated to be about 45,000 people. It is the 11th most populous province in Canada.

Yellowknife is the capital, only city, and largest community in the Northwest Territories.

Prior to the arrival of Europeans, a number of First Nations and Inuit occupied the area that became the Northwest Territories.

Vikings probably visited parts of the Canadian Arctic during the Middle Ages, but there are no records of exploration until the voyage in 1576 of the English mariner Martin Frobisher in search of the Northwest Passage to the Orient.

By the 17th century, the British laid claim to both the North-Western Territory and Rupert’s Land – and granted the Hudson’s Bay Company a commercial fur trade monopoly over the latter region.

The Northwest Territories, a portion of the old North-Western Territory, entered the Canadian Confederation on July 15, 1870.

The territory reached its largest size in 1880, after the British Arctic Territories were transferred from the United Kingdom to Canada, and incorporated into the North-West Territory.

Fur traders, missionaries, and the police directed the life of the Northwest Territories until the 1920s, when discovery of oil near Fort Norman on the Mackenzie River prompted the Canadian government to establish a territorial administration for the area.

Mining replaced the fur trade as the most important industry in Mackenzie District in the 1930s.

World War II brought much government-financed construction activity to the territories.

During the Cold War era, a number of responsibilities were devolved from the federal to territorial government, with the territory’s capital transferred from Ottawa to Yellowknife in 1967.

In the early 21st century, natural resource exploitation continued to influence the course of economic development in the Northwest Territories, with the energy and diamond-mining industries playing prominent roles.

Our Lady of Victory Church, often called the Igloo Church, is located on Mackenzie Road in downtown Inuvik. It serves a Catholic parish of the Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith. It was established in the mid-1950s, around the time Inuvik was being built – the church was opened and consecrated in 1960 after two years of construction.

The Church of Our Lady of Good Hope is an historic Carpenter Gothic-style Roman Catholic church building located on a bluff overlooking the Mackenzie River in Fort Good Hope. Only 45 by 25 feet (13.7 by 7.6 m) in size, it was built between 1865 and 1885 as a mission of the Oblate Fathers.
Father Émile Petitot, “renowned ethnologist, linguist and geographer of the Canadian northwest” was a resident of the mission from 1864 to 1878.

Nahanni National Park Reserve in the Dehcho Region of the Northwest Territories, protects a portion of the Mackenzie Mountains Natural Region. The centrepiece of the park is the South Nahanni River (Naha Dehé). Four noteworthy canyons reaching 1,000 m (3,300 ft) in depth, called First, Second, Third and Fourth Canyon, line this spectacular whitewater river. The park was among the world’s first four natural heritage locations to be inscribed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1978.

Wood Buffalo National Park is the largest national park of Canada at 44,807 square kilometers (17,300 square miles). It is located in northeastern Alberta and the southern Northwest Territories. Larger in area than Switzerland, it is the second-largest national park in the world. The park was established in 1922 to protect the world’s largest herd of free roaming hybridized wood bison, currently estimated at more than 5,000. It is one of two known nesting sites of whooping cranes. This area was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 for the biological diversity of the
Peace-Athabasca Delta, one of the world’s largest freshwater deltas, as well as the population of wild bison. It is also the most ecologically complete and largest example of the Great Plains-Boreal grassland ecosystem of North America.

The Great Bear Lake is a lake in the Canadian boreal forest. It is the largest lake entirely in Canada (Lake Superior and Lake Huron straddling the Canada–US border are larger), the fourth-largest in North
America, and the eighth-largest in the world. The lake is in the Northwest Territories, on the Arctic Circle between 65 and 67 degrees of northern latitude and between 118 and 123 degrees western longitude, 156 m (512 ft) above sea level.

Great Slave Lake is the second-largest lake in the Northwest Territories of Canada, the deepest lake in North America at 614 metres (2,014 ft), and the tenth-largest lake in the world. It is 469 km (291 mi) long and 20 to 203 km (12 to 126 mi) wide.

Winter temperatures of -30°C (-22°F) are recorded in virtually all parts of the territories. During the short summer, which lasts only a few weeks, the sun barely sets-hence its nickname, the “land of the midnight sun.”

Conversely, in winter it remains dark virtually round the clock, the so-called “polar night.”

Among the festivals in the region are the Great Northern Arts Festival, the Snowking Winter Festival, Folk on the Rocks music festival in Yellowknife, and Rockin the Rocks.