Feb 12, 2012
Presentation of the Northwest Territories
The Northwest Territory a Canadian territory with less than 50,000 in an area that covers 440,000 square miles.
Many sections of the territory still do not have paved roads, and rail service has still not been extended to this territory.
History of the Northwest Territories
The history of the Northwest Territory begins in 1870 when the Hudson Bay Company transferred control of the Northwest Territories and Rupert’s Land to Canada. The Territory was initially intended to be that land north of 60 degrees parallel and west of 120 degrees longitude.
Through the years, some parts of the the Territory were broken off and added to other provinces or territories. One of the largest was the creation of the Yukon territory to handle the problems associated with the gold rush of 1898. Other part of the area became part of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario.
The main industry of the territory consisted of gold mining, fishing, and hunting. The capital became the town of Yellowknife, a central point that shipped the territory’s products between the northern areas and the rest of Canada. Most of the travel in the territory was on foot or on the numerous rivers.
Canada extended the reach of this territory to the Arctic Circle, resulting in the Northwest Territory having a total area of over one million square miles. The territory, while still mostly empty of people, was larger than India.
During the 1900s oil, uranium and diamonds became main products of the area. In 1999, Canada created the new territory of Nunavut from the eastern 3/5th of the Northwest Territory. This reduced the are of the Northwest Territory to 440,000 square miles. The population of this territory is over 50 percent native people.
The largest groups are the Dene and the Intuit, who have not always been friendly through the years. Many small towns are administered by tribal councils. There are 11 official languages in the territory of which 9 are native languages.
What to See in the Northwest Territories
The Northwest Territories are about the outdoors. The territory has some of the best views of the Northern lights in Canada. The territory has many lakes and rivers, including Great Bear Lake, the largest lake completely in Canada, and the Great Slave Lake, the deepest lake in Canada.
The Nahanni National Park Reserve presents its boreal forests in their natural beauty. The park features black bears and native caribou along a 70-mile canyon. A World Heritage Site, the park only receives about 700 visitors a year.
The McKenzie Bison Sanctuary is dedicated to the preservation of this native species. Part of the territory is closed every winter except to ice road truckers who bring supplies into the outer areas.
In the capital city, there are several sites that are memorable to visit. One of these is the city park, where the visitor’s center will present tourists with a certificate of their visit beyond the 60th parallel. There is a memorial to the local bush pilots in the park. Aurora Park is the local place to see the northern lights complete with warm seats.
Dog sled rides and snow mobiles are also available to enjoy at the park. Old town is a shopping center located in the original part of town and showcases how the original inhabitants lived who founded the town. There are two Indian reservations in the territory with tribal members who are glad to show you their culture.
For history lovers, a visit to the Prince of Wales Heritage Centre is a must. This museum tells the story of the territory. If you can fit it in, fishing in the lakes or in the Arctic Sea is a great experience for any tourist.
Geography of the Northwest Territories
The Northwest Territories are in the area of the Arctic Tundra. This means that part of the ground remains frozen all of the time. Much of the territory is in the warmer part of the north, so that boreal forest covers much of the southern part of the territory.
These forests are filled with conifers and are home to bears, beaver, deer, squirrels, rabbits and many birds. Due to the cold winter, most birds migrate south during the winter. At the area of the Arctic islands, trees are not able to grow anymore due to the cold conditions.
The tundra also keeps the roads in poor condition, causing all roads to be replaced every 10 years. Many areas prefer to keep their dirt roads. The Northwest Territory receives about 12 inches of rain each year. August is the wettest month of the year, with the warm season running between June and August.
The temperature is about 60 to 70 degrees in the summer. Temperatures reach below 0 during the winter months. The southern part of the territory is a subarctic region while the northern part is a polar region. Warm clothing is a must for safety during the winter months.
When to travel to the Northwest Territories
The best time to travel is during the summer months. The climate is mild, and the territory can be seen easily by a car or 4×4 if traveling off road. It is even possible to camp out at many locations. The Northwest Territory does not have a large number of accommodations and travelers are advised to make reservations in advance.
Many areas are only accessible in winter by the bush pilot airlifts making them difficult to visit. Most of the music festivals are held during the summer. Folk on the Rocks has been popular since 1980 and attracts many different kinds of musical groups. The Midnight Golf Tournament is played over several long nights of summer.
In winter the SnowKing festival takes place on the Great Slave Lake which is frozen at that time. The Long John Jamboree takes place in March on the frozen Yellowknife Bay.