NORTH­WEST TER­RI­TO­RIES

NO AP­POINT­MENT NEC­ES­SARY

2017 Travel Guide to Canada - - Table Of Contents - BY HÉLÈNA KATZ

The north­ern lights ap­pear as a faint band at first. Then they grow in in­ten­sity, as if gain­ing mo­men­tum. The green gets brighter and shim­mies as an­other line starts mov­ing across the sky. Soon, the two bands merge and sep­a­rate re­peat­edly as reds and greens blend and change.

In the North­west Ter­ri­to­ries, the phrase “the lights are out” means the aurora bo­re­alis is light­ing up the sky. On a clear night be­tween Oc­to­ber and March, when the sky is dark enough, per­haps the aurora will come out to play. But re­mem­ber, the lights are an un­pre­dictable nat­u­ral phe­nom­e­non that come out on their own sched­ule. That is why no ap­point­ment is nec­es­sary.

The N.W.T. lies be­tween the Yukon and Nu­navut but the south­ern part of the ter­ri­tory is ac­cessed by road from Bri­tish Co­lum­bia and Al­berta. The land­scape fea­tures bo­real for­est in the south, tundra north of the Arc­tic Cir­cle, and the Macken­zie and Richard­son moun­tains to the west. The Macken­zie River, North Amer­ica’s sec­ond-longest river, starts its jour­ney at Fort Prov­i­dence be­fore flow­ing more than 1,000 km (621 mi.) into the Arc­tic Ocean. Great Slave Lake is the con­ti­nent’s deep­est lake and Great Bear Lake is the ter­ri­tory’s largest lake.

The N.W.T. has 33 com­mu­ni­ties di­vided into five re­gions: Inu­vik re­gion, Sahtu, North Slave, South Slave and De­hcho. Abo­rig­i­nal Peo­ples com­prise half the pop­u­la­tion—Dene, Métis or Inu­vialuit. Al­though there are 11 of­fi­cial lan­guages, most peo­ple speak English.

AURORA HUNT­ING

The North­west Ter­ri­to­ries sits di­rectly be­neath the au­ro­ral oval. On a clear night, check the aurora fore­cast on Yel­lowknife’s As­tron­omy North web­site to find out the like­li­hood of spot­ting the north­ern lights (www.as­tron­o­mynorth.com/au­ro­rafore­cast). There are dif­fer­ent ways to ex­pe­ri­ence the aurora (www.spec­tac­u­lar nwt.com/what-to-do/aurora). Join a tour op­er­a­tor and head out on the trail by snow­mo­bile or dog team to a cosy camp that of­fers a clear view of the night sky. Head out onto frozen Great Slave Lake in an eight-pas­sen­ger Bom­bardier, or fly out to a wilder­ness lodge for a few days.

FEED­ING FRENZY

Sum­mer brings op­por­tu­ni­ties to try north­ern fare. Cast a line into a river or lake for feisty north­ern pike, Arc­tic grayling, Dolly Var­den or lake trout. Dine on white­fish that an out­fit­ter has pre­pared over an open fire for your lunch. Spend a day fish­ing near a com­mu­nity, or en­joy a multi-day pack­age at a re­mote lodge (www. spec­tac­u­larnwt.com/what-to-do/fish­ing). Weekly sum­mer mar­kets in Inu­vik, Yel­lowknife, Hay River and Fort Smith fea­ture lo­cally-grown pro­duce as well as home­made goods such as fire­weed jelly and birch syrup. Stop by the Inu­vialuit Re­gional Cor­po­ra­tion Craft Store in Inu­vik for some dry fish and other lo­cal del­i­ca­cies.

UNIQUELY NORTH­ERN

Drive up the Dempster High­way and take a selfie at the Arc­tic Cir­cle. Com­pete in the an­nual Billy Joss Open Celebrity Golf Tour­na­ment on Ulukhak­tok’s nine-hole course, North Amer­ica’s most northerly course (www.arc­tic­cha­rinn.com/arc­tic­golf­ing.htm). Visit the pop­u­lar Igloo Church in Inu­vik. The in­te­rior is dec­o­rated with paint­ings by Inuit artist Mona Thrasher.

WHAT’S NEW?

Be one of the first to drive the all-weather road from Inu­vik to Tuk­toy­ak­tuk when this new road opens in late 2017. You’ll be able to drive to the Arc­tic Ocean.

Pad­dle bouncy white­wa­ter, ex­plore craggy peaks, hike through alpine val­leys or soak in hot springs in Nááts’ihch’oh Na­tional Park Re­serve, the ter­ri­tory’s new­est na­tional park, dur­ing guided or self-guided trips.

Old Town Pad­dle & Co. of­fers stand-up pad­dle board­ing, an­other way to ex­pe­ri­ence

the wa­ter on lo­cal rivers and lakes near Yel­lowknife (www.old­town­pad­dle.com).

Learn about lo­cal ge­ol­ogy and medic­i­nal plants dur­ing in­ter­pre­tive hikes around Yel­lowknife with Strong In­ter­pre­ta­tion (www.vis­i­tyel­lowknife.com).

CITY LIGHTS

Ex­plore Yel­lowknife, the ter­ri­to­rial cap­i­tal, on foot (www.vis­i­tyel­lowknife.com). En­joy a 360-de­gree view of Yel­lowknife Bay and sur­round­ing Old Town from the top of the Bush Pi­lots’ Mon­u­ment. Take a boat tour of Yel­lowknife Bay, home to North Amer­ica’s most northerly house­boat com­mu­nity. Sand­blast a north­ern mo­tif on re­cy­cled glass dur­ing a work­shop at Old Town Glass­works (www.old­town­glass­works.com). A Yel­lowknife Farm­ers’ Mar­ket is held weekly down­town through­out the sum­mer. The Prince of Wales North­ern Her­itage Cen­tre pro­vides a peek into north­ern cul­ture (www.pwnhc.ca). Next door, the North­west Ter­ri­to­ries Leg­isla­tive Assem­bly of­fers guided and au­dio tours (www. assem­bly.gov.nt.ca/vis­i­tors).

THE GREAT OUT­DOORS

Choose from front-coun­try camp­sites and hikes to back­coun­try day hikes and epic multi-week back­coun­try ex­pe­ri­ences in the ter­ri­tory’s five na­tional parks and 34 ter­ri­to­rial parks (www.nwt­parks.ca). The his­toric Canol Her­itage Trail near Nor­man Wells is a very re­mote, ex­tremely rugged and rigourous hike (www.nor­man­wells mu­seum.com/the-sathu/canol-her­itage­trail). Op­por­tu­ni­ties for guided or self-guided pad­dling and raft­ing trips are plen­ti­ful along one of the N.W.T.’s his­toric rivers in­clud­ing the chal­leng­ing Cop­per­mine River, the me­an­der­ing Thom­sen River and the Slave River’s world-renowned white wa­ter (www.spec­tac­u­larnwt.com/what-to-do/ sum­mer-ad­ven­ture/pad­dling). En­joy fish­ing day trips with an out­fit­ter or a multi-day pack­age ex­pe­ri­ence at a wilder­ness lodge.

The ter­ri­tory’s wildlife has a sched­ule all its own, but look for nest­ing pel­i­cans on rocky out­crops in the rapids near Fort Smith. Keep an eye out for free-roam­ing bi­son in Wood Buf­falo Na­tional Park and the Macken­zie Bi­son Sanc­tu­ary near Fort Prov­i­dence. Dall sheep and moun­tain goats travel on the craggy slopes of the Macken­zie Moun­tains. Pre­his­toric-look­ing muskox roam around Banks Is­land. Black bears, moose, caribou and griz­zly bears also call the N.W.T. home. See pere­grine fal­cons, ea­gles and gry­fal­cons—the of­fi­cial N.W.T. bird. You never know when they may ap­pear on your jour­ney—and theirs.

HER­ITAGE AND CUL­TURE

Ex­pe­ri­ence lo­cal mu­sic and cul­ture such as jig­ging, drum­ming, drum danc­ing and Dene hand games at com­mu­nity events. Make your own crafts dur­ing artist-led work­shops at Inu­vik’s renowned Great North­ern Arts Fes­ti­val (www.gnaf.org). Learn about lo­cal his­tory at the Nor­man Wells His­tor­i­cal Cen­tre (www.nor­man­wellsmu­seum.com/ vis­i­tor-cen­tre), the North­ern Life Mu­seum and Cul­tural Cen­tre (www.nlmcc.ca) and the Prince of Wales North­ern Her­itage Cen­tre. Pur­chase Dene, Inu­vialuit and Métis crafts at vis­i­tor cen­tres, mu­se­ums and shops. Feel the cash­mere soft­ness of a sweater that a lo­cal artist knit­ted from qiviut, wool that was har­vested from shaggy muskox near Sachs Har­bour. Ad­mire carv­ings made of soap­stone, bone or antler and cre­ated by north­ern artists. Buy a Dene birch­bark bas­ket at the Acho Dene Na­tive Crafts store made by women in Fort Liard. The Inu­vialuit Re­gional Cor­po­ra­tion Craft Store in Inu­vik has a good se­lec­tion of lo­cally made moc­casins, carv­ings, jew­ellery, crafts and some tra­di­tional food.

QUICK FACT NORTH­WEST TER­RI­TO­RIES HAS NO PO­LIT­I­CAL PAR­TIES. IN ELEC­TIONS, PEO­PLE VOTE FOR CAN­DI­DATES BY NAME. THE MLAS

THEN VOTE FOR WHO WILL BE PRE­MIER.

MUST SEE, MUST DO

In spring, watch some 4,500 semido­mes­ti­cated rein­deer be­ing herded across the Inu­vik-to-Tuk­toy­ak­tuk ice road to their sum­mer graz­ing grounds.

Dur­ing the sum­mer, eat lo­cally sourced rein­deer dishes and fish and chips cooked in­side a con­verted school bus at Ales­tine’s and served on a ter­race over­look­ing the Macken­zie River in Inu­vik north of the Arc­tic Cir­cle.

Travel along the edge of scenic Yel­lowknife Bay in a 12-per­son voyageur ca­noe for a Float­ing Din­ner Theatre ex­pe­ri­ence in the sum­mer with Nar­wal North­ern Ad­ven­tures. Feast on a tra­di­tional meal of soup and ban­nock, ac­com­pa­nied by lively en­ter­tain­ment (www.nar­wal.ca/tours).

Get a bird’s-eye view of the land­scape dur­ing a flight­see­ing tour (www.spec­tac­u­lar nwt.com/what-to-do/cul­ture-and-tour­ing/ flight­see­ing).

SCENIC DRIVES

Travel through two moun­tain ranges and the Con­ti­nen­tal Di­vide, then take your photo at the Arc­tic Cir­cle when you drive the iconic 740-km (460-mi.) Dempster High­way from Daw­son City, Yukon to Inu­vik (www.trave­lyukon.com/Plan/Itin­er­ar­ies/ Iconic-Drives/Drive-the-Dempster).

By late 2017, you will be able to drive all the way to the tiny com­mu­nity of Tuk­toy­ak­tuk on the Arc­tic Ocean. That’s when a per­ma­nent road is ex­pected to link Inu­vik and “Tuk” —as it is known to lo­cals. Un­til then, make like an ice road trucker when you drive the 185-km (115-mi.) win­ter road that’s open from De­cem­ber to April. There are also win­ter roads that link Det­tah to Yel­lowknife, Fort Simp­son to com­mu­ni­ties in the Macken­zie Val­ley, and Fort Smith to Fort Chipewyan, AB.

FAM­ILY FUN

Climb into a sled and lis­ten to the sounds of ex­cited huskies bark­ing with an­tic­i­pa­tion. Then si­lence de­scends when you hit the trail and feel the power of a team of dogs pulling you through the for­est dur­ing a dogsled­ding ex­cur­sion (www.spec­tac­u­lar nwt.com/what-to-do/win­ter-ad­ven­ture/ dogsled­ding). In sum­mer, the Great

North­ern Arts Fes­ti­val of­fers work­shops for both kids and adults.

NAHANNI NA­TIONAL PARK RE­SERVE • PARKS CANADA/F. MUELLER

44,500

Yel­lowknife

www.spec­tac­u­larnwt.com

Direct flights to Yel­lowknife Air­port de­part from Ed­mon­ton, Cal­gary, Ot­tawa and White­horse

Yel­lowknife Air­port is 5 km (3 mi.) from down­town

YEL­LOWKNIFE • CTC

SPE­CIAL EVENTS JAN­UARY

• INU­VIK SUN­RISE FES­TI­VAL

MARCH

• LONG JOHN JAM­BOREE, YEL­LOWKNIFE • PO­LAR POND HOCKEY TOUR­NA­MENT,

HAY RIVER

• SNOWKING WIN­TER FES­TI­VAL,

YEL­LOWKNIFE

• THEBACHA SKI LOPPET, FORT SMITH

APRIL

• MUSKRAT JAM­BOREE, INU­VIK

JUNE

• NA­TIONAL ABO­RIG­I­NAL DAY,

TER­RI­TORY-WIDE

• NORTHWORDS WRIT­ERS FES­TI­VAL,

YEL­LOWKNIFE

JULY

• FOLK ON THE ROCKS MU­SIC FES­TI­VAL,

YEL­LOWKNIFE

• GREAT NORTH­ERN ARTS FES­TI­VAL, INU­VIK • OPEN SKY FES­TI­VAL, FORT SIMP­SON

AU­GUST

• FORT SMITH SUM­MER SPLASH ARTS

FES­TI­VAL

• MID­WAY LAKE MU­SIC FES­TI­VAL, FORT

MCPHER­SON

• SLAVE RIVER PADDLEFEST, FORT SMITH • THEBACHA & WOOD BUF­FALO DARK SKY

FES­TI­VAL

www.nwtarts.com/events

NA­TIVE SCULP­TURE, YEL­LOWKNIFE • CTC

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