Canada
Northwest Territories

Here you’ll find travel reports about Northwest Territories. Discover travel destinations in Canada of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

10 travelers at this place:

  • Day149

    To the top of the world

    February 6 in Canada

    For work, I'm heading to the Top of the World, or as it's also known, Inuvik. I'm not sure how it named itself this, but that is the slogan for this little city on the edge of the Arctic Ocean in the Northwest Territories. It was a planned community built in the 1950s. Now, it boasts over 3000 permanent inhabitants and has a famous church that people come to see.

    To get here from Nunavut, well Igloolik specifically, is a journey. I'm on day 3 and should be landing in about an hour. The remoteness of all the towns in between mean there isn't much choice in flights. One gets canceled and you're not moving for the rest of the day. Try again tomorrow.

    I have gotten to see things I didn't know I was missing. Like trees. I have not seen a shrub or tree in 5 months. Growing up in a place where people came as tourist FOR the trees, being in barrenground surroundings is different. I saw buildings over 4 stories tall. I saw a semi truck.

    All of this was in Yellowknife, the capital of the Northwest Territories. It's HUGE. Around 30,000 people. There are roads that lead to Yellowknife so goods and services are much more readily available. There are even car dealerships there! Real highways and speed limit signs. So much pavement everywhere. I did not know I had become so used to life in Igloolik. What would someone think who had lived entirely in Igloolik to move and live in, say, Ottawa? It's one thing to know something. It's another to experience it. I knew what real markets in Asia or Africa consisted of, but there is no way to understand until you've experienced it.

    The internet! Oh god the internet!! It was so fast in Yellowknife. So incredibly fast. Pictures just popped up. Webpages loaded instantly. And this was with me just on the 4G mobile network. I cannot even remember the speed of a cable network. Faster than you can click!

    I met a friend at the hotel lounge last night and I reveled in sharing a drink with her. I reveled in seeing the menu items that had words like, "pecan", "jalapeno", "sweet potato fries".

    I also reveled in the soft soft bristles of my toothbrush this morning. In Igloolik, the mineral content (really, I don't know what it is, I just tell myself this so I don't freak out) of the water is so great that every time I go to brush my teeth, the bristles have hardened into little pillars of concrete so that you have to break them on your teeth. It is not a comforting feeling. At first I thought that somehow I'd become a failure at rinsing my toothbrush after years of managing to do a pretty good job. Only after several days of deliberate, thorough, obsessive rinsing, did I realize it was the water and not me. So, to wake up in Yellowknife and brush my teeth without first having to overcome the "crunchiness" was a lovely, appreciate pleasure.

    I've also quite enjoyed the mild -25C weather in Yellowknife. It feels great. Coming from -40C (which is also-40 F because that is where the two measures meet) with a brutal wind, -25 feels downright tolerable and nice. To be able to have my hands out for more than 30 seconds without intense pain is wonderful. To not feel as if my cheeks are being burned by a hot poker is just relaxing. In Inuvik, it's supposed to be even milder in the -teens. In Fahrenheit, that equates to about 0 or even +2/3 degrees. I have brought my bathing suit.

    So, my message to you, my friends, as I finalize day 3 of travel to the top of the world, is to look around and be thankful for that soft toothbrush, internet, and the fact you can get to Africa faster than I can get to a city in the same country as I live.
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  • Day159

    Inuvik

    February 16 in Canada

    After 3 days, I made it to Inuvik and I was not disappointed. Recently, an extension of the road, which is partly on ice, was finished to Tuktoyaktuk (yep, it's as fun to say as it is to read!) so Inuvik sees tourism in the summer and now winter.

    As I mentioned before, the town has about 3200 people. Unlike Nunavut communities, there is road access to Inuvik. The difference that makes is profound. Whether it's a 'good' or 'bad' difference is debatable.

    There are many clear effects of being "accessible" for so many years. There is a lot of diversity. The Aboriginal/Native/Inuit/Inupiat people do not make up a majority of the inhabitants. There are people from everywhere up there. Everyone speaks very good English. Again, it depends on your end goal as to whether this is positive or negative.

    Personally, I was having a ball walking on sidewalks and having a library to wander into. I enjoyed such conveniences as a convenience store. Yes, those little entities that have nearly anything you'd want and need for your convenience at any time of the day. I stood around like the Clampett's on their first foray into Beverly Hills. There was cinnamon spice tea, black beans, whipped cream and other such luxuries. Coriander spice. A bit overwhelming actually. I dragged myself out with only about $30 of "conveniences". lol

    The town also boasted some of the creepiest friendly people I've ever met. I was starting to expect to be ushered into the famous church and invited to drink the KoolAid or something. I do not think I passed one person on the street that did not either smile or vocally say hello. Again, a little overwhelming. I mean, I'm kinda used to that stuff from growing up in the famously hospitable U.S. south, and even I was freaked out. However, it did have a great side effect....I smiled in return and thought, "Wow, what a fun little town." lol.

    Compounding all these great little hellos and conveniences was the fact that it was WARM! I didn't wear my parka, ski pants, mitts, or neck gaiter once the whole week. I was able to move freely and happily about in my hiking boots and fleece with down zip up. This is big yall!! I felt so free and light! To be able to just walk out the door without making a federal project of getting protected (I don't think the work "dressed" fits here---it's really much more about protection).

    Each morning I made my way to a nearby restaurant. Yes, RESTAURANT! With like, real glasses and menu options. I had the eggs benedict basically every single day. One day even with fruit! I made myself sick on the cherry tomatoes brought in for our afternoon snack during the meetings. They were so good that after putting a normal reasonable amount on my plate, I slunk back to the back of the room and proceeded to gorge myself on them like a starving chipmunk. Apparently, they are acidic. Apparently, pH balance of your stomach is a thing. Ouch. But so YUM.

    Stuck in Inuvik an extra day because of lack of flights, I explored their interpretive walking tour and met more friendly people, had lunch with the elders and got invited into a cribbage tournament.
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  • Day72

    Madeline Lake, NWT

    August 8, 2017 in Canada

    And so we arrive at our second placement - just a short plane ride over to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. We purposefully picked a few places up north that were quite remote - it's a part of Canada we were really keen to visit, but it's not that easy to do on the cheap. Wwoofing seemed like a good option. Although Yellowknife itself is fairly isolated and remote, it's big enough that we didn't feel at all isolated even out of town on Madeline Lake.

    Our host, France, lives 25km out of Yellowknife on the road to nowhere in the summer, but extends to an iceroad in winter! Her farm is immediately impressive - up here, soil is hard to come by so all the beds are contained and artificial with a lot of effort going into creating good soil for growing. Which France and Marie (her business partner) do in abundance! We couldn't even count the number of beds or types of produce they're growing, but the whole thing took the two of us 3 hours to water everyday if that gives you an idea of the scale!

    France and Marie sell their wares (produce, cheese, baked goods) at the Yellowknife Farmer's Market once a week. We were parachuted right into the market as soon as we stepped off the plane and to say we were impressed is an understatement! It's a huge affair with 30-40 stalls all selling a wide wide variety of foods. It's a really popular social event too and hundreds of people turn up each week. France and Marie have a queue every week at least 10 minutes before the starter bell goes and there can be some tension in the queue as to who gets the beautiful Romanesco! France is currently the president of the market and she founded it 5 years ago amid conversations about food security in NWT. She's a great activist and well known figure in Yellowknife! We even met someone in the Rockies who knew her!

    We learnt a hell of a lot from France and Marie about growing and have taken plenty of ideas for ourselves. Marie has signed up along with Cory to come and set up our farm for us when we get back to the UK :) We were fortunate to be there when all the produce was reaching full growth and we really really enjoyed picking and preparing the produce for market. But I think we have a long road ahead of us before our growing can match theirs!
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  • Day76

    Yellowknife, NWT

    August 12, 2017 in Canada

    Yellowknife has not had the greatest recommendations from most people we spoke to before we arrived. The Northwest Territories has rave reviews, but not so much its provincial capital. It's pretty industrial, being built around the mining industry, but definitely has its charm. The farmer's market is a real hub of activity, the bars and restaurants are plentiful, have a good atmosphere and serve great beer and food. They even have a pretty big local baseball scene - Marie being the star player :)
    It also has a great health service which we had the unfortunate opportunity to sample when Maddie went in for emergency surgery to remove some painful ovarian cysts. It could have been a very scary time in terms of health and expense (we did think it might be the end of our trip a couple of times), but the care we received was just fantastic. Get sick in Yellowknife everyone!
    It's also apparently one of the best spots to view the northern lights which we didn't know before we got here! Even in August, we saw it several times very clearly! It's a place that transforms in the winter - the lakes completely freeze (including Great Slave I think which is the size of the south east of England!) opening up the iceroads and tons of winter sports! Would love to come back in March which is the party month apparently. It's cold, but not as inhospitable as people think. Although I'm sure that's a secret Yellowknifers want to keep to themselves!
    It has its fair share of wildlife.. we were visited by a few bears whilst at Madeline Lake who were after France's compost, came too close to a howling coyote on the highway at 1am, watched the eagle's, ospreys and beavers on the lake, got woken up a rowdy family of lynx and heard tales of wolf packs terrorising and befriending the dogs!
    One very sinister aspect to the area is the legacy the huge gold mine has left - tons of poisonous arsenic spewed into the atmosphere, polluting the lakes. It's an incredibly sad story which has a lasting legacy. Millions of tons of arsenic are being contained below ground at great expense. If it ever leaks out, best case scenario it makes the area uninhabitable, worst case.. well there's enough to kill every human on the planet several times over. Arsenic will never decay either so it's here to stay. For ever and ever and ever...
    But it's pretty safe right now and perfectly fine for a visit! Forget freezing nights watching a cloudy sky in Iceland - get to Yellowknife!
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  • Day80

    Pontoon Lake, NWT

    August 16, 2017 in Canada

    So after being at France's house on Madeline Lake, we were asked by France's neighbours Laurie and Francois if we could house sit for them 1km up the road on another lake called Pontoon Lake. Well, after driving past the house on our way to Whisky Wednesday we jumped at the chance. Yes please! "Oh, we don't want to put you out", said Laurie. Trust me you are not putting us out. I mean, basically two houses, a sauna cabin and the lake to ourselves, for swimming, fishing, paddling, canoeing etc. The only thing we had to do was look after the dogs. Scott and Siku. Scott was the older of the two and although Siku had the biggest jealous streak ever, he was the boss and the leader. We were told by Laurie that the dogs would often walk down the highway or through the forest to the other side of Madeline Lake 4km away. Of the nearly 3 weeks we were at the house, we drove down and picked the dogs up 5 or 6 times. They even arrived at France's farm a few times looking very pleased with themselves that they had found us. They really were one of the highlights of our stay and we were sad to leave them behind. I joked that I had their passports. It was also comforting having them with us on there daily walks in the bear/wolf/lynx inhabited forests and back end of nowhere, even if the split second we turned to head home, Scott would take that as a cue to head straight on home leaving us at the mercy of the bears! During the second week we had to rush into hospital for Maddie and after a couple of long midnight drives back to Yellowknife stopping to see the northern lights and coyotes yapping, it was decided Maddie would need an operation. Again, thanks for the comfort of the house on Pontoon Lake for her recovery.
    It was the perfect spot to view the aurora, but we never thought we'd have a chance to see in august. How wrong we were, seeing it almost every night for about a week! A thrilling and emotional experience to see the bright green lights glowing and then waving like tentacles across the sky.
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  • Day2

    Happy Canada Day!

    July 1 in Canada

    As part of this adventure we get to celebrate Canada’s 151st birthday in Yellowknife. The day starts off with a parade through downtown… red and white everywhere. After the parade we went for lunch at The Wildcat Café [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wildcat_Cafe]. This restaurant is the oldest in Yellowknife and is only open during the summer months, it has an interesting history and a great menu. Following lunch we walked up the hill to visit the Bush Pilots' Monument and had a great view of the houseboats. We continued our tour by the Yellowknife Wharf, the Bank of Toronto Building, and then a driving tour of more of Old Town, Latham Island and City Centre. We stopped at the Visitor Centre and got our Yellowknife pin. On our way home we also drove by the location of Sarah and Stewart’s new house. Once back at home we enjoyed dinner and some beers and played a wild game of Yahtzee!Read more

  • Day1

    Sarah and Stewart's house... After dropping off our luggage we went for a beer flight at the NWT Brewing Co. [www.nwtbrewingco.com] (great first stop). After that we picked up some groceries and returned home to make dinner and visit.

  • Day3

    Yellowknife Day 2

    July 2 in Canada

    With partly clouding skies overhead we headed out for some more touring. We stopped at the Welcome to Yellowknife sign and Bristol Freighter Historical Airplane. We then drove out to the Yellowknife Giant Mine and Boat Launch. We returned to downtown to have lunch at Boston Pizza. After a quick stop back at home to grab some fishing gear we got some ice cream and headed out to the Yellowknife River Bridge. Stewart and the boys cast a few lines in the river and Oliver caught a fish, but it got away before he could reel it in.
    Our day wound down back at Sarah and Stewart’s with some dinner, repacking and relaxing. Alarm was set and we got tucked in. Tomorrow is on its way!
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  • Day59

    Dempster Part 2

    July 15 in Canada

    Ted the Truck was repaired and we were back on the road within 24 hours after the breakdown. A big shout out to Mark Heynen at Centennial Motors in Whitehorse for fitting us in, getting the repairs done quickly and double checking the remaining tires to make sure we were safe.

    Then it was back up the highway to pick up the trailer from where it had been left, and onwards to Dawson to order a winter parka and then back down to the beginning of the Dempster Highway. It was interesting to see the difference the month had made to the landscape. It was noticeably greener for a start and less snow!

    As the day wore on we were trying to gauge whether or not we were going to make both ferry crossings (the tourist information we had received indicated that the last ferry crossings were at 12:30 a.m.). That information was wrong. We managed to make the first crossing at Fort McPherson but alas, by arriving at Tsiigehtchic at 11:35 we were 5 minutes late at the second crossing (yes the sign there was correct) and watched the ferry land on the other side of the river. All I will say is that it was interesting watching the sun go behind the hills across the river, skirt along them and then begin to come up again and that the fox family (mom and 4 kits) were awfully cute at 4:00 a.m. By the way, the first crossing is 8:30 a.m.

    We rolled into Inuvik about 2 hours later.
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  • Day63

    Well what a good week to arrive in Inuvik! The Great Northern Arts Festival is going on all week and will be culminating this coming weekend during Inuvik’s 60th anniversary celebrations.

    So while Kyle has had to go to work and slave away, I have been busy at the arts festival! One of the artists teaching a workshop at the festival happened to be camping at the next camp site over from us. She and her husband had lived in the NWT for about 40 years and have only recently retired to their current home down south. I was late to the festival Monday so only had a short time to familiarize myself with the goings on. But, since then...

    I have had wonderful chats with some of the artists and have learned how to make an elegant porcupine quill bracelet. I am presently learning how to bead using tanned moosehide, seal hide and beads, and was lucky enough to be offered some muktuk! I would show you a picture of the moose hair tufted broach I am making but after thinking I had almost completed it, the artist teaching me was testing the “tufts” to make sure they were secure and.... they were not. The tufting pulled out and I watched about two hours of work fall apart. 😞

    I have yet to make it to the carvers’ tent!
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Northwest Territories, NT, Territoires du Nord-Ouest, Territórios do Noroeste

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