The Northwest Territories (NT or NWT; French: les Territoires du Nord-Ouest, TNO; Athabaskan languages: Denendeh; Inuinnaqtun: Nunatsiaq; Inuktitut: ᓄᓇᑦᓯᐊᖅ) is a federal territory of Canada. At a land area of approximately 1,144,000 km2 (442,000 sq mi) and a 2016 census population of 41,786, it is the second-largest and the most populous of the three territories in Northern Canada. Its estimated population as of 2018 is 44,445. Yellowknife became the territorial capital in 1967, following recommendations by the Carrothers Commission.
The Northwest Territories, a portion of the old North-Western Territory, entered the Canadian Confederation on July 15, 1870, but the current borders were formed on April 1, 1999, when the territory was subdivided to create Nunavut to the east, via the Nunavut Act and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. While Nunavut is mostly Arctic tundra, the Northwest Territories has a slightly warmer climate and is both boreal forest (taiga), and tundra, and its most northern regions form part of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.
(No official motto)
|Confederation||July 15, 1870 (Hudson's Bay Company cedes territory to Canada) (6th)|
|• Commissioner||Margaret Thom|
|• Premier||Bob McLeod (consensus government)|
|Legislature||Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories|
|Federal representation||(in Canadian Parliament)|
|House seats||1 of 338 (0.3%)|
|Senate seats||1 of 105 (1%)|
|• Total||1,346,106 km2 (519,734 sq mi)|
|• Land||1,183,085 km2 (456,792 sq mi)|
|• Water||163,021 km2 (62,943 sq mi) 12.1%|
|Area rank||Ranked 3rd|
|13.5% of Canada|
|• Total||41,786 |
| • Estimate |
|• Rank||Ranked 11th|
|• Density||0.04/km2 (0.1/sq mi)|
|• Total (2011)||C$4.791 billion|
|• Per capita||C$108,394 (1st)|
|Postal code prefix||X0, X1 (Yellowknife)|
|ISO 3166 code||CA-NT|
|Rankings include all provinces and territories|
The name is descriptive, adopted by the British government during the colonial era to indicate where it lay in relation to Rupert's Land. It is shortened from North-Western Territory (see History). In Inuktitut, the Northwest Territories are referred to as ᓄᓇᑦᓯᐊᖅ (Nunatsiaq), "beautiful land."
There was some discussion of changing the name of the Northwest Territories after the splitting off of Nunavut, possibly to a term from an Aboriginal language. One proposal was "Denendeh" (an Athabaskan language word meaning "our land"), as advocated by the former premier Stephen Kakfwi, among others. One of the most popular proposals for a new name – one to name the territory "Bob" – began as a prank, but for a while it was at or near the top in the public-opinion polls.
In the end, a poll conducted prior to division showed that strong support remained to keep the name "Northwest Territories". This name arguably became more appropriate following division than it had been when the territories extended far into Canada's north-central and northeastern areas.
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. It possibly meets Manitoba at a quadripoint to the extreme southeast, though surveys have not been completed. It has a land area of 1,183,085 km2 (456,792 sq mi).
Geographical features include Great Bear Lake, the largest lake entirely within Canada, and Great Slave Lake, the deepest body of water in North America at 614 m (2,014 ft), as well as the Mackenzie River and the canyons of the Nahanni National Park Reserve, a national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Territorial islands in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago include Banks Island, Borden Island, Prince Patrick Island, and parts of Victoria Island and Melville Island. Its highest point is Mount Nirvana near the border with Yukon at an elevation of 2,773 m (9,098 ft).
The Northwest Territories extends for more than 1,300,000 km2 (500,000 sq mi) and has a large climate variant from south to north. The southern part of the territory (most of the mainland portion) has a subarctic climate, while the islands and northern coast have a polar climate.
Summers in the north are short and cool, with daytime highs of 14-17 Celsius (60° to 70 °F), and lows of 1-5 Celsius (45° to 55 °F). Winters are long and harsh, daytime highs in the mid −20 °C (−4 °F) and lows around −40 °C (−40 °F). Extremes are common with summer highs in the south reaching 36 °C (97 °F) and lows reaching into the negatives. In winter in the south, it is not uncommon for the temperatures to reach −40 °C (−40 °F), but they can also reach the low teens during the day. In the north, temperatures can reach highs of 30 °C (86 °F), and lows can reach into the low negatives. In winter in the north it is not uncommon for the temperatures to reach −50 °C (−58 °F) but they can also reach the single digits during the day. Thunderstorms are not rare in the south. In the north they are very rare, but do occur. Tornadoes are extremely rare but have happened with the most notable one happening just outside Yellowknife that destroyed a communications tower. The Territory has a fairly dry climate due to the mountains in the west.
About half of the territory is above the tree line. There are not many trees in most of the eastern areas of the territory, or in the north islands.
|City||July (°C)||July (°F)||January (°C)||January (°F)|
The present-day territory came under government authority in July 1870, after the Hudson's Bay Company transferred Rupert's Land and the North-Western Territory to the British Crown, which subsequently transferred them to Canada, giving it the name the North-west Territories. This immense region comprised all of today's Canada except that which was encompassed within the early signers of Canadian Confederation, that is, British Columbia, early forms of present-day Ontario and Quebec (which encompassed the coast of the Great Lakes, the Saint Lawrence River valley and the southern third of Quebec), the Maritimes (NS, PEI and NB), Newfoundland, the Labrador coast, and the Arctic Islands, except the southern half of Baffin Island (the Arctic Islands remained under direct British claim until 1880).
The first residential school opened in 1867 in Fort Resolution, followed by several others in regions across the territory, thus contributing to the Northwest Territories reaching the highest percentage of students in residential schools of any area in Canada.
After the 1870 transfer, some of the North-west Territories was whittled away. The province of Manitoba was created on July 15, 1870, at first a small square area around Winnipeg, and then enlarged in 1881 to a larger rectangular region composing the modern province's south. By the time British Columbia joined Confederation on July 20, 1871, it had already (1866) been granted the portion of North-Western Territory south of 60 degrees north and west of 120 degrees west, an area that comprised most of the Stickeen Territories.
In the meantime, the Province of Ontario was enlarged northwestward in 1882. Quebec was also extended northwards in 1898. Yukon was made a separate territory that year, due to the Klondike Gold Rush, to free the North-west Territories government in Regina from the burden of addressing the problems caused by the sudden boom of population and economic activity, and the influx of non-Canadians.
The provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan were created in 1905. In 1906, the Parliament of Canada renamed the "North-West Territories" as the Northwest Territories, dropping all hyphenated forms of it.
Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec acquired the last addition to their modern landmass from the Northwest Territories in 1912. This left only the districts of Mackenzie, Franklin (which absorbed the remnants of Ungava in 1920), and Keewatin within what was then given the name Northwest Territories. In 1925, the boundaries of the Northwest Territories were extended all the way to the North Pole on the sector principle, vastly expanding its territory onto the northern ice cap. Between 1925 and 1999, the Northwest Territories covered a land area of 3,439,296 km2 (1,327,920 sq mi) – larger than that of India.
Population of the Northwest Territories since 1871
|Rank among provinces|
The largest denominations by number of adherents according to the 2001 census were Roman Catholic with 16,940 (46.7%); the Anglican Church of Canada with 5,510 (14.9%); and the United Church of Canada with 2,230 (6.0%), while a total of 6,465 (17.4%) people stated no religion.
French was made an official language in 1877 by the territorial government. After a lengthy and bitter debate resulting from a speech from the throne in 1888 by Lieutenant Governor Joseph Royal the members of the day voted on more than one occasion to nullify that and make English the only language used in the assembly. After some conflict with the Confederation Government in Ottawa, and a decisive vote on January 19, 1892, the assembly members voted for an English-only territory.
NWT residents have a right to use any of the above languages in a territorial court, and in the debates and proceedings of the legislature. However, the laws are legally binding only in their French and English versions, and the NWT government only publishes laws and other documents in the territory's other official languages when the legislature asks it to. Furthermore, access to services in any language is limited to institutions and circumstances where there is a significant demand for that language or where it is reasonable to expect it given the nature of the services requested. In practical terms, English language services are universally available, and there is no guarantee that other languages, including French, will be used by any particular government service, except for the courts.
The 2016 census returns showed a population of 41,786. Of the 40,565 singular responses to the census question regarding each inhabitant's "mother tongue", the most reported languages were the following (italics indicate an official language of the NWT):
|9||Slavey (not otherwise specified)||175||0.4%|
There were also 630 responses of both English and a "non-official language"; 35 of both French and a "non-official language"; 145 of both English and French, and about 400 people who either did not respond to the question, or reported multiple non-official languages, or else gave some other unenumerable response. The Northwest Territories' official languages are shown in bold.
(Figures shown are for the number of single language responses and the percentage of total single-language responses)
As of 2014 there are 33 official communities in the NWT. These range in size from Yellowknife with a population of 19,569 to Kakisa with 36 people. Governance of each community differs, some are run under various types of First Nations control, while others are designated as a city, town, village or hamlet, but most communities are municipal corporations. Yellowknife is the largest community and has the largest number of Aboriginal peoples, 4,520 (23.4%) people. However, Behchokǫ̀, with a population of 1,874, is the largest First Nations community, 1,696 (90.9%), and Inuvik with 3,243 people is the largest Inuvialuit community, 1,315 (40.5%). There is one Indian reserve in the NWT, Hay River Reserve, located on the south shore of the Hay River.
The NWT's geological resources include gold, diamonds, natural gas and petroleum. BP is the only oil company currently producing oil in the Territory. NWT diamonds are promoted as an alternative to purchasing blood diamonds. Two of the biggest mineral resource companies in the world, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto mine many of their diamonds from the NWT. In 2010, NWT accounted for 28.5% of Rio Tinto's total diamond production (3.9 million carats, 17% more than in 2009, from the Diavik Diamond Mine) and 100% of BHP's (3.05 million carats from the EKATI mine).
The Northwest Territories has the highest per capita GDP of all provinces or territories in Canada, C$76,000 in 2009. However, as production at the current mines started to wind down, no new mines opened and the public service shrank, the territory lost 1,200 jobs between November 2013 and November 2014.
As a territory, the NWT has fewer rights than the provinces. During his term, Premier Kakfwi pushed to have the federal government accord more rights to the territory, including having a greater share of the returns from the territory's natural resources go to the territory. Devolution of powers to the territory was an issue in the 20th general election in 2003, and has been ever since the territory began electing members in 1881.
The Commissioner of the NWT is the chief executive and is appointed by the Governor-in-Council of Canada on the recommendation of the federal Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. The position used to be more administrative and governmental, but with the devolution of more powers to the elected assembly since 1967, the position has become symbolic. The Commissioner had full governmental powers until 1980 when the territories were given greater self-government. The Legislative Assembly then began electing a cabinet and Government Leader, later known as the Premier. Since 1985 the Commissioner no longer chairs meetings of the Executive Council (or cabinet), and the federal government has instructed commissioners to behave like a provincial Lieutenant Governor. Unlike Lieutenant Governors, the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories is not a formal representative of the Queen of Canada.
Unlike provincial governments and the government of Yukon, the government of the Northwest Territories does not have political parties, except for the period between 1898 and 1905. It is a consensus government called the Legislative Assembly. This group is composed of one member elected from each of the nineteen constituencies. After each general election, the new Assembly elects the Premier and the Speaker by secret ballot. Seven MLAs are also chosen as cabinet ministers, with the remainder forming the opposition.
The current Legislative Assembly is the 18th and the most recent election was held November 23, 2015. The Premier is Bob McLeod. The member of Parliament for the Northwest Territories is Michael McLeod (Liberal Party). The Commissioner of the Northwest Territories is George Tuccaro and the Deputy Commissioner is Margaret Thom.
The Government of Northwest Territories comprises the following departments:
The Northwest Territories is divided into five administrative regions (with regional seat):
Exact regional borders are undefined.
Northwest Territories has eight numbered highways. The longest is the Mackenzie Highway which stretches from the Alberta Highway 35's northern terminus in the south at the Alberta – Northwest Territories border at the 60th parallel to Wrigley, Northwest Territories in the north. Ice roads and winter roads are also prominent and provide road access in winter to towns and mines which would otherwise be fly-in locations. Yellowknife Highway branches out from Mackenzie Highway and connects it to Yellowknife. Dempster Highway is the continuation of Klondike Highway. It starts just west of Dawson City, Yukon, and continues east for over 700 km (400 mi) to Inuvik.
Yellowknife did not have an all-season road access to the rest of Canada's highway network until the completion of Deh Cho Bridge in 2012. Prior to that, traffic relied on ferry service in summer and ice road in winter to cross the Mackenzie River. This became a problem during spring and fall time when the ice was not thick enough to handle vehicle load but the ferry could not pass through the ice, which would require all goods from fuel to groceries to be airlifted during the transition period.
Yellowknife Airport is the largest airport in the territory in terms of aircraft movements and passengers. It is the gateway airport to other destinations within the Northwest Territories. As the airport of the territory capital, it is part of the National Airports System. It is the hub of multiple regional airlines. Major airlines serving destinations within Northwest Territories include Buffalo Airways, Canadian North, First Air, North-Wright Airways.
Aboriginal issues in the Northwest Territories include the fate of the Dene who, in the 1940s, were employed to carry radioactive uranium ore from the mines on Great Bear Lake. Of the thirty plus miners who worked at the Port Radium site, at least fourteen have died due to various forms of cancer. A study was done in the community of Deline, called A Village of Widows by Cindy Kenny-Gilday, which indicated that the number of people involved were too small to be able to confirm or deny a link.
Land claims in the NWT began with the Inuvialuit Final Agreement, signed on June 5, 1984. It was the first Land Claim signed in the Territory, and the second in Canada. It culminated with the creation of the Inuit homeland of Nunavut, the result of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, the largest land claim in Canadian history.
Another land claims agreement with the Tłı̨chǫ people created a region within the NWT called Tli Cho, between Great Bear and Great Slave Lakes, which gives the Tłı̨chǫ their own legislative bodies, taxes, resource royalties, and other affairs, though the NWT still maintains control over such areas as health and education. This area includes two of Canada's three diamond mines at Ekati and Diavik.
During the winter, many international visitors go to Yellowknife to watch the auroras.
Aulavik National Park is in the northern part of Northwest Territories.
Borden Island is an uninhabited, low-lying island in the Queen Elizabeth Islands of northern Canada.Commissioner of the Northwest Territories
The Commissioner of the Northwest Territories (French: Commissaire des Territoires du Nord-Ouest) is the Government of Canada's representative in the Northwest Territories. Similar in certain functions to a lieutenant governor, the commissioner swears in the members of the legislative assembly, swears in members of the executive council, assents to bills, opens sessions of the legislative assembly, and signs other government documents such as Orders in Council.
Earlier commissioners were mostly deputy ministers in various ministries (Minister of the Interior, Mines, Mines and Resources).
As commissioners are appointed by the Government of Canada, they are not a vice-regal representative in the territory—that is, unlike in Canada's provinces, there is no such thing as a "territorial Crown" analogous to the provincial Crowns. The commissioner represents the federal government and must follow any instructions of the Cabinet or the relevant federal minister, currently the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs.
Since 1980, the territories have had self-government, with the legislature choosing a government leader or premier, in addition to electing members of parliament to the Parliament of Canada.Demographics of Northwest Territories
The Northwest Territories is a territory of Canada. It has an area of 1,171,918 square kilometres and a population of 41,786 as of the 2016 Census.Eglinton Island
Eglinton Island an uninhabited island of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago in the Northwest Territories, Canada. Eglinton is one of the Queen Elizabeth Islands. Located at 75°48'N 118°30'W, it measures 1,541 km2 (595 sq mi) in size, 73 kilometres (45 mi) long and 44 kilometres (27 mi) wide in measurements. It lies on the north side of the M'Clure Strait, just south of the much larger Prince Patrick Island and is uninhabited with no known human activity.
The first European sighting of Eglinton Island was in 1853 by George Mecham, and explored by him and Francis Leopold McClintock in the spring of that year.Emerald Isle (Northwest Territories)
Emerald Isle is one of the Canadian arctic islands, specifically of the Parry Islands subgroup of the Queen Elizabeth Islands. It belongs to the Northwest Territories, Canada. It has an area of 549 km2 (212 sq mi) and measures 36 kilometres (22 mi) long and 22 kilometres (14 mi) wide.History of the Northwest Territories
The History of the Northwest Territories begins with the population of the region by First Nations peoples, and proceeds through the transformation of it into provinces and territories of the nation of Canada, including the modern administrative unit of the Northwest Territories. When Europeans settlers began to divide the continent, the Northwest Territories included much of the sparsely populated regions of what is now western Canada. Over time, the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba were formed out of the territories. In 1898, the Yukon territory became a separate entity and in 1999 Nunavut was formed from the eastern section.Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories
The Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories, or Legislative Council of the Northwest Territories, is the legislature and the seat of government of Northwest Territories in Canada. It is a unicameral elected body that creates and amends law in the Northwest Territories. Permanently located in Yellowknife since 1993, the assembly was founded in 1870 and became active in 1872 with the first appointments from the Government of Canada.
Under the Northwest Territories Act, the assembly is officially defined under federal law as "Legislative Council". However, under Northwest Territories territorial law, it is defined as "Legislative Assembly". Under different periods of its history it has alternated names.List of National Historic Sites of Canada in the Northwest Territories
This is a list of National Historic Sites (French: Lieux historiques nationaux du Canada) in the territory of Northwest Territories. There are 12 National Historic Sites designated in the Northwest Territories, of which one (Sahoyúé-§ehdacho) is administered by Parks Canada (identified below by the beaver icon ). The first National Historic Site to be designated in the Northwest Territories was Parry's Rock Wintering Site in 1930.
A number of National Historic Events also occurred in the Northwest Territories, and are identified at places associated with them, using the same style of federal plaque which marks National Historic Sites. Several National Historic Persons are commemorated in the same way. The markers do not indicate which designation—a Site, Event, or Person—a subject has been given.
This list uses names designated by the national Historic Sites and Monuments Board, which may differ from other names for these sites.List of Northwest Territories general elections
This is a list of territorial elections in Northwest Territories, Canada since 1870. The Northwest Territories operates on a consensus government using the First Past the Post electoral system. The territory does not presently recognize political parties.List of airports in the Northwest Territories
This is a complete list of airports, water aerodromes and heliports in the Northwest Territories, Canada.List of people from the Northwest Territories
This is a list of notable people who are from the Northwest Territories, Canada, or have spent a large part or formative part of their career in that territory.List of political parties in Canada
This article lists political parties in Canada.Mackenzie King Island
Mackenzie King Island is one of the Queen Elizabeth Islands in northern Canada. It lies north of Melville Island and south of Borden Island, and like them is divided. Most of the island is in Northwest Territories, while its easternmost portion lies in Nunavut. The border runs along the 110th meridian west.
Mackenzie King has an area of 5,048 km2 (1,949 sq mi), 60 miles (97 km) long in northeast or 47 miles (76 km) in southeast and 60 miles (97 km) wide, making it the 116th largest island in the world, and Canada's 26th largest island.Melville Island (Northwest Territories and Nunavut)
Melville Island is an uninhabited island of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago with an area of 42,149 km2 (16,274 sq mi). It is the 33rd largest island in the world and Canada's eighth largest island. Melville Island is shared by the Northwest Territories, which is responsible for the western half of the island, and Nunavut, which is responsible for the eastern half. The border runs along the 110th meridian west. The mountains on Melville Island, some of the largest in the western Canadian Arctic, reach heights of 1,000 m (3,300 ft). There are two subnational pene-exclaves that lie west of the 110th meridian and form part of the Northwest Territories. These can only be reached by land from Nunavut or boat from the Northwest Territories.Michael McLeod (politician)
Michael McLeod (born September 6, 1959) is the current Member of Canadian Parliament representing the Northwest Territories. He was first elected in 2015 Canadian federal election unseating Dennis Bevington, who was the former New Democratic Party MP for the riding. McLeod was a former member of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories, Canada, as well as the former mayor of Fort Providence.Politics of the Northwest Territories
The Politics of Northwest Territories involves not only the governance of the Northwest Territories but also the social, economic and political issues specific to the territory. This includes matters relating to local governance and governance by the federal government of Canada, the inclusion of the aboriginal population in territorial affairs, and the matter of official languages for the territory.
Key to the politics and governance of the Northwest Territories are the limits on the jurisdiction of the territorial government. Territories of Canada have no inherent jurisdiction and only have those powers delegated to them by the federal government. The devolution and delegation of power to the territory has always been a factor in the territory’s politics.
A hallmark of politics in the Northwest Territories is that it operates as under a “consensus government” system. Candidates for election to the territorial legislature do not stand as members of a political party. While some candidates may express an affiliation or membership with a party, party membership is not recognized in the legislature. As a result, the Members of the Legislative Assembly select a Premier by way of a secret ballot, rather than on the basis of party affiliation (see "Responsible government”).
Local governance has been a long-standing issue in the territory. This includes not only the loss of local government authority from the period from 1905 to 1951, when Ottawa asserted direct control over the governance of the territory, but also related matters of aboriginal self-governance and land claims. This latter issue lead, in part, to the division of the territory into the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
Language has also been a long-standing issue in Northwest Territory politics. French became an official language, along with English, in 1877. This resulted in heated debates in the territorial assembly and the establishment of English as the only official language until pressure from the federal government in the 1980s lead to not only the inclusion of French as an official language, but also nine aboriginal languages.Victoria Island (Canada)
Victoria Island (or Kitlineq) is a large island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago that straddles the boundary between Nunavut and the Northwest Territories of Canada. It is the eighth largest island in the world, and at 217,291 km2 (83,897 sq mi)1 in area, it is Canada's second largest island. It is nearly double the size of Newfoundland (111,390 km2 [43,008 sq mi]), and is slightly larger than the island of Great Britain (209,331 km2 [80,823 sq mi]) but smaller than Honshu (225,800 km2 [87,182 sq mi]). It contains the world's largest island within an island within an island. The western third of the island belongs to the Inuvik Region in the Northwest Territories; the remainder is part of Nunavut's Kitikmeot Region.Yellowknife
Yellowknife (English: ) is the capital and only city, as well as the largest community, in the Northwest Territories (NT or NWT), Canada. It is on the northern shore of Great Slave Lake, about 400 km (250 mi) south of the Arctic Circle, on the west side of Yellowknife Bay near the outlet of the Yellowknife River. Yellowknife and its surrounding water bodies were named after a local Dene tribe once known as the 'Copper Indians' or 'Yellowknife Indians', referred to locally as the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, who traded tools made from copper deposits near the Arctic Coast. Its population, which is ethnically mixed, was 19,569 in 2016. Of the eleven official languages of the Northwest Territories, five are spoken in significant numbers in Yellowknife: Dene Suline, Dogrib, South and North Slavey, English, and French. In the Dogrib language, the city is known as Sǫ̀mbak'è (Som-ba Kay) ("where the money is").The Yellowknife settlement is considered to have been founded in 1934, after gold was found in the area, although commercial activity in the present-day waterfront area did not begin until 1936. Yellowknife quickly became the centre of economic activity in the NWT, and was named the capital of the Northwest Territories in 1967. As gold production began to wane, Yellowknife shifted from being a mining town to a centre of government services in the 1980s. However, with the discovery of diamonds north of the city in 1991, this shift began to reverse. In recent years, tourism, transportation, and communications have also emerged as significant Yellowknife industries.
Subdivisions of the Northwest Territories
|Former census divisions|
|North Slave Region|
|South Slave Region|
(outside of communities)
|DEW line and NWS sites|
|Hudson's Bay Company|