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The Best 101 Guide to Northwest Territories of Canada

The northwest territories of Canada, or the Territoires du Nord-Ouest, are the Canadian federation’s federally recognized territory. In terms of its land, it is the second-largest territory of Canada. In terms of its population, the northwest territories have the highest population among all the three federal territories of northern Canada.

The official flower is the mountain avens.

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Image by Thomas B. from Pixabay

The capital of Northwest Territories is Yellowknife which is the most populous community, and it is also the largest city of Northwest Territories.

It is the only city in the Northwest Territories. Yellowknife has been the territorial capital of Northwest Territories since the year 1967. It became the territorial capital due to the recommendation of the Carothers commission.


Before the Europeans arrived in North America, this area of Canada was occupied by groups like central and copper by the Inuit community. In 1670, the Hudson’s Bay Company was formed by the royal charter, and this company was granted a commercial monopolistic control over the territory called Rupert’s land. The present-day Northwest Territories lie at the northwest territories of Rupert’s land.

Though the present-day Northwest Territories were not a formal part of Rupert’s Land, the Huston bay company still made very regular use of this area for their trade purposes.

After the treaty of Utrecht between various European governments like the Spanish, French and British governments, Rupert’s land came completely under the access of the British government as the French had surrendered their claims to the Hudson Bay coast. The Europeans visited the Northwest Territories passage for the fur trade and explored new areas like the northwest passage.

The present-day northwestern territory got under the authority of the Canadian government in 1870, after the Hudson Bay, the company transferred both the regions, Rupert’s Land and the Northwest Territories, to the British monarchy, which later moved these regions to the Canadian government, giving this region its name-the Northwest Territories.



Historically, the northwest rebellion is very crucial to understanding the present geopolitics of the Northwest Territories. The northwest territories rebellion was a rebellion by the people of the Métis tribe against the government of Canada as the Métis people felt that the Canadian government was not providing them their basic rights such as their land and recognizing their survival as a distinct set of people.

Louis Reil led this movement and protests but later created it into military action with heavily divided religious tones.

After this rebellion, the northwestern territory council was established, and in 1891 Frederick Haultain, a lawyer from Ontario, became the chairman of this council and later the premier after the reorganization of the assembly in 1897. In the meantime, the province of Ontario was enlarged northwards, and Quebec was also enlarged towards the north.

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Manitoba, Quebec, and Ontario acquired the last territorial addition in 1912, which are included from the Northwest Territories, leaving only the districts Mackenzie, Franklin, and Keewatin districts as a part of the Northwest Territories.

By 1925 the Northwest Territories expanded to the North Pole, vastly reaching onto the northern ice cap. On the first of April 1999, Nunavut was formed, a separate territory from the eastern part of the Northwest Territories.

This new territory was created for the inhabited Inuit people under the largest land claim agreement in the history of Canada.


Population composition: The Northwest Territories is one of the only two jurisdictions with Nunavut to have an indigenous population as a majority. The indigenous people make up more than fifty percent of the people of Northwest Territories. This territory has a very diverse culture to offer. As per the 2016 census of Canada, the five major ethnic groups were: First Nations, Canadian, English, Scottish and Irish.

Language: Language has been disputed in the Northwest Territories due to the wide spectrum of ethnicity present.

In the year 1877, the territorial government made French its official language but later in 1888, after lengthy debates, the members of the day, on more than one occasion, voted to nullify the 1877 order and chose English as the only language to be used in the assembly for official purpose and after a short conflict with the confederation government of Ottawa and a decisive vote on the nineteenth of January in th year 1892, an English only territory was voted by the assembly members.

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Currently, the northwest territories’ official language act recognizes eleven languages as official. The residents of Northwest Territories have the right to use any of those eleven languages in a regional court proceeding, official debates, or the proceedings of the territorial legislature. However, the majority of people in the territory speak English.


Out of all the provinces and territories in Canada, the Northwest Territories have the highest per capita gross domestic product, 76000 Canadian dollars, as per data from 2009. The total gross domestic product of the Northwest Territories is also one of the highest among the provinces and regions of Canada. It is 4.856 billion Canadian dollars, as per 2017 data.

The Northwest Territories are rich in natural resources and minerals, one of the biggest causes of its big economy. Minerals such as radium, silver, diamonds, and oil. In the Northwest Territories, diamonds are promoted as an alternative to buying blood diamonds. Out of the biggest mineral companies in the world, two are present in Northwest Territories, Rio Tinto, and BHP mine many of their diamonds from the Northwest Territories.


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The northwest territories share their border with Saskatchewan, British Columbia, and Alberta towards its south and have border Nunavut towards its eastern portion and Yukon towards its west. The Northwest Territories touch to the north up to the arctic circle, and the arctic islands, the largest of these arctic islands are the Banks and Prince Patrick.

There are mainly two types of landscapes, one southwards, running near the rivers like Mackenzie forming deltas, southwest towards this line lies the northernmost part of Canada, the boreal forests that extend towards west up to the borders of Yukon.

The largest lake completely within Canada, the great bear lake, and the deepest water body present in North America, the great slave lake, are both parts of the Northwest Territories. The highest point of the territory is the nirvana mountains which the Yukon borders.


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The geographic location of the northwestern territories sets it apart from all the other territories and provinces of Canada. It is imbibed with locations with wonders of the world and spectacular scenic beauties from the high-rise mountains and the clean rivers and the green national parks with a wide variety of wildlife beauty, along with the calming forests or the spectacular aurora.

The Northwest territory’s capital, Yellowknife, attracts many visitors and tourists during the winters to watch the Auroras, also known as the aurora borealis, whose magnificent lights flow like a river in the jet back sky. As Yellowknife is located at a higher altitude with a perfect geographic location for this spectacular view, it can be considered a Mecca for the northern lights in the world. Yellowknife also offers the prince of wales a northern heritage center museum with a voluminous collection.

The northwest territory has been the home of the indigenous population since its beginning. Along with its indigenous history, it also brings the stories of these indigenous people passed on through generations. This indigenous population offers an insight into their culture and wisdom, along with their own stories.

Due to its physical location, the northwest territory has become a famous tourist attraction for its winter activities. There are numerous winter sports this place can offer, like dogsledding, the fun thrill of whooshing along a bunch of huskies. Winter camping is also a favorite activity for visitors, along with trekking and skis being all-time favorites to explore the beautiful snow-covered landscape.


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The general climatic condition of the northwestern territory is cold but dry, with a little rise in the temperature during summers when the temperature goes to a maximum of twenty-five degrees Celsius.

The climate is subarctic due to the location of the territory. The winters are very long and extremely cold. For example, the temperature in January goes as hard as around -26 degrees Celsius. Still, the weather is less harsh in June or July, and the temperature gets about 17 degrees Celsius.

From all the details mentioned above, it can be said that the Northwest Territory is truly an amazing and beautiful place that is an economical spot along with a scenic and beautiful tourist attraction and also offers a diverse range of cultures and languages. It can be easily said that the northwestern territories are also a very crucial organ of the federation of Canada.

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