The Northern of Canada consists of three territories: Yukon, the Northwest territories, and Nunavut. They extend into the Arctic, and have just over 100,000 inhabitants spread across a land area larger than India.
The most accessible of the three territories with the Alaska Highway providing road links to Alaska and British Columbia. There is gold rush history in Dawson City and the mountainous splendour of Kluane National Park. Whitehorse, the capital, provides a good central hub.
|Northwest Territories |
Previously the largest of all provinces and territories, parts of it have since been split of over the history of Canada, most recently Nunavut in 1999.
Only split off from the Northwest Territories in 1999, this area has strong Inuit heritage
In this area the term "city" becomes a relative term, especially when measured by population. However, some rather small places (by Southern standards) can have tremendous importance for huge areas as the only thing even approaching a city for hundreds or even thousands of miles. The most important places are:
Much of this area is untouched wilderness or sparsely populated mining and logging country. As such national parks have a natural draw to them, with North American wildlife. Examples include:
The North of Canada is a vast area made up of many different environments; ranging from boreal forest, to mountains, to subarctic all the way to high arctic. This is one of the most remote places on Earth and even the vast majority of Canadians will never visit the region. Travel here is extremely difficult and expensive. Most will want to visit during the summer when the territories aren't shrouded in near constant darkness, snow and freezing temperatures (to put it lightly). However, for those with the funds and motivation, visiting the North of Canada can be an extremely rewarding experience. This is one of the world's most remote and sparsely populated regions. Owing to its huge size and variety of landscapes and climates, not much can be generalized about the region. Larger towns with road access are not so different from the rest of Canada, but most of the region is "trackless" wilderness: are literally no roads. In these communities, the only access is by sea (seasonally in the autumn only) or air (usually on small "bush planes").
Much of the population are Indigenous peoples, namely the Inuit and Inuvialuit (formerly, but never now, called "Eskimos"), the Dene and Cree peoples (still legally called "Indians", but more frequently now called "First Nations"), and the Métis (formerly, but never now, called "half-breeds"). The lifestyles of these people have been dramatically changed in the last century or so by the arrival of Southern government authorities, businesses, and religious missionaries. Many have wage-paying jobs in the towns, shop in groceries stores stocked with imported produce, watch TV, and attend Christian churches. Nevertheless, they still to varying degrees rely on hunting, trapping, fishing, and gathering to supplement their diets and incomes, many speak their local language in preference to English, and often follow cultural practices and ceremonies that the Christian missionaries couldn't suppress.
The wildlife here are truly wild and free ranging. This is perhaps the largest piece of the earth outside of Antarctica that is basically not enclosed or fenced in any meaningful way. Moose and deer roam the forests. Bears forage for berries along the valleys. Caribou (reindeer) herds in the tens of thousands migrate across the region. Muskox and wolves confront each other on the tundra. Polar bears walk across the sea ice to hunt seals. Likewise the seas are mostly safe from commercial fishing and shipping, and a therefore can support elephant seals, belugas and other large mammals.
Travel to this region presents challenges, but provides the opportunity to see something truly distinct.
- See also: Next to impossible destinations
There are highways through the Yukon which reach Whitehorse, Dawson and even Inuvik. Another road goes to Yellowknife. All these roads are open year round but may be closed temporarily by storms; see winter driving.
Many other locations (including all of Nunavut) can only be accessed by sea or air. Flights to these areas can often be extremely expensive; see general aviation. A few cruise ships go to the Canadian arctic; this is likely the most comfortable way to visit.
Churchill, Manitoba (YYQ IATA) is reachable by rail and by air from Thompson and Winnipeg; from there, flights depart for Arviat, Baker Lake, Chesterfield Inlet, Coral Harbour, Rankin Inlet, Repulse Bay and Whale Cove.
Distances tend to be large and there are few roads and no passenger railways north of the 60th parallel. Weather may impede movement during parts of the year and often access is only by boat or plane.
Pay attention to your destination and research in advance whether alcohol is allowed. Some villages are dry communities (no alcohol permitted). Carrying alcohol into dry communities is considered to be bootlegging and you may be fined or imprisoned for violating this policy.
- See also: Winter in North America
There is no 9-1-1 emergency number in most communities in the Canadian high Arctic. As of 2016, the Yukon is making efforts to expand a very basic 9-1-1 (which is already available in Whitehorse) territory-wide. Elsewhere, 1-1-2 or 9-1-1 may merely reach a recording with no useful information.
Use the seven-digit local numbers for the individual services in each community to summon help in an emergency.