Images for the Northwest Territories now on Flickr

The Northwest Territories is one of three territories in northern Canada, bordered by Yukon to the west, Nunavut to the east, and Alberta, Saskatchewan and a portion of British Columbia to the south. The northern section of the territory makes up part of the Arctic Archipelago, which is usually covered in ice. Many Inuit and First Nations people lived in the area when explorers and European settlers arrived beginning in the late 16th century. European trade developed in the 18th century, dominated by the Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West Company.

A black-and-white photo of six men. Three men are mounted on horses, and three are unmounted standing next to two horses.

Buffalo patrol near cabin south of Fort Smith, Northwest Territories (MIKAN 3362561)

The Northwest Territories entered into confederation in 1870 after Canada purchased the land from the Hudson’s Bay Company. However, Britain did not transfer the Arctic Archipelago to Canada until 1880. The boundaries of the Northwest Territories fluctuated over the next century as different provinces and territories were created or grew in size; it finally settled to its current boundaries in 1999, when Nunavut was formed from the Northwest Territories.

Did you know?

  • The name “Northwest Territories” originates from the colonial period, when the British used the term to describe all the land to the northwest of Rupert’s Land.
  • The Northwest Territories has eleven official languages, including English, French, Cree, Chipewyan, Gwich’in, Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut, Inuvialuktun, North Slavey, South Slavey, and Tłįchǫ.

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