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Facts about The Northwest Territories for Kids


The Northwest Territories is one of three federal territories of Canada. The Northwest Territories entered the Canadian Confederation July 15, 1870, but the current borders were formed April 1, 1999, with the creation of Nunavut. It had a population of 41,462 as of the 2011 census, showing little change from the 2006 census.

  • The name is descriptive, adopted by the British government during the colonial era to indicate where it lay in relation to Rupert’s 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.
  • Located in northern Canada, the territory borders Canada’s two other territories, Yukon to the west and Nunavut to the east, and three provinces: British Columbia to the southwest, and Alberta and Saskatchewan to the south.
  • Geographical features include Great Bear Lake, the largest lake entirely within Canada, and Great Slave Lake, the deepest body of water in Canada at 614 m (2,014 ft), as well as the Mackenzie River and the canyons of the Nahanni National Park Reserve, a national park andUNESCO 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.
  • Summers in the north are short and cool, with daytime highs in the mid teens, and lows in the single degrees.
  • The present-day territory was created in June 1870, when the Hudson’s Bay Company transferred Rupert’s Land and North-Western Territory to the government of Canada.
  • This immense region comprised all of non-confederation Canada except British Columbia, the coast of the Great Lakes, the Saint Lawrence River valley and the southern third of Quebec, the Maritimes, Newfoundland, and the Labrador coast.
  • In 1882, Regina in the District of Assiniboia became the territorial capital; after Alberta and Saskatchewan became provinces in 1905, Regina became the provincial capital of Saskatchewan.
  • Quebec was also extended northwards in 1898, and the Yukon was made a separate territory in that same year in order to deal with the Klondike Gold Rush, and also to remove the NWT’s government from the burden of administering the sudden boom of population, economic activity, and the influx of non-Canadians.
  • 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 and make English the only language used in the assembly.
  • The Northwest Territories’ Official Languages Act recognizes the following eleven official languages, which are more than in any other political division in the Americas: NWT residents have a right to use any of the above languages in a territorial court and in debates and proceedings of the legislature.
  • 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.
  • The NWT’s geological resources include gold, diamonds, natural gas and petroleum.
  • 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.
  • 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.