Northwest Territories

Northwest Territories Capital: Yellowknife
Yukon Capital: Whitehorse

Canada's Yukon and Northwest Territories cover a large expanse of land that stretches from the east to the west coast, up to the Arctic circle. The climate of this northern region is extreme, characterized by a short summer of continual sunlight, and a long, dark and cold winter. The area is populated by the Inuit and Dene peoples, with a later infusion of Southern Canadian and American gold prospectors and settlers. Building in the North has always been dictated by the climate.

The Inuit of the far north built their winter dwellings using snow, the region's most abundant material. Known as igloos, these structures were made of blocks of snow built up into a dome that sheltered entire families. In the summer, they lived in tents made from skins stretched over wooden frames. Southern building typologies, such as prefabricated cabins made of plywood and concrete, have proved to be very poorly adapted to conditions in the north. New experiments are going back to the basics for a model of functional northern housing.

Yellowknife was founded during the gold rush, and many of its first structures were tents. Today the city is home to the territorial government. The first wave of southern immigration came with the gold rush that was centered around Dawson City in the Yukon near the end of the 19th century. Prospectors built log cabins using building methods that had become standard in frontier architecture. A permanent community with houses and commercial shops was eventually established. The Canadian government commissioned imposing civic buildings as a symbol of their presence and commitment to northern development.

Old Fort Reliance
Near Great Slave Lake,NWT
Chief Factor James Anderson

Our Lady of Good Hope
Fort Good Hope, NWT
Father Émile Petitot

Peale Point, Frobisher Bay
circa 1700 B.C.

Old (Yukon) Territorial Administrative Building
Dawson City, YK
Thomas Fuller

Herschel Island, Pauline Cove Settlement

Building Canada C.A. 101 Pop Quiz Overview Glossary