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.