advertisement

Inuvik, 771km (479 miles) from Dawson City, is the town at the end of the long Dempster Highway -- the most northerly road in Canada -- and the most-visited center in the Western Arctic. Because of its year-round road access from the Yukon and frequent flights from Yellowknife, Inuvik is becoming a tourist destination in itself and is the departure point for tours out to more far-flung destinations. Inuvik is on the Mackenzie River, one of the largest rivers in the world. Here, about 129km (80 miles) from its debouchment into the Arctic Ocean, the Mackenzie flows into its vast delta. At 13,000 sq. km (5,019 sq. miles), the Mackenzie Delta is the largest delta in Canada and the third largest in the world, after the Lena Delta in Russia and the Mississippi Delta in the United States. It's a mind-boggling maze of channels and interconnecting lakes. Even the most seasoned boaters find it challenging to navigate through the delta, and that's with a map! Inuvik is also right at the northern edge of the taiga, near the beginning of the tundra, making this region a transition zone for a number of the larger Northern animals, such as musk ox, caribou, bears, and wolves.

The town is home to a population of 3,500, composed mostly of Inuvialuit, the Inuit people of the western Arctic, and Gwich'in, a Dene tribe from south of the Mackenzie River Delta. In the last 10 to 20 years, Inuvik has become a surprisingly multicultural community. "Non-aboriginals" make up a growing part of the population, and the term includes Inuvik's long-time residents of European descent, as well as the newer members from the Middle East and North Africa, the Philippines, and even the Dominican Republic.