Inuvik is an administrative town in the Northwest Territories, the de facto capital of the Inuvik Region. It has a population of about 3,500 people, starting out as a hamlet in the 1950s and growing into a village in the 1970s, spurred by the completion of the Dempster Highway. Inuvik is accessible from Dawson City, Yukon via the public highway. Alternatively, it can be reached by navigating the Mackenzie River.
Inuvik was founded in 1954 after it was determined that nearby Aklavik was sinking into the Mackenzie Delta. As a replacement town, planners had the goal of making Inuvik “the first community north of the Arctic Circle built to provide the normal facilities of a modern Canadian town.” Because buildings erected on ground had the potential of melting the permafrost, all structures in Inuvik are built on piles driven deep into the permafrost.
The town enjoyed an economic boom in the 1970s when the price of oil skyrocketed and significant gas and oil exploration took place in the area. Since then, exploration activities have subsided, but Inuvik remains an important administrative center for the region. Numerous tour operators take tourists from Inuvik to whale-watch and observe the seals along the coast. The Mackenzie Delta is also a popular spot for watching migratory birds and arctic wildlife such as grizzly bears, caribou, and minks.
Besides wildlife spotting, the town offers an annual festival in July called the Great Northern Arts Festival, which hosts artists in the arctic regions. It also celebrates the Muskrat Jamboree in late March, holding various events on the Mackenzie River.
Another attraction of the town is a Roman Catholic Church that resembles the shape of an igloo and incorporates interior and exterior decorations by a Native American artist. It is called Our Lady of Victory Roman Catholic Church, or more affectionately known as the “Igloo Church”. It is the most photographed igloo and landmark of Inuvik.
“Inuvik.” < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inuvik>
Simpkins, Mary Ann. Canada. New York: Prentice Hall Travel, 1994. ISBN: 0671882783.
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