Inuvik is situated on the east channel of the Mackenzie River, some 60 air miles/ 96 km south of the Beaufort Sea, at the end of the Dempster Highway in Northwest Territories, Canada.
Visitor Information: Western Arctic Regional Visitor Centre on Mackenzie Road across from the hospital; phone 867-777-4727 in summer or 867-777-7237 year-round; visit https://spectacularnwt.com/destinations/western-arctic/inuvik and www.inuvik.ca/en/Discovering-Inuvik.asp. The center is open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, June to September; interactive displays, excellent cultural and wildlife displays, clean restrooms and knowledgeable staff.
Inuvik, meaning “The Place of Man,” is the largest Canadian community north of the Arctic Circle, and the major government, transportation and communication center for Canada’s western Arctic. Construction of the town began in 1955 and was completed in 1961.
Inuvik is constructed on permafrost, so a unique utilidor system carries water, sewage and heating systems between buildings. Inquire at the Visitor Centre about utilidor and permafrost exhibits.
Inuvik was the main supply base for the petrochemical exploration of the delta until Tuktoyaktuk took over that role as activity centered in the Beaufort Sea. In Inuvik, some hunting, fishing and trapping is done, but most people earn wages in government and private enterprises, particularly in transportation, tourism and construction. As the delta is one of the richest muskrat areas in the world, Inuvik is the western center for shipping furs south.
The town’s official monument says, in part, that Inuvik was “the first community north of the Arctic Circle built to provide the normal facilities of a Canadian town.” There is a post office, territorial liquor store, a library, a bank (CIBC) and churches. Inuvik also has one of the most northerly mosques in the world, brought here by road and river from Manitoba. There are 2 gas stations with gas, diesel and car wash; propane, auto repair and towing are available. The town has a hardware store, grocery, general stores, gift shops and a pharmacy.
Igloo Church, The most photographed landmark in Inuvik, Our Lady of Victory Roman Catholic Church or “the Igloo Church” owes its distinctive architecture and construction to a community effort over the course of 2 years. Completed in 1958, the Igloo Church’s interior is decorated with stations of the cross painted by one of the Delta’s most famous Inuvialuit artists, Mona Thrasher. Visitors are welcome; tours offered in the summer months. Located at 180 Mackenzie Rd.; phone 867-777-2236.
Great Northern Arts Festival.
This 10-day fine arts and performing arts event features a 5,000-sq.-ft. gallery, 60-plus workshops, and evenings of dance, song and stories. Dedicated to showcasing the talent of Northwest Territories, Yukon, Nunavut and the larger circumpolar region, it delivers unique Northern programming. Try your hand at print making, experience traditional drumming and dancing, meet stone carvers and shop for mukluks, paintings, jewelry and more. The festival takes place in July; visit www.gnaf.org for 2022 dates.
Ingamo Hall Friendship Centre
Ingamo Hall Friendship Centre is a 2-story log community hall that serves the social and recreational needs of Native families. Visitors are welcome. The hall was built by Allan Crich over a 3-year period, using some 850 logs that were cut from white spruce trees in the southern part of the Mackenzie River valley and floated down the river to Inuvik. Phone 867-777-2166.
The Community Greenhouse is one of the largest of its kind in the world. Check with the visitor center about tour times.
Aurora Research Institute
Aurora Research Institute offer summer tours of the Inucvik Satellite Tracking Station. The satellites are painted by local indigenous artists. There are also lectures by visiting scientists at Aurora Research Institute. The institute is located at 191 Mackenzie Rd. Phone 867-777-3298 or visit https://nwtresearch.com.
Jimmy Adams Peace Trail
Jimmy Adams Peace Trail is a 3-km/1.9-mile loop around Boot Lake used by walkers, runners, skiers and snowshoers. Gazebo lookout with view of the Mackenzie Delta. Start at Boot Lake–Lions Playground, just off the Dempster Highway as you enter Inuvik, or at Duck Lake Park, near the bank of the East Channel in the main part of town. It is a good idea to carry bear spray.
Mackenzie River Delta
The Mackenzie River Delta, second largest delta in North America and an important wildlife corridor to the Arctic, is 40 miles/64 km wide and 60 miles/97 km long. A maze of lakes, channels and islands, the delta supports a variety of bird life, fish and muskrats. Boat tours of the Mackenzie River are available. Watch activity on the Mackenzie River from Inuvik Waterfront Park.
Stop by Parks Canada at 81 Kingmingya Rd. and learn more about fly-in trips to Ivvavik, Tuktut Nogait and Aulavik national parks. The parks protect a variety of unique landscapes, flora and fauna. Phone 867-777-8800.
Fly/drive to Tuktoyaktuk, or “Tuk,” an Inuvialuit village on the shores of the Arctic Ocean. Accessible by air or all-season Inuvik–Tuktoyaktuk Highway. Arctic Adventure Tours (1-800-685-9417) offers tours to Tuktoyaktuk.
Fly or take a boat tour to Aklavik, 36 miles/58 km southwest of Inuvik by air, by ice road in winter. It is an important center for muskrat harvesting and is also the final resting place of Albert Johnson, “The Mad Trapper of Rat River.” Johnson killed one mounted policeman and wounded another in 2 separate incidents involving complaints that Johnson was tampering with Native trap lines. The ensuing manhunt became famous in the North, as Johnson eluded Mounties for 48 days during the winter of 1931–1932. Johnson was killed in a shoot-out.
Lodging & Services
Accommodations downtown at the Capital Suites and Mackenzie Hotel. Nova Inn at junction of access road and Dempster Highway. Arctic Char Suites has rooms downtown. Turnoff for Arctic Chalet just south of Inuvik access road.
There are various restaurants and fast-food outlets; gas stations, a carwash, tire repair; groceries; clothing stores; and Northern arts and crafts stores.
Roads End golf course is one of the first sights you see on your way into Inuvik. It has a driving range and there are no green fees; 24 hour access in summer.
The Midnight Sun Complex includes a fitness center, hockey and curling rinks, a popular canteen, and a fantastic aquatic center with leisure pool, 4-lane pool, hot tub, steam room, sauna, and a waterslide (190 feet long). Phone 867-777-8640.
In town, Happy Valley Territorial Park Campground has 36 sites (19 sites with power, 15 without power, and a group tent site); nightly fee $22.50–$28 (CAD); hot showers, laundromat, firewood, water; fee charged; open June 1–Sept. 1. Services include 24-hour reception and security; phone 867-777-3652. Just 2 miles/4 km south of town at Milepost B 164.9 is Jàk Territorial Park, with 36 campsites.
Air: Inuvik Airport is a transportation hub for the western Arctic. Scheduled services via Air North, phone 1-800-661-0407; Aklak Air, phone 867-777-3777; Canadian North, phone 1-800-267-1247, email [email protected], website https://canadiannorth.com. Northwright Airlines provides scheduled and charter service. Candian Helicopters (867-873-2081), Great Slave Helicopters (867-873-2081) and Gwich’in Helicopters (867-678-2270) also provide service out of Inuvik.
Highways: Dempster Highway, open year-round except for when rivers are freezing or thawing (ferry crossing of 2 rivers/ice bridges in winter). Inuvik–Tuktoyaktuk (ITH) Highway to Tuktoyaktuk and Arctic Ocean open year-round (87 miles/140 km). Winter road to Aklavik (73 miles/117 km). 24-hour emergency roadside assistance with Northwind Tire & Towing, phone 867-777-4747 or 867-678-5410 after hours.
Bus: MGM Services offers on-demand bus service to and from Inuvik; call 867-777-4295 for information.
Taxi: United Taxi at 867-777-5050; Delta Cabs at 867-777-5100.