The Towns


Herman plans to visit each of the following towns along his journey, in the following order...

Hay River

Hay River known as "the Hub of the North," is a town in the Northwest Territories, Canada, located on the south shore of Great Slave Lake, at the mouth of the Hay River. The town is separated into two sections, a new town and an old town with the Hay River/Merlyn Carter Airport between them. The town is in the South Slave Region, and along with Fort Smith is one of the two regional centres.


Fort Providence

Fort Providence, located on the Mackenzie River, is the starting point of the paddle. Fort Providence (Slavey language: Zhahti Koe "mission house") is a hamlet in the South Slave Region of the Northwest Territories, Canada. Located west of Great Slave Lake, it has all-weather road connections by way of the Yellowknife Highway (Great Slave Highway) branch off the Mackenzie Highway, and the Deh Cho Bridge opened November 30, 2012 near Fort Providence over the Mackenzie. The bridge replaces the ice bridge and ferry, enabling year-round crossing of the river.



Wrigley (South Slavey language: Pehdzeh Ki "clay place") is a "Designated Authority" in the Dehcho Region of the Northwest Territories, Canada. The community is located on the east bank of the Mackenzie River, just below its confluence with the Wrigley River and about 466 mi (750 km) northwest of Yellowknife. The population continues to maintain a traditional lifestyle, trapping, hunting, and fishing.



Tulita, which in Dene language means "where the rivers or waters meet," is a hamlet in the Sahtu Region of the Northwest Territories, Canada. It was formerly known as Fort Norman, until 1 January 1996. It is located at the junction of the Great Bear River and the Mackenzie River; the Bear originates at Great Bear Lake adjacent to Deline. Tulita is in an area that is forested and well south of the tree line. Permafrost underlays the area, more or less continuous in distribution. Tulita is surrounded by mountains, the latter renowned for Dall's sheep, and faces the Mackenzie Mountains to the west, which has Mountain Goat.


Norman Wells

Norman Wells (Slavey language: Tłegǫ́hłı̨ "where there is oil") is the regional centre for the Sahtu Region of the Northwest Territories, Canada. The town is situated on the north side of the Mackenzie River and provides a view down the valley of the Franklin and Richardson Mountains.


Fort Good Hope

Fort Good Hope (or the Charter Community of K'asho Got'ine) is a charter community in the Sahtu Region of the Northwest Territories, Canada. It is located on a peninsula between Jackfish Creek and the east bank of the Mackenzie River, about 145 km (90 mi) northwest of Norman Wells. The two principal languages are North Slavey and English. Hunting and trapping are two major sources of income.



Tsiigehtchic (tsee-get-chick) ("mouth of the iron river") is a Gwich’in community located at the confluence of the Mackenzie and the Arctic Red River, in the Inuvik Region of the Northwest Territories, Canada. The community was formerly known as Arctic Red River, until 1 April 1994.



Inuvik, the most northerly town on the Mackenzie River, was the original planned starting point of the paddle before the route was increased by 1000 miles on the Mackenzie River.  It boasts a total of roughly 3,500 inhabitants.  In January, the city has zero hours of daylight; in June and July it has 24 hours of daylight.  The town is located about two degrees north of the Polar Circle, right on the arctic tree line.



This is the place where people go to dip their toes in the Arctic Ocean.  In summer, this hamlet of roughly 900 people can only be reached by air or boat.  In winter, an “ice highway” is built between it and Inuvik which traverses the frozen rivers and lakes between the two towns.  Tuk, as it is commonly known, boasts the largest number of pingos; conical hills which have been pushed up by the frozen ice underneath. Pingos are considered by some to be one of the seven wonders of Canada.



Paulatuk is a community of about 300 people on the Darnley Bay in the Amundsen Gulf of the Arctic Ocean.  The name “Paulatuk” means “place of coal”, after the commodity which was mined there originally.  Hunting, fishing and trapping are the main economic activities.



Coppermine, now called Kugluktuk, is located at the end of the Coppermine River, so-called after the mineral that was found there in the 18th century.  The Coppermine River flows generally north from near the Great Slave Lake and flows into Coronation Gulf, an arm of the Arctic Ocean.


Cambridge Bay

Cambridge Bay is designated as the future site of the Canadian High Arctic Research Station.  The town has a population of roughly 1,500 inhabitants.  Because of its location, it is the largest stop for passenger and research vessels sailing through the Arctic Ocean's Northwest Passages.


Gjoa Haven

Gjoa Haven is the place where Amundsen overwintered in 1903 during his quest to discover the Northwest Passage.  He named the place after his ship, the “Gjoa”.  The town has about 1,500 inhabitants and has seen a steady influx of the local Inuit people who come to take advantage of the healthcare and educational facilities.






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