Hidden Gems in the Northwest Territories That Are Worth Exploring

You haven’t fully experienced the Northwest Territories until you’ve checked out these fascinating sights and natural wonders.

Catch a Magic Show

The Indigenous-owned Aurora Village is an essential tourist attraction in the Northwest Territories, particularly if you’re obsessed with the northern lights. Located 25 minutes from Yellowknife, it comprises 21 lantern-lit teepees surrounding a glassy frozen lake, plus heated benches, a wood fire and hot drinks for optimal skygazing. An upgraded package includes a meal of smoked buffalo prime rib, bannock pudding and local N.W.T. beers and maple whisky. The best time to see the lights is between December and March, but they can show up as early as late August. Yellowknife. 

Discover more great places to see the northern lights across Canada.

Praise the Painter Priest

Bern Will Brown, an Oblate priest in the Catholic church, came to Canada’s Arctic in 1948 and never left, spending the next six decades travelling by dogsled and working, alternately, as a fire warden, dog catcher, midwife, postmaster and artist. He eventually settled in the hamlet of Colville Lake, where he built a log cabin and a church, known as Our Lady of the Snows. The Bern Will Brown Museum, housed in Brown’s tiny cabin, features his paintings, fur pelts and other artifacts of an extraordinary life. Colville Lake, Northwest Territories.

Here are more historical landmarks every Canadian needs to visit.

Northwest Territories tourist attractions - Our Lady of Victory ChurchPhoto: Max Lindenthaler / Shutterstock.com

Worship in an Igloo

In the 1950s, the missionary carpenter Maurice Lerocque chose to model Inuvik’s Our Lady of Victory church after an igloo—both to honour the local Inuit population and because the domed shape would help balance the weight of the building on the constantly shifting permafrost. His original designs—sketched on a pair of plywood planks—are still on display in the church, as are ebullient paintings by the Inuk artist Mona Thrasher. Inuvik, Northwest Territories.

Pickerel at Bullock's Bistro, Northwest TerritoriesPhoto: Instagram.com/bullocksbistro

Slurp Then Burp

There isn’t a lot of beef in the Northwest Territories—or pork or chicken or lamb. If you’re hungry, why not try one of the local proteins? At Bullock’s Bistro, N.W.T.’s flagship restaurant, you’re practically obligated to order the slurp ‘n’ burp: your choice of a buffalo or reindeer steak accompanied by fresh-caught pickerel (above), cod, trout or whitefish from Great Slave Lake. Yellowknife.

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Northwest Territories tourist attractions - bison sanctuaryPhoto: Derek Robbins / Shutterstock.com

Behold the Bison

Sixty years ago, scientists believed the north’s bison population was all but extinct—until a new herd was discovered deep in the bush of the Northwest Territories. To preserve and protect them, 18 bison were captured and relocated to the Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary. These aren’t just any bison—they’re the last genetically pure herd on the planet. They regularly appear grazing, in all their enormous glory, along Highway 3 near Fort Providence. Fort Providence, Northwest Territories.

Now that you’ve got these tourist attractions in the Northwest Territories on your radar, check out the national parks every Canadian needs to visit.

Reader's Digest Canada
Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada