Email
Password
Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article imageFirst road to reach Canada's Arctic coast finally completed

By Ken Hanly     Nov 12, 2017 in Travel
Tuktoyaktuk - Finally there is an all-weather gravel road from the hamlet or small town of Tuktoyaktuk on the Arctic coast of the Canadian Northwest Territories to the town of Inuvik to the south.
This is Canada's first permanent link to its Arctic coast.
The old ice road is replaced
For many years the Tuktoyaktuk Winter Road, an ice road connected Inuvik with Tuktoyaktuk across the frozen MacKenzie River delta channels, and the frozen Arctic Ocean. The ice road was permanently closed on the 29th of April 2107 to be replaced this year by the new highway.
The new highway includes eight bridges and 359 culverts along its 120 kilometer length.
Tuktoyaktuk
The name in Inuvialuktun the language of the Inuvialiut means "looks like a caribou". The hamlet lies north of the Arctic Circle on the shore of the Arctic Ocean.
It used to be called Port Brabant but was renamed in 1950. It was the first place in northern Canada to revert to its traditional indigenous name. Often it is just referred to as "Tuk" as in the appended video.
The census of 2016 listed the population as 898 but the hamlet's website puts it at over 900.
Inuvik is a town in the Northwest Territories of Canada and is the administrative centre for the Inu...
Inuvik is a town in the Northwest Territories of Canada and is the administrative centre for the Inuvik Region.
© Town of Inuvik
Inuvik
The name means "place of man" in the native language. The town is the administrative center for the Inuvik region.
Inuvik is a larger town than Tuktoyaktuk with a population of 3,243 according to the 2016 census. The population varies from year to year as economic conditions change.
Inuvik has its own website.
Celebration of the highway opening
Darrel Nasogaluak, mayor of Tuk, is traveling down the highway to Inuvik for opening ceremonies to be held there. Later, he will join an official motorcade that will head back up north to Tuk.
There are to be parties celebrating the opening then in Tuk. As well as the mandatory speeches, there will be songs, fireworks and a community feast. Included will be favorite foods including caribou, reindeer, char, whale and muktuk.
Nasogaluak said: "It's something that's been on the community's want list for 40 years... I've traveled a lot of highways, but the scenery on this one is quite different."
A varying landscape
The road passes through a rolling landscape with tundra, lakes, and many stream crossings. It cost $300 million to build.
Wally Schumann Infrastructure Minister of the Northwest Territories (NWT) said: "When you come out of Inuvik, for about 20 kilometres you don't realize how much you're going uphill. The trees just get smaller and smaller and smaller and all of a sudden you're on the top of a mountain and there's no trees and you can see about 100 kilometres on both sides of the highway. It's an amazing feeling."
The highway was a long time coming
As early as the 1960's people began talking about the project. Surveys were begun way back in 1974.
The NWT government made the first proposal to the federal government in Ottawa in 1998. In 2009 after years of lobbying from the NWT as well as aboriginal and business groups the federal government granted $200 million in funding.
Construction began in earnest only in 2014.
Preparing for change
Nasogaluak says that the slow pace of construction has given the Tuk community plenty of time to prepare for the social and environmental impacts the new road will have on the community.
As shown on the appended video one plan is to paint buildings in the community. 2,000 cans of paint were donated by a southern company.
The local bed and breakfast has added rooms. The hamlet is also developing RV sites with public facilities.
Road should reduce costs
The road is expected to reduce the cost of living in Tuk by about $1.5 million a year by providing a year round reliable route for supplies. The saving is equivalent to about $1500 a year for each man, woman, and child in Tuk.
More roads needed
Schumann claims that the NWT infrastructure deficit is horrendous. The NWT will ask for other new roads that will open the huge territory to tourism and mineral exploration.
Schumann said: "Every dollar invested by the federal government into this type of infrastructure in the territories is not only going to benefit us, it's going to benefit all Canadians."
More about Inuvik, tuktoyaktuk, arctic roads
More news from