5 Hidden Gems in the Northwest Territories You Need to Visit

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

Catch a Magic Show

The Aboriginal-owned Aurora Village, 25 minutes from Yellowknife, offers a prime spot for anyone obsessed with the northern lights. It comprises 21 lantern-lit teepees surrounding a glassy frozen lake, plus heated benches, a woodfire 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.

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.

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.

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, cod, trout or whitefish from Great Slave Lake. Yellowknife.

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.

Next, check out these awesome hidden gems across Canada!

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