Déline, NWT, incorporated as a charter community in 1993, population 472 (2011c), 525 (2006c). The Charter Community of Déline is located on the shores of GREAT BEAR LAKE, 544 air km northwest of Yellowknife. Accessible only by winter road from TULITA, it was first named Fort Franklin after Sir John FRANKLIN who used the site as a base from 1825-27. In 1993 the name was changed to the North Slavey word meaning "where the water flows," for the community is near where the lake's water flows into the Great Bear River on its way to the MACKENZIE RIVER.
The settlement was a trading post for both the NORTH WEST CO and HUDSON'S BAY CO. The local Sahtu Dene (see BEARLAKE) retained a nomadic lifestyle until 1949, when the community became more settled with the establishment of a school and a store. A Catholic mission was established earlier and today its tipi-shaped church is a distinctive building. Also still present in the community are the remains of Fort Franklin, which along with Déline's traditional fishery, was designated as a national historic site in 1996.
In the 1940s and 1950s, many young Sahtu Dene men were employed to carry bags of URANIUM and RADIUM ore from the Eldorado mine, which was across the lake. The Sahtu Dene believe this later led to the deaths of many of these men. All mining ceased in the area in 1981 when a silver mine shutdown. As their ancestors have done for thousands of years, the local residents subsist mainly on hunting, fishing and trapping. They have retained much of their culture.
Déline lays claim to the first recorded game of hockey played in Canada. Sir John Franklin in a letter wrote about a game of hockey played on the lake in 1825.