timeline

Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories lie northwest of central Canada, bordered to the east by Nunavut, to the west by the Yukon and to the south by the northeastern corner of British Columbia, as well as the entire northern borders of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

July 31, 1868

Government and Politics 

Rupert's Land Act

The Rupert's Land Act was passed, allowing the Crown to declare Rupert's Land part of the Dominion of Canada.

December 01, 1869

Government and Politics 

HBC Surrenders Rupert's Land

The Hudson's Bay Company surrendered Rupert's Land to the Canadian government.

July 15, 1870

Government and Politics 

Transfer of Rupert's Land

The British Crown officially transferred Rupert's Land and the North-Western Territory to Canada. These lands comprise present-day Manitoba, most of Saskatchewan, southern Alberta, southern Nunavut, and northern parts of Ontario and Québec.

September 01, 1880

Government and Politics 

Arctic Sovereignty

British sovereignty over the Arctic Islands passed to Canada.

January 01, 1885

Government and Politics 

Northwest Territories Women Disenfranchised Municipally

Women in the Northwest Territories (including what later became Alberta and Saskatchewan) were barred from voting in municipal elections or holding municipal office, but were allowed to vote for, and become, school trustees.

March 30, 1885

People 

Cree Attack Battleford

Two hundred Cree under Poundmaker ransacked Battleford, NWT, and laid siege to the fort.

April 24, 1885

People 

Battle of Fish Creek

General Middleton engaged Gabriel Dumont's Métis at Fish Creek, NWT; the battle was a stalemate.

May 21, 1887

People 

Birth of James Gladstone

James Gladstone, Canada's first Indigenous senator, was born at Mountain Hill, NWT.

July 14, 1892

People 

Birth of Jack Sissons

Judge Jack Sissons was born at Orillia, Ontario. As the first judge of the Territorial Court of the Northwest Territories, Sissons took "justice to every man's door" by aircraft and dogsled.

January 01, 1895

Government and Politics 

Yukon is Named one of Four NWT Districts

Canada named Yukon one of four districts within the Northwest Territories, along with Mackenzie, Franklin and Ungava. The capital of the territory was in Regina, but Yukon people sought more control over their affairs.

June 24, 1897

Government and Politics 

Cabinet Government in NWT

Full Cabinet government was established in the North-West Territories, and F.W. Haultain formed its first government.

May 06, 1898

People  Resources and Environment 

Yukon Field Force

The Yukon Field Force, consisting of 203 volunteers, left Vancouver for Dawson to maintain order during the Klondike Gold Rush.

June 13, 1898

Government and Politics 

Yukon Becomes Separate Territory

By Act of Parliament the Yukon became a separate territory with a commissioner and partly elected council.

March 16, 1918

Government and Politics 

NWT Divided Into Districts

The Northwest Territories were divided into the present Districts of Keewatin, Mackenzie, and Franklin, and brought into the Dominion of Canada; effective 1 January 1920.

June 27, 1921

Indigenous Peoples 

Indigenous People Cede Mackenzie

Slave, Dogrib, Hare, Loucheux and other bands ceded the Mackenzie River region of the Northwest Territories to the federal government.

January 01, 1922

Resources and Environment 

Wood Buffalo National Park Established

Wood Buffalo National Park was established to protect the last herd of wood bison. Canada's largest national park straddles the Alberta-Northwest Territories border. It was declared a world heritage site in 1983.

November 12, 1925

Indigenous Peoples  Sports and Culture 

Birth of Agnes Nanogak

Graphic artist Agnes Nanogak, whose narrative prints and drawings evoke a rich variety of stories reflecting the Mackenzie Delta/Copper Eskimo culture, was born on Baillie Island, NWT.

December 28, 1929

Communication and Transportation 

Airmail Service to the Arctic

Pilot Wilfrid May flew the first official airmail to Canada’s Arctic, delivering it to Aklavik, NWT. The new airmail service route covered over 2,500 kilometers.

May 16, 1930

Resources and Environment 

LaBine Finds Uranium

Prospector Gilbert LaBine discovered pitchblende, the chief source of uranium and radium, at Great Bear Lake, NWT.

January 01, 1940

Government and Politics 

Municipal Government in NWT

The first municipal government in the Northwest Territories was inaugurated in Yellowknife.

October 17, 1948

Sports and Culture 

Birth of Margot Kidder

Movie actor Margot Kidder, who achieved widespread recognition as reporter Lois Lane in the four Superman movies, was born at Yellowknife, NT.

March 25, 1951

Indigenous Peoples  People 

Birth of Ethel Blondin-Andrews

Ethel Blondin-Andrews, first Indigenous woman elected to Parliament, was born at Fort Norman, NT.

June 12, 1951

Government and Politics  People 

Northwest Territories Women Get Vote

Women in the Northwest Territories won the right to vote and stand for office.

November 18, 1964

Communication and Transportation  Resources and Environment 

Lead-zinc Shipped from NWT

The first shipment of lead-zinc ore left Pine Point, NWT, destined for smelters in Trail and Kimberley, BC, over the recently completed Great Slave Lake Railway.

March 11, 1969

Communication and Transportation 

Last RCMP Dog Sled Patrol

The last RCMP dog sled patrol, which mostly carried mail and medical supplies across the Yukon and Northwest Territories, set out on a final 800 km round trip from Old Crow, YT. Constables Warren Townsend and Peter Benjamin made the trip in 26 days with two dog teams. The RCMP had recently announced that its last dog sled teams would be replaced with snowmobiles and aircraft.

August 24, 1969

Communication and Transportation 

Manhattan in the Canadian Arctic

The US oil tanker Manhattan left Chester, Penn, on a trial voyage through the Northwest Passage. With the assistance of the Canadian icebreaker CCGS John A. Macdonald, the Manhattan reached Sachs Harbour, NWT, on September 15.

March 09, 1970

Sports and Culture 

First Arctic Winter Games

Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau opened the first Arctic Winter Games in Yellowknife, NWT.

December 21, 1970

Government and Politics  People 

First Woman Elected to the Northwest Territories Council

Lena Pedersen became the first woman elected to the Northwest Territories Council.

January 20, 1971

Communication and Transportation 

Radio Tuktoyaktuk Goes On Air

Radio Tuktoyaktuk (Northwest Territories) began broadcasting, in both English and Inuktitut, bringing radio service to approximately 650 residents of the Mackenzie River Delta and introducing Aboriginal-language broadcasting to Canada.

December 09, 1972

Disasters 

Pilot Hartwell Found Alive

Amazingly, bush pilot Martin Hartwell was found alive, a month after his plane crashed in the Northwest Territories. He had survived that long (with two broken ankles and in harsh winter temperatures) thanks to the efforts of the one surviving passenger, a 14-year-old boy named David Kootook, who lived for several weeks after the crash but died before Hartwell’s rescue.

March 18, 1973

Indigenous Peoples 

First Reserve in NWT

The first First Nations reserve in the Northwest Territories was created at Hay River.

September 07, 1973

Indigenous Peoples 

NWT Court Allows Land Claim

The Northwest Territories Supreme Court allowed the Indian Brotherhood of the NWT to file a land claim for one-third of the NWT.

February 28, 1975

Government and Politics 

NWT Gets Second Seat

Legislation was passed granting the Northwest Territories a second seat in the House of Commons.

January 01, 1976

Indigenous Peoples 

Nunavut Land Claims Presented to Government

The Inuit Tapirisat of Canada submitted a formal land claims proposal to the Government of Canada.

January 01, 1976

Government and Politics 

Nunatsiaq Riding Created

A federal riding was created in the Northwest Territories. Called Nunatsiaq, it represented territory that now comprises Nunavut.

January 01, 1976

Resources and Environment 

Nahanni National Park Reserve Established

Nahanni National Park Reserve was established. The park is a wilderness of rugged mountains, wild rivers and luxurious hot springs stretched along the South Nahanni River in the southwest corner of the Northwest Territories. The park was recognized as a United Nations World Heritage Site in 1978.

April 05, 1977

Indigenous Peoples 

First Inuit to Enter Parliament

Willie Adams was appointed to the Senate for the Northwest Territories, the first Inuit person to hold a seat in Parliament.

August 14, 1978

Indigenous Peoples 

Dene Nation

The Indian Brotherhood of the Northwest Territories became the Dene Nation during the 8th Dene National Assembly held in Fort Norman, NT.

January 01, 1982

Indigenous Peoples 

Tungavik Federation of Nunavut Established

The Tungavik Federation of Nunavut (TFN) was established in order to negotiate a land claims agreement with the Government of Canada.

April 14, 1982

Indigenous Peoples 

Northwest Territories Plebiscite

The majority of voters (56 per cent) chose to divide the Northwest Territories in two in a territorial plebiscite. The division would create a mainly Inuit eastern territory. Over 80 per cent of the territory’s Inuit voted, more than 80 per cent of whom voted in favour of the creation of Nunavut. The results of the plebiscite were not binding federally.

June 05, 1984

Indigenous Peoples 

Inuvialuit Final Agreement

After ten years of negotiation, the Inuvialuit Final Agreement (IFA) was settled in Northwest Territories. The IFA was Canada’s second finalized comprehensive land claim, and the first in the extreme North. The Inuvialuit exchanged exclusive usage of ancestral lands for guaranteed rights over land, wildlife protocols and funds.

January 01, 1987

Government and Politics 

Iqaluit Named

The town of Frobisher Bay, NWT, changed its name to Iqaluit.

September 20, 1987

People 

Pope Visits Fort Simpson

Pope John Paul II visited Fort Simpson, NWT.

November 14, 1991

Indigenous Peoples 

Cournoyea Elected Premier of NWT

Nellie J. Cournoyea, of Inupiaq heritage, was elected premier of the Northwest Territories, making her the first Indigenous woman to hold the position of government leader.

April 22, 1992

Indigenous Peoples 

Gwich’in Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement

The Gwich’in Tribal Council and the Canadian and the Northwest Territories governments signed the Gwich’in Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement. The Agreement involved lands in the Mackenzie Delta in the Northwest Territories and in Yukon. Special hunting rights were also extended, permitting the harvest of fur-bearing animals throughout the settlement area.

May 04, 1992

Government and Politics 

Nunavut Boundary Plebiscite

A plebiscite was held in order to confirm the boundary between the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Fifty-four per cent voted in favour of the proposed boundaries.

November 03, 1992

Indigenous Peoples 

​Inuit Accept the Terms of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement

A majority of Inuit beneficiaries voted to accept the terms of the proposed Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. In tandem with the Nunavut Act, the land claims agreement led to the creation of the territory of Nunavut.

November 12, 1992

Government and Politics  Indigenous Peoples 

Inuit Endorse Nunavut

The Inuit endorsed the creation of Nunavut, a semi-autonomous territory, in a referendum.

June 10, 1993

Government and Politics  Indigenous Peoples 

Nunavut Act Receives Royal Assent

The Nunavut Act, which established the new territory and its government, received royal assent in Parliament. The territory's Inuit population became beneficiaries under the Nunavut Land Settlement Agreement, which also received royal assent on this day. Nunavut officially became Canada’s third territory on 1 April 1999.

September 06, 1996

Government and Politics 

Residents Keep NWT Name

Residents of the Northwest Territories voted to keep that name for the western part of territory after the eastern part became the territory of Nunavut in 1999.

January 01, 1998

Resources and Environment 

Tuktut Nogait National Park Established

Tuktut Nogait National Park was created through the efforts of the Inuit of Paulatuk, NWT. They wanted a national park to help protect the calving grounds of the Bluenose herd of barren-ground caribou, a game animal essential to their way of life.

April 01, 1999

Government and Politics 

Nunavut Declared

The new territory of Nunavut, covering some 2 million sqare kilometers of the eastern Arctic, was declared as part of Canada's first territorial changes since Newfoundland joined Confederation in 1949.

May 11, 1999

Resources and Environment 

Chevron Announces Gas Find

Chevron Canada of Calgary announced that explorers had found one of the largest natural gas deposits in Canada near the town of Fort Liard, NWT.