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Aklavik

The name Aklavik means “barren land grizzly place” and it’s easy to see why this name is so fitting. Lakes and rivers snake their way across the rocky terrain. In summer, they create an indigo patchwork amongst pine trees and moss covered rock. In winter they’re incognito – hidden like the rest of the land beneath a sheath of ice and snow, interrupted only by the colossal Richardson Mountains that tower in the distance.

As one of the most northern NWT communities, Aklavik is just over 100 km south of the Arctic Coast and the temperature ranges from the low -50 degrees up to 30 degrees Celsius. The main spoken languages are Gwich'in, and English.

The community of was created between 1910 - 1920. Inuvik was meant to replace Aklavik which suffering from flooding and had no room for expansion. Many Aklavik residents, however, were so devoted to their community that they refused to make the move. Today, the community has about 600 residents and is just a two hour drive from the larger community of . The trip can only be made in winter when the Mackenzie Delta freezes, creating a stunning road of ice. During the rest of the year, you can take in the view of the lake-dotted terrain surrounding Aklavik while flying in. Flights from Inuvik are scheduled five days a week and when the river is open (typically from June to September) float planes are able to fly in.

Aklavik is a great place to live for people who are skilled at entertaining themselves. Though there are many social events and gatherings throughout the year, personal interests and hobbies can keep life interesting during the lengthy, inky-dark winters.

When you arrive in Aklavik you can expect to find a cozy community. Though the community has a small population, there is an indoor pool, two restaurants, a community hall, a gymnasium and a northern store. The roads are gravel and shared by vehicles, quads, bicycles, and snow mobiles. There are no traffic lights in the community (though Aklavik’s eastern neighbour Inuvik has one)! This is the ideal place for curious globetrotters looking for a retreat-like lifestyle. The short summers are perfect for outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, camping, and boating. While there are many winter activities as well, like snowshoeing, tobogganing, snowmobiling and dog sledding, remember you can always warm up indoors with bannock, tea and a good book.

Traditional activities are a huge part of life in Aklavik and much of the community rely on their hunting and fishing skills to support themselves. Hand made traditional arts and crafts, like moccasins, tufting work, birch bark baskets and canvas products can be found in the community. Northern festivals are an excellent opportunity to purchase unique pieces and meet the artists.

The community has several festivals including the Mad Trapper Jamboree, National Aboriginal Day and Pokiak River Festival. The Mad Trapper festival is held annually over Easter weekend and the community participates in dogsled and snow mobile racing, feasts, drum dancing and games.

Aklavik is also where the legendary Mad Trapper of Rat River is buried. In 1931, Albert Johnson (aka The Mad Trapper) led the RCMP on the longest manhunt in Canadian history. Fleeing across frozen tundra and mountain in blizzard conditions, Johnson evaded RCMP for 48 days and crossed hundreds of kilometres by foot before he was shot and killed. There is still much mystery surrounding the events of the Mad Trapper.

Aklavik has a full postal service and high speed internet and television is provided by satellite. Leave your blackberries behind because Aklavik does not have cell phone service, although land lines are available.

Learn what it’s like to live off the land. Discover what it means to be part of a community family. Experience the traditions of northern culture, wildlife at your doorstep and vast untouched land.