This is an extract from my newest book called
9 Canadian Cities: Victoria to Montreal via Whitehorse and Yellowknife
For me, Northwest Territories (NWT) is where the scale and grandeur of Canada hits home. Northwest Territories is 1 million square kilometres bigger than Germany, whose population is over eighty million. The Acasta Gneiss, the world’s oldest rocks–at least those measured by the radiometric dating of zircon crystals–are in NWT to the east of the Great Bear Lake. The gneiss was metamorphosed 3.58 to 4.031 billion years ago (approximately). The Great Bear Lake is the largest lake entirely in Canada (Superior and Huron straddle the Canada–US border) and the eighth largest lake in the world (if you accept the Caspian Sea is the largest). The shoreline of the Great Bear Lake measures 2700 kilometres. This is a harsh part of the world as the Great Bear Lake can freeze from November to July, all 31,153 km² of it – that’s an area bigger than Belgium.
I visited Yellowknife, the capital of the NWT, which is about three hundred kilometres south of the Great Bear Lake. Flying to Yellowknife from Whitehorse convinced me that Canada has as many lakes as the rest of the world combined. Yellowknife is on the Great Slave Lake, the tenth largest lake in the world. It’s also worth mentioning that if you draw a line due north of Yellowknife to the Arctic Ocean in neighbouring Nunavut, the line doesn’t cross a single road. That’s a distance of six hundred kilometres.
As with Whitehorse, from the airport it was a ten-minute ride into the centre of the city, where I saw four six- and seven-storey high-rise buildings. There is one major crossroads in the centre of the city from where you can get to all the places you want to go. There are no mountains or even hills to speak of, although the road down to the older part of the city by the Great Slave Lake is steep and misshapen.