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Northwest Territories: Five Spectacular Things I Will Never Forget

Julie at Mount St. Charles

Our recent trip to Canada’s Northwest Territories is now seared into my soul. It was an amazing experience that is but a memory as I’ve returned to a life of unloading the dishwasher, getting laundry done, and keeping kids busy during these last days of summer.

Regardless of how “real life” has taken over, here are five spectacular things I will never forget.

#1.  Midnight Sunsets

During the summer months, days are so long in the Northwest Territories. It is a strange sensation to be sitting out in the full sun, look down at your watch, and see that the time is actually 10 pm in the evening. Before arriving, I thought that this might be a nuisance and an interruption to regular sleep patterns. But having a midnight sun is actually fabulous because your day is never limited to what can be achieved during sunlight hours. Even after the sunset, it is never truly dark. I needed to leave the tent one night at about 3 am to have a pee break and although the sky is shadowed and a sliver moon was out, I could still see everything around me. This photo was taken at 11:45 pm.

midnight sun in northwest territories

#2.  Travelling by Water

Travelling by water is peaceful. There are no motors reeving, no traffic to avoid. Since we were canoeing with the current and the Great Bear River is fast-moving, we often travelled at about 10-12 km/hour. This kind of pace separates river canoeing from lake canoeing. By far the best thing about travelling by water is watching the shore for wild life. I can’t tell you how many times Hubby and I got excited and mistook a tree stump down the river for a black bear, but not everything was a trick of the eye. We saw bald eagles, black bears, a moose, a family of otters, and most spectacularly, an entire herd of musk ox.

canoeing down Great Bear River

#3.  Happy Hour

Canoe North Adventures provided us with two guides for our trip down Great Bear River. So, yes, it was Hubby and I and two guides — a privately guided trip! We felt fortunate to have Cedar and Courtney as our guides because they were more than guides, they were great company. A day in the life on our canoe trek would go like this: wake up, have coffee and hearty breakfast, pack up the campsite, canoe down the river for 3-5 hours, find a  new campsite, set-up camp, happy hour. Yes, happy hour! Just because we were living out of canoes didn’t mean we didn’t enjoy a gourmet life. Happy hour was a real treat where we would kick up our feet, relax, enjoy appetizers and a drink, and chat about the day. There were many laughs and it was a highlight to each day.

Happy hour on Great Bear River

#4.  Fishing

I hadn’t really fished since I was a kid and our family would go to Georgian Bay on summer holidays. I didn’t even know how to cast a rod since as a kid I had a plastic contraption that did it for you. But now I know why people love to fish. Not only is it relaxing to repeat the cast and reel-in motion while in a beautiful outdoor setting, but the excitement of something jumping on the line is just fabulous. We fished along Great Bear River on our canoe trip and caught a lovely looking fish called a grayling on many occasions (that is the fish I am holding in the picture shown on this earlier post). As part of our vacation, we also spent a day on a fishing expedition with Yellowknife Outdoor Adventures. I have never in my life seen fish so big! I actually caught a pike that was 1 meter long. 1 meter! Now that is some serious fun.

catching a pike in yellowknife

#5. Waking Up to Views Like This

I don’t think this needs any explanation. There is really nothing that compares to starting your day in the fresh air.

view from mount st. charles from a tent


P.S. I have some exciting news to share! Coffee with Julie has been named “A Top Canadian Travel Blog” by the Flight Network. I am beyond thrilled to be a part of such fabulous company! You can see the full list of bloggers here for some inspiring reading. 

Canadian travel bloggers


  1. AWESOME!!!!!!!! what an experience.. and what a fish!!

    and congrats on being named a Top Canadian Travel Blog.. well deserved :)

  2. Congrats on your new award! I loved reading about your NWT journey. I can’t wait to take a road trip with the family once we are on that side of the country. Fishing the small Cameron falls was a highlight when I was there many, many years ago.

  3. congratulations on the award! Well deserved. Loving your posts about this trip. Hopefully I can do one similar some day. It is now added to my bucket list!

  4. Loving your adventures in the Northwest Territories, Julie!

    I grew up in Northwestern Ontario and so these beautiful scenes remind me of home, albeit further north than I’ve ever been.

    Congratulations on being named a Top Canadian Travel Blog, that’s awesome :)

  5. Thank you SO much for taking the time to read and share your kind congrats! Means a ton to me! xo

  6. nice story! though that’s not a greyling – it’s a pike!

  7. Julie I love this post about the trip! You really summed up how great it was and I hope we can paddle together again and meet up in Ottawa some time! Thank you for the support, We loved guiding you two!

  8. Mercy Santos Kline says:

    I am so happy to see Canedian are traveling the NWT,she is a beautiful Territory,I am from Ecuador,I came to Canada in June 1969 ,I canoe the Makenzie River with my husband from Fort Simpson to Inuvik ,fantastic,beautiful.we live in Tuktoyaktuk for many years.I do miss my life there.

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