Here we examine daily commuting times, taxis and public transit, highways, gas costs and where and how our airlines connect us. You can also find information here on shopping, dental services, personal care and veterinary services.
By far the fastest way to get to the Northwest Territories is by air. A choice of airlines provide daily jet service to Yellowknife from Edmonton or Calgary, Alberta. There are connecting flights from Yellowknife to all points in the NWT, as wells as several destinations in Nunavut.
Average Flight Times:
Yellowknife – Edmonton: 1.5 hours
Fort Smith – Edmonton: 2 hours
Hay River – Edmonton: 2.25 hours
Yellowknife – Hay River: 40 minutes
Yellowknife – Fort Smith: 55 minutes
Yellowknife – Inuvik: 2.5 hours, with a stop at Norman Wells
Yellowknife – Norman Wells – 1 hour, 10 minutes
For complete airline schedules, visit:
With the opening of the Deh Cho Bridge across the Mackenzie River in 2012, the NWT joined the Canadian highway system year round. Road travelers can motor from St. John’s to Victoria and north to Yellowknife any time of the year. The distance from the Alberta border to Yellowknife is just under 600 km. From the NWT/Alberta border to Hay River is a quick 118 km. It is also possible to drive to Inuvik in the Mackenzie Delta on the scenic Dempster Highway, a 671-km route that starts in the Yukon’s historic Dawson City.
If you are planning to move to the Northwest Territories, it’s a good idea to check with your employer for the recommended route to your community. Some communities are cut off from the road system at certain times of the year, when personal effects must travel by air at considerable expense. The following moving companies have national connections and can arrange estimates for shipping personal effects to most NWT communities.
If Yellowknife will be your new home, there are local tour companies that can help orient you to the city.
- How to be a Yellowknifer provides tours and welcome information for newcomers and people interested in the city, including info on local politics, how to get involved in the community, how to prepare for winter, and more.
- My Backyard Tours has a tour designed for employers to help prospective employees learn about Yellowknife. It covers a range of topics including services, schools, housing, transportation and weather.
If you want to bring your vehicle to the NWT, it is certainly possible. You can drive to Yellowknife or to southern highway communities like Fort Simpson, Hay River and Fort Smith year round, weather permitting. All the larger communities have vehicle service centres, and gas and diesel fuel are available. Inuvik and Fort McPherson are located on the Dempster Highway, but access is limited in autumn and spring when government ferries are pulled from the river crossings. In winter you cross rivers on ice bridges.
The road system expands considerably for about two months in mid-winter – usually mid January to mid April, when regional and local ice roads open to traffic. This is also the time when retail stores in many remote communities are restocked by truck. Ice road routes and opening and closing dates can be found on the Department of Transportation website. Winter roads provide connections to Norman Wells and Sahtu communities from Fort Simpson, to Tlicho communities from Behchoko, and to Aklavik and Tuktoyaktuk from Inuvik.
A year round connection between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk is currently under construction.
As of June 2015, gas prices in Yellowknife were 128.9 cents per litre, comparable to Victoria, Montreal and St. John’s. Vancouver gas prices, according to Statistics Canada, were 135.1 cents per litre.
These companies offer a variety of vehicle services, some sell new vehicles, others service or lease vehicles:
Autotec Ltd: Yellowknife
Tel: (867) 920-4994
Kingland Ford: Yellowknife, Hay River
Tel: (867) 873-9580, Toll-free: 1-800-383-9211, Click here for more information.
Lakeland Sales and Services: Hay River
Tel: (867) 874-3387
Norcan Leasing: Inuvik
Tel: (867) 777-2346, Click here for more information.
Yellowknife Chrysler Ltd: Yellowknife
Tel: (867) 873-4222, Click here for more information.
YK Motors (GM): Yellowknife
Tel: (867) 766-5000, Click here for more information.
Average commute times in the NWT are hard to pin down, since most communities are so compact that commutes are negligible. A quarter of Yellowknifers, for example, walk to work in minutes. Annual rankings of urban sustainability by the independent Corporate Knights group regularly put Yellowknife in first place in the small-city category because of its extensive, and beautiful, trail network. Walking, driving, cross-country skiing – however you get to work – one thing is certain. You’ll spend much less of your life stuck in traffic or on public transit in the NWT.
Average commute times: Toronto: 80 minutes, Vancouver: 30 minutes, Calgary: 26 minutes, Yellowknife: 7.6 minutes, Fort Smith: 10.7 minutes
Source: Toronto Board of Trade
Yellowknife is the only community in the NWT with a public transit system. It offers three regular routes, six days a week. Buses run from approximately 7:10 a.m. to 7:10 p.m., Monday to Saturday. Fares are $3.00 per adult and $2.00 per student or senior. Monthly passes are $75.00 per adult and $50.00 per student or senior.
Taxi service is available in all major centres, and many of the smaller communities.
Yellowknife has two taxi services– Aurora and City – and a minimum fare of $4.50, plus $2.00 per additional kilometre.
Fort Smith has three taxi services: Border Cabs, Portage, and Duck Soup. Minimum fare is $4.50, plus $2.50 per additional kilometre.
Hay River has two taxi services: Reliable Cabs and Island Taxi. Minimum fare is $5.35, and $2.00 per additional kilometre.
Inuvik has two taxi services – United and Delta. Fares are fixed: $6.00 for one adult, anywhere in the town core, and $30.00 to the airport.
Norman Wells has two taxi services—Valley Taxi and Scott’s Taxi—with a flat rate of $6.00 per person in town and $12.00 per person outside of town limits.
Barbers and Beauty Salons are available in the larger communities, including Yellowknife, Hay River, Fort Smith and Inuvik. These services may also be available in smaller communities, ask at the community office or the band office.
Every community has a store selling essentials. In mid-size to larger communities there are usually two stores, often operating as department stores. Two of the larger department stores are the Northern Store and the Co-op. In many communities these retailers supply everything from fresh vegetables and meat to snowmobile parts, clothing, furniture and hardware.
The range of clothing available varies greatly. Generally, basic necessities for all ages are for sale in the smaller communities and these could include winter parkas, boots and heavy duty work wear.
Food and other orders: Residents of communities on the Mackenzie River system or along the Arctic coast can arrange to order goods for delivery by barge once a year in summer or early autumn. Some retailers and grocers in the larger centres offer custom telephone or mail ordering, with shipping by mail or by scheduled flights.
Alcohol is available from government licenced retailers in Yellowknife, Hay River, Fort Smith, Fort Simpson, Inuvik and Norman Wells. Some communities enforce liquor restrictions, and it is advisable to check in advance before bringing alcoholic beverages to a community without a liquor outlet.
There are two veterinary clinics in the Northwest Territories, based in Yellowknife. They offer telephone consultations, as well as some veterinary services by mail order.
Dental clinics are based in Yellowknife, Fort Smith, Hay River, Norman Wells, Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk. Dentists make regular visits to the smaller communities and services are usually booked in advance with the Health Centre.