Fort Providence

Fort Providence

Zhahti Kųę – “Mission house place”

Population: 815

Stretching along a high bank overlooking the broad Mackenzie, this historic Dene community is an essential stop for road-trippers. Just five kilometres west of Hwy 3, it boasts a placid campground on the riverfront, top-notch fishing (pike, pickerel, grayling), and distinctive crafts – porcupine quillwork is a local specialty. Also, keep your eyes peeled for bison, which ramble the dusty streets and graze in local yards.


Location: 61°21′ N, 117°40′ W
Elevation: 160 metres
Population: 734
Traditional name: Zhahti Kųę
Name means: “Mission house”
Setting: On the north bank of the Mackenzie River, just a few dozen kilometres downstream from Great Slave Lake
Languages: Slavey, English
Ethnicities: Dene, Métis, non-Aboriginal
Getting there: By all season road from Hay River (two hours) and Yellowknife (3.5 hours)
Founded In: The 1860s, when Roman Catholic Oblates opened a mission, boarding school and orphanage here, calling the site “Providence.” By 1868 the Hudson Bay Company had opened a trading post nearby, calling it “Fort Providence”
Claim to fame: One-tonne wood bison, which roam the dusty streets, often browsing in locals’ front yards
Visit for: Purchasing local arts and crafts; watching the tremendous crash of ice-floes when the Mackenzie River breaks up; the Bison Jamboree (end of March)
Best daytrip: Flightseeing over nearby attractions such as Great Slave Lake, the Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary and Lady Evelyn Falls
Best expedition: Setting off from here to paddle the Mackenzie River
Historic highlight: Opening of the Deh Cho Bridge (the only bridge across the Mackenzie River) in 2012
Notable locals: Robert McLeod, premier of the Northwest Territories; Michael McLeod, the Northwest Territories' Member of Parliament
 

 

 

 

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