Colville Lake, Northwest Territories Canada

Discover Colville Lake, Northwest Territories: A Blend of History and Natural Beauty

Colville Lake, or K'áhbamį́túé, meaning "ptarmigan net place," is a settlement corporation nestled in the Sahtu Region of the Northwest Territories, Canada. This community, located 50 km north of the Arctic Circle, is named after Hudson's Bay Company Governor Andrew Colvile. It serves as the administrative office of the Behdzi Ahda band government and is a hub of rich history and natural beauty.

Demographics of Colville Lake, Northwest Territories

As per the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Colville Lake had a population of 110, living in 30 of its 43 total private dwellings. This was a decrease of 14.7% from its 2016 population of 129. The community, spread over a land area of 126.14 km2, had a population density of 0.9/km2 in 2021. The majority of the population, 148 people, were Indigenous, Sahtu Dene, represented by the Behdzi Ahda' First Nation and belonging to the Sahtu Dene Council.

Geography and Climate of Colville Lake, Northwest Territories

Colville Lake is situated 745 km northwest of Yellowknife, by air. The terrain is characterized by sparse black spruce, mosses, lichens, grasses, and alders. The winter months span from October to April, with May marking the spring or breakup period. By the end of May or early June, the lakes and rivers are usually free of ice. The summer months, June, July, and August, see temperatures in the mid-twenties, occasionally climbing into the low thirties. By late September, freeze up is well underway again.

History of Colville Lake, Northwest Territories

Colville Lake is the ancestral homeland of the Hareskin (Sahtu) Dene, who still inhabit the area. The Hareskins were a peaceful group, known for their use of small animals such as the Arctic hare. Although Father Émile Petitot brought Christianity to the area in 1864, the organization of the community did not occur until 1962 when a Roman Catholic mission was established by Bern Will Brown.

Colville Lake, Northwest Territories Today

Today, visitors can explore the site of the mission Our Lady of the Snows, a fishing lodge, a small art gallery, and a museum located next to the lodge. The town also offers a bed and breakfast and two stores. Colville Lake is home to grayling, trout, and pike fish.

Services in Colville Lake, Northwest Territories

The Kapami Co-op is the only food retailer and hosts the post office for the community. Locals either resort to hunting, purchasing food flown in, or drive to Norman Wells or Fort Good Hope when winter roads are in use. Colville Lake School is the only school providing K-12 education needs. The community has a basic health station staffed by a nurse with telehealth access from Norman Wells. Medivac transfer for patients when advance care is required either to Norman Wells (health clinic) or Yellowknife (Stanton Territorial Hospital).

Transportation in Colville Lake, Northwest Territories

The Colville Lake/Tommy Kochon Aerodrome, located outside the community, connects with Fort Good Hope and Norman Wells. The Colville Lake Water Aerodrome, operated by the local Arctic Co-operatives Limited store, uses the lake as a landing area. The old airstrip is located inside Coville Lake with the old runway (10/28) still visible. Since closing in 2012, solar panels have been built at the end of the former runway to provide an alternate power supply to Colville Lake. Roads in Colville Lake provide local access only. A winter road connects with Fort Good Hope for nine months of the year.