Norman Wells, Northwest Territories Canada

Discover Norman Wells, Northwest Territories: A Blend of History and Natural Beauty

Norman Wells, known in the Slavey language as Tłegǫ́hłı̨, meaning "where there is oil," is a picturesque town nestled in the Sahtu Region of the Northwest Territories, Canada. This charming town, which hosts the Sahtu Regional office, is situated on the north side of the Mackenzie River, offering breathtaking views down the valley of the Franklin and Richardson mountains.

Demographics of Norman Wells, Northwest Territories

According to the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Norman Wells had a population of 673 living in 269 of its 404 total private dwellings. This represented a change of -13.5% from its 2016 population of 778. With a land area of 82.09 km2 (31.70 sq mi), it had a population density of 8.2/km2 (21.2/sq mi) in 2021. A total of 315 people identified as Indigenous, including 195 First Nations, 80 Métis, 15 Inuit, and 20 who gave multiple Indigenous responses. The main languages spoken in the town are North Slavey and English. The population is relatively young, with a median age of 32.8.

The Rich History of Norman Wells, Northwest Territories

Oil was first spotted by Alexander Mackenzie during his exploration of the river in 1789. However, it wasn't until 1911 that an oil-bearing formation was discovered. Imperial Oil, a major employer in the town, was established in the area in 1937, with a refinery built in 1939. During the Second World War, Norman Wells was deemed important as a source of oil for military operations in Alaska and Yukon. The Canol Road and Canol pipeline project was undertaken to enable the piping of oil to Whitehorse, with the flow starting in 1944. The Norman Wells Proven Area Agreement of 1944, a partnership between Imperial Oil and the federal government, has lasted to this day.

Indigenous People of Norman Wells, Northwest Territories

The Norman Wells Metis, a Métis group signatory to the Sahtu Dene and Metis Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement, are currently negotiating self-government powers and recently signed a framework agreement towards a new treaty.

Transportation in Norman Wells, Northwest Territories

Norman Wells is accessible by navigating the Mackenzie River in summer, or by driving over the winter ice road, December to March, that connects with Wrigley and Fort Simpson. The most common method of travel into Norman Wells is by air via the Norman Wells Airport. Scheduled flights are provided by Canadian North and North-Wright Airways. During the summer months, there are barge services to the town from Hay River and Fort Simpson.

Services in Norman Wells, Northwest Territories

Services in Norman Wells include a three-member Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment and a community health centre with two nurses. There is a branch of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and two grocery stores. Norman Wells also has a liquor store, currently the only one in the Sahtu Region. Phone service is provided by Northwestel with cable television and Internet access available.

Climate of Norman Wells, Northwest Territories

Norman Wells has a subarctic climate with summer lasting for about three months. Although winter temperatures are usually below freezing, every month of the year has seen temperatures above 5 °C (41 °F). On July 8, 2023, Norman Wells experienced temperatures above 37.8 °C (100.0 °F), setting a record for the furthest north these temperatures have been observed in Canada.