Northern Canada Travel Guide

If you had told me a few months back I would be travelling to the Northwest Territories in the dead of winter, I would’ve said you were mad!

Yet, there I was, in January, in Yellowknife.

I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised, and because of that, I wanted to share my experience with you hoping that you might consider visiting this breathtaking landscape yourself some day.

What To Pack

Before heading up North I researched the weather, and lucky for us, there was a BIT of a break in the cold front, so I knew I’d be able to pack for both outdoor activities and indoor ones.

Here’s a list of recommendations:

  1. The key to dealing with an extreme climate, is layering (many, many layers); and to do so successfully, you’ll want to start with base layers. Merino wool is a natural choice for base layers because it’s itch-free, naturally anti-microbial, and has give and stretch. Worn next to the skin, it buffers temperature changes, so you don’t feel instantly chilled when a wind springs up or the sun goes down. I recommend both a long sleeve crew neck option like this one from MEC, as well as a pair of long johns like these also from MEC.

2. Fashionable & functional layers are a must. Any fabrics that associate with warmth (down-filled, leather, cashmere, and wool) will be your BFF’s. And trust me, you’ll want the extra layers so that when you’re in and out of local boutiques and restaurants, you’ll have the option to warm up, or cool down. Here’s some of the functional pieces I brought with me to mix and match that were easy to layer:

Jacket – ASOS, Sweater – Perfect Moment,  High-Waist Denim – Citizens of Humanity, Boots – Ugg

And a few more of my favourite layers I brought:

Jacket – The Frankie Shop, Sweater – Club Monaco, Cashmere Gloves – Saks Fifth Avenue, Leggings – Aritzia (with base layers from MEC), Boots – Ugg

3. If you’re wanting to do outdoor activities (I would highly recommend touring around Old Town Yellowknife and going Dog Sledding on Kam Lake) you’ll NEED a good quality jacket & snow pants.

Some of my favourite places to shop for snowsuits are Sporting Life, Net-A-Porter, and Perfect Moment.

If you’re on the hunt for a good quality high power down-filled coat, I’d recommend Mackage, Sosken Studios and Soia & Kyo (all Canadian brands might I add).

And don’t forget to pack all the winter accessories: toque, neck warmer and warm mitts or gloves.

What To Do & Where To Eat

We were lucky enough to have our very own tour guide thanks to my brother’s expertise (he’s lived there for 3 years now), so here are some things I’d recommend doing in Yellowknife:

  • Becks Kennels Dogsledding – This company is ethical and treats their dogs extremely well. They tour you around Kam Lake (which has beautiful views of the Northern landscape) where you get to sled all on your own or with your family/friends.
  • Brunch at the Dancing Moose Cafe – It’s a small, quaint restaurant that’s only open for brunch and lunch. The staff are incredibly sweet, and they offer the best cinnamon buns I’ve ever had – you can even order them in a french toast version – YES PLEASE.
  • Dinner at Bullock’s Bistro – This restaurant is world famous (no exaggeration) and I’d recommend ordering a bunch of the fish on the menu & share. It’s super casual, friendly and SO GOOD.
  • Drinks or apps are by far the best at the NWT Brewing Company – I’d recommend ordering their in-house beer and their nachos (again, some of the best I’ve ever had – who knew Northern Canada had such a food scene?!).
  • Tour around Old Town Yellowknife – there are so many beautiful galleries, quirky homes and artwork everywhere you look. And while you’re there, visit Pilot’s Monument (it has beautiful views of Great Slave Lake and the town of Yellowknife itself).
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