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1967: N.W.T. gets its own capital, Yellowknife

The Story

Yahoo Yellowknife! No longer will the Northwest Territories be governed from afar in Ottawa - now it's got a capital on its own turf. Amid delight over the announcement, however, Yellowknifers are concerned that Ottawa will continue to manage the territory's bountiful natural resources. In this CBC radio clip, bush pilot and businessman Gordon Hornby says the Northwest Territories must push harder in its fight for more power.

Medium: Radio
Program: This Week in Canada
Broadcast Date: Jan. 28, 1967
Guest: Gordon Hornby, Arthur Laing, Bobby Porritt
Host: George Rich
Reporter: Bill Connolly
Duration: 4:57
Photo: Aerial view of Old Town of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories Department of Information/NWT Archives

Did You know?

• Between 1905 and 1967, the members of the council that ran the Northwest Territories - mostly high-level government employees - lived and worked in Ottawa. Beginning in 1951, the council sometimes met in Ottawa and other times gathered in various communities in the Northwest Territories. Administrative functions for the territory were mostly carried out by civil servants in Fort Smith, N.W.T.

• Giving the Northwest Territories more autonomy from Ottawa by making Yellowknife its capital was recommended by the three-member Carrothers Commission. The commission's mandate was to explore the development of government in the Northwest Territories.

• Besides Yellowknife, five other towns in the Northwest Territories bid to be the capital: Fort Simpson, Fort Smith, Hay River, Pine Point, Frobisher Bay (now Iqaluit) and Rankin Inlet. With 3,000 people, Yellowknife was the most populous of the group.

• According to the Globe and Mail (Oct. 7, 1966), Yellowknife was favoured for a number of reasons: "It was the closest to the demographic centre of the territories and accessible to the greatest number of residents. It had top telephone, telegraph and radio facilities and a good airport. Among other things, it offered better building conditions and educational establishments."

• The decision was ultimately left to Arthur Laing, then the federal minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. He announced Yellowknife as the new capital on Jan. 18, 1967.

• The Carrothers Commission also considered, and rejected, the idea of dividing the territory into two. In 1999, this idea would become a reality when Nunavut became Canada's third territory. The Carrothers Report also recommended the establishment of a territorial cabinet to administer seven new government departments.

• Territories do not have the same rights as provinces. Chief among them is that profits from natural resources belong to the federal government.

• The report's conclusion read, in part: "We conclude that what is required now is not provincehood but the means of growth to provincehood; that the best move for the peoples of the Northwest Territories at the present time is to retain the territories as a political unit, to locate the government of the territories within the territories... and to concentrate on economic development and opportunity for the residents of the north."

• The population of the territory in late 1966 was about 25,000. Of those, about 15,000 were aboriginal people. (This is includes the area that was to become Nunavut in 1999.)

• As of 2003, the territorial population was about 41,500. An estimated 50 per cent of the population was aboriginal.

• About 19,000 people lived in Yellowknife in 2004.

Also on January 18:
1971: Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) rules governing Canadian content in radio music programming take effect. Stations are required to play 30 per cent Canadian content between 6 a.m. and midnight.
1998: Toronto Archbishop Aloysius Ambrozic is appointed a cardinal by Pope John Paul II.
2002: The Ontario government releases the findings of an inquiry into the fatal E. coli outbreak in the town of Walkerton in May, 2000. Justice Dennis O'Connor blames two local water officials, as well as provincial budget cuts that he said hurt the Environment Ministry's monitoring ability.


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