Amid the droning bush planes and picturesque houseboats of Yellowknife's Old Town, bordering Great Slave Lake, it's still possible to detect a palpable frontier spirit. It's as if you're standing on the edge of a large, undiscovered and barely comprehensible wilderness – and you are. Draw a line north from Yellowknife to the Arctic Ocean and you won't cross a single road.

Friendly, multicultural, subarctic Yellowknife supports 50% of the NWT population and is a blend of Dene and Métis from across the territory; Inuit and Inuvialuit from further north; grizzled non-Aboriginal pioneers; get-rich-quick newcomers from southern Canada; and a sizable selection of more recent immigrants from different parts of the world.

Named Somba K'e (Place of Money) in the local Tlicho language, the city, a mining hub and surprisingly artsy place, has been the territorial capital since 1967 and is unsurpassed in winter for views of the northern lights.

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