Fort Good Hope
Overlooking the Mackenzie River and flanked by boreal forest, this Slavey Dene community of 550 is on the east bank of the Mackenzie River, 190 kilometers (118 miles) downstream of Norman Wells and just south of the Arctic Circle.
A trading post was established here in 1805 by the North West Company, but the oldest building in town is the 1860 Our Lady of Good Hope Church, which has been declared a National Historic Site. The church’s interior, decorated in ornate panels and friezes painted by an early missionary, Father Emile Petitot, depicts aspects of his travels and life in the north.
One of the highlights of a trip to Fort Good Hope is visiting The Ramparts, where 200-meter-high (660-foot) cliffs force the Mackenzie River through a 500-meter-wide (1,640-foot) canyon. Although the cliffs continue for many kilometers, the most spectacular section is upstream of town and can be reached on foot or by boat.
Arrange boat rentals and tours through the Ramparts Hotel (867/598-2500, $165 pp). Overlooking the river, this hotel has a restaurant with a simple menu (entrées $21–32).
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition