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September 2012

    Northern Public Affairs

    GNWT@45: Government Arrives in Yellowknife September 18, 1967

    Editor’s note: To mark the forty-fifth anniversary of “home rule” in the Northwest Territories, Northern Public Affairs presents a series on the transfer of administrative control from Ottawa to Yellowknife in 1967.
    [dropcap_1]T[/dropcap_1]he Government of the Northwest Territories landed to great fanfare in Yellowknife on September 18, 1967. Arriving on two chartered D7s – one loaded with public servants, the other with thirty tonnes of books and documents – the new government was greeted with a red carpet, 1000 well-wishers, and greetings from NWT Commissioner Stuart M. Hodgson. “At last,” he proclaimed, “we are home!”
    The arrival of the GNWT in Yellowknife followed several years of political deliberation and negotiation. Central to this debate was the Advisory Commission on the Development of Government in the Northwest Territories, commonly known as the Carrothers Commission. It was chaired by A.W.R. Carrothers, Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Western Ontario. He was joined on the Commission by Jean Beetz, a Montreal lawyer and future justice of the Supreme Court of Canada; and John H. Parker, mayor of Yellowknife and future Commissioner of the Northwest Territories.
    The Commission set out to do something that had never been done before in Northern Canada: listen to the views of as many Northerners as possible, in their own communities. Over the course of 1965-1966, the Commission held hearings from Akalvik to Fort Smith, and Yellowknife to Frobisher Bay. It accepted submissions from across Canada, asking both northern and southern Canadians their opinions on the shape and structure of the Government of the Northwest Territories, the location of the capital, and whether the Mackenzie District should be divided from the Keewatin and Franklin districts (now Nunavut).
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