Fort Providence, crossroads of the Mackenzie
Fort Providence is an idyllic, historic, easy-to-reach getaway – a blissful little town on the banks of the big Mackenzie. Here you’ll find Canada’s mightiest river, roaming herds of bison, and rich First Nations heritage, all within an easy drive of Yellowknife or Hay River.
We’re perched on the scenic north bank of the Mackenzie, not far from its source at Great Slave Lake. Here, the mile-wide waters dominate the view: You could spend hours watching the current slide relentlessly toward the sea. Along the Fort Providence waterfront, the fishing is stupendous – our waters throng with Grayling, Trout, Pickerel, Pike and more. Our waterfront trails are gorgeous. And, we’re a perfect put-in for downriver paddling expeditions.
Our surrounding forests and waters are home to lots of wildlife, but one species stands out – the regal wood bison, the largest creature in North America. Thousands dwell in the nearby Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary, and often they can be seen right in town, strolling our quiet streets.
History is vivid here in Fort Providence. In the local Dene language, this community is called Zhahti Kųę – “the mission house” – after the mission, boarding school and orphanage that was founded here in the 1860s by Roman Catholic Oblates. A few years later, the Hudson Bay Company arrived, opening a trading post and bestowing it with the name “Fort Providence.” To this day, our stately old white-and-blue church is one of the most photographed historic buildings in the Northwest Territories.
Our newest attraction is the Mackenzie River Bridge – the only bridge across the Mackenzie River, and the longest bridge in Northern Canada. Suspended more than 100 feet above the water, it provides idyllic views of the big river and the surrounding boreal woodlands.
What attractions and services await you in Fort Providence? Everything a traveller could want – plus plenty of surprises!
Indigenous culture is alive and thriving here. At local shops you’ll find distinctive First Nations craftwork, including pieces featuring traditional moosehair tufting and porcupine quill-work, as well as products from the artisans at Dene Fur Clouds, who create unique hand-knit fur garments and accessories.
At community events you can witness – even participate in! – celebrations of the local Deh Gah Gotie Dene and the Fort Providence Métis Nation. Events include the mid-March Dehcho Bison Jamboree, a community celebration featuring traditional "hand games," talent shows, snowmobile races, family dances and competitions like tea boiling and log splitting; as well as the National Aboriginal Day celebrations on June 21, the longest day of the year.
Visitors can bunk down at Fort Providence Territorial Park, along the riverbank just shy of town, where you’ll find 21 powered campsites, washrooms, drinking water, firewood, a kitchen shelter and a picnic area.
With approximately 750 residents, we’re small enough to be quaint and friendly but big enough to provide all the services you need. Travellers visiting Fort Providence will find:
- An assortment of Motels and rental cabins
- Well stocked super-markets
- Craft shops
- Internet Access
- Health Centre
- Easily accessible gas stations
- RV Stations
No matter when you come, and no matter how long you stay, we think you’ll love Fort Providence, and we look forward to serving your needs.
You can also view our Fort Providence Community Page for detailed information about activities, accommodations, dining and more.