Formerly known as Arctic Red River, Tsiigehtchic (“Mouth of Iron River”) is a quaint community of just under 200 people located at the scenic confluence of the Arctic Red and Mackenzie Rivers.
This is the ancestral territory of the Gwichya Gwich'in, who for generations would travel during late summer up the Arctic Red River into the mountains along the Yukon/NWT border. They would live and hunt in the area throughout the winter before returning to the fishing grounds at Tsiigehtchic in the spring once the river opened up. Permanent settlement here began with the establishment of a Catholic mission in 1868, followed by a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post in the 1870s.
Many of Tsiigehtchic's Gwich'in residents still remain close to the land today. You can see net fishing year-round, as well as view the traditional methods of making dryfish and drymeat. In the winter, trappers are busy in the bush hunting animals for their meat and fur.
The visitor centre here can connect you with local residents and craftspeople. If you're making the drive in August, check out Tsiigehtchic’s Canoe Days celebration, with canoe races, fiddling, jigging and drum dancing. (If you've brought your own fishing gear, this would be an excellent place to look for feisty little Arctic Grayling.) Also be sure to hike up to Tsiigehtchic’s famous community sign, located on the hills overlooking the mighty Mackenzie.
Access to Tsiigehtchic is via the Dempster Highway. In winter, vehicles go directly over the ice, but the rest of the year visitors take the Louis Cardinal Ferry, which crosses the Arctic Red and Mackenzie Rivers. Be sure to tell the crew you’re making the Tsiigehtchic detour.