Coppermine River


Location: Kugluktuk, Nunavut
Region: Outside Ontario
Character: Nominated Heritage River
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Length/Size: 450 km

Coppermine River
By The Canadian Heritage Rivers System

In the Footsteps of Franklin

Copper deposits found along the river were important to the first peoples who lived there. Many important archaeological sites, distinguished by copper artifacts, are found along the Coppermine. It was stories of these copper deposits that brought Samuel Hearne to the area in 1771. Hearne's documented overland journey to the river, and the massacre he witnessed at Bloody Falls, brought the Coppermine into the history books. Other explorers, such as Sir John Franklin, soon followed and the Coppermine became an important exploration and fur trade route. The river continues to support the Inuit subsistence lifestyle.

Caribou, muskox, wolverine, wolves, moose, fox and a variety of raptors can be found here. The Coppermine and its environment are essentially unchanged since the first British explorers saw it.

The Coppermine River is the first river flowing into the Arctic Ocean Basin to be nominated to the Canadian Heritage Rivers System (CHRS). It is 450 km long from the Nunavut border to Kugluktuk, including the Kendall River and Melville Creek tributaries.

The river is bounded by Great Bear Lake on the west, Great Slave Lake to the south and the Coronation Gulf on the north, in Nunavut. It flows in a wide sweeping valley within the northwestern part of the Canadian Shield, north of Yellowknife and Great Slave Lake and east of Great Bear Lake.

The Coppermine was nominated to the CHRS for its natural heritage, cultural heritage, and recreational values.