You Know You're Way Up North When The licence Plates Are Shaped Like Polar Bears

This is part of our series on the Alberta oil sands.

The polar bear shaped licence plate of the Northwest Territories (NWT) was introduced in 1970 and it must have raised a few eyebrows back in the day because the Automobile licence Plate Collectors awarded it the inaugural “Plate of the Year” for best new plate.

40 one years later it retains its original design, but the landscape scene is new and only introduced in 2010.

I’m in Alberta, headed north from Edmonton to Ft. McMurray to explore the third largest oil deposit in the world — the Athabascan oil sands — and this is the only plate like this I’ve seen in town.

Unfortunately, I won’t make it to the Northwest Territories just north of Alberta which is made up of more than 700,000 square miles of land and only about 41,000 people.

Populated mostly by “First Nations” as Native Americans are called in Canada, the main languages are English, Dogrib (Tłı̨chǫ), and South Slavey in that order.

While there may not be a lot of residents they’re doing quite well for themselves, thank you very much.

Thanks to a rich supply of gold, diamonds, oil and gas the locals earn more per capita than any other territory in Canada: $76,000 Canadian in 2009.

Nearly 30 per cent of diamond miner Rio Tinto’s gems come from the NWT and are offered as a conscience free alternative to the “blood diamonds” of Africa.

I’ll be on my way to Ft. McMurray early tomorrow morning and will be sure to post all evidence of local flavour while I’m there.

NWT Plate

Photo: Robert Johnson — Business Insider

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