License plates of the Northwest Territories Canada
The Northwest Territories was established on June of 1869, and extended some 1,322,900 square miles within its borders. This sparsely populated area as of January 1981 had approximately 42,800 people living there. During the early 1900's the growth of the fish and fur trade along the Great Slave Lake and the Mackenzie River aided the development of small trading villages. Along with the discovery of gold in 1937 in the area, many miners, prospectors, and entrepreneurs were attracted to the Northwest Territories. The town of Yellowknife sprang up some 1,400 miles north of the state of Montana.
During the early years many heavy trucks and taxicabs were the only motor vehicles in use. Winters in this part of the Canadian Arctic last about8 months of the year and before 1960 there were few gravel roads on which to travel. In 1960 The Mackenzie highway was opened to Yellowknife and this made it possible to reach the Northwest Territories for the first time by routes other than air or water. As a result of isolation, severe weather and the lack of adequate roads, motor vehicle registrations began much later than anywhere else in North America.
The first license plates were issued in 1941. In 1943, the 1942 plates were renewed with a windshield sticker as a means of conserving metal for the Canadian war effort during World War II. For those registering for the first time in 1943, a new yellow on black license plate was issued. No dated 1944 plates are know from the Northwest Territories.
NWT licence plates have carried the same design from 1941 through 1953 with the initials N.W.T. flanked by the year above the registration number. In 1954 the first slogan appeared with "Canada's Northland" under the numbers. This slogan was used up until 1969. It was in 1969 that the government of the Northwest Territories proposed a contest for school children throughout the territories whereby a unique license plate design was sought. This design was to symbolize their homeland and be representative of the Northwest Territories. The winning entry came from a student by the name of Klaus Schoenne from the Yellowknife area. This design depicted a a walking polar bear in the two most-common-seen colors in the Northwest Territories; Blue for the sky, and White for the snow-covered-ground. In 1986 a new revised permanent plate was issued. This is the current license plate in use today and is blue on a white background with the slogan "Explore Canada's Arctic". The prominent Northwest Territories license plate remains one of the top favorite collectible license plates from North America and is always a great conversation piece!