Fort Smith is a town in the southeastern end of the Northwest Territories just north of the Alberta border and part of the South Slave Region. It is about 300 kilometers southeast of Yellowknife and has a population of over 2,300 people, most of whom are First Nations. In the past, Fort Smith was a transportation town, the main link in a series of arctic trading posts. Goods were transported to and from along the Mackenzie River via Fort Smith. The building of the Mackenzie Highway, however, put an end to this.
Today, the town sustains itself through tourism. Many travelers come to kayak the rapids along the Slave River. Fort Smith is also home to the Northern Life Museum, which showcases more than 10,000 artifacts from the people and history of the region. The highlight of the museum is the Radium King, the first vessel used to haul radium and uranium ore.
The main attraction of Fort Smith, however, is the Wood Buffalo National Park, the headquarters of which is located within the town. Wood Buffalo is the world’s second largest national park, the bulk of it lying in Alberta and parts of it straddling the border. It is a subarctic wilderness where more than 6,000 bison herds roam freely, the largest population in the world. The park is also home to the whooping crane, a rare and endangered species.
At one time back in the early 1940s, only 21 whooping cranes were left in the world. Today, more than 150 nest in the park. These cranes lay two eggs, but typically raise only one chick, explaining their low reproductive levels. Canada and the United States have both instituted a program to increase the population of cranes by hatching the extra egg through artificial incubators and raising them in captivity. Today, there are more than 150 of these captive birds.
Most of Wood Buffalo remains in its original state of wilderness. Some areas have camping, swimming, and boating facilities. Fort Smith is where the park’s Reception Center is located.
“Fort Smith, Northwest Territories.” < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Smith%2C_Northwest_Territories>
“Northern Life Museum (Fort Smith, NWT).” < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Life_Museum_%28Fort_Smith%2C_NWT%29>
Simpkins, Mary Ann. Canada. New York: Prentice Hall Travel, 1994. ISBN: 0671882783.
 Simpkins, 284-85
 Id. at 285