99 Mackenzie River Facts: Learn About The Longest River In Canada! | Kidadl


99 Mackenzie River Facts: Learn About The Longest River In Canada!

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The Mackenzie River is an important river valley in the north-western United States drainage network.

Its watershed is the biggest in Canada, and only the Mississippi River exceeds it on the continent. The Mackenzie River system constitutes approximately 700,000 sq mi (1.8 million sq km), which is just about as big as Mexico.

The whole river basin stretches for 2,650 mi (4,241 km) from the sources of the Finlay River, which drain into Williston Lake west of the Rocky Mountains, through the lake-strewn Canadian north-west, to drain into the chilly and often-frozen waters of the Beaufort Sea in the Arctic Ocean.

As per the traditional measurement from Great Slave Lake, the Mackenzie is 1,031 mi (1,650 km) long. The river is usually large, ranging from one to two mi (1.6-3.2 km) in width and three to four mi (4.8-6.4 km) in island-dotted parts. It has a good flow and its lake-covered trianglular delta stretches more than 119 mi (190 km) north to south along the Arctic coast and is around 80 km wide.

Along the stream, economic growth is still restricted. Wool trading became a successful business in the 19th century, although it was hampered by extreme weather conditions. In the '20s, the oil exploration at Norman Wells ushered in an era of modernization in the Mackenzie Basin. Metallic substances, such as uranium, gold, lead, and zinc, have been discovered along the valley's eastern and southern borders. Farming is still widespread in the south, especially around the Peace River. The river's sources and headwaters have been enhanced for hydroelectric power, flood protection, and farming.

Read on to know more about the lower Mackenzie River system and upper Mackenzie River system.

Ecology And Environment

The Mackenzie River system gets clogged with bottom particles and dissolved solids as snow melts and the ice breaks away in the warm months. The river conveys more of these substances year-round than any other poleward river.

The majority of these minerals originate in the Mackenzie Hills, as well as the Pelly and the Rocky Mountains within Liard sub-basin, which flow into the Mackenzie from the west. The waters that run further into Mackenzie from the Great Bear River to the east, on the other hand, are crystal clear.

The river is home to 54 different species of fish, most of which migrate in large groups between the Mackenzie as well as its tributaries. Those which migrate from sea to river to reproduce cover most of the greatest distances. The arctic cisco, for instance, migrates up the Mackenzie and then into the Liard River out from the delta. Between both the Liard and the Mackenzie, lake whitefish, inconnu, and long-nose suckers all migrate.

Snow geese, tundra swans, and sandhill cranes are among the migrating birds that utilize the Mackenzie River as a migration route, and live the spring and summer mostly in the delta. The delta is a birthing habitat for beluga whales in the springtime. The delta's tangle of waterways, cut-off lakes, and circular ponds are also home to a robust muskrat species, which has traditionally supported the fur industry. Along the riverbanks, you could see moose, mink, beaver, and wood frogs.

The basin's environmental, social, and financial importance to Canadians is unquestionable, as it not only draws 20% of Canada's total land area, but it also contains more than 1% of the country's inhabitants, including various aboriginal peoples.

However, this tropical paradise is currently under threat from a number of sources. Oil sands expansion increased northern advancement, and climate change are all stresses that may have an influence on the water quantity and quality, plus affects numerous species and people who rely on it. It goes without saying that knowing the status of such an important part of the country's water supply is crucial.

Global warming is also expected to cause changes in streamflow in the future. Changes in the snowfall and draining will result in lower water levels along the river in the summer months, but increased levels in the winter months. Global warming is reacting with toxins found in the Subarctic and Arctic, such as mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which pass through to the area.

Burbot, a dominant species inside the Mackenzie River and also an essential food supply for nearby people, has had higher levels of these poisons ever since the mid-'80s. Mercury also flows from the Mackenzie River into the Beaufort Sea and the Arctic Ocean, where beluga whales and other creatures eat it.

The major lakes comprising the Mackenzie system are Mills Lake, Great Bear Lake, and Lake Athabasca. The Mackenzie Delta is the biggest delta in Canada and is in fact the 12th-largest delta in the world. But, unlike most of the other deltas in the world, Mackenzie River Delta is marked by the Richardson Mountains towards the western side and Caribou Hills on the eastern side.

How did Mackenzie River get its name?

The Mackenzie River is an extremely important water source for the people of Canada. But how did the river get its name? Here are some interesting facts related to the naming of the Mackenzie River.

During the earliest population movements across Asia to North America, ancient peoples are thought to have traveled the Mackenzie Basin pathway. The people who lived along the river's tributaries called it Deh Cho (great river).

Kuukpak means 'huge river' in the Inuvialuktun native language, and Nagwichoonjik means 'river running across a large country' in Gwich'in. Alexander Mackenzie, a textile merchant of Montreal who investigated its waters in 1789, gave it its English name. As a result, small seasonal trading stations known as forts were established, which eventually evolved into today's river villages. The Mackenzie River's accessibility made it a popular travel route for adventurers, merchants, and missionaries.

In the spring of 1920, Imperial Oil crews discovered oil slightly north of Tulita. In order to guarantee ownership to all these territories, the Canadian government dispatched a negotiating committee north to collect signatures on what became Treaty 11. Starting in the '30s, the oil finding resulted in the construction of refineries in Norman Wells, which provided petroleum products to surrounding industry applications, along with mines in Port Radium and Yellowknife.

Following a big oil strike in Alaska's Prudhoe Bay in '68, plans to build a northern pipeline channel to transport natural gas from the Arctic Ocean to Alberta, especially across the Mackenzie River Valley, were proposed. These suggestions took place at a time when Dene officials started doubting the validity of Treaty 11, so by the early '70s, they were convinced that the treaty had not lost jurisdiction over northern regions, including the Mackenzie River.

The Mackenzie River Pipeline Investigation, conducted by Thomas Berger, looked into these and other concerns, proposing a 10-year pipeline ban and kicking off a new land-ownership procedure. The Inuvialuit (in '84), Gwich'in ('92), and Sahtu ('94) all resolved land claims spanning distinct portions of the river.

Today, tugs and boats bring commodities to settlements from Great Slave Lake to the Mackenzie Delta, as well as from Alaska to Nunavut, using the Mackenzie River as a commercial channel. Every spring, when the banks of the enormous river are brought to life again, it is a major occasion. By early June, the Mackenzie River is normally free of snow and continues to operate until early December.

know how did mackenzie river get its name

Fun Facts About The Mackenzie River

Want to know the Mackenzie River better? Then check out these interesting facts about the Mackenzie River and its route across North America:

Across north-western North America, the Mackenzie River is an important river system. It covers an area of more than 697,000 sq mi (1.8 million sq km), making it Canada's largest river. This area accounts for roughly 20% of Canada's overall land area. It is the 11th-longest river in the world, with a length of 2,635 mi (4,216 km).

The Liard, Keele, Great Bear, Arctic Red, and Peel rivers are important sources of this stream, and the river's average flow is 342,552 cu ft/s (9,700 cu m/s). The Mackenzie River reaches its maximum flow in June, but the flow stays strong and consistent all year.

The Mackenzie River basin, primarily in its northern part, is regarded as one of North America's biggest and most preserved habitats. The river basin is wooded for around 63% of its length, or 0.68 million km (1.1 million km). Wetlands make up around 18% of the basin or 203.062 mi (324,900 km). More than 93% of wooded land is pristine ancient woodland.

Nevertheless, human impact, including oil production, has posed a danger to the quality of water within the Mackenzie River's tributaries. A rising temperature in the watershed's northern reaches is also dissolving permafrost and undermining soil via erosion.

Starting in the early 18th century, the Mackenzie River became a vital passage into Canada's northern region for European colonizers. On July 14, 1789, Scottish adventurer Alexander Mackenzie crossed the watercourse in the hopes of reaching the Pacific Ocean but rather arrived at its end on the Arctic Ocean.

Scores of the native population died as a result of outbreaks of foreign European diseases that swept across indigenous settlements along the riverbank in the early 20th centuries. In 1928, an extremely devastating influenza outbreak killed one out of every 10 native people who live around the Mackenzie River.

In the '20s, oil was found at Norman Wells, kicking off an era of modernization in the Mackenzie River Basin. Ships were used to transport oil to industries and villages around the NWT (Northwest Territories). When gold was found on the northern bank of Great Slave Lake, this demand expanded, resulting in the establishment of Yellowknife and other mines in the vicinity.

In 2001, the Mackenzie River valley had a total of around 400,000 people, accounting for less than 1% of Canada's total population. During the ice-free summer, the Mackenzie River serves as a significant transit corridor across northern Canada's barren landscape, connecting many distant towns. During this summer season, wide, tranquil parts of the riverbed are commonly used to land aircraft.

The icy Mackenzie Valley stream is used as an ice bridge in the wintertime, particularly in the Mackenzie River delta region, and is strong enough to accommodate large vehicles, whereas most transit among northern villages is done by dog sleds and snowmobiles.

Farming is mainly focused in the Peace and Athabasca basins towards the south of the Mackenzie River system. Because of the heavy proportion of minerals in the soil, the basin of the old river is regarded as one of Canada's best for northern agriculture.

The Geographical Location Of The Mackenzie River

The Mackenzie River runs across the nation's north-west corner. It is a branching river valley due to its multiple sources, and covers almost 20% of the country. Many Canadian provinces are directly adjacent to the river system.

A handful of Canadian lakes are included, and the river's primary channel flows through the Northwest Territories, which are located in the country's poleward zone.

Mackenzie is a descendant of the Great Slave Lake and is also the peninsula of North America's largest water body, which reaches a depth of 2,026 ft (614 m). The Mackenzie River basin is deservedly regarded as one of the natural attractions of the area. The Mackenzie River empties into a harbor in the Arctic Ocean's Beaufort Sea, and its waters account for 11% of total runoff.

When the river flows into the harbor, it generates a swampy delta that covers a large area of polar ice that has frozen the soil here.

Mackenzie's waters flow in a north-westerly trajectory. Because of the density of alluvial and water-glacial sediments, the river created a valley. It is mostly surrounded by spruce forests and marshy areas.

Fort Simpson, in the Dehcho region of the Northwest Territories, is located on an island at the confluence of the Mackenzie and Liard rivers.Both rivers were traditionally trade routes for the Dene native people, and the Hudson Bay Company. Fort Simpson is the regional centre of the Dehcho and is the gateway to the scenic South Nahanni River and the Nahanni National Park reserve. 

Kidadl Team
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Kidadl Team

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