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Tuktoyaktuk is located near the Mackenzie River Delta at 69°27'N and 133°02'W, 137 km north of Inuvik and 1130 km northwest of Yellowknife. It is the most northerly community on mainland Canada.

Between 1890 and 1910, American whalers brought influenza and decimated the local population. Many Alaskan Inuit moved to the area and settled. A large movement of people from Herschel Island to Tuktoyaktuk in 1928 coincided with the construction of the Hudson’s Bay Company post. The Roman Catholic Mission was constructed in 1937. The Anglican Mission, a school and an RCMP detachment had arrived by 1950. During the 1970's during the 1970's rising oil prices, and the advent of the National Energy Program, encouraged significant investment in the Beaufort and Mackenzie Delta. During some years, annual investment in the region exceeded $1 billion. While significant deposits were found, the elimination of the National Energy Program and falling prices witnessed the end of extensive exploration in the region by the mid-1980's.