5 Outermost Provinces and Territories of Canada

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Are you drawn to the outer limits? Whether you dream about living in the remote wilderness or on an island, the U.S. and Canada are home to many places where you can live off the beaten path. This article – the first in a two-part series spotlighting the U.S. and Canada’s outlying regions – explores the 5 outermost provinces and territories of Canada.

The second-largest country in the world, Canada spans nearly 10 million square kilometers (about 4 million square miles) and consists of 10 provinces and 3 territories. More than 80% of Canada’s vast expanse is uninhabited. Of Canada’s 38 million people, two-thirds live within a one-hour drive of the southern Canada–U.S. border.

Canada’s 5 outermost provinces and territories are Newfoundland and Labrador at North America’s far easternmost point, Prince Edward Island, located between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon in Canada’s far north region. Canada’s three territories account for nearly 40% of the country’s land mass, but are home to less than 1% of the population.

What is life like in the Canadian outskirts? Read on to find out more about the people, the climate, and the economy of Canada’s 5 outermost provinces and territories, along with fun facts and information about current opportunities for immigrating to these far-out regions.

Newfoundland and Labrador

This Atlantic Province is comprised of two land masses: Newfoundland, an island, and Labrador on the mainland bordering Quebec. More than 90% of the province’s 520,000 residents lives on Newfoundland. The provincial capital city of St. John’s – one of the oldest cities in North America – is home to just over 200,000 people. The majority of Newfoundland and Labrador residents are the descendants of English and Irish settlers. Indigenous people comprise 9% of the province’s population.

Fun facts

  • The province is so far east, it has its own time zone: Newfoundland Time.
  • More varieties of English are spoken in the province than anywhere else in the world. The Dictionary of Newfoundland English, first published in 1982, contains hundreds of words and phrases found nowhere else.
  • The capital city of St. John’s has one of the highest concentrations of writers, actors, musicians, and comedians in Canada.

Climate and economy

The island of Newfoundland has a maritime climate. Summers are short with an average temperature of 16°C (61°F), while winter temperatures hover around 0°C (32°F). In Labrador, daytime winter temperatures are around -10°C (14°F). Snow covers the ground from six to eight months out of the year. The average summer temperature is 10°C (50°F) along the coast and a few degrees warmer inland.

Financial services, healthcare, mining, fishing, energy, oil production and manufacturing are the province’s main industries. The second-largest hydroelectric facility in Canada (and the tenth largest in the world) is in Labrador. In January 2021, the province launched Priority Skills Newfoundland and Labrador, an immigration pathway that prioritizes applicants with skill sets in engineering, development, and technology.

Prince Edward Island

Located between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island (PEI) is Canada’s smallest, most developed and densely populated province. One-quarter of PEI’s 160,000 residents live in the capital city of Charlottetown. The rest of the population lives in PEI’s other city, Summerside, and in small villages on the island. The majority of PEI residents are descendants of early Scottish and English settlers. Chinese, South Asian, Black and Indigenous people, including First Nations, Métis and Inuit, comprise about 7% of the population of PEI.

Fun facts

  • PEI’s potato industry is worth over a billion dollars to the island economy each year.
  • The book Anne of Green Gables was written by local PEI author Lucy Maud Montgomery and the house that inspired the book is a National Historic Site.
  • The Confederation Bridge over the Northumberland Strait between PEI and New Brunswick is the longest in Canada at 12.9 kilometers (8 miles).

Climate and economy

PEI’s mild maritime climate is influenced by the warm waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Summers temperatures average 19°C (67°F), while average winter temperatures are -7°C (19°F). PEI’s largest industry is agriculture, with nearly half of the island’s land dedicated to farming. PEI grows one-quarter of the potatoes in Canada, making it the country’s largest potato-producing province. PEI also produces almost 20% of Canadian lobsters. Tourism is a growing industry. Each year, PEI hosts more than 1.5 million visitors from all over the world. New industry sectors in PEI include bioscience and advanced manufacturing.

The Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories (NWT) is the second-largest of Canada’s three territories, stretching over one million square kilometers (600,000+ square miles). Half of the NWT’s 44,000 residents live in the capital city of Yellowknife and the other half live in 33 communities across the territory. Indigenous people – Dene, Inuit (Inuvialuit) and Métis – make up about half of the NTW population. Other major ethnic groups include English, Canadian, Scottish, Irish, French, German, and Ukrainian.

Fun facts

  • 9 of the NWT’s 11 officially-recognized languages are Indigenous languages.
  • Yellowknife enjoys more sunny summertime days than any other city in Canada.
  • The NWT is one of the best places in the world to view the Northern Lights.

Climate and economy

The NWT is divided into two major climatic zones, both of which have extremely long, cold winters during which temperatures often reach -50° C (-60° F). The arctic climate has a short summer with average monthly temperatures remaining below 10° C (50° F). The sub arctic climate has at least three summer months with average monthly temperatures above 10° C. The territory’s largest industries are mining and oil and gas exploration and development. Fishing, hunting and trapping are also important industries. Tourism contributes $100 million annually to the NWT economy.

Yukon

Located along the Alaska border, Yukon is the smallest and westernmost of Canada’s three territories. About 80% of the territory is wilderness. Of Yukon’s 36,000 residents, 25,000 live in the territorial capital of Whitehorse. The rest of the population lives in 17 communities throughout the territory. Most Yukon residents are of European ancestry. Indigenous people make up one quarter of the Yukon population. About 9% of the territory’s population is Filipino, South Asian and Chinese.

Fun facts

  • Moose outnumber people in Yukon by almost 2:1.
  • The St. Elias Icefields contain the most glaciers in the world, totaling over 2,000.
  • Yukon is home to 17 of the 20 tallest mountains in Canada including Mount Logan, the highest peak in the country.

Climate and economy

Most of Yukon has long winters and short summers. But, summer days are long with temperatures averaging 25°C (77°F) and up. The part of Yukon that sits above the Arctic Circle gets 24 hours of daylight in June and July. Winter days, however, are very short, with temperatures in the territory’s south averaging between 4°C (39°F) and -50°C (-58°F). Further north, temperatures drop even lower. Yukon’s largest industries are mining (lead, zinc, copper and gold) and tourism. The largest single employer in the territory is the government. Yukon’s unemployment rate is currently lower than any other Canadian province or territory.

Nunavut

Nunavut is Canada’s northernmost and largest territory. One of the most sparsely populated habitable regions on Earth, Nunavut consists of two parts: a vast, mostly uninhabitable mainland and a massive archipelago of huge, icy islands stretching to the North Pole. Nunavut’s capital and largest city, Iqaluit, has over 7,700 residents. The rest of the territory’s 36,000 residents live in 25 remote coastal communities. Nunavut can only be accessed by air and sea and there are no roads between communities. Indigenous people make up 85% of the Nunavut population. The first languages spoken by over 70% of Nunavut residents are Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun – two of the territory’s four official languages. (The others are English and French.)

Fun facts

  • Baffin Island in Nunavut is Canada’s largest island and the world’s fifth-largest island.
  • Devon Island in Baffin Bay, Nunavut is so frozen, barren, dry and featureless, it’s been used as training ground for astronauts.
  • Nunavut has the youngest population in Canada; one-half of residents are under 25.

Climate and economy

Nunavut lies entirely within the Arctic climatic zone. Winter days are very short. Temperatures average above 30 °C (−22 °F) only in the eastern coastal areas. In the far north and northwest of Hudson Bay they reach only −35 °C (−31 °F). Summer days are very long, with average temperatures exceeding 10 °C (50 °F) west of Hudson Bay, but staying below 5 °C (41 °F) in the far north and along the northeastern coast of Baffin Island. The major employers in Nunavut are Inuit organizations and territorial government. Industries include oil, gas and mineral exploration, arts and crafts, hunting, fishing, tourism and transportation.

Immigrating to Canada’s 5 outermost provinces and territories

Each of the 5 outermost Canadian provinces and territories (except Nunavut) has its own unique Provincial Nominee Program through which it accepts Canadian immigration applications from skilled workers, international graduates and entrepreneurs who meet program-specific criteria. These criteria may include a job or job offer, intent to reside, and the ability to become economically established in the province. For the most up to date information about Canada’s Provincial Nominee Programs, click here.

Do this before you move to the outer limits.

Moving to an outermost province or territory isn’t for everyone.  Make sure you’re the right place personality type BEFORE you start exploring places to move off the beaten path. Take the free Place Personality Type quiz here!

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