During the mid 1950's, the government of Canada felt there was a need for an administrative centre in the Western Arctic. Aklavik, the traditional centre, was subject to flooding, erosion and space was limited. Thus, a search for a new site was launched, and the first survey teams went out in 1954.
On July 18, 1958, Inuvik, which means "Place of People" in Inuvialuktun, officially began, by proclamation of the 15th session of the Council of the N.W.T. By Municipal Ordinance, the area known as Inuvik obtained village status on April 1, 1967.
Inuvik was the first planned town north of the Arctic Circle. In January of 1970, town status for Inuvik was achieved. Inuvik, as stated on the Town Monument, dedicated by the Rt. Hon. John Diefenbaker, was created as a model community to provide the normal facilities of a Canadian Town. It was designed, not only as a base for development and administration, but as a centre to bring education, medical care, and new opportunity to the people of the Western Arctic.
Today, Inuvik is the government centre and transportation hub for the Western Arctic. It is the largest town north of the Arctic Circle. Since 1979, Inuvik has been the end of the Dempster Highway, thus connecting the Arctic with southern communities. Inuvik is also the main headquarters for the oil and gas industry operating in the Beaufort Sea/Mackenzie Delta.