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The Coppermine River is a river in the North Slave and Kitikmeot regions of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut in Canada. It is 845 kilometres (525 mi)[4] long. It rises in Lac de Gras, a small lake near Great Slave Lake, and flows generally north to Coronation Gulf, an arm of the Arctic Ocean. The river freezes in winter but may still flow under the ice.

Coppermine River
Coppermine mouth 1821.jpg
View of the Arctic Sea from the mouth of the Coppermine River (1821) by George Back
Coppermine River is located in Canada
Coppermine River
Coppermine River mouth location
Physical characteristics
SourceLac de Gras
 ⁃ locationNorthwest Territories, Canada
 ⁃ coordinates64°35′01″N 111°11′33″W / 64.58361°N 111.19250°W / 64.58361; -111.19250
 ⁃ elevation396 m (1,299 ft)
MouthCoronation Gulf
 ⁃ location
Nunavut, Arctic Ocean, Canada
 ⁃ coordinates
67°48′43″N 115°05′05″W / 67.81194°N 115.08472°W / 67.81194; -115.08472Coordinates: 67°48′43″N 115°05′05″W / 67.81194°N 115.08472°W / 67.81194; -115.08472
 ⁃ elevation
0 m (0 ft)
Length845 km (525 mi)
Basin size50,700 km2 (19,600 sq mi)
 ⁃ average337.69 m3/s (11,925 cu ft/s)[1]
 ⁃ minimum10.37 m3/s (366 cu ft/s)
 ⁃ maximum1,500 m3/s (53,000 cu ft/s)

The community of Kugluktuk (formerly Coppermine) is located at the river's mouth.

The river was named for the copper ores which are located along the lower river. Samuel Hearne travelled down the river to the Arctic Ocean in 1771. Sir John Franklin also travelled down the river during the Coppermine Expedition of 1819–1822. In 1826 its mouth was reached by John Richardson, who followed the coast from the Mackenzie River as part of the 1825–1827 Mackenzie River expedition.

Bloody Falls, part of the Kugluk/Bloody Falls Territorial Park, is located 18.5 kilometres (11.5 mi) from Kugluktuk, and was home to the Kogluktogmiut a sub-group of the Copper Inuit. It is the site of the Bloody Falls Massacre, when Matonabbee, Samuel Hearne's guide, and his fellow Chipewyan warriors ambushed and massacred the local Inuit.

The river is used for wilderness canoeing and rafting, although it sees only a few groups each year. It features major rapids, such as Rocky Defile, Sandstone, Muskox, and Escape Rapids, as well as many unnamed smaller sets. Bloody Falls is the final major rapid of the river, and must be portaged.

The Coppermine River is the namesake of Coppermine Herald at the Canadian Heraldic Authority.

The river figures in Jack London's short story, "Love of Life," in which the main character, exhausted and abandoned, finds himself standing in a stream, "a feeder to the Coppermine River, which in turn flowed north and emptied into Coronation Gulf and the Arctic Ocean." Later in the story, the Coppermine is described as a "wide and sluggish river".



Canoeists camping along river
One of many waterfalls along the river
Canoeing the Rocky Defile
Bloody Falls

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Coppermine River above Bloody Falls". R-ARCTICNET. Retrieved 2017-08-11.
  2. ^ "Natural Resources Canada-Canadian Geographical Names (Coppermine River)". Retrieved 2014-08-29.
  3. ^ "Atlas of Canada Toporama". Retrieved 2014-08-29.
  4. ^ Coppermine river at the Atlas of Canada

Further readingEdit

  • Dredge, L. A. Where the river meets the sea geology and landforms of the lower Coppermine River Valley and Kugluktuk, Nunavut. [Ottawa]: Geological Survey of Canada, 2001. ISBN 0-660-18550-4
  • Steele, Peter. The Man Who Mapped The Arctic: The Intrepid Life of George Back, Franklin's Lieutenant, 2003. ISBN 978-1551926483

External linksEdit