Map of the Mackenzie River Delta region highlighting zones of near-surface bedrock. This map is intended for eventual inclusion in my third book project, which is about problems of establishing transportation networks in flood-prone regions.

The map also highlights four sites proposed for the relocation of the main fixed settlement in the delta during the early and mid 20th century, a hamlet called Aklavik. Due to frequent river flooding in Aklavik, during the 1950s the Canadian government surveyed the sites marked here as "Fraserville", Husky Channel, Site 3 and Site 4 to find an optimal new administrative town for the district. Note that all 4 sites are over the bedrock zone. The government wanted to avoid problems of geomorphological transience in the other, less-solid surficial zones.

Eventually Site 4 was selected to be the "New Aklavik" -- today called Inuvik. The site was selected for being relatively secluded from the difficult terrain of the open delta, and for having rocky hills and forest cover nearby. Yet, as Inuvik developed as an administrative town, Aklavik persisted as a settlement, despite its planned abandonment. This persistence was in part due to the Inuvik location's relative remoteness from the heart of the delta. Aklavik locals, mostly Inuit, whose livelihood was fishing stayed in the old settlement despite the frequent flooding (and preferring to keep the Inuvik officials at arm's length).

A fifth point marked here, Tuktoyaktuk, along the northeastern coast, has been a fixed settlement since the early 20th century (called Port Brabant then). It functions as the main sea-facing port for the delta region. Built on highly flood- and melt-prone permafrost, Tuktoyaktuk is fast disappearing.

Of the four Aklavik-relocation sites proposed over permanent bedrock, two could have plausibly developed into a city combining the functions of seaport, delta-facing fishing settlement, and administrative town. These are the Fraserville site and Site 3. The Fraserville site in particular had (and still has?) a kind of urbanizable potential, due the large expanse surficial bedrock in this area, the benchlands of the Richardson Mountains. If such a site were to plug in to the global maritime network of Panamax shipping channels (i.e. channels deep enough to take ships sized to the Panama Canal hull draft maximum), a deep channel would have to be dredged, some 60 miles in length.