Northwest Territories Roads - NWT 7

Liard Highway

All photos are NB, except the one above is SB at the north end of the road.

After many more kilometres of paved road than I expected, and enough bears to satisfy myself once and for all that I have, in fact, seen them in the wild, a bend in the road suddenly and unexpectedly produces a welcome sign. It seems to be in use by another tourist, so I opt to investigate the plainer version with some First Nations language beneath. It's presented as if the two phrases are functional equivalents, but for all I know, the English "Welcome to Northwest Territories" could be paired with "Those stupid Canucks, take their money and give them inferior goods" or "It will probably snow this Wednesday." Shortly thereafter is a gigantic, cracked warning sign with a buffalo. As we all know from deer crossing signs, it's best to expect no bison to be anywhere near this sign, but instead to leap out of the underbrush after you've comfortably traveled about 200 kilometres with no disturbances and are just starting to mellow into that Sarah McLachlan tape. Especially with a sign this old; whatever bison were here have probably migrated south like all sane humans and are running in a by-election for the British Columbian Legislature. Nope. Just past the sign, literally within mere metres, was a scraggly herd of about 30 buffalo, young and old, as if to say "Told you so, silly." It was a curious juxtaposition that said "Welcome to Northwest Territories" far better than some painted, machined sign with the imprints of hundreds of tourists' asses on the flat base. They didn't even glance at me as I passed. They'd done their job for me, and it was back to chewing their cud.

There are few experiences in the great Northwest more exhilarating than finding a gas station. Although the one in Fort Liard has limited hours, it does offer the precious petrochemical. Any of the remaining services may or may not be of use to you. The town doesn't just have food, but an outright convenience market and even a part-time food truck! Notice the tripod style of sign support, which I assume has something to do with stability through freeze-thaw cycles.

Take note, on the return from town on Valley Main Street. Though the current highway shield is blue, not green, this is the standard layout for NWT. It should have been repeated at the end of the road as well.

I hope you took good note, because these shields will test you. First, we see the symbol of Canadian perseverance, moose fighting in autumn. It applies to the Liard Trail, which exists as an excuse to apply this dual moose symbol to the entire Liard Highway, which, as you'll note, already contains the word "Liard." The pentagonal '7' shape is clearly an older standard. As near as I can deduce, the only correct colour scheme for this standard is blue on white, in the second photo. White on blue certainly complements the meese, but is unfortunately non-standard. A black numeral is right out.

A single-lane grated bridge crosses the Poplar River. The yield sign amuses me. As if you would ever come across oncoming traffic on this road. For the record, I found no oncoming traffic from the moment I left the Alaska Highway until Enterprise on NWT 1.

A typical kilometre post from NWT. This photo teaches that the kilometre is posted on all sides, which is useful after your car has spun out in the dirt while trying to avoid two moose fighting in the middle of the road and you are not sure of your orientation.

By the end of the highway, the shields have returned to normalcy, notwithstanding the older SB reassurance (at the top of this page) standing mere metres away from all of these newer ones. Why are the newer ones in poorer condition? My guess is the green sheeting was not manufactured to the same standards as the others. There is an alternate hypothesis in play that the green bear shields somehow predate the pentagons, which were quickly judged to be insufficiently representative of NWT and thus reverted to newer, bluer bear shields.

Onto NWT 1
Back south on BC 77
Liard Highway Non-Roads
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