A Day in Yellowknife
It’s 4:00am and I throw back the curtains in my hotel room, hoping to see clear skies after a rainy and grey arrival the day before.
I was greeted with a wall of fog so thick that I couldn’t see anything beyond my balcony railing. “NO!”, I groaned, shaking my fist weakly before shutting the curtains and crawling back into bed. Maybe if I pretend to go back to sleep Mother Nature will curb her diva act and bring on the sunshine.
An hour later I crawl out of bed and sneak back to the window and slowly open the curtains, hoping for a hint of blue sky.
While many would go back to bed and use it as an excuse to catch-up on sleep (a wise choice if one was awake for 23 hrs the day before and only managed to get four and a half hours sleep), I choose to get dressed, grab my camera, and explore. I’m in Yellowknife for two and a half days and even though it is foggy outside, I need to go out and explore a little bit before visiting the Yellowknife Legislature Assembly, Prince of Wales Heritage Centre, and Buffalo Air.
Old Town in Yellowknife is one of those places you would miss if you blinked. This is the site of the original settlement and a few of the log homes from that period still exist. The most notable stops in this area of Yellowknife are Bullock’s Bistro, Weaver & Devore Store (supply store for bush pilots etc), Great Slave Lake (to see the colourful houseboats) and Wild Cat Café.
Yellowknife Legislative Assembly
Accompanied by the hotel’s Front Desk Manager, I walked through the doors of the Legislative Assembly and looked around in awe. After driving through the outpost-esque downtown area (circa 1950’s – 1960’s), this modern building with its streams of natural light, and zinc panelled walls and roof are a welcome sight.
For the next 45 minutes we walk around the assembly, learning about the history, culture, and people of the Northwest Territories. I’m blown away by the fact that until 1993, the legislative assembly was a moving assembly – even the original wooden assembly throne was made in a way that it could be taken apart for travel.
Prince of Wales Heritage Centre
I think every capitol city in Canada has a heritage/civilization/natural history museum. Some are big, some are small, and most of them are definitely worth a visit, including the Prince of Wales Heritage Centre. I love that there is a space in the city where locals and visitors can go to learn about the heritage, history, nature and landscapes of the Northwest Territories.
You may know them as ‘Ice Pilots’, a television show that airs on the history channel. I visited Buffalo Air – a fully functional airline in the Northwest Territories – for a tour of the yard and hanger.
This is basically an airplane lovers wet dream. I walked the tarmac with Kristen from Buffalo Air, walking under massive planes, snooping around a cockpit, and then watching mechanics work a Douglas DC-4 water bomber for forest fire season. I’m still blown away by the size of the planes.
Mother Nature has been having a few diva moments since my arrival in Yellowknife, and I have driven sections of Ingrahams Trail a couple times in hopes of semi-clear skies. This is one of the most scenic drives in the Northwest Territories and highly recommended for anyone visiting Yellowknife – yes, you really should rent a car when you visit.
Yellowknife, and the Northwest Territories in general are a little rough around the edges. This is the Canadian frontier. The major industries are diamond and gold mines. Lakes abound, trees are short and skinny, the crags of rock are covered with lichen, and everything in town seems to be ‘Texas-sized’. I kid you not, I saw a lighter flashlight that was the size of a 500ml bottle of Coke. Which raises a couple questions, why does anyone need a lighter that big, and why on earth does anyone need a lighter flashlight?!