Monday, September 12, 2011

Yellowknife, NWT

Sept 3rd – 6th  We arrived in Yellowknife, NWT –  Yellowknife is  named for the copper knives used for working with explosive powder in the mining of gold, and conjures up images of Yellowknife’s gold mining heritage. Yellowknife started as a gold mining community in the 1930’s, then took off when diamonds were discovered north of the city in 1991. Yellowknife has since, thanks to the Diavek mines, become the world’s 3rd largest producer of diamonds.

Today, Yellowknife has a population of about 20,000. It is the capital of the Northwest Territories, whose total population is only 40,000 – with half of these being Aboriginal or Native peoples. In Yellowknife, what you see are young people. A significant percent of the population is in their late 20’s and 30’s – a number of those being transient young professionals,  drawn by the high salaries and sense of adventure. Along with these young professionals are a significant Native population, and, surprisingly, a number of Asians.

As we strolled through the downtown, or sat at ‘Javaroma’, an up-scale coffee shop with Wi-Fi, we would see nicely dressed young people discussing their latest ‘project’, as well as a decidedly ‘punk’ group with multiple piercings and LOTS of tattoos. Walking down the streets might be a Native woman carrying her child in a sling on her back, or a group of men who look like they were headed for a fishing or hunting trip, or business men and women in suits.  In other words, Yellowknife has the diversity that one might expect in a much larger city.

Yellowknife can best be described as a city of contrasts. The ‘New Town’ sits with its high rises looking out over the ‘Old Town’.


In the New Town, newly built office and bank buildings……


Share the street with older buildings, like The Diner, where we had lunch. Which brings up another contrast…..many of the local restaurants advertise “Western and Chinese cuisine”, an interesting combo….with a mostly Asian staff working there.


Old Town consist of a number of smaller homes and businesses built close together by the water front.


We got a good view of the city from the Pilot’s Monument, in the area known as “the Rock” ….


Which produces some VERY interesting architecture…..I have never seen a house built on the side of a hill quite like THIS!


We had dinner on Fred’s birthday (Sept 3rd) at Bullock’s Bistro – a must see place on the list of things to do.


It was loud and crowded….and when we walked in we were told “If you want a seat sit here at the bar!” So…we did as we were told. Then, the rather brash, down to earth waitress asked what we wanted to drink. When we asked for water, she bruskly told us where to find the glasses, and that we could help ourselves to the tap.  We were feeling a bit intimidated and confused…… Then, the waitress, who was also the chief cook- with all the cooking going on right behind the bar while we watched - asked what we wanted to eat….no menus, mind you……We had heard that they were famous for their Fish and Chips, so we just asked for that. Over the evening,  this waitress/cook/probably owner/manager, softened a bit and we had a nice bit of conversation. And, oh, the food was good (you don’t want to know how much grease it had) and the evening was just the right introduction to Yellowknife.


Also, in the Old Town area…..a rather eclectic group of houseboats moored somewhat haphazardly in the lake.


The people who live in these… or rather houses on floating docks….stay there year round. They boat into work in warmer weather, and, when the lake freezes, they ski into town.


Which brings up another interesting mode of transportation….the float plane. Many outlying areas, including Peterson’s Point Lake Lodge,  where we will be going for a photography workshop, are only accessible by floatplane. This is the plane that we will fly out on on Wednesday.


We enjoyed our time  touring Yellowknife – having dinner one night at Sam’s Monkey Tree Pub, and one night at a Pizza Hut (and, yes, they have McDonalds and KFC). We looked through a Canadian Tire Shop, which is best described as Home Depot and Target rolled into one store, as well as looked  for local Dene Indian arts and crafts. We toured the Prince of Wales (named for Prince Charles) Northern Heritage Center, and the visitor’s display at the Diavek Mines corporate office.

We also, took a drive out of town, down the Ingraham Trail, to do a bit of hiking and see Cameron Falls……

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