Four Days In, Seven Thoughts About Yellowknife

19 03 2012

1. I knew, intellectually, that I wouldn’t be surrounded by mountains anymore, here – but I’m still surprised, every time I step outside, by their absence.

2. The Yellowknife-Whitehorse comparisons are constant and unavoidable. So far, Yellowknife is a clear winner in two categories: coffee shops that actually remain open into the evening (Javaroma, bless its heart, keeps its doors open until 10pm every night) and proper pubs – there’s at least one here, The Black Knight, which is one more than Whitehorse can claim since Tippler’s was forced out of business.

3. On Saturday night I saw by far my best Northern Lights yet, from my backyard right in the heart of downtown Yellowknife. I’d say that display alone makes the trip worthwhile.

4. Another comparison: So far it seems as though Yellowknife has a more dressed-up approach to office life than Whitehorse. One suggested explanation is Yellowknife’s orientation towards Alberta’s big cities, while Whitehorse cultivates that BC outdoor-casual aesthetic. Another is the presence of major multinationals here – among them, mining giant BHP Billiton – in contrast to Whitehorse’s masses of business-casual Yukon government employees. Whatever the reason, the end result is the same: I feel under-dressed in the office tower elevator.

5. I work in an office tower. I ride an elevator to and from the 10th floor, multiple times daily. File under: Things that do not occur in the Yukon.

6. Sometimes I hear snowmobiles passing by behind the house.

7. There is no love-at-first-sight plunge for me here, not like when I first visited Whitehorse. Still, this is the city where my mother was born and spent her early years; this is the other major city in this region I’m so fascinated by. I’m glad to be here.





Off to Yellowknife

14 03 2012

I leave for the NWT capital tomorrow. I’ll be spending a couple of months there, working at the Up Here head office before coming back to Whitehorse to work remotely. Looking forward to it!

I visited Yellowknife briefly when I was really young. I don’t remember a thing. Visually (and probably more generally, too) I think it’s going to be quite a change from Whitehorse – for one thing, it’s on the shore of Great Slave Lake, one of the largest lakes in the world. Also, there are highrises – I’ll even be working in one! – which is a major visual departure from Whitehorse’s four-storey rule.

I’ll hope to post some first impressions over the weekend.





Photo Friday: On the Ice Road

4 02 2011

The frozen MacKenzie River is cleared for traffic from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk





Winter Roadtrips: What’s in my Emergency Kit?

24 01 2011

Alright, let’s talk winter driving.

On any highway where snow and ice are in play – regardless of whether you’re up north or down south – winter driving is going to be a trickier proposition than summer road-tripping. But on the isolated, mostly-empty roads of Alaska and northern Canada, where cell service rarely extends past town and city limits and you can go hours without spotting another vehicle, the risks are augmented even further.

My car, in the ditch on the Dempster Highway

Read the rest of this entry »