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.