Exploring our new home
We set up in the Explorer Hotel while looking for a place to live. We quickly learned that it would not be business as usual and that Yellowknife has its own pace. We would be staying in the hotel for 42 nights.
Despite the cool weather for autumn, we found the people to be very warm and hospitable.
LOOKING FOR A HOME
The architecture was certainly interesting with its rustic and artsy vibe. It is very different from Barrhaven! There seem to be a lot of artists in town as even the garbage dumpsters are artfully painted with colourful northern scenes.
Having a dog in Yellowknife is a very good thing. It forces you to get outside and makes it very easy to meet people and make new friends. Saydee and I spent many afternoons hiking at the Fred Henney Territorial Campground.
THE STREET DURING RUSH HOUR
One early morning after dropping Eddie off at work, I decided to get out briefly for a walk and do some street photography. Given that it was -21C there didn’t seem to be too many people out.
“You’re going to need a new coat!” a friend advised. A Canada Goose Parka is not a fashion statement here but absolutely essential for survival when the temperature dips down to -40C.
NO SNIVELING AND FINE DINING
Bullocks Bistro, with its wild northwest vibe is one of the most interesting places to dine while in Yellowknife. There you will find lots of warnings that snivelling will not be tolerated while you wait for your dinner which happened to have been fished out of the lake across the street just a few hours before. However, you are invited to carve out your name on the counter and or leave your business card or Fuji Instax print on the wall. It is a unique dining experience and the fish is amazing!
With the sun setting at 3:15 pm at winter solstice, the nights are long and dark in Yellowknife during the winter.
And the days are short. One morning Saydee and I ventured to the top of Pilot’s Monument to greet the sunrise at 10:15 am.
There is something very mystical about the quality of light here in the Arctic. You will see colours that will literally stop you in your tracks as you will probably have never seen anything quite like it before. Not sure exactly why… is it due to the lack of pollution or is it due to the angle of the sun which never really rises above the horizon?
With a good coat you can pretty much enjoy the winter. There is much to do here from driving on the Ice road to Dettah, a Dene first nation community on the other side of the lake, to chartering an aircraft for a tour, snowshoeing, skijoring - a blend of cross country skiing with your dog, dogsledding, snowmobiling, ice fishing and of course plenty to photograph!
HOUSEBOATS ON YELLOWKNIFE BAY
There is a small community of folks who have decided to rough it out on a houseboat on Yellowknife Bay where one doesn’t have to pay any municipal taxes and where one can enjoy the most amazing sunrises and sunsets not to mention the tranquility of actually living on the water. When the lake freezes over in the winter you can drive right up to the front door. Spring and fall can be a bit tricky because the ice is neither frozen solid enough for a car and too patchy for a canoe or a boat. If you would like to try it, some are available as Bed and Breakfast’s via Airbnb.
From mid October through to almost the end of December, the skies were overcast and grey for almost the entire time. It also snowed a little bit each day but never enough to block you in like it does down south. Anyway, the skies would not be clear enough to see the aurora until Great Slave Lake completely froze over. I’m kind of glad we arrived during this time so that I could explore the day to day beauty of the north. But oh my …. to see the Aurora that first time was magical! They were directly overhead and quite strong. Yellowknife boasts that it is the best place in the world to see the Aurora Borealis.
I thought they were kind of interesting in black and white.
LOOKING FOR WILDLIFE
Equipped with Fuji’s new 1.4x Teleconverter and 100-400mm lens, we set out down the highway past Behchokǫ̀ looking for wildlife.
And of course there are plenty of Ravens to practice your tracking capabilities.
THE SNOWCASTLE AND LONG JOHN JAMBOREE
On March 1st, the 20th annual Snowking Winter Festival opened along with the Snowcastle - a huge fort made from the ice and snow of Great Slave Lake. Construction begins in November with the harvesting of Ice slabs that will form the windows of the building. It has become the venue in town during the month of March for everything from music to fashion shows. It coincides with the Long John Jamboree at the end of the Month where Yellowknife's’ gather to celebrate the end of winter.
Every year at the end of March Yellowknife’s gather around a large wooden structure that they would burn to mark the end of winter. This year’s theme was about Balance. We were invited to reflect on what we were balancing in our own lives.
Burn on the Bay
And finally the ice begins to break up in April. People who have lived here a long time and are familiar with the ice conditions would still venture out to do some ice fishing. Where else can you venture out onto a major lake, one of the largest in Canada from downtown and go ice fishing? It’s the lifestyle that keeps many people here.
All photos taken with Fujifilm XT1, XF lenses including XF16-55, XF16, XF10-24, XF35, XF50-140, XF100-400. Special thanks to Fujifilm North America for all their support.
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed it.