Prelude: This is Anne, and Miki. Anne runs her own dog walking business in Toronto and Miki was one of her clients. When Miki's owner went on holiday he offered to fly Anne up to Yellowknife, free room and board, if she would care for Miki. So I went along, too.
In Edmonton, waiting for our connection to YK, we watched a blazing sunset. 1 1/2 hours later we landed in YK, 12:06 local time on Anne's birthday, 2:30 am YYZ time. Anne snapped this selfie on the tarmac. (I just now noticed that Dettah is spelled incorrectly on the above map.)
Out back our B & B, Anne snapped the shot of me, then took her video. There was a group of three canoes, one carrying at least one small child, moving along the shoreline.
It was Indigenous Peoples' Day and we went downtown for the celebrations. The people behind the totem pole have, or are waiting for the free Fish Fry that was on offer. I took part in the Feed The Fire ceremony, joining a long, circling line of people each offering a pinch of tobacco. As soon as I saw the flames start, and smelled the smoke, I started silently weeping. It only took a few more days for this to make full sense to me.
White people first started coming to Yellowknife in the 1930's, after the Yukon Gold Rush. Two prospectors searched for 10 years before the finally staked a claim near YK. They settled first on a peninsula jutting out into Great Slave Lake. Shacks and cabins were placed randomly with no concern for conventional planning. Some of these shacks remain today, mainly in an area known as The Woodlot. As things grew somewhat more organized in YK, the gravel path that led through some of the cabins was recognized by the city, which honoured the colloquial name of Ragged Ass Road. R.A.R was named by a guy who said life on the street was so beat down it should be known as... To our delight, our fancy-ass apartment was right at the end of R.A.R. It offered a spectacular view of the houseboats and islands of Yellowknife Bay, the waters of which changed by the minute. It also gave one an overview of R.A.R which is quickly gentrifying. As the shacks trade hands, they're being replaced by upscale homes full of children. White families, of course. I didn't see any First Nations people around the neighbourhood, though there is a community on the lower peninsula, just before you get to the seriously wealthy white homes on the waterfront. YK is trying to open the waterfront to all residents, but YK is as NIMBY as Toronto. The Government dock is about the only place the average YK'er can access Yellowknife Bay. City Council backs down to the NIMBY's every time.
Some views from the Pilot's Monument Hill.
The first few days in YK, Anne and I went up from Old Town to New Town to buy groceries and souvenirs and gifts, and to try and find the guy who sells fresh fish from the back of his pick-up. We never did find him, but Anne got his relative to bring a bag of fish to the Gov't dock, a short walk from our digs at Ragged Ass Road. I had torn a hamstring before leaving Toronto, so I wasn't able to join Anne on her walks with Miki, but I toured around on a bike and saw for myself how yards were decorated with Caribou antlers, Moose antlers, even Muskox. Anne was on a mission to obtain some antlers, so armed with her superior social skills, she just knocked on a door. The lady's husband brought home a load and offered Anne her pick, or all of them. Wisely, Anne took 'em all.
Previously, Anne got me to pose for this one with the bear over Anne's right shoulder.
Anne's antlers, one by one, and her bubble wrapped antlers all ready to defy Canada Post. Fed Ex wanted $10,000 to ship them home.
Yellowknife has no raccoons. Ravens do the hard work, grabbing fish remains from trash cans and dropping their spines about the streets.
I found these Ptarmigan wings
up top the painted rock. Anne said she'd finally gotten her angel wings.
Welder's Daughter at the Gold Range bar, with their drummer, for whom 'Brown Eyed Girl' is a mite too challenging. I found this men's room graffito more to my taste. But there were some serious dance couples making the most of the music.
Anne was seeing all kinds of cool sights on her walks with Miki, going up Tin Can Hill, meeting all the local dogs and owners and coming back with feathers and bones found on her travels. We'd had dinner and beers at The Wildcat Cafe, one of the oldest businesses in Yk, and a good Ethiopian meal downtown. We'd even danced to a live band playing Hank Williams at the infamous Gold Range Bar on Saturday night, before we noticed the waitresses would grab your drink off the table when it was only yet half empty. But I was getting restless to explore farther and find a place to camp, so I rented a car and set off for Dettah, the Dene town just across the bay where B.Dene Adventures offered camping and teachings on the Dene way of life.
Both sides now, and the hapless photographer.
After meeting Bobby, seeing the camp, and making an agreement, I started driving back to YK, but then thought better and turned the car around and just kept driving, aiming to drive 'til the road gave out. Eventually I hit a construction area somewhere around Reid Lake so I stopped for these photos. On the way back I took more pix and did a couple of fast sketches.
Once I got my things set at camp I sat down on one of the adirondack chairs at the dock and tried to quiet my mind. Evening was setting in. A pair of loons landed in the water directly in front of me as ptarmigans and ducks flitted about, then a huge golden eagle landed in the tallest tree on the small island.
Bobby and his drum.
The trees blew down but the teepee didn't. The trees will be cut for wood and smaller trees from the same soil will be replanted on the spot.