Visiting Yellowknife and Inuvik

I'm not done with the North West Territories yet. This is going to be a long one so pour another coffee or cuppa and let's get going.

The first stop will be Yellowknife, a city of approximately 20,000 which is the capital of the North West Territories and lies on the shores of Great Slave Lake.  Yellowknife got its unusual name from the Dene band who once lived on the islands of the East Arm of Great Slave Lake and carried knives with copper blades.

I have been to Yellowknife twice - the first time in May of 2006 and the second time in September of 2009.  I will use pictures from both my trips for this post but focus on the last trip.

After visiting Hay River in 2009 I got a bus..well actually a van, up to Yellowknife.  I thought if I was that close why not revisit as I do like Yellowknife.

The NWT license plate 

Typical views along the highway to Yellowknife..and bison!  It was a great trip that took about four hours. 
I got a taxi to my accommodation at the Bayside Bed and Breakfast which I have stayed on both visits and I would stay again.  It is right on the bay like the name says and in the heart of the interesting Old Town yet walkable to the centre of the city.

Early morning sunrise over Yellowknife Bay.

Morning view from the deck.  I loved this place!!!  I especially loved hearing and seeing the float planes take off and land in the bay in front of the bed and breakfast.

Enough of sitting here daydreaming and watching the planes with our morning coffee...time to get at it and explore!

I loved these beautiful rock paintings along the main road in Old Town

Yes that's the started as a joke back in 1970 amongst some friends but is now its real name.

And then there's...

This was known as Penny Lane at one end and Lois Lane at the other until the city picked the name Lois Lane in honour of Superman's girlfriend in the movie, Yellowknife born Margot Kidder.

Here is the token dog picture and I loved the dog house.  And no I didn't trespass, this was just part of the walk I did.

This is the view from Pilots Monument looking towards my guest house which is the huge pink building in the centre.  Pilots Monument sits on The Rock and is dedicated to the Bush Pilots and Engineers whose lives were lost during the 1920's and 1930's while transporting people and supplies to remote areas in the North West Territories.

Chippy's Cabin - built in the 1930's by woodcutter Chippy Loutitt.  This kind of building can be found all over Old Town which is another reason I love it.

One of the fabulous views you get from Old Town.

Walked through Einor Broten's Woodyard to get this view.  This area is home to people who prefer a simpler lifestyle and live in ramshackle homes.  How they make it through the brutal winter in some of those shacks is beyond me.  All I can say is better them than me.

Time to head downtown now...not too shabby either if you skip the shopping area and head over to 

The Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre (worth a visit) on Frame Lake

Time to take a break beside this beautiful artwork and admire Frame Lake.

Such a beautiful walking trail - even if I jumped everytime I saw a black dog..thinking it was a bear. of course...

With all that walking you work up an appetite so what better way to end the day then arctic char at Bullocks Bistro.  It's good old down home cooking and when I was there there were no menus.  They told you the specials so ask the price unless you want to be really surprised.  Not cheap (nothing in the north is cheap) but well worth it.   Don't let the word bistro fool you - wear your jeans and laugh at the crazy stickers on the walls.  Definitely recommended!!!  Sadly, both times I've been to Yellowknife I've been out of season for the infamous Wildcat Cafe but maybe next time I will get to try it.

Next morning it's time to fly further north...but first let's go out to the deck and take this in...

Early morning sunrise over Yellowknife Bay. Totally unfiltered.

Time to head to the airport on our next adventure.

Canadian North is the best!  They serve hot meals and even delicious alcohol fueled coffee.  And who doesn't love flying in a plane with a polar bear on it..a short stopover in Norman Wells and we're in Inuvik!

Traditional Inuksuk

So here we are...north of the Arctic Circle and I've got the certificate to prove it.  I can't believe I am seeing this world famous church in person.  This was originally built in 1960 and rebuilt in 2005. (not sure why but things don't last too long in these cold elements)  Its official name is "Our Lady of Victory" (Roman Catholic) but of course it's better known as the Igloo church.

Inuvik has a population of approximately 3500.

Plumbing and heating pipes are above ground here due to permafrost in the earth.

Okay guys, we've come down a bit in the world but it's all I could afford.  Inuvik is expensive! Actually it looks better inside thank goodness....a three bedroom apartment that I had to myself.  It was basic but comfortable and warm.  One embarrassing moment when I was saving up my meagre mugs and the odd plate (I ate out except for the breakfast that they provided in the fridge) to wash and on my last day (I was there two full days) I came back and everything was clean and tidy.

Hey, let's go for a walk on the TransCanada trail....

Ummmm...maybe not...let's just turn around and go back okay?  Remember that thing about how I don't like to walk where there are things that might eat me?  Bet it was one hungry bear that did that. Or some idiotic humans...but I'm not taking any chances!!!

Here's me hanging out by the mighty MacKenzie river.  I'm surprised there was anyone about to take my photo but there was.

I loved the beautiful Inuit artwork around town.

Houseboat on the MacKenzie river.

This is the the view from the living room of the B and B.  The buildings aren't the most attractive but built for life (meaning extreme cold) in the far north.

I had dearly wanted to visit the Inuit community of Tuktoyaktuk which lies north of Inuvik on the Arctic Ocean.  The timing did not work out as I was there in the awkward time (late September) between no boat tours available  and too early for the ice highway.  Yes when, the MacKenzie river is frozen it turns into a highway.  As of this year there is now a proper highway so while the ice highway will continue it won't be maintained as a proper highway as it was previously.  Never mind, I was able to go on a boat up the MacKenzie river to the Reindeer station (where herders who cared for the reindeers lived with their families  - thousands of reindeer were brought to the area in the 1930's to help stave off starvation) and back with a guide.  There was one other person on the tour.  It was interesting and it still stands as the most remote place I have ever been to.

Oh yes, did I mention it started to snow while we were on board?

Here I am rocking the Peruvian hat again.  Luckily I had bundled up so I looked like the Michelin man.   Our guide said there were grizzly bears up in the hills behind us so I was hoping they weren't excitedly running down the hills yelling to their buddies  "yay, three pieces of fresh meat"!  It was good there were only three of us and easy to keep track of as I wouldn't want to be left behind here!  I kept an eye on our tour guide - yes, I get nervous when I am out of civilization.  Luckily we got back on the boat in one piece.  It was an interesting afternoon.

And here is the "Igloo church" in the snow.  So pretty!!

Token dog picture from Inuvik - saw this dog wandering around the downtown.

Here is downtown Inuvik.  I must say I expected more of an Inuit influence in Inuvik having been to Iqaluit in Nunavit the year before.  I couldn't even find a proper northern meal such as Caribou or Arctic char in any of the restaurants  I just ate normal restaurant meals and they weren't even very good.   Maybe it's there and I just didn't find the right place..I will never know now.  I didn't even see many Inuit - I could count them on one hand.  It seemed to be a white man's working town so that was disappointing for me.  Then again I guess I probably wasn't in the right places.

I'd definitely return to Yellowknife someday...Inuvik?  Only if I knew I could get to Tuktoyaktuk.

All too soon it was time to fly back to Yellowknife and then home.  Bur before I left Inuvik airport guess what I ran into?