Yellowknife is a town of about 20,000 people that lies on the Northern edge of civilization. Located only a few hundred miles South of the Arctic Circle this thriving little Arctic community offers every modern amenity and also the adventure of being at the last stop before the truly untamed North.
It’s economy appears to be based around tourism and mining but the old industries that made this part of the world thrive are still present. Trappers still make a living working there traplines in and around Yellowknife. Hunting and fishing guides still are easy to find and willing to take sportsmen to some of the best outdoor activities in the world.
Originally the Yellowknife area was a gathering spot for the three local Native American tribes. The series of rivers and lakes that dominate this part of the world made travel, and exploration for European adventurers possible as early and 1700’s.
Because of it’s location and it’s historical importance as an outpost for exploration of the Arctic region the area around Great Slave Lake has a rich Native American and European history. For Native Americans the Lake was a rich fishing ground and the abundant food made the Lakes shores a common gathering place for thousands of years. For Europeans the area started as a fur trading area that served as a primary portal for the fur trade that thrived in the 17th and 18th century. Fur trappers still work out of Yellowknife and you can still buy fur products at businesses like the Just Furs in Yellowknife’s Old Town.
Since the 1930’s Yellowknife has been a central part of the float plane traffic that brings adventures, explorers and prospectors to the Northern reaches of Canada. The float plane aviation industry still thrives in Yellowknife and if you have a need to explore past Yellowknife and up into the wilds of the Arctic there are plenty of float plane businesses in Yellowknife’s Old Town area that will be glad to ferry you north. Charlene and checked on flight and they were a little to rich for our blood but if you do have the bucks and the desire the float planes of Yellowknife are willing and able to fly you up into the Arctic Wilds.
In the 1930’s Gold was discovered in the area of Great Slave Lake which created a Gold Rush that brought prospectors and camp followers into the sleepy town of Yellowknife. It appears the gold has played out in this area but the brief gold rush added more rich history to the area.
Since prospectors discovered diamonds north of Yellowknife in 1991, Yellowknife has become the outpost and operation center for North America’s most productive diamond mines. The thousands of miners who work the four major North American diamond mines can only access their jobs by flying out of Yellowknife for almost an hour to their mining camps. Once in their camps the miners work 12 hour days, 7 days a week for two weeks. They work two weeks on and two weeks off and many of the miners have chosen to make Yellowknife their home. To the left is a photo of one of these huge open pit diamond mines supported by Yellowknife.
Surprisingly this Arctic area is also developing a thriving tourist industry. In the summer tourist come to Yellowknife to enjoy the cool weather and explore Yellowknife’s rich natural wonders. In the winter tourist flock to Yellowknife to see the famed Polar Lights and enjoy winter activities like snowmobiling and cross country skying.
We missed out, we wanted to go watch some Curling but, the Curling rink was closed until August. The rumor is that Curling is the only Olympic Sport that you are allowed to drink beer at the competition. We haven’t verified the story but even if it’s fake news it’s got to have a grain of truth.
When we came to Yellowknife we didn’t really know what to expect but the trip has been a complete success. The people are amazing the scenery is breathtaking and the history and culture of this Arctic outpost is captivating.
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