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Yellowknife

62.45447°N, -114.37092°E

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Yellowknife. © Bob Wilson

Yellowknife is the capital city of Canada’s Northwest Territories. It is located on Chief Drygeese Territory, the traditional home to the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, who are the original inhabitants of the area since time immemorial. A common Yellowknife myth is that gold was discovered in the 1930s, by non-Indigenous prospectors. In reality, Yellowknives Dene Liza Crookedhand discovered gold while out picking berries. She later showed prospectors where it was located and in return was given a new stove pipe. However, prospector Johnny Baker was credited for the discovery of gold. Following this, Yellowknife exploded as a place to make one’s mark and fortune and as the City developed and diversified, so too did the economy. While it is a modern city with many familiar amenities, it is also a place with history and experiences like no other.

Winter brings with it cool, dark and spectacularly beautiful skies. Locals and visitors alike take to the outdoors to view the Aurora, visit the snow castle during the Snowking’s Winter Festival (March), and attend the Long John Jamboree (March), a celebration of the Long Johns that keep everyone warm throughout the coldest months of the year. Dogsledders and cross-country skiers, or those who combine these to create skijoring, are seen throughout the winter on the frozen expanse of Great Slave Lake enjoying the outdoors, as cars drive by on the ice road to the communities beyond.

With almost endless hours of daylight in a Yellowknife summer, there is always something exciting happening. The Folk on the Rocks music festival (July) attracts people from across North America; as the midnight sun burns far into the night, festivalgoers sing and dance the weekend away. Old Town Ramble and Ride (August), an eco-friendly festival featuring local musicians and artists, is held annually in Yellowknife’s historic district. From here the floatplanes can be seen taking off and landing alongside the houseboats that dot the shores of Great Slave Lake.

Throughout the summer, canoers, hikers and campers alike don’t have to go far to escape the hustle and bustle of downtown and enter the wilderness, where they can feel nature welcoming them into another world.

Some Essential Yellowknife Experiences:

  • Visit the Prince of Wales Museum and experience the history of Yellowknife
  • Explore the wonders and history of Old Town, while watching the float planes landing in Back Bay
  • Walk up Pilot’s Monument and marvel at the 360-degree view of Yellowknife
  • Wander into the many arts and crafts stores and buy some caribou tufting, carvings or beaded works
  • Visit the Diamond Centre and try your hand at polishing a real diamond
  • Take a tour of the Legislative Assembly and learn about NWT’s Consensus Government