Living in Yellowknife

10 unexpected delights about Yellowknife.

Eight months ago I returned to Yellowknife after a twenty year absence.   The adjustment from living in downtown Vancouver to living in Yellowknife had all the ups-and-downs you might guess.  On the whole the number of delightful surprises I’ve enjoyed in Yellowknife have far outweighed the items that – well, never mind that.  Here’s a list of a few of my Favourite Things that are unique and wonderful elements of my new life in Yellowknife, aspects that I hadn’t expected:

The fish man Barry Buckley – Never anywhere else have I walked out of my office to find I could purchase fresh-caught fish out of a truck on the street.  Love it. Barry can often be found parked in front of KFC. You can also call him at 444-8195

Choral music If any readers were at the Home for the Holidays community concert this past week, I need say no more.  Coming from Vancouver, home of such Canadian choral groups as Elektra and Chor Leoni I hadn’t even thought to hope for the calibre of music Yellowknife enjoys.   Shad, Margo, a heartfelt thank you to what you and the many other uber-talented people contribute to Yellowknife culture.

Re-using stuff Boy, do we reuse stuff here!  The SWAP shop, YK Trader, garage sales (a contact sport!), informal exchanges and of course the legendary dump – I imagine this is as much a function of economics as environmental sensitivity but whatever.  It’s happening on a scale I’ve never seen before!  FTW!

Blogosphere Before I even arrived the local blogosphere invited me to their regular meetup.  I flew in on Friday and on Saturday bravely went to a (then) stranger’s home to meet a group of folks I’d never met IRL, and I haven’t looked back since.  Like nearly all bloggers I’ve ever met, they are warm, open, fun and have made me feel so welcome and included.  For a list of some of Yellowknife’s smartest, opinionated and funny bloggers, visit

Housesitting This seems to be nearly an underground economy up here!  But for travelers like me who have dogs, finding a good house sitter is a godsend, and all the more in the winter.   How did I find my amazing house-sitter? In Yellowknife fashion, I asked a friend who asked a friend who gave me a name, et voila.

LEED home Doug and Mary are not building any old home for themselves!  They’re going for LEED PLATINUM status.  This blew my mind.  LEED is world-class design for energy efficiency.  For example, their home has 12″ of insulation rather than 6″, the water used initially for things like showers and dishes gets reused in the toilet, and I think there’s some solar power involved too.  If the Greenstone building can be built here, and now this residence, honestly, Yellowknife can disarm anyone’s excuse for not building efficiently.

Donny Days ‘Nuff said!

Spring at Niven Lake When I was a kid, Niven Lake was the sewage lagoon (sorry for the reminder, Niven residents, but it was!)  While I’d heard about the trail along Frame Lake, Niven was a surprise.  In the spring it’s lovely beyond telling.  The muted, lush colours; the ducks, bugs, muskrats; the many sounds of its fertile eco-system – truly a living prayer.

iPhone Roy’s Audiotronics has set the customer service Record Of All Time in my life.  For month’s I’d harassed them about the iPhone which of course was unfair as they had no control over what Bell offers up here.  And then.   One day.  One glorious day.  April bumped into me on the street, and before I could ask, told me that not only was the rumour true, ie., they were getting iPhones, but she’d already ordered one for me and would set it aside.  A week later when it arrived, indeed there it was for me.  And I’m living happily ever after (as I’m sure their staff are now that I’m not pestering them anymore).  ps:  you can follow them on twitter, too.

Aboriginal Day I knew about Caribou Carnival and Folk on the Rocks but Aboriginal Day was an unexpected delight.  Thank you, my aboriginal brothers and sisters, for sharing your northern space with me, and for the many individuals (you know who you are!) who have taught me so much particularly about Dene culture and history.  Thank you too, artists like Digawolf and Richard Vancamp – I’m so impressed by your work.   I rave about you to all my southern friends.


About the author

Nancy Zimmerman


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