Here are 5 things I learned while waiting in Fort Providence while Highway 3 was closed between Fort Providence and Behchoko (the highway to Yellowknife) from August 2 through August 5. If you have your own stories, please add them in the comments.
1. Make Friends
This sounds like a weird high school acceptance problem, but when waiting alone the time can get boring. Yellowknife being the size it is you are often going to run into someone you know, look for them. During my time in Fort Providence I met a couple of people I didn’t know, someone I only knew online. And was invited to kill time with a group of folks in a 5th wheel, although I never made it there. Being alone leads to anxiety and frustration when there is generally nothing anyone can do to help the highway situation.
2. Use the Campground
While a lot of people chose to wait right on the highway, as if they would only let a certain amount of people through when they did open it, I opted for the campground. This is not my first time at the Fort Providence Territorial Park, so I was familiar with its amenities. As soon as we were told the road wouldn’t be checked again until the following day I went and setup camp. Getting a powered site near the shower house and managers shack gave me all the necessities I needed to spend the night. Noting that I had a tent, mattress and sleeping bag with me already, it seemed many did not even has these few items with them. The shower house in the park, like any park in the NWT, was clean and felt rather new. They are open all day so I was relieved at the possibility of having a shower daily and feeling fresh in the smoky, muggy conditions. One little trick I learned during my two night stay at the park was if you are camped close enough to the managers shack you can actually pick up the WiFi available. This was great, especially because of point 3.
3. Go To Town For Cell Service
I noticed as more and more people arrive in Fort Providence hoping to get through the highway the cell phone service at the Big River Gas Station and on the highway where everyone was waiting was getting increasingly worse. It could be my imagination but the sheer number of people using the service from a single tower seemed to be straining it. However if you desperately need the cell service, the closer you go to the community of Fort Providence, the better it gets. I can only assume the tower is located in the community somewhere.
4. Eat At The Snowshoe Inn
This isn’t anything against the Big River Gas Station, which also has a kitchen that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, but rather about the conditions and number of people around. The Snowshoe Inn Cafe has long become a favourite of mine for eating out in Fort Providence. While the food generally is the same road-side grab you’d get anywhere else there are many more options. Further more due to the fact the cafe is in the community and off the highway it is generally quieter, cleaner and more relaxing. Also if you have never been to their gift shop full of northern art, you need to stop there.
5. Explore Fort Providence
There is a reason for the territorial park is situated between the highway and the community, because it’s actually beautiful. Steps from my campsite I could hike along a ridge over looking the mighty MacKenzie River or shuffle down to the shore and walk for miles and miles taking it all in. Looking at all the treasures that might have washed up on shore. In town there are also river side paths with benches along the way to sit and gaze across the rushing water. Of course while there smoke-filled the air and I could often not see across but you get the point. Fort Providence itself is enjoyable to walk through as well. Check out the church the next time you are there. For short drives the Deh Cho Bridge and Dory Point Day Use Area are near by to explore. While not the best situation to be in, having to wait in Fort Providence for the highway to reopen wasn’t all that bad either. Did you get stuck in Fort Providence? What did you do to pass the time?