The Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2013 – Road Trip! {Letter “Y”}

A to Z Challenge

I am very excited to be taking part in the Blogging A to Z Challenge 2013.  This is actually my third challenge; the first year I featured a recipe for each letter and last year I drew on my nursing background and used “the human body” as my inspiration!

This year I have decided to change things up a bit.  I live in Canada and believe it is one of the most beautiful countries on the planet; so I have decided to feature a different Canadian “place”, for each letter of the challenge.

I am very much looking forward to seeing how everyone interprets the Challenge and I would love to have you join me, as I crisscross this vast country on my Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2013 – Road Trip!

So, without further ado, Y is for Yellowknife, North West Territories

I am super excited to be visiting Yellowknife, I have always had a fascination with the north and it is certainly a dream come true to be visiting this gorgeous city!

A to Z Challenge

Downtown Yellowknife {Photo attribution: Trevor MacInnis (CC)}

Brief History:  Yellowknife is the capital and largest city of the Northwest Territories (NT), Canada. It is located on the northern shore of Great Slave Lake, approximately 400 km (250 mi) south of the Arctic Circle.

A to Z ChallengeYellowknife and its surrounding water bodies were named after a local Dene tribe once known as the ‘Copper Indians’ or ‘Yellowknife Indians’ (now referred to locally as the Yellowknives Dene (First Nation) who traded tools made from copper deposits near the Arctic Coast.

The current population is ethnically mixed. Of the eleven official languages of the Northwest Territories, five are spoken in significant numbers in Yellowknife: Dene Suline, Dogrib, South and North Slavey, English, and French.

The Yellowknife settlement is considered to have had its start in 1934, after gold was found in the area, although the first evidence of a community with commerce did not emerge until 1936. Yellowknife soon became the centre of economic activity in the NWT, and became the capital of the Northwest Territories in 1967.

As gold production began to wane, Yellowknife shifted from being a mining town to being a centre of government services in the 1980s. However, with the discovery of diamonds north of Yellowknife in 1991, this shift has begun to reverse.

Population:  19,234 (2011 Census)

A to Z ChallengeGeography and climate:  Yellowknife has a subarctic climate and averages less than 300 mm (12 in) of precipitation annually, as the city lies in the rain shadow of mountain ranges to the west.  Thanks to its location on Great Slave Lake, Yellowknife has a frost-free growing season that averages slightly over 100 days. Snow that falls in winter accumulates on the ground until the spring thaw.

Above photo – Prince of Wales Museum, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories {Photo attribution:  WinterCity296 WinterforceMedia (CC)}

Yellowknife is on the Canadian Shield, which was scoured down to rock during the last ice age. The surrounding landscape is very rocky and slightly rolling, with many small lakes in addition to the larger Great Slave Lake.  Trees such as spruce and birch are abundant in the area, as are smaller bushes, but there are also many areas of relatively bare rock with lichen.

Yellowknife’s high latitude causes a large variation between day and night. Daylight hours range from five hours of daylight in December to twenty hours in June. Twilight lasts all night from late May to early July.  Yellowknife has very cold winters and mild to warm summers.

  • Lowest recorded temperature:  −51.2 °C (−60 °F)
  • Highest recorded temperature:  32.5 °C (91 °F)

A to Z Challenge

The Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) over Yellowknife {Photo attribution:  Xander (CC)}

Economy:  As the largest city in the Northwest Territories, Yellowknife is the hub for mining, industry, transportation, communications, education, health, tourism, commerce, and government activity in the territory.  Historically, Yellowknife’s economic growth came from gold mining, and later government; however, because of falling gold prices and increased operating costs, the final gold mine closed in 2004, marking a turning point for Yellowknife’s economy.

After a downturn in the 1990s during the closure of the gold mines and the downsizing of the government workforce in 1999, Yellowknife’s economy has recovered, largely because of the diamond boom. Production from the two operating mines in 2004 was 12,618,000 carats (2,524 kg; 5,564 lb), valued at over $2.1 billion (Cdn). Since 2004, a third mine, received final approval and funding in 2005 and went into production in 2007 and a fourth was expected to reach full production by 2012.

Tourism is the largest renewable industry in the NWT and Yellowknife is the main entry point for visitors.  In 2004-05, visitors to the territory spent C$100.5 million.

A to Z ChallengeInteresting note:  During winter, the Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road is opened for semi-trailer truck traffic to take supplies from Yellowknife north to various mines located in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. This ice road is usually open from the end of January through late March or early April, and Yellowknife becomes the dispatch point for the large number of truck drivers that come north to drive on the ice roads. During the 2007 ice road season, several drivers were featured on the History Channel TV series Ice Road Truckers.

Above Photo – Ice road between Hiiumaa and mainland Estonia in 2003 {Photo Attribution:  Olavi Jaggo (CC)}

Notable residents:  

  • Alex Debogorski, local truck driver and personality on Ice Road Truckers.
  • Margot Kidder, film and television actress best known for playing Lois Lane in the Superman movies of the 1970s and 1980s.
  • Kevin Koe, World Champion Curler.
  • Tobias Mehler, film and television actor best known for his roles on Battlestar Galactica and Stargate SG-1.
  • Vic Mercredi, Métis hockey player, first person born in the NWT to be drafted into the National Hockey League.
  • Dustin Milligan, film and television actor; lead actor in the first season of the Beverly Hills, 90210 spinoff.
  • John Sissons, politician and the first judge of the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories.
  • Les Stroud, film maker and survival expert best known as the host of the television program Survivorman.
  • Max Ward, pioneering bush pilot and founder of Wardair airlines (later sold to Canadian Airlines).

It has been a long drive to get to Yellowknife and a fun and exciting day exploring the city.  We are getting near the end of our journey and as I always feel, I am  very sad to see the journey winding down!  However, it is not over yet and I am looking forward to visiting somewhere that begins the letter “Z”!

Past visits on the A to Z Challenge 2013 – Road Trip:

Complete listing of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2013 participants.

CREDITS – Map source – Photo attribution:  Ruhrfisch (altered to include place name) Additional information contained in this post was obtained from Wikipedia,, Wikipedia (Ice Road Truckers)



  1. I remember the first season of Ice Road Truckers b/c of Yellowknife. Alex Debogorski lives there. He’s my fave driver. I knew Les Stroud & Margot Kidder were Canadian but I didn’t know they also hailed from the Knife. I bet the mosquitoes and black flies are horrible in the spring and summer.

  2. I had no idea Yellowknife was so built up, with such modern and tall buildings. The vegetation reminds me a little of Fort MacMurray. I’m so glad I have a photo of the Northern Lights, taken by our niece, a resident of the YK. Thanks so much for the geography, sociology and history lesson on the beautiful city.
    Kathy at Oak Lawn Images

  3. Sugar & Spice & All Things ? Nice says

    My first thought about the city of Yellowknife….. I admit to thinking stereotypically… was not like the beautiful first photo of a green metropolitan area!! Now I have chastised myself and will move on. The aurora borealis photo is spectacular… now THAT I would love to see in person!!

    Only one letter to go……….YEAH!!!

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