Toronto to Yellowknife


June 6th to June 12th

After a year of planning and frustrations due to the changing transportation options to Yellowknife and purchasing a suitable canoe from another country, leaving Toronto by train we felt our journey was finally beginning. We took two days to travel through the Canadian Shield in northern Ontario and across the prairies of Manitoba and Saskatchewan to Edmonton. The train was comfortable and is a great way to see the beautiful, ever changing countryside and speak with interesting people. However, as we travelled west the train lost time as we waited in sidings for freight and grain trains traveling east, we arrived in Edmonton fourteen hours late.

Friends Chris and Klaus met us at Saskatoon. Kate is holding a present from Klaus – home made peach schnapps – as he put it “so he could be with us in spirit”. We celebrated finishing Pikes and our last portage at Fischer Falls with schnapps!

From Edmonton we flew to Yellowknife where we used four days to make the hundred and one preparations that cannot be done from Australia. The most important of these was completing the prearranged purchase of an Esquif 17 foot prospecteur canoe. John then spent several days in the basement of the canoe shop moving the rear seat so the spray cover from our previous Nova Craft would fit correctly. Much of my time was spent purchasing and repacking food. Like many northern Canadian communities Yellowknife does not have a town centre as such but has shops scattered through a number of malls some distance from each other, difficult when you don’t have access to a car. We were fortunate in our choice of accommodation in the Old Town section of Yellowknife [Bob Turner Enterprises]. We were on the shore of Great Slave Lake, we had the use of a kitchen and large tables where I could spread out our gear whilst I sorted and packed the food drums etc and Bob was a great host and a mine of information.

Between shopping, packing and adapting the canoe we explored Yellowknife on foot. Yellowknife is the capital and only city in the North West Territories. It is situated on the north side of Great Slave Lake about 200 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle. The ‘Old Town’ section is very attractive and situated on a rugged island/peninsula with almost every home either on the water or perched on rocky outcrop with super views over the lake. Yellowknife Bay was clear but ice was visible further out beyond the islands and colourful house boats.

Looking south down Yellowknife Bay from atop the Bush Pilots Monument

The Wild Cat Cafe, one of Old Town’s original log buildings

Our last sit down meal at the Wild Cat Cafe