A White Christmas in Yellowknife

Mack and I spent a week in Yellowknife in December, ensuring we did, in fact, get a white Christmas. It was a low-key holiday, however, which is exactly what we both needed.

Thom, Mack, Sharon

With Mack’s brother Thom

Two years ago (my first time up north), we checked off many of the “touristy” items off our list, so this time around, we spent most of the time with Mack’s family indoors.

Sharon & KotahSharon & Traz

The family includes a multitude of pets (miss you, Kotah and Traz!)

Noteworthy was the hospitality provided to us on the flights. In spite of the journey only taking an hour and forty-five minutes, we were provided with full meals both ways! On the return leg, this meant a full turkey or roast beef dinner. Mack wants me to mention that it was typical airplane food, but I was so floored that we were served anything above pretzels that I didn’t mind.

First Air

Thanks, First Air

We did do some wandering, on one of the warmer days while we were there (-16 or so). We took a walk around downtown, exploring some of the paths around City Hall.

Yellowknife 2011

It’s snowing!

Yellowknife 2011

Serving up Yellowknife’s hollow, artificial Christmas tree

I couldn’t help but stop in Le Stock Pot a few times over that week, the most adorable bakery/deli I’ve ever seen (the owners used to have a larger kitchen supply store, then a market, but they downsized earlier this year). Their pricing might have been inconsistent (a croissant cost $2.50, a pain au chocolat $0.60), but I loved what they were able to cram into the little storefront. The bakery even supplies fresh bread to the local Shoppers Drug Mart.

Le Stock Pot

Le Stock Pot

We did our best to bring back something home with us, and stumbling into Javaroma, we found a coffee shop that roasts its own beans.

Javaroma

We especially liked the “Made in NWT” sticker

We didn’t bring back this, erm, unique chicken in a can that we found at the grocery store, however.

A 3 pound can!

Although many restaurants were closed during the break, we found that Le Frolic, a local French bistro, was open for brunch on Christmas Eve. Mack’s Dad had good things to say about their lunch and dinner, but hadn’t yet tried their brunch – so we thought it might be a nice meal to have together.

Le Frolic

Interior

It was empty save for two other tables, but it was festive enough, nicely decorated with garland and Christmas lights. It turned out their brunch menu consisted of six different eggs benedicts. Needless to say, we were disappointed – the eggs were inconsistently poached, leaning towards hard yolks instead of soft ones. The skillet potatoes had also been cooked with hot sauce – something that wasn’t mentioned on the menu (when we asked our server about this, even she seemed surprised).

Le Frolic

Eggs “Benny” with back bacon ($13)

Le Frolic

Eggs “Arctic” with smoked arctic char

Although the brunch didn’t meet our expectations, it was enjoyed in good company, which is all that really mattered.

Thanks again to Martin and Patti for their hospitality, and for making our holiday so relaxing!

Yellowknife Wanderings

While I can’t say I was thrilled when Mack and I decided that we would be spending a part of the holiday north of Edmonton, in the end, I was glad we went. Not only we were able to spend some quality time with his family, but I am also now able to appreciate Edmonton’s relatively milder temperatures (really, anything above –30 feels like a blessing) and generous amount of daylight.

We were able to explore the city somewhat – on dogsled, in a vehicle, and on foot. Because Martin and Patti live in the downtown core, we were able to walk to the nearby shopping centres and restaurants.

The street where Martin and Patti live

Ravens (even larger than the birds we encountered in Banff)

Thom helped orient us to the area

Centre Square Mall, one of the two shopping centres

In YK Centre, the other shopping centre, we found The Chocolatier, a specialty shop that makes all their own chocolate in-house. Though truffles are their specialty, I picked up a package of their Carnutzel (caramel covered pretzel then dipped in chocolate), while Mack decided on their chocolate-covered Rice Krispie squares. Mack’s squares ended up being the winner – the pretzel base needed to be thicker to stand up to all of the caramel used.

Inside The Chocolatier

We also encountered a store in YK Centre that was dedicated entirely to Ragged Ass Road, a cheekily named street. Martin and Patti eventually took us to the small unmarked residential roadway, but it was a bit anti-climactic (and hence, no photos).

To Ragged Ass Road

We also window shopped at the Gallery of the Midnight Sun, a lovely local boutique filled with handmade treasures. I had to take a photo of the furs for Amanda.

Furs and pelts

Of course, something I was also interested in was the grocery shops. While I knew most produce and items would be available in Yellowknife, the question was – how much would they cost? Luckily, I came across this post at YK Online, which saved me from taking pictures of basic goods myself. While groceries are not surprisingly more expensive, some things still left me with sticker shock, like a bag of grapefruit that was nearly $8.

Co-op

My favourite store in Yellowknife, and one that I could see myself shopping in if I ever lived there, was Le Stock Pot (how could you not love the name?). The owner of the kitchen supply store and deli also owns two restaurants in the city – Le Frolic and L’Heritage. Even though they were in the process of moving their kitchen supplies to a separate location, I still fell in love with their pantry, stocked with pretty bottles of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and the like. And, never one to resist good bread, I picked up a baguette which I later consumed with butter. It was perfection.

Inside Le Stock Pot

The one restaurant I had some intention to visit was Bullocks, which some say serve the best fish in Canada. Much like other establishments in Yellowknife during the holidays, however, it was closed, and we ended up at the Vietnamese Noodle House instead. Who knew I would end up having pho in Yellowknife? It was all right, and did the job of warming me through, though the rare beef was a little tough.

Combination Beef Noodle Soup

As we were also in Yellowknife for the New Year, Patti took us to the fireworks show at Frame Lake. It was amusing to me that the show took place at 9:30 instead of midnight, but given how cold it was then, I was thankful for the early kick-off to 2010. Unlike in Edmonton, where the people setting off the fireworks are shielded by office towers, we were able to see the trio of men on the lake lighting off the rockets. The show almost felt intimate with a crowd of around 200, and the  fireworks themselves seemed larger, without any buildings in the way.

Fireworks

More fireworks

It ended with a bang!

On our last full day in Yellowknife, we checked some other things off of our tourist to-do list. First, it was up to Pilot Hill for some shots of the magnificent sunset, and the view from the top. Boy was it cold, but it was worth it.

Gorgeous sunset

Great Slave Lake

Looking toward the town

With Patti

Lastly, Martin took us to the ice road across Great Slave Lake which provide drivers with a shortcut to a small community across the Lake. We didn’t drive across, but it was pretty cool to see the ploughed snow roadway.

On the ice road

While we didn’t get to see any Northern Lights, we still got to experience many of the sights that make Yellowknife unique. Thanks again to Martin and Patti for their hospitality, and for making our stay special!