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Yellowknife ( ) (2006 population: 18,700) is the capital of the Northwest Territoriesmarker (NWT), Canadamarker. It is located on the north shore of Great Slave Lakemarker, approximately south of the Arctic Circle, on the west side of Yellowknife Bay near the outlet of the Yellowknife Rivermarker. Yellowknife and its surrounding water bodies were named after the local Yellowknives Dene First Nation, who made tools from regional copper deposits. 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. In the Dogrib language, the city is known as Somba K'e ("where the money is").

Yellowknife was first settled in 1935, after gold had been found in the area; 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.

History

Traditionally, First Nations people had occupied this region; by the 1930s they had a settlement on a point of land on the east side of Yellowknife Bay, Dettahmarker. The current municipal area of Yellowknife was occupied by prospectors who ventured into the region in the mid-1930s.

A Klondikemarker-bound prospector, B.A. Blakeney, made the first discovery of gold in the Yellowknife Bay area in the late 19th century. The discovery was viewed as unimportant in those days because of the Klondike Gold Rush and because Great Slave Lake was too far away to attract attention.

In the late 1920s, aircraft were first used to explore Canada's Arctic regions. Samples of uranium and silver were uncovered at Great Bear Lakemarker in the early 1930s, and prospectors began fanning out to find additional metals. In 1933 two prospectors, Herb Dixon and Johnny Baker, canoed down the Yellowknife River from Great Bear Lake to survey for possible mineral deposits. They found gold samples at Quyta Lake, about up the Yellowknife River, and some additional samples at Homer Lake.

The following year, Johnny Baker returned as part of a larger crew to develop the previous gold finds and search for more. Gold was found on the east side of Yellowknife Bay in 1934 and the short-lived Burwash Mine was developed. When government geologists uncovered gold in more favourable geology on the west side of Yellowknife Bay in the fall of 1935, a small staking rush occurred. Con Minemarker was the most impressive gold deposit and its development created the excitement that led to the first settlement of Yellowknife in 1936–1937; the mine entered production on September 5, 1938.

Yellowknife in the 1940s or 50s.


The population of Yellowknife quickly grew to 1,000 by 1940, and by 1942, five gold mines were in production in the Yellowknife region. However, by 1944, gold production had ground to a halt as men were needed for the war effort. An exploration program at the Giant Minemarker property on the north end of town had suggested a sizable gold deposit in 1944. This new find resulted in a massive post-war staking rush to Yellowknife. It also resulted in new discoveries at the Con Mine, greatly extending the life of the mine. The Yellowknife townsite expanded from the Old Town waterfront, and the new townsite was established during 1945–1946. The Discovery Minemarker, with its own townsite, operated to the north-northeast of Yellowknife from 1950 to 1969.

Between 1939 and 1953, Yellowknife was controlled by the Northern Affairs department (now Indian and Northern Affairs Canada) of the Government of Canada. A small council, partially elected and partially appointed, made decisions. By 1953, Yellowknife had grown so much that it was made a municipality, with its own council and town hall. The first mayor of Yellowknife was John "Jock" McNiven. In September 1967, Yellowknife officially became the capital of the Northwest Territories. This important new status sparked what has been coined as the third boom in Yellowknife. New sub-divisions were established to house an influx of government workers.

In 1978 the Sovietmarker nuclear-powered satellite Cosmos 954 crashed to Earth near Yellowknife. There were no known casualties, although a small quantity of radioactive nuclear fuel was released into the environment, and Operation Morning Light—an attempt to retrieve it—was only partially successful. A new mining rush and fourth building boom for Yellowknife began with the discovery of diamonds north of the city in 1991. The last of the gold mines in Yellowknife closed in 2004. Today, Yellowknife is primarily a government town and a service centre for the diamond mines. On April 1, 1999, its purview as capital of the NWT was reduced when the territory of Nunavutmarker was split from the NWT. As a result, jurisdiction for that region of Canada was transferred to the new capital city of Iqaluitmarker. Consequently, Yellowknife lost its standing as the Canadian capital city with the smallest population.

Law and government

Yellowknife has a municipal government system and is governed by the Yellowknife City Council, which consists of an elected Mayor and eight Councillors. The Government of the Northwest Territories delegates powers to the municipality through legislative acts and regulations. Council meetings are held in the Council Chambers at City Hall on the second and fourth Monday of each month, and are open to the public. Municipal elections are held every three years. The current mayor of Yellowknife is Gordon Van Tighem.

Yellowknife is represented in the territorial government by seven of the 19 Members of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories (MLAs). These MLAs are elected every four years and sit in the Northwest Territories Legislative Buildingmarker, located in Yellowknife. The MLAs elect the Speaker of the House as well as six Cabinet Ministers and the Premier, which forms the Cabinet. In addition, a Commissioner is appointed by the Federal Government to fulfill a similar role to that of the Lieutenant Governor. The Northwest Territories is one of only two federal, provincial or territorial jurisdictions in Canada that operates under a consensus system of government.

The Northwest Territories is in the federal electoral riding of the Western Arctic and has one Member of Parliament and one Senator, currently Dennis Bevington and Nick Sibbeston, respectively. Yellowknife is home to seven of the 19 electoral districts in the Northwest Territories, the Frame Lake, Great Slave, Kam Lake, Range Lake, Weledeh, Yellowknife Centre and Yellowknife South ridings.

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; the Ekati Diamond Minemarker, owned and operated by BHP Billiton, opened in 1998. A second mine, Diavik Diamond Minemarker, began production in 2003. Production from the two operating mines in 2004 was , valued at over C$2.1 billion. This ranked Canada third in world diamond production by value, and sixth by weight. A third mine, De Beers' Snap Lake Diamond Minemarker, received final approval and funding in 2005 and went into production in 2007. De Beers also applied in 2005 for a permit to open the Gahcho Kue Diamond Mine Projectmarker on the property formerly known as Kennady Lake. Upon receipt of approval, construction is expected to start in 2010 and the mine will reach full production by 2012. As well, growth and expansion in natural gas development and exploration sectors has contributed to this growth. Economic growth in the Northwest Territories was 10.6% in 2003.

The major employers in Yellowknife include: the Territorial Government, the Federal Government, Diavik Diamond Mines Incorporated (a subsidiary of Rio Tinto Group)/Harry Winston Diamond Corporation, BHP Billiton, First Air, NorthwesTel, RTL Robinson Trucking, and the City of Yellowknife. Government employment accounts for 7,644 jobs, a large percentage of those in Yellowknife.

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.



Tourism is the largest renewable industry in the NWT and Yellowknife is the main entry point for visitors. Many of these tourists are Japanese, and come to experience the Northern climate and traditional lifestyle, as well as to see the Northern Lights. In 2004-05, visitors to the territory spent C$100.5 million.

The City of Yellowknife raises 50% of its operating revenue through property taxation. Yellowknife School Districts also raise a portion of their operating revenue through property taxation. Property taxes in Yellowknife are calculated through property assessment and the municipal and education mill rates. Mill rates in 2005 were 13.84 (residential) and 19.87 (commercial).

Canadian North, a regional airline, is headquartered in Yellowknife.

Regional mines

Yellowknife was originally established as a supply center for numerous gold mines operating in the region in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The following is a list of the major mines, all of which are now closed. There were also tungsten, tantalum, and uranium mines in the vicinity. Most mines in the Yellowknife area are within the Kam Group, a part of the Yellowknife greenstone belt.



Mine Years of Operation Minerals Mined
Con Minemarker (includes Rycon) 1938–2003 gold
Giant Minemarker 1948–2004 gold
Ptarmigan and Tom Mine 1941–1942, 1985–1997 gold
Negus Mine 1939–1952 gold
Burwash Mine 1935 gold
Thompson-Lundmark Mine 1941–1943, 1947–1949 gold
Discovery Minemarker 1950–1969 gold
Camlaren Mine 1962–1963, 1980–1981 gold
Beaulieu Mine 1947–1948 gold
Outpost Island Minemarker 1941–1942, 1951–1952 gold, copper, tungsten
Ruth Mine 1942, 1959 gold
Rayrock Mine 1957–1959 uranium
References:


Climate and physical geography

Yellowknife has a semi-arid subarctic climate and averages less than 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. Most of the limited precipitation falls between June and October, with April being the driest month of the year and August being the wettest. Snow that falls in winter accumulates on the ground until the spring thaw.

Yellowknife is located 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 pine 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 cause 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.

Infrastructure

RCMP headquarters

Emergency services

Policing in Yellowknife is provided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Policemarker; Yellowknife is the headquarters for G Division, and houses more than 30 officers. Municipal enforcement services are provided by bylaw enforcement officers, who are employed by the city. The Yellowknife Fire Department handles the city's fire, ambulance, rescue, and hazardous materials responses. A point of debate in recent years has been the implementation of 911 services in Yellowknife (currently one must dial one of two local numbers) through a partnership with five other Northwest Territories communities; the cost of installation is high (currently estimated at around $1 million a year), and there have been a number of incidents where emergency services have been either misdirected, or improperly dispatched. Health services are provided through the local Stanton Territorial Hospital.

Utilities and services

Snow removal in Yellowknife
Electricity is provided to Yellowknife by Northland Utilities, serving 6,350 residential and 800 commercial customers. Yellowknife operates almost entirely on hydroelectricity from the Snare-Bluefish systems, provided by the Northwest Territories Power Corporation (NTPC). NTPC's local production capacity is 67.9 megawatts, 30.89MW from 10 generators at the Jackfish Diesel Plant, 28.8MW from Snare Lake, and 7.5MW from Miramar Bluefish. The City of Yellowknife provides pressurized potable water throughout the majority of the city, and has a network of gravity-fed sewage lines; trucked water and sewage is provided in areas not serviced by piped infrastructure. Sewage, with the aid of lift stations, is pumped to a series of lakes, referred to as Fiddler's Lake Lagoon, where it is held and allowed to naturally decompose. Water is obtained from the Yellowknife River and is disinfected with chlorine and liquid fluoride is added, but is not otherwise filtered or treated. Residential garbage removal is through a user pay system, in which residents are allowed three garbage bags per week; any additional bags must have a purchased tag. The City of Yellowknife Solid Waste Management Facility is located on the Ingraham Trail (Highway 4) north of the city; salvaging is encouraged, and the dump is infamous for the number of still useful items often found in it.

Transportation

Yellowknife, while isolated geographically, has a modern transportation system. The Yellowknife Airportmarker is the busiest airport in northern Canada, having 70,699 aircraft movements in 2007 and handling over 400,000 passenger and 30,000 tonnes of cargo yearly. It has two asphalt runways, one strip and another of ; while the Yellowknife Airport is classified as an airport of entry by NAV CANADA and is staffed by the Canada Border Services Agency, it is certified for general aviation aircraft only. However the airport can accommodate 747s and other wide-body aircraft for emergency landings. Air traffic control services, ILS (Category 1), and radar services are provided by NAV CANADA.

Yellowknife Transit is the public transportation agency in the city, and is the only transit system in the Northwest Territories.

Road construction in Yellowknife is often a challenge due to the presence of permafrost, and roads often need to be leveled and resurfaced every 10 to 20 years. All roads in Yellowknife are paved, and road width varies from . During the winter, snow removal is done on a regular schedule by the City of Yellowknife. Speed limits are on most roads, in school zones, and on highways. School zones and Playground zones are in effect 24 hours per day 7 days per week. The highway system in the NWT is maintained by the Government of the Northwest Territories. Highway 4 (Ingraham Trail) and Highway 3 (Yellowknife Highway) both run through Yellowknife and are all-weather roads. One well-known, almost infamous, road in Yellowknife is Ragged Ass Road, after which Tom Cochrane named an album.

Layout

Yellowknife, like most other urban centres, has distinct commercial, industrial, and residential areas. Frame Lake, Niven Lake, Range Lake, and Old Town are the residential sectors, with some of the population living in high-rises in the downtown core. Niven Lake is the only area under active development and expansion. Downtown Yellowknife is home to most of the city's commercial activity, though some retail does exist in Range Lake. Industrial activity is limited to the Kam Lake and airport subdivisions.

Demographics

As of the 2005 city survey, there were 19,429 people and 5,795 households in the city. The population density was 142.86 people/km² (369.85 people/sq. mi). The 2006 Census found that 22.2% of residents identified as aboriginal.

In Yellowknife, the population is slightly disproportionate in terms of age distribution compared to the national average; the average age is 31.2, compared to a Canada-wide average of 39.5. As of the 2005 survey, 15.2% of residents were 9 or under, 7.8% were from 10 to 14 years old, 16.1% were from 15 to 24, 36.3% were from 25 to 44, 19.5% were from 45 to 59, and 5.1% were 60 or older. From 1996 to 2005, the average annual growth rate was 0.7% for the total population; broken down by age, it was -0.4% for 15 years, and 7.1% for 60 years and older.

In 2006, two-person households in Yellowknife were the most common household size at 28.8%. Overall, almost half of all households had only one or two occupants. The average income in the city was C$57,246, and the average income for a family was C$124,200. Minimum wage is C$8.25 in Yellowknife, the second highest in Canada. Average household expenditures were C$103,762 in 2007. In 2004, the unemployment rate was at 5.0%, an all-time low, and is currently 5.7%; the employment rate for males was 83.8%, for females it was 75.5%.

The crime rate in Yellowknife is 38.3 (per 1,000 persons) for violent crimes, and 52.5 (per 1,000 persons) for property crimes. There were 316 births and 35 deaths in 2005.

Almost 82% of residents spoke English as their mother tongue and almost 4% spoke French. More than 4% spoke an aboriginal language as their first language, including 1.3% who spoke Inuktitut, another 1.3% who spoke Dogrib, and 0.6% who spoke North Slavey, 0.5% who spoke Dene/Chipewyan, and 0.4% who spoke South Slavey. Other languages spoken in Yellowknife include Tagalog at 2.3%, Vietnamese at 1.6%, Chinese at 1.1%, German at 0.7% and Spanish at 0.4%.

Yellowknife is home to just over 500 recent immigrants (arriving between 2001 and 2006) who now make up just under 3% of the population; 36% of these immigrants came from the Philippinesmarker, while 18% came from Ghanamarker, 9% from Vietnammarker, 7% from the United Statesmarker, and 5% came from Chinamarker.

Almost 73% of residents identified as Christian while 24% said they had no religious affiliation in 2001. For specific denominations Statistics Canada found that 36% of residents identified as Roman Catholic, 11% as Anglican, 10% for the United Church, about 2% each as Baptist, Lutheran, and Pentecostal, and more than 1% for The Salvation Army.

Culture

Events

The Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre.
Folk on the Rocks is a local music festival that has been an annual occurrence since 1980, and features a wide variety of musical acts, and is not limited to only Folk. In the past, it has drawn acts such as Buffy Sainte-Marie, the Trailer Park Boys, The Weakerthans, African Guitar Summit, Mad Bomber Society, Gob, and Hawksley Workman. The Midnight Sun Golf Tournament, with games played through the city's well-lit summer nights, is also a significant cultural event. In previous years, there was an annual summer festival known as Raven Mad Daze, a street festival celebrated as part of the summer solstice. The festival was not celebrated in 2007 because an organizer was not found for the event. During the winter, there is the Snowking Winter Festival, featuring a snow castle on Great Slave Lake, and Caribou Carnival, which is held every March on Frame Lake and has ice sculpting competitions, dogsled races, and a fireworks display. In 2008, Yellowknife hosted the Arctic Winter Games.

Places

Some notable places to visit in Yellowknife include:
  • The Wildcat Cafe, which first opened in 1937. The popular restaurant still operates in its original building during the summer, which was moved to its current location after being saved from demolition in the late 1970s.
  • The Gold Range Bar, one of the oldest and most colorful drinking establishments in the Northwest Territories and featured in Mordecai Richler's novel Solomon Gursky Was Here
  • Downtown contains the Capital Area Park, a short but pleasant stroll by City Hall, the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, the Legislature, and the Northern Frontier Visitors Centre.
  • The Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centremarker (Museum) contains exhibits of the history and culture of Inuit, Inuvialuit, Dene, Métis, and non-aboriginal peoples of the NWT. It's found just north of downtown on an attractive lakeside location.
  • Near the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, the Northwest Territories Legislative Building houses the territory's legislative assembly.
  • The Northern Arts and Cultural Centre, which is located in Sir John Franklin High School and is the city's largest indoor stage for theatre and musical presentations.
Plaque on the Bush Pilots monument
Other notable attractions include the Ingraham Trail, local fishing lodges, bush plane tours, the unique architecture of Old Town with the Bush Pilots monument, and any of the numerous lakes surrounding Yellowknife, many of which include beaches.

Media

The Yellowknifer, published by Northern News Services, is the major newspaper serving Yellowknife, published twice weekly on Wednesday and Friday. Northern News Services also publishes Northwest Territories News/North every Monday, which serves the entire NWT. As well, there is L'Aquilon, a French language newspaper published weekly.

The major radio stations based in Yellowknife are: CFYK 1340, which broadcasts CBC Radio One network programs and locally produced programs; CFYK-FMmarker 95.3, which broadcasts the programming of the CBC Radio 2marker network from CBU-FMmarker in Vancouvermarker; CJCD 100.1, which plays largely adult contemporary music; CKLB 101.9, a community radio station; and CIVR 103.5, a French-language community radio station.

The major locally broadcast television stations include: CFYKmarker channel 10, which broadcasts the northern feed of CBC Television; CHTY channel 9, is the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network; CH4127marker channel 4, is the French feed of CBC, Télévision de Radio-Canada.

Two magazines are based in Yellowknife: Above & Beyond - Canada's Arctic Journal and Up Here Magazine, both offering northern-related news and lifestyle articles.

Notable people

Sister Cities



See also



References

  1. Price, Ray. Yellowknife, Peter Martin Associates, Toronto, 1967. Page 22.
  2. Watt, Frederick B. Great Bear: A Journey Remembered, Outcrop, Yellowknife, 1980. ISBN 0-919315-00-3.
  3. Decoursey, Duke. The Yellowknife Years, Parkview Publishing, Squamish, British Columbia. Page 112.
  4. " contact us: administration." Canadian North. Retrieved on September 17, 2009.
  5. Silke, Ryan. "The Operational History of Mines in the Northwest Territories, Canada". Published report, November 2009.
  6. Canadian climate normals for 1971 to 2000, Environment Canada (2004). Retrieved on January 1, 2007.
  7. City Facilities
  8. NFVA Event Details. The Northern Frontier Visitors Association (2006). Retrieved on June 20, 2007.
  9. Arctic Winter Games 2008. Retrieved on August 5, 2007.
  10. City of Yellowknife
  11. Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre
  12. Northwest Territories Legislative Building
  13. Northern Frontier Visitors Centre


Further reading



External links




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