The capital of the Northwest Territories and the most northerly city in Canada, Yellowknife lies on the north shore of Great Slave Lake. The site was originally occupied by the Dogrib and Yellowknife (Chipewyan) Dene peoples, and whites didn’t settle there until 1934, following the discovery of gold on the lakeshores.
This first gold boom petered out in the 1940s, and Yellowknife dwindled nearly to a ghost town in its wake. But in 1945 came a second gold rush that put the place permanently on the map. The local landmarks are the two operating gold mines flanking Yellowknife: Miramar Con and Giant Yellowknife.
Most of the old gold-boom vestiges are gone — the bordellos, gambling dens, log-cabin banks, and never-closing bars are merely memories now. But the original Old Town is there, a crazy tangle of wooden shacks hugging the lakeshore rocks, surrounded by bush-pilot operations that fly sturdy little planes — on floats in summer, on skis in winter.
Yellowknife is a vibrant, youthful place. A significant portion of the white population of Yellowknife consists of people in their late 20s and 30s. Yellowknife attracts young people just out of college looking for high-paying public-sector jobs, wilderness recreation, and the adventure of living in the Arctic. After a few years, however, many of them head back south to warmer climes. Yellowknife is also the center for a number of outlying Native communities, which roots the city in a more long-standing traditional culture.
People are very friendly and outgoing and seem genuinely glad to see you. The party scene here is just about what you’d expect in a town surrounded by Native villages and filled with miners and young bureaucrats. There’s a more dynamic nightlife here than the size of the population could possibly justify