CAA Fall 2017


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38 | CAA MAGAZINE Y ELLOWKNIFE IS A CITY IN FAST-FORWARD. Less than a century ago, the only inhabitants were the Dene First Nations people, who eked out a hard living on the shores of Great Slave Lake. Today, with diamonds a few hundred kilometres northeast of the city, Yellowknife has become a multicultural mining town where the aurora borealis shines good fortune on all who venture north. At least that's what I'm hoping as I journey there to get a glimpse of the northern lights, a phenomenon I've always wanted to witness. But as I take a morning stroll along Great Slave Lake, the overcast sky renders any celestial sightings unlikely. I seek refuge from the autumnal chill in the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre. Here, in a room dominated by a ski-mounted biplane, Naki Echo, an Inuit elder, describes in a video the first time she saw a plane. She lived in a sod house and was digging clams when a rumbling in the sky caught her aention. "It didn't look like a bird at all. It looked like a big black thing flying straight," she exclaims. The plane vanished, but others quickly hauled Yellowknife into the 20th century, payload by payload. It's no surprise, then, that legendary bush pilots loom as large in the museum as they do in real life. I have my own airborne adventure scheduled for tomorrow, so I read their accounts with keen interest. I cross my fingers that the propeller won't be destroyed in a snowbank and require me to create a new one from a toboggan and a dead moose, as two intrepid travellers were forced to do in 1921. To fortify myself for tomorrow's journey to Blachford Lake Lodge—a wilderness retreat on the edge of the titular lake—I Previous page: the mystical aurora glow behind a teepee at Blachford Lake Lodge

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