Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Last Post

My gig in Yellowknife proves that you can have your cake and eat it too. This humungous cake, complete with edible photos, was the highlight of my last day at the CBC station in Yellowknife. Over the course of the day, I served up pieces, while packing up my desk and putting the finishing touches on my work. And I went out to lunch with a few people to the Gold Range Bistro where you can get a hefty portion of fresh whitefish with rice and frozen vegetables.
It was an emotional day for me, and as I walked one last time along Frame Lake Trail, I took a moment to reflect on the beauty of the north. I left, as I did in 1979, knowing I had to go, but feeling as though the place once again had seeped under my skin and that, somehow, I'm not finished with this place.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Au Revoir Yellowknife

Here's the crew from The Trailbreaker, the morning show for the NWT on CBC radio. We have what we call the huddle each morning at 9 a.m. to talk about the show and what's coming up, before the main morning meeting for the station. From left to right: producer Sonja Koenig, news reader Kirsten Murphy, reporter Dawn Ostrem, fill-in reporter Joslyn Oosenbrug, ME, host Randy Henderson and director/technician Phil Morck.

Tomorrow morning I have to return my laptop to the station on what will be my last day at CBC North and, so, this is my last post from Yellowknife. When I get back to Nova Scotia I may blog some more about this wonderful adventure and add more of the gazillion photos I've taken. But for now, here's a rogue's gallery of some of the faces that I snapped at the office today.

Florence Yaxley recently switched from reception to admin. assistant. We're neighbours on the second floor. She has great taste in jewellery--check out the ring.

I've written about the adventures of Snookie Catholique, the Chipewyan reporter for TV. Here she is in full frame!

TV reporter Lee Sellick has built himself a fortress of tapes in the newsroom. And this is after the office cleanup!

Rassi Nashalik is the host of Igalaaq, the daily TV show in Inuktitut that airs before the English program.
Here's some inside info about Rassi--she's phobic about meeting a bear.

Donna Lee is the online journalist for the north, covering all three territories.

And Terri Boldt plays many roles in TV. She's up for the whackiest person award. But it's a tight race in this cast of colourful characters.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Rae of Sunshine

Brian reporting:

Okay, first the irony...I am reading a book about John Rae, the Scottish doctor who is a legend in the North (albeit mostly unknown to average school age kids and even their teachers, I suspect)...
Rae worked for the HBC, solved the Franklin mystery and is linked to the discovery of navigation through the Northwest Passage by Europeans...and, he was the best snowshoe traveller of his age covering thousands of miles across Canada...Moose Factory to Montreal - no problem!..

So, where did we go yesterday? To Rae (I didn't even realize the irony until today), the Fort established by John Rae in the 1850's on the shore of Great Slave Lake, 100 kilometres from Yellowknife. Today it is called Behchoko and its 2000 Dogrib descendants, having survived measles, tuberculosis and influenza epidemics brought by the fur traders, now spend their time fishing, hunting and in arts and crafts and local services...

You don't sense poverty here and the houses are spartan but maintained and the kids have a modern school to attend...large pickup trucks are everywhere and each house has a dish pointed towards southern culture....
there are some attractive band offices and a great collection of canoes parked on shore...

A modern highway connects Rae to Yellowknife and the only restriction is speed...anything over 90 will get you in trouble when you bounce over the little asphalt valleys that appear out of nowhere on the road surface as you are cruising along...However, it was immeasurably better than Saturday's mud derby on the Ingraham Trail...

The scenery is pretty consistent along the road....scrub bush and rock outcrops and little lakes dotting the countryside...
Perfect countryside for a paddle or a hike or a little fishing or hunting...
except near Yellowknife where you can head out for a little walk carrying a bag from one patch of elevated grass (the tee) to another elevated patch of grass (the green) connected by a long stretch of sand (the fairway)'s called golf..

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Last Suppers

Here we are enjoying what's been for me one of many wonderful meals at the home of Aggie and Terry. (Behind Aggie are their friends Lois and Pat.) Terry had just returned from a filming project outside Kugluktuk (formerly known as Coppermine) about a cultural camp for elders and youth. He came home with Arctic Char, which we enjoyed on Saturday night.

We watched some of his footage from the trip above the treeline where the people are wearing their parkas already. During Terry's stay, they caught a bearded seal and the immense hide was spread out on the tundra, drying in the sun. He had scenes of women chewing on caribou to soften it and of the young people working on the hides. Terry pointed to one of the youth, commenting, "I'll be surprised if he's still alive in a few years time."

In one of my previous postings I showed Terry with his flute cane--one of many novelty canes in his collection. Here, his brother Steven plays one of the most unique canes --the fiddle cane.

On Sunday night Brian and I were invited to yet another feast, at the home of Magdy El-Beheiry, who recently moved to the CBC in Yellowknife from Mississauga. He's been here since January, but his wife Debbie and their children Sabrina and Tarik joined him at the beginning of July, after school ended. They cooked up dish after dish, including stuffed grape leaves, taboullah (after searching high and low for fresh parsley) and baklava to die for. Magdy is from Egypt and Debbie moved to Canada from Zimbabwe at age 15.

Magdy had invited several people to the feast, including the regional director for the north, John Agnew and his family. Here, his wife Jody and their two kids, six-month-old Jane and three-year-old George are engaged in pre-dinner play with Tonka trucks and dinky toys.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Where the Rubber Meets the Muck

Our attempt to get to Cameron Falls was thwarted Saturday by the rain that turned the already challenged Ingraham Trail into muck. The hard ruts had been churned up, making it as difficult as driving in slushy snow. Even the smooth areas were treacherous because the wet created a slickness that had the same result as driving on black ice.

Above you can see the new section of road being built, but we were on the mud in the foreground. This photo taken from the window in no way shows the worst stretches--Stay tuned for the video.

The rented Chevie Malibu (the same one Carsten and I had when we were on the trail) was no match for the mud. A pickup ahead of us at one point fish-tailed all over the place. We were probably close to the destination point when I gave up and stopped the car in the middle of the road, fearful of back-sliding into the lake on one side.

Brian took over the wheel, got us out of the muck and we headed back. More rain was about to come and the road would have become entirely impassable in this vehicle. Here's a little video of what it was like...listen to the tires churning up the mud...

Instead we went to Prelude Lake to eat lunch in the drizzle.
The weather--and this sign--deterred us from wandering around. I think I'm done with the Ingraham Trail.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

A Gaggle of Girls

I am not going to tell you what our camera person said to produce all these big grins--something about batteries and pleasure devices ... This photo was taken at the home of Erin Ward during a going away party for me, a week before departure. Yes, there were males there too, but most of the guys were in the kitchen at this moment, except Phil Morck, who offered to be the shooter. And we all know girls have more fun ....

From left to right: Catherine Pigott (Trail's End producer), Julie Green (resources reporter), Kirsten Murphy (news reader and new bride), Sonja Koenig (Trailbreaker producer), yours truly, Marie Morck (departmental assistant) and Erin (hostess and producer-at-large).
Erin and her husband Jake have carved out a comfortable life in Yellowknife, with a lovely home (and hot tub which they plan to use in winter), two dogs, canoe, snowmobile and giant tent with woodstove which they plan to park in the bush. They were married up here in what must have been one of the most stunning weddings ever--they arrived by dog sled to be married in a snow castle. Tony Below, aka the Snow King, hosts the morning show for the Native Communications Society, and he builds the castle on the lake every winter. When he found out Erin and Jake wanted to be married there, he added a chapel. Under her cape and fur and beaded caribou muff, Erin wore a gorgeous champagne evening dress, with train, and beaded kamiks. The intricate kamiks Erin had made for Jake as a wedding present are now displayed on a shelf in their dining room.
Footnote: Erin and Jake met at journalism school at King's College in Halifax!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Bullocks Bistro

Brian reporting:

Yes, this is a food, the name does not reflect the prime ingredient in the cooking..

Susan has been here before and the local lore is that it serves the best fish in Yellowknife...
Certainly the fish is very fresh because nothing sits around for long...there was a crowd constantly coming and going and by the time we left they only had two orders of fish left which they were explaining to more arriving diners...the newcomers would have to be satisfied with Caribou and some shared fish...

And the varieties are very local...there were three choices on tonight's menu - Arctic Char, Northern Pike and Inconnu, a type of whitefish found only in the Arctic...the server tells you the ways it should be cooked and you choose a method...

I had the Pike pan fried (above)....and Susan had the Inconnu done on the grill...both were delicious

We were sitting at the bar in front of the chef who cooks, washes dishes and occasionally answers the phone and takes your money at the end of the meal if the two servers are busy...he seemed totally in control and not flustered in the least by the enormous number of orders that kept pouring in...

The atmosphere is early frontier overladed with thousands of pictures, trinkets and bumper stickers that remind you that if you leave children unattended they will be sold into slavery or that your village called looking for their idiot...a great diversion while you are waiting for your food...

Don't ask for a drink...just head to the cooler and pick one out the end of the meal you go to the cash and tell them what you is the honour system but I think the woman who was serving and greeting would remember every face and detail of what you is that well organized amidst the chaos...

And for dessert you just step outside and watch the float plane come in...yummy