THE HIGH ARCTIC
DAY TWO - BUSH PILOTS' MEMORIAL
Meanwhile, back at the ran ... errr ... hotel, we still hadn't been able to resolve our transport problems, so it really did look as if we were going to be staying here for the foreseeable future.
In the meantime, to pass the time, a guided tour of the town had been arranged, to keep us out of mischief.
Knowing the reputation of Yellowknife as I do and knowing the organisers of our adventure, I was expecting to have a guided tour of the Corporation rubbish dump, the sewage farm and the new bicycle rack at the 7-11 Shop.
But nevertheless, faut de mieux as they say back home, I leapt aboard the shuttle bus.
If there were things to see, then I may as well see them, no matter what they are. It all passes a little bit of time.
The athletic ones amongst us were decanted out of the bus at the bottom of the hill on the water's edge and were pointed up the slope.
There's quite a tall eminence here, and from the top there some really magnificent views over Yellowknife Bay, Back Bay and East Bay, which are arms of the Great Slave Lake.
Erected on the top of the eminence is a monument dedicated to the bush pilots who brought the supplies into the town in the early days before the road arrived here.
And Bane of Britain was apparently so engrossed by the convivial company that he forgot to photograph the monument, didn't he?
It's a pretty famous spot because the monument has a considerable amount of significance.
It wasn't until the end of the 19th Century that the southern part of western Canada was settled, with the arrival of the Trans-Canada railways that the southern part of Western Canada was settled by Europeans.
And even then, it's probably fair to say that this part of Canada was totally unknown to the rest of Canada living round by the Great Lakes and the St Lawrence River 100 years ago.
It wasn't until the commencement of the industrialisation of Canada that the north started to become of interest.
As western economies began to adopt rampant Protectionism as a way to safeguard their own industries, Canadians began to search in the far corners of their country for their own supply of raw materials.
And then there were plenty of younger people who dreamt of making their own fortunes out here, driven on by the poems of Robert Service.
The bush pilots of the 1920s, 30s and 40s were the pioneers who played an important role in opening up the Northwest Territories and many stories are told about their exploits during that period.
Their history is very similar to that of the courreurs de bois and the Hudsons Bay Company, and everything that they had done to open up further east in Canada in previous centuries.
As I said just now, there were no roads up to Yellowknife until comparatively recently. Everything that came here until the opening of the Mackenzie Highway in 2012 that there was a regular road connection with the rest of Canada.
Prior to that, everything came in here either by water (in summer, and the legendary ice road in the winter) or by air.
Down there is the quayside - rather deserted now compared to how it used to be back in the halcyon days of the city, about which I shall talk in due course.
Before the airport was built and when the bush pilots still ruled the air, it was hydroplanes that flew into here from the south.
In fact, back in the 1920s even before there was a settlement here, the area was chosen to be the site of a cache of fuel for the pilots who were flying over the area on their way around the Northwest Territories.
Even today, there are still quite a few hydroplanes that fly from here out to the isolated communities and mines scattered around in the Barren Lands.
The large white and red office building down there to the left of the image is the terminal building for the Yellowknife Water Aerodrome.
If you look over to the far side of the lake you can see a hydroplane that has just landed and taxiing over to the terminal.
The town of Yellowknife today is quite a modern town, laid out on a typical North American grid fashion. It's up there on the hill in the background
But the old town where the original settlers lived, and about which I'll talk further ... "at great length" - ed ... was situated down there at the edge of the lake.
That was quite logical of course because as I have said previously, prior to the road, everything came in and went out either by water or air and it all revolved around the lake.
What changed though was the decision to incorporate the Northwest Territories in 1967 and Yellowknife was chosen as the region's capital.
All of the Government's administrative offices were located here and the buildings to house them were constructed up on the hill, away from the water and any risk of flooding.
A modern town, complete with all facilities, grew up around the buildings to house the staff who came here with the Government . Today, Yellowknife is home to about 20,000 people
There's another part of Yellowknife too, which wasn't originally part of the town but was only recently incorporated into the town.
It was formerly an island, Latham Island, but a bridge and road was constructed to link the island to the mainland.
And this was a decison that was extremely controversial because the inhabitants were quite happy with their privacy and isolation and had no real wish to become attached, in any sense whatsoever, to the rest of the community.
On our way back down the hill there were several exciting things to see, including this little photo prop at the side of the road.
It's the kind of thing that is always worth a good photo opportunity and we all took advantage of the situation.
There is a photo of me but that is on someone else's camera (and I wonder if it survived). However I took a photo of a couple of our party who also joined in the fun.
Probably the most famous place in Yellowknife is the Wildcat Cafe, demonstrated here by one of my travelling companions.
It must be one of the oldest buildings still standing in the town and it's certainly the oldest restaurant here, dating from 1937. It served in that function until 1951 when it ceased to trade. And then it began to fall into ruin.
The building was saved from demolition by an Action Group that bought it and after 20 years of some kind of sporadic renovation it reopened in 1979. In 1992 it became a Heritage Site and was taken over by the city council.
Global warming which was causing the melting of the permafrost here in Yellowknife caused extensive damage to the building as it began to tilt alarmingly. As a result of this, the Council dismantled it and reassembled it in a more solid fashion, and it reopened for business in June 2013.
At the back of the cafe I made an interesting discovery.
I'm always on the lookout for old and historical equipment and here I discovered all kinds of relics from the city's industrial past just dumped into the undergrowth.
There is what looked like an old pump and some kind of flywheel lying around. And I'll talk about all of this kind of thing in a moment
From here, we carried on down the hill to the lakeshore where the old town began.