WWW.YELLOWKNIFE.CA POPULATION: 19,940
The NWT’s capital city, known as the Diamond Capital of North America, is a blend of spectacular landscapes and downtown high rises, with surprisingly sophisticated urban environments only steps away from pristine outdoors experiences.
Yellowknife’s economic base has long rested on a mixture of resources, government and, increasingly, tourism. The last gold mine in Yellowknife closed in the summer of 2004, ending a long and colourful legacy that has left its picturesque and historical mark on the city’s Old Town neighbourhood. But the discovery of diamonds in 1991 had already created the largest staking rush in Canadian history. Canada’s first diamond mine began production in 1998. The Ekati mine is located 310 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife. The Diavik Diamond Mine is located south of Ekati and began production in 2003. The Snap Lake diamond mine is DeBeer’s first mine outside Africa and the north’s first all-underground mine. It began production in 2007. The Gahcho Kué diamond mine is currently in development. The mines employ many residents of Yellowknife directly or indirectly. Many businesses have developed as subcontractors and service businesses related to the industry.
Meanwhile, natural gas and oil reserves further north provide new opportunities for business. There are at least 12 air transportation companies based in Yellowknife, from road transport to aviation, operating both fixed-wing and helicopter aircraft.
As the capital of the Northwest Territories, Yellowknife’s major employers include the federal, territorial and municipal governments. Tourism services are growing in importance and sophistication. The city’s multicultural population has a high level of education, and a high rate of employment.
The city is situated on the west shore of Yellowknife Bay on the North Arm of Great Slave Lake, and includes more than a dozen small lakes. Highway 3 connects to the Mackenzie Highway system, and Highway 4, the Ingraham Trail, leads east from Yellowknife to a popular recreation area with many lakes and rivers.
Air Canada Jazz, Canadian North, First Air and WestJet provide daily service from Edmonton and Calgary. Regional airlines Air Tindi, Arctic Sunwest, Buffalo Airways, Northwestern Air Lease and North-Wright Airways connect Yellowknife with most communities in the Northwest Territories.
The city has 11 schools, including Francophone education, and a busy Aurora College campus. The city is well served with accommodations, stores and medical services. There is a regional hospital, dental services and a large financial sector featuring Canada’s five major banks. High speed Internet reaches into most homes.
There’s taxi and bus services, a movie theatre with first run features, and a wide range of recreation opportunities from trails to parks to arenas and gymnasiums. Boating in summer and snowmobiling in winter are very popular. Fred Henne Territorial Park beach is a popular spot for families to relax in the summer and the Ruth Inch pool is open year round for those who prefer to swim indoors. Yellowknife is also home to a curling club, a squash and racquetball club, and several fitness centres. Local drama groups stage theatre throughout the winter. One of the most popular attractions is the Yellowknife Golf Club, featuring 18 holes on a sand course.