I grew up in Nova Scotia, near Yarmouth, in a tiny place called Wedgeport. I went to University in Québec City, where I met my wife Andreanne. I’d never been to Yellowknife before, but after university and years of owning businesses, we decided to take a yearlong sabbatical and visit with my mother who has been here for 16 years. In all that time I’d never been to visit the North, but within a few days we knew this was the place for us and our two-month vacation has turned into two years of never looking back.
This has been such an amazing move for us. I started out as director of sales for a hotel in town, but was courted by Nunavut Insurance Brokers to sell commercial insurance and potentially take on a management position. I’m amazed at the opportunities. I’ve always done volunteer work and sat on a number of boards. With the support of my company, I was happy to take on the position of President of the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce this year and I have been on the board for NWT Tourism for two years.
Obviously I think the North is the “Land of Opportunity.” But I also appreciate that business-owners understand the importance of a balanced lifestyle, so they give ample time for play and volunteer work. If I were still in southern Canada I’d have to prove myself everyday by working long hours just to keep my job and then face a 2-hour commute each way, every day. Can you imagine having an extra 2 to 4 hours a day to do the things you love? I live outside the city here, but it takes me 6 minutes to commute to work (okay 8 in “rush-minute”). But if you like huge shopping centres, large crowds and traffic jams, maybe Yellowknife isn’t for you. I’m just glad I don’t.
Yellowknife is a young and vibrant city. We’re like the United Nations of the North up here — the cultural diversity is superb. If you enjoy living outside the box and want adventure, this is the place for you. The problem isn’t finding something to do here, it’s finding enough time to fit it all in. Even though we have 20+ hours of daylight in summer, you still only have 24 hours in a day! I run, kayak, and golf — sometimes all in one night!
Life is so much more comfortable and balanced here. People are grounded and understand the basic value of living so they don’t dive into unnecessary stress. I come from a tiny community of less than 2000 people and the people here in Yellowknife have the same openness, friendliness and politeness that they do in Wedgeport, NS. And that suits me fine.