From the city center, Franklin Avenue (50th Ave.) descends a long, dusty hill to Yellowknife’s Old Town. In the 1930s, the first log and frame buildings were erected at this site. Along the narrow streets, Quonset huts, original settlers’ homes, converted buses, old boats, and tin shanties look incongruous in a Canadian capital city.
Some of the most unusual housing is in Willow Flats, east of Franklin Avenue. Ragged Ass Road, named for a mine claim, has the most unusual houses, many posting signs telling the story of the building.
Farther north along Franklin Avenue is an area known simply as The Rock, for the huge chunk of Canadian Shield that towers above the surrounding landscape. At the top of The Rock is the Pilot’s Monument, dedicated to the bush pilots who opened up the north.
At the corner of Pilots Lane and Wiley Road is Weaver & Devore, an old-time general store selling just about everything. Many of their larger orders have to be flown in to buyers scattered throughout the north.
East of The Rock, in Yellowknife Bay, is Jolliffe Island, once a fuel depot but now a residential area. The homes are reached by boat or canoe in summer and by road in winter.
At the north end of The Rock, a causeway, built in 1948, connects Latham Island to the mainland. At the south end of the island are floatplane bases, where the constant buzz of small planes taking off and landing symbolizes the north.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition