Footage of 1970’s first Arctic Winter Games now available online
A 25-minute documentary showcasing colour footage of the first Arctic Winter Games is now available on the National Film Board’s website.
The Arctic Winter Games were first held in Yellowknife 53 years ago after politicians from the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Alaska expressed concern “about the lack of competition to which our northern athletes and coaches had access,” according to a history of the event.
Those three jurisdictions provided the teams that took part in 1970.
Documentary producers Dennis Sawyer and RC Gibson were on hand to record what happened next, a short film that the National Film Board says was recently turned into a digital copy from the film original and can be watched online.
The documentary, on behalf of what was then the Department of National Health and Welfare, offers some of the highest-quality footage of Yellowknife in 1970 and a unique record of the sports and competitors involved that year.
Alaskan athletes are shown being greeted by a cheering squad as they disembark their plane at Yellowknife Airport. Drummers and dancers from Aklavik welcome guests. Kugluktuk artist Jimmy Hikok is seen showcasing his work to children.
Longtime Yellowknifers will enjoy a variety of shots displaying the city as it looked in 1970, from skiers on the frozen lake to the gymnasium at St Pat’s, used as a volleyball and boxing venue at the time. (You won’t find boxing on the modern Arctic Winter Games schedule.)
If that’s not enough, head to Whitehorse in 1972 where Sawyer returned to produce a similar film, or northern Quebec in 1978, both of which are also available courtesy of the NFB.
This year’s Arctic Winter Games take place in Fort McMurray from January 29 to February 4. Cabin Radio will be in northern Alberta with Team NT to bring you, if not a 25-minute documentary, then at least some Instagram reels and the occasional web report.