Some news stories have the hallmark of being from the NWT before you even check the location.
Cabin Radio produced more than 2,200 news reports in 2021.
From our archive, we’ve selected 10 stories we think are the definition of northern news – things that maybe wouldn’t be news anywhere else, couldn’t be news anywhere else, or have an extra edge to them because they happened here.
Some are a bit strange, some are heartwarming good-news stories, and some are just tales of everyday life. Even in a year consumed by Covid-19, there were distinctly NWT things happening wherever you look.
We present our 10 choices in no particular order. Happy reading, and we hope you enjoyed our news coverage this year.
A beer can ‘bomb’
With Folk on the Rocks in full swing, we got an unusual call: a diver had found what appeared to be an improvised explosive device inside an old beer can under the Yellowknife River bridge.
Jeremy MacDonald spoke with our reporter McKenna Hadley-Burke while awaiting the arrival of RCMP explosives specialists from Alberta.
“It’s not a huge threat. I think it’s just kind-of a unique thing,” he said.
Nobody was hurt, although it was a Molson can, so at least one person was at some point disappointed.
Diners at Yellowknife’s Bullocks Bistro had their lunch interrupted by a loud bang one afternoon in March.
A snowmobile crashed into the restaurant’s front porch.
“It’s the first event for Bullocks like this, thank goodness,” co-owner Jo-Ann Martin told us. “So it was a bit of a shock.”
Again, nobody was injured, but the porch had to be torn down.
“Mayhem at Inuvik bingo for pet charity results in threats, acrimony,” read the headline, summing up an unusual story in February.
Confusion about a number being called at a bingo night for Arctic Paws resulted in things getting very heated, very quickly.
Organizers said people ended up “threatening the safety and lives of the volunteers and workers.”
Community members rallied behind Arctic Paws in response. The group said it wouldn’t host such an event again.
Woman wrestles lynx, frees puppy
An instant Yellowknife classic. Shania Tymchatyn described rescuing her eight-pound puppy from a lynx then holding the lynx down to ensure it didn’t attack other dogs.
“I remember throwing my dog the opposite away from us and grabbing this animal by the neck and body and managing to get myself on top of it,” she told us. “At this point, I still had no clue what I was even holding down.”
It’s not clear exactly how large the lynx was, but that didn’t stop Yellowknifers being gripped by the incident. Local design establishment Signed even produced shirts commemorating the feat.
Tymchatyn’s account surfaced as the city experienced a wave of lynx sightings, many involving animals strolling the city’s streets.
Isolation leads to liquor law change
So many people broke their Covid-19 isolation to visit liquor stores that the territorial government gave in and changed the law to allow alcohol delivery.
Until October, there was no way to send a delivery driver to pick up liquor from a GNWT-backed store on your behalf.
But in a bid to stop people leaving isolation purely to buy liquor, the territory changed the system until at least the end of this year.
“The GNWT has become aware of risks involving residents leaving isolation to access liquor,” a spokesperson said.
Christmas trees hit ditch
A truckload of trees sliding into a forest of… other trees makes for an interesting sight – or a frustrating one, if you’re desperate to sell some trees.
The Yellowknife Scouts rely on their annual Christmas tree sale for tens of thousands of dollars in fundraising revenue.
This year, however, the trees were mightily delayed. First, the scouts had trouble finding a supplier. Then, the trees had to cover 5,000 km by rail and road. Finally, they slipped off the highway outside Yellowknife.
The trees did eventually arrive, sparking a frantic sale that at one point saw line-ups dozens of people deep.
Muskox pizza emporium
Heading to Łútsël K’é? Make sure you try Cameron Enzoe’s muskox pizza.
In February, we reported that the 19-year-old had set up his own business selling the unique flavour.
He describes the pizza as being similar to a deluxe pizza, with red peppers, pepperoni, cheese, and muskox meat.
He told us he tried a Hawaiian version, but the meat didn’t go well with pineapple.
These lists are never complete without at least one KFC story. This time, it’s an effort by Yellowknifers to help Fort Simpson residents hit by flooding.
More than 40 volunteers raised more than $6,000 in less than an hour to buy a hundred buckets of chicken and put them on a plane to Fort Simpson. That’s 2,500 pieces.
“I think the staff at KFC had a mini heart attack when the order was processed,” said Jennifer Vornbrock, who helped to coordinate the mission.
“It was priceless. This may be the most insane thing I’ve ever been a part of.”
Cubs at Copperhouse
Last year, we had a bear in a diamond mine café. This year, a bear and her cubs turned up at Yellowknife’s Copperhouse restaurant.
The bears took up residence in and around dumpsters next to the restaurant. Wildlife officers needed several hours, rubber bullets, and tranquilizer darts to subdue the bears before moving them.
“It’s been a day,” the restaurant wrote online.
The mother bear, dubbed Copper, was subsequently tracked for weeks by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in online updates.
We’re going to cheat for this last entry and include two stories for the price of one.
In February, on one of Yellowknife’s coldest days in years, Jescinda Cullihall and Josh Powell got married. Their photos from a shoot in -45C without wind chill are quite something.
Then, in August, we told the story of Inuvialuk artist Erica Donovan’s wedding dress – a gown based on the traditional design of an Inuvialuit atikluk, complete with a collar of Arctic fox fur, white sequin designs, and a fringed bottom.
Erica’s dress was one of our most popular stories of the year.
Still trying to avoid that Christmas family gathering and in desperate need of reading material while hiding in the bathroom?
Here are the other stories we shortlisted for this article:
- Watch: Houseboat Bay’s homemade Zamboni
- For trips to school without sunlight, Inuvik now has buses
- How difficult is it to steal a fire truck, anyway?
- NWT Conservative candidate ‘instructed not to do interviews’
- Jean Marie River home damaged in highway collision
- RCMP say breathalyzing Hay River ambulance driver was mistake
- Ulukhaktok on day eight without internet
- Fort Simpson requested the military’s help. Two people showed up.