When I started this post, I had the same question as you: "What is there worth seeing in the Northwest Territories?" I expected snow, ice, permafrost and igloos. I wasn't wrong, but I was far from the truth. While learning about this stunning territory, I found out all sorts of things. I won't bore you with them, but there are two interesting places worth mentioning.
The first is the Giant Mine, a gold mine that entered production in 1948. It ran until 2004 and produced 7 million ounces of gold. In 1992, during the height of a labor dispute about the mine, an explosion ripped through it, killing nine people. It was discovered this explosion was caused by a bomb set by Roger Warren, and he was convicted for nine counts of second-degree murder. He claimed the union had "dehumanized" the strikebreakers (somebody who refuses to go on strike during a labor dispute) and had the union, security or the company listened to the strikers, he wouldn't have done it.
After the mine closed, it was discovered the land was poisoned with around 17,000 tons of arsenic and asbestos. This includes nearby lakes, rivers, forests and houses. The company said it was the responsibility of the Canadian and Northwest Territorial government to clean up. The containment is lethal, even in small doses, and the cleanup effort is being called the "greatest challenge associated with the remediation of Giant Mine". In 2014 the Canadian government put forward $900 million to a billion dollars to clean up the area through freezing the contaminants and transporting them somewhere safe. Once completed, it is expected that the Northwest Territories' first mining museum is to be built on the property, although there is no set date.
The other location I learned about was about Nahanni National Park. I had never heard of this park before, and I almost wish I never had. The moment I typed it into Google the result "Nahanni National Park mystery" came up. Clicking that I discovered the article "The Mysterious Valley of the Headless Corpses".
Apparently, Nahanni National Park was once inhabited by a violent group of aboriginals called the "Nahanni", which mean "The People Over There". Stories say that the inhabitants of the park would occasionally leave and attack nearby camps, decapitating anybody they found. Then, as mysterious as they appeared, they'd vanish. This happened one day, but the Nahanni never returned. That is until gold was found by the European settlers in the early 20th Century, and the beheadings began again. Four people within a ten year period were decapitated, one was flash frozen although he was sitting next to a fire and an additional 44 went missing in 1969 under "mysterious circumstances".
Adding to the mystery, Nahanni National Park is one of the least explored places in Canada, if not the world. Accessible only my plane and boat, the park has only been surveyed from the air. In 1964 Jean Poirel explored the area and discovered over 250 unknown caverns. The most important one was Dalerie Cavern, which held the skeletons of over 116 sheep that had starved to death over 4,500 years ago!
Before we start, I would also like to give credit to Darren Roberts for the image I used in my cover photo. He was recommended to me as one of the best photographers to follow when it comes to the Northwest Territories, so be sure to check him out!
Without further adieu, I bring to you "Instagramming Canada - Northwest Territories"!
Nahanni National Park
Sunset and Sky
Lakes and Rivers
And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.
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Just over a year ago I wrote an article about the glockenspiel that once stood in downtown Regina. I had fond memories of the glockenspiel as a child and was sad when they took it down to renovate the park. I was even more sad when they didn't put it back up, and I was angry when I discovered it was sitting in a junkyard (sorry, outdoor "storage facility") for the past ten years. That article got a lot of attention, from both the public, the city and the press. Today, efforts are being made to restore the bell back to its original location.
I'm telling you this because preserving heritage – may it be a 25-year-old bell, or a fourth century building – is important. Without heritage, we lose who we are. Often, the desire to move society forward steps over the heritage and causes it to get lost. As impressive as tall glass buildings might be, nothing is better than a smoky red brick structure.
Saskatchewan is beginning to realize how important this is – and thankfully it's happening now and not in a few decades after everything is gone. But, our neighbours have been on the heritage preservation band train for several years now, especially in Alberta.
I was recently asked if I preferred my time in Montreal or Quebec City more, and while Montreal is a gorgeous city, decorated with thousands of green copper spires, hosts incredible festivals, has some of the most fantastic food I have ever tasted, and is spotted with beautiful parks, there was just something about Quebec City that spoke to me. Being over four hundred years old, Quebec City is one of the last remaining "walled cities" in North America, and is the only one north of Mexico. Quebec City was the location of some of the greatest conflicts in Canadian history, including the Siege of Quebec by the British.
Belonging to three very different countries (France, England, and Canada) in its four hundred year existence, Quebec City is a mixing pot of old traditions, new ideas, cobblestone streets and modern architecture. Since there is so much to see in Quebec City, I figured I would narrow it down to a couple and let you discover the rest! Here is "8 Places to Visit in Quebec City".
Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania shut its doors in 1970. A year later, in 1971, it would briefly reopen and house inmates from Holmesburg Prison after a devastating riot. After the prisoners were returned to Holmesburg, Eastern State would sit empty for over two decades. It would rot, decay and collapse. Trees and shrubs would grow into the structure and a clowder of cats would take residence. These hallowed halls would sit empty, the only noise being the chatter of startled birds and the trotter of feline paws.
The following decades would see various discussions of what to do with the building. Eventually, it was decided to preserve it and turn it into a tourist attraction. Although it officially opened for tours in 1994, attendants would have to sign a waiver and wear hardhats before entering until 2008. They had 10,000 visitors the opening year, a number of tourists not seen in the prison since 1858.
From 1829 to 1970, Eastern State Penitentiary underwent a variety of changes and transformations. This massive, sprawling, 11-acre complex was founded under the belief that solitary confinement was the cure needed to prevent criminals from committing future crimes. It was believed criminals who served in solitary confinement would turn to a higher power to reconcile with themselves for their crimes – hence feeling "penitent". To assist in this process, each cell was equipped with a slit window on the ceiling nicknamed "The Eye of God". It would be the only light source available to the inmate.