This Is What It’s Like Living In The Canadian Arctic At The Darkest Time Of The Year

Ever wonder what it’s like to be a 20-something in one of Canada’s most northern and remote places? In this exclusive interview on STYLE CanadaHannah Ponsonby tells our very own Linley McConnell what it’s like to move from a big city to Yellowknife, N.W.T.

Photo courtesy of Hannah Ponsonby

LM: So, of all places, why Yellowknife? 

HP: I graduated from McMaster University with a degree in environmental science. I was passionate about pursuing a career in my field and an opportunity came up with a good company in the N.WT. It was difficult to find a job in Toronto, so when I got the job, I said, why not?

LM: What was the biggest adjustment? 

HP: Growing up in a city like Toronto, I took having access to things for granted. There are only three clothing stores here, so I had to get used to ordering most things online and waiting patiently for them to be delivered. Surviving the winter was also a huge adjustment. It lasts eight months and is only light for about four to five hours. Temperatures can get as low as below 50 (celsius). Let’s just say I’m obsessed with my Canada Goose. I also get an arctic vacation bonus, which allows me to escape to warmer destinations during the winter months (pre-COVID, of course).

Photo courtesy of Hannah Ponsonby

LM: What’s the social scene like? Was it hard to meet people?

HP: At first, it was a little difficult to get to know people, but as I started to go to the gym and other local spots, I began to introduce myself to people (I’m pretty chatty). Everyone is very welcoming and kind here and if you’re willing to put yourself out there, you make friends in no time.

LM: Is there a food scene?

HP: There isn’t a food scene per se, but the two best spots in town are Brewpub and Copperhouse. The Brewpub is actually the second most northern brewhouse in Canada and it’s the best spot to enjoy Yellowknife brewed beers with friends. The Copperhouse is a bit more high-end and often the go-to spot for a Christmas party or birthday. Going out is a lot more expensive here, so pre-COVID we usually took turns hosting dinners at friends’ places. If we go out on a weekend, we’ll venture to a bar or two. My favourites are Raven and Golden Range.

Photo courtesy of Hannah Ponsonby

LM: I’m so curious – can you tell me what dating is like? Do people use Hinge or Bumble?

HP: Dating is a little tough to be honest. I found that a lot of people move to Yellowknife with a partner. Yes, people use dating apps, but I would say most couples who meet up here meet IRL.

LM: True or false – online shopping is a nightmare because shipping costs so much money? 

HP: This is actually false! Most of the time, free shipping is still applied but there have been cases of stores not even shipping here. When this happens, I’ll usually ship stuff to my sister in Calgary and then she’ll send it to me. My favourite shop here is called iceblink and they carry brands like eberjy, Free People, and Butter London.

Inside iceblink – Yellowknife, N.W.T.

LM: We haven’t heard about a lot of COVID cases in the northern territories – has a lot changed during the pandemic?

HP: When COVID first hit, things immediately shutdown. Though there we’re only a few confirmed cases, the N.W.T didn’t want to risk the outbreak. There are many sensitive communities here because the healthcare system is quite remote. During this second lockdown period, everyone is on high alert.

LM: What are the most popular outdoor activities?

HP: Outdoor activities here are based on the season. In Yellowknife, we really only have winter and summer. In the summer, people enjoy camping, fishing and hiking. There are a lot of really cool hidden gem hikes in and around Yellowknife and the surrounding communities. When it comes to the winter, the most popular activities are snowmobiling, ice fishing and cross country skiing. There are a lot of fishing huts and skiing/snowmobiling trails in and around Yellowknife that are carved out for the beginning of the winter season.

Photo courtesy of Hannah Ponsonby

LM: And finally, what’s the biggest misconception about living in N.W.T? 

HP: That it’s a small town with a dirt road and not much to do. In reality, it’s this gorgeous winter wonderland with so many winter and summer activities, the Northern Lights and beautiful views.

Canadian arctic

Photo courtesy of Hannah Ponsonby

Have you ever visited the N.W.T? Tell us about your favourite experiences in the comments below. 

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