“Sorry, that shipment was on the ferry.”


The above line, or something similar, was an oft repeated refrain throughout our visit to Yellowknife. Apparently we managed to time our trip with the point in the year where the ferry providing terrestrial access to the rest of Canada was out of service due to low water levels but also before the hard freeze had set in, allowing the cargo to come in via the ice roads. The net result was that many supplies were a week or more behind in being delivered to town.

For some supplies – like petrol for cars – the situation was near dire. Most gas stations in town had run out of their supply and the couple that did have a supply were rationing it out at prices that sent a shiver down my spine. There were public service announcements on the radio reminding folks not to take out their aggression or frustration on the station owners and also reminding them to stop idling their cars so much so as to conserve what little bits of petrol were still available.

That shortage was, fortunately, not particularly dire for us. The rental car my friend picked up had a full tank and we didn’t get close to finishing it off, even with the few trips we took into the outskirts of town. But there were other shortages that did affect us, some more seriously than others.

At the Black Knight Pub – definitely the best food in town that we ate – we quickly discovered just how critical the situation was. First we finished off the last of the sweet potatoes in town with our third order of their delicious sweet potato fries, served with a garlic aioli. They also ran out of several menu options, from the bison burger to bangers & mashed, because they could not get the ingredients they needed to prepare the dishes.

Then we started to run out of beer options. One by one we watched at taps ran dry at the Black Knight and other watering holes around town. Fortunately enough taps remained flowing that we were able to stay warm and well lubricated, but there was some concern for the welfare of the town if things got much worse. “The great beer riots of 2010” does have a nice ring to it.

OK, so most of this post was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but it was actually rather eye-opening to see just how serious the situation can get when the transport options are so limited. The local government eventually had to order an airlift of petrol to alleviate the crisis. And they were still rationing fuel to consumers when we left town. The airlift was a stop-gap measure and the situation was still bordering on critical at many levels.

There was no beer on the flight as far as I know.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .
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