Old Town booming
Tourism is the big draw in Yellowknife's oldest quarter

Mike W. Bryant
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Aug 02/00) - Despite the closure of Giant mine and the transfer of government services to Nunavut and other communities, business is still good in Old Town.

According to the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce and businessowners, tourism is the key to maintaining a healthy economy for about 30 businesses in Yellowknife's oldest quarter.

"Old Town is part of our history, therefore that makes it an important part of our economy, and Old Town is certainly our tourism centre," said Ellie Sasseville, executive director of the chamber.

"I think it's safe to say that visitors to our city, at some time during their stay, visit Old Town."

Tom Faess, owner of the recently opened Pilot's Roost -- a cappuccino, ice cream and convenience store on Macdonald Drive, said his newest business is already paying for itself, since opening June 1.

He said tourism and Old Town's floatplane industry go hand in hand, considering that large numbers of visitors to Yk also charter planes for fishing and sightseeing trips, not to mention for Faess' other enterprise, Great Canadian Ecoventures to the Barren Lands.

"My feeling is that they generally have to see Old Town anyway because that's where the floatplanes are," Faess said.

Air Tindi, which has grown to an impressive fleet of 18 aircraft since transferring from Bathurst Inlet to Old Town in 1988, said hard work and happy faces have been the key to their success.

"We've had a lot of the same employees from the start," said co-owner Teri Arychuk.

"Our customers come back year after year and we enjoy what we do."

"There's places popping up all the time," Arychuk said about Old Town. "I think the more the better as long as they keep in theme, which they do. That's why people love walking around Old Town."

Mike Wood, co-owner of another float plane business, Arctic Excursions, sums up Old Town's place in this city.

"The thing I like about being in Old Town is that we contribute to the larger picture as a whole," Wood said.

"When people visit Old Town and go to each individual shop, they're exploring Old Town as one big tourist attraction."