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New sights at Norman Wells terminal

John Curran
Northern News Services
Published Monday, June 9, 2008

NORMAN WELLS/LLI GOLINE - With the Norman Wells airport getting busier, folks in the community are doing all they can to improve it.

"We really want to ... use it to promote the many tourism activities available in the Sahtu," said Glen Guthrie, president of the Norman Wells Historical Society.

Guthrie said he and the others involved are closing in on $70,000 in GNWT funding through Industry, Tourism and Investment's new tourism support initiatives.

"We want to add several taxidermy displays and shelving for various arts and crafts made in the region," he said. "It would be very similar to what greets passengers at the airport in Yellowknife."

He said the group is looking to secure a replica of the first plane flying scheduled service to Norman Wells.

"We're looking for a one-quarter scale model of a Junkers F-13," he said.

"It was a six-seater, there was room for two pilots and four passengers, but it was still the size of a single Otter," said Guthrie.

The Junkers was a very significant plane for the North in general, said Warren Wright, longtime aviator and founder of North-Wright Airways.

"As far as I know it would have been the first aircraft in the NWT," he said. "It first came North in 1921 for Imperial when they were mapping the oil around Norman Wells."

The airport makeover will also include a series of Sahtu maps and a television screen featuring a looping video of various regional tourist destinations.

"Anything that's going to help bring people to the Sahtu and the Norman Wells airport is wonderful news to me," said entrepreneur Lise Leroux.

Leroux has expanded her retail venture, Lise's Loft, to include a new location at the airport, Lise's Nook, which officially opened on May 23.

The new store is open Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., which is timed to coincide with many of the Canadian North and North-Wright Airways flights in and out of the community.

"We're really trying to cater to travellers' needs," she said, adding her stock includes items for both visitors and residents alike.

The main thrust of the Nook's business - which includes staffers Dana Bennett and Bev Martin - will be to give people a place to grab a fresh cup of coffee and a handy snack while they're waiting for a flight.

"There used to be a coffee machine in the airport, but it was eliminated some time ago," said Leroux.

Lise's Nook will also look to avoid the pitfalls that hurt a similar coffee cart venture, which failed at the airport many years ago.

"That didn't work because the operator was flying in doughnuts and newspapers from the south and the freight costs killed him," she said. "We're only using Northern suppliers."