Landscapes - Summer 2011 - (Page 64)

SITE SPECIFIC 1 2 RONALD FRANKLIN WILLIAMS, APPQ, FCSLA THE SEVEN IDENTITIES OF YELLOWKNIFE ENG_ THE RESEARCH WORK for my upcoming book Landscape Architecture in Canada involved a lot of reading and visits to libraries and archives; but I also took to heart a dictum of my Berkeley professor John Brinckerhoff (J.B.) Jackson, the dean of American landscape studies, who insisted, in his 1984 book Discovering the Vernacular Landscape, that the primary source in our field is always the landscape itself. Thus inspired, I embarked on a lengthy pilgrimage across the country, trying to discover something of its landscapes and its people. Such a pilgrimage changes one’s perspective about places until then unseen. Among the many surprises that awaited, the city of Yellowknife, capital of the Northwest Territories, was to confront me with a series of urban landscapes that were far more complex and fascinating than I had imagined. 1 N’DILO, HOME TO THE YELLOWKNIVES DENE FIRST NATION 2 THE CAUSWAY TO OLD TOWN ON LATHAM ISLAND, A HUB FOR FLOATPLANES AND BOATS 3 A HOME IN YELLOWKNIFE’S COLOURFUL WOODYARD 4 ABANDONED GIANT GOLD MINE SITE 5 THE WOODYARD 6 CONDOMINIUMS BY YELLOWKNIFE’S PIN-TAYLOR ARCHITECTS IN OLD TOWN 7 YELLOWKNIFE BAY FROM BUSH PILOTS’ MEMORIAL IN OLD TOWN 8 ONE OF MANY HOUSEBOATS ON YELLOWKNIFE BAY 9 OLD TOWN AND THE YELLOWKNIFE MARINA TAKEN FROM THE HISTORIC PEACE RIVER FLATS | 1 N’DILO, VILLAGE DÉNÉ 2 LE PONCEAU ENTRE L’ÎLE DE LATHAM ET OLD TOWN, POINT DE CONVERGENCE DES HYDRAVIONS ET DES BATEAUX 3 UNE MAISON DU QUARTIER COLORÉ DE WOODYARD 4 MINE D’OR DÉSAFFECTÉE 5 LE QUARTIER WOODYARD 6 DES COPROPRIÉTÉS D’OLD TOWN CONÇUES PAR PIN-TAYLOR ARCHITECTES 7 LA BAIE DE YELLOWKNIFE VUE DU MONUMENT AUX PILOTES DE BROUSSE DANS LE QUARTIER OLD TOWN. 8 L’UNE DES NOMBREUSES MAISONS FLOTTANTES DE YELLOWKNIFE 9 OLD TOWN ET LA MARINA, VUS DES HAUTEURS DE PEACE RIVER PHOTOS 1-2-3, 5-6, 8-9 PATRICK KANE 4+7 RON WILLIAMS Our primary source is the landscape itself. | C’est le paysage lui-même qui doit d’abord nous inspirer WHERE SEVEN TOWNS COEXIST Home to almost half the territory’s population of 42,000, Yellowknife demonstrates the complexity and richness of urban life in the North. It is a vibrant city, home to a spirit of enterprise and adventure, yet still smallscale and familiar. And somehow, at least seven different towns coexist within its confines. There is first of all a mining town, corresponding to the municipality’s origin in 1935 as a gold-mining settlement, but this is largely invisible today; the gold mines, now closed in any case, were always outside the main town-site. The unique Old Town, situated on a rocky and hilly peninsula in Yellowknife Bay, an arm of Great Slave Lake, was built in virtually random fashion on the rocks of the Shield; everything here is irregular, crooked and charming. At the extremity of an island that is the prolongation of the Old Town peninsula lies the community of N’Dilo, home of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, where some of the original brightly painted cabins remain despite much new construction; and at a kilometre’s distance from the older sections of town, the high-rise buildings of New Town, built primarily in the 1960s, stand atop a plateau, presenting a stunning urban image. This district, which includes the downtown area of the city, was laid out in a regular rectangular street grid. In fact, it is almost identical in mission and configuration with our East-coast colonial towns of the 18th century (including Halifax, Charlottetown, Saint John and Fredericton) except that its larger modern buildings lack any cachet and there is no public square. Instead, the steps of the centrally located post office stand in as an informal social gathering-place, as noted by an observer in June 1988 and confirmed by myself in July 2007. Yet New Town is in many ways a typical Canadian small town of one- and two-storey frame buildings, with a sophisticated and cosmopolitan town centre that boasts many fine urban features, including an excellent French restaurant and an outstanding book store. THE IRREPRESSIBLE FRONTIER PAST Beyond the downtown area, recent suburbs extend across the plateau; landscape irregularities have here been eliminated in order to create a milieu that resembles the neighbourhoods that surround every city in southern Canada. But the city’s frontier-town past can’t be suppressed, expressing itself in a totally unique and original house-boat community—a colourful and eccentric armada of small craft—that floats in Yellowknife Bay. 8, 9 64 LANDSCAPES PAYSAGES

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Landscapes - Summer 2011

Landscapes - Summer 2011
Limitless! | Illimité!
Letters | Courrier
Up Front | Prologue
Essay | Essai
Work That Defines Us | des Oeuvres qui Nous Définissent Aapc
National Honour Awards | Prix Honneur National
National Merit Awards | Prix Mérite National
National Citation Awards | Prix Citation Nationale
The Regionals | Les Prix Régionaux
Adjudication | Sélection
Opinion | Opinion
Lacf | Fapc
Site Specific | État Des Lieux
Collaborators | Collaborateurs
Inspiration | Inspiration
The Last Word | Le Mot De La Fin

Landscapes - Summer 2011