X-Message-Number: 6035
Date: Sat, 6 Apr 1996 21:49:18 -0800 (PST)
From: Doug Skrecky <>

                      MY VISIT TO YELLOWKNIFE
      (From the November 1995 issue of Canadian Cryonics News)
                          By Doug Skrecky

       Fueled by curiousity I decided to pay a visit to Yellowknife. Ben
 Best had a job for me as well. "Your mission should you decide to accept
 it is to photograph the graves of two Europeans buried in the permafrost. 
 Their relatives would really appreciate this." Then the tape recorder
 burnt itself out. 
       After an inexpensive charter flight to Edmonton I was surprised to
 learn that plane fare between Edmonton and Yellowknife was a rather hefty
 $600 return. So I made the mistake of hopping on a milk run Greyhound bus
 bound for Enterprise, NWT instead. I had had flap jacks for breakfast and
 had forgotten them till the road became rather rough and the bus started
 going up and down, up and down. The flap jacks started going flip, flap,
 flip, flap. At the Alberta border there was a sign stating that all the
 land beyond was the North Western Territories. It looked like the end of
 the universe to me at the time. Eventually the bus stopped shaking. I
 looked out and spotted a diner stuck out in the middle of nowhere. This
 was Enterprise, the home for 49 people and my bus stop. Heaven I thought. 
 The air had quite a chill in it for early October and the trees looked
 rather runty. I sat down and waited. The wind whispered its secrets for a
 time. A loud flapping noise startled me. It was a raven flying overhead. 
 One forgets how quiet nature can be after living in a city for so long. 
 The last leg of the journey to Yellowknife turned out to be a bus from
 Arctic Frontier Carrier. The bus driver put out his hand and a fifty
 dollar bill disappeared from my wallet and appeared therein. However this
 bus driver drove more slowly and the ride was rather more smooth. 
       After arriving late in Yellowknife I flagged a taxi and hopped in. 
 The driver was a black fellow who seemed very enthusiastic about all the
 money non-natives were making in Yellowknife and all the alcohol the
 natives were drinking and what was I doing in Yellowknife? Fare was $4. I
 handed him a ten and recieved $104 in change. After handing back the
 hundred I looked at him and wondered and wondered. 
       Next day I visited Lakeview Cemetary with Brian, the grave digger
 to guide me. The new section of the cemetary had two graves that did not
 have any headstones on them, but instead had sections of black ABS pipe
 sticking out of the ground. Paupers I thought, surprised that this was
 even allowed in a modern cemetary. Brian pointed to one of the unmarked
 graves and indicated that this was one of the plots I was looking for. 
 This did not make any sense as the family must have spent a lot of money
 just shipping the casket across the Atlantic Ocean to Canada. They had
 money all right. Brian was not sure where the other was buried so he
 called in the foreman. Surprise, surprise the other unmarked grave was
 the other European. I took photographs of what there was in the area,
 including the surrounding "forest". A forest this was if you agree that
 trees 15 feet tall can be called trees rather than shrubs. 
       Later I visted the Yellowknife Puclic Works department to fish for
 more information. Cheri Ducept, the secretary mentioned that a bylaw is
 being considered to require all graves to have a headstone. She also
 mentioned that burying the Europeans was quite a lot of trouble as their
 caskets were far larger than is normal. One of them even had a
 thermometer sticking out of it. A bylaw requiring that foreigners pay
 extra for burial is being considered she noted. 
       Cheri had been informed by Territorial Funeral Homes that one of
 the Europeans had apparently been first shipped to Rankin Inlet for
 burial in the permafrost, but the local native Indians had refused to
 allow burial in their cemetary. Territorial Funeral Homes became involved
 and the casket was shipped to Yellowknife for burial. According to Brian
 in May you hit frost about 4 feet deep in Lakeview Cemetary, but by
 October this is 8-10 feet deep if there is any permafrost at all. The
 graves of both Europeans were of the standard depth of 6 feet, so they
 are not situated in permafrost. I asked if there was a colder cemetary in
 the Yellowknife area and was told that there was an older one, but it
 suffered from a lot of ground water runoff and at least one buried body
 had resurfaced as a result. 
       I spent the rest of the day touring Yellowknife and marvelling that
 it could have highrises this far north. It is a "working" town and not a
 tourist attraction, unless you are hunting big game or diamonds. 
 Nonetheless there was a very nice tourist information center. There I
 learnt that almost 17,000 people lived in Yellowknife, that the average
 household income was $66,800 and that food prices were 37% higher than in
 Edmonton. I wondered what the average native Indian household income was. 
 Normal temperatures for Oct 6'th were 4 to -2 C. This year was warmer
 with a range of 6 to 2 C. Record high of 16 C was in 1988. Record low of
 -10 C in 1979! 
       I decided to make one last visit to Lakeview Cemetary. I purchased
 a flashlight and shone this down the two ABS pipes on the graves to see
 if I could spot a thermometer. The pipes curved however and nothing was
 visible inside them. After arriving back in town I phoned Territorial
 Funeral Homes and ordered two brochures on headstones and grave caps be
 mailed to my address so I could forward these on to the parties
 concerned. The secretary Milly Pittner seemed to be all business where
 potential sales were at stake. She mentioned that the funeral director
 was Robert Jensen. If there are any further dealings with Territorial
 Funeral Homes regarding permafrost burial I recommend that all
 correspondance be with with Robert. 
       After this business I took one last look around downtown
 Yellowknife. Then I left. 

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