After 33 years, Yellowknife's newspaper family calls it quits

Arctic News, owned and operated by the Bennett family, will no longer be distributing national newspapers in Yellowknife. 'It's been a very strange week, so I've been trying to fill my days with other stuff,' says Bernie Bennett, who has been delivering the papers for the past 18 years.

Bennett family's Arctic News stops distributing national newspapers in N.W.T. capital

The CBC's Robyn Burns speaks with Bernie Bennett, who's been distributing papers for 18 years 1:48

More than 30 years ago, Bernie Bennett's father, Claude, began circulating national newspapers in Yellowknife for the first time.

"When he started bringing the Globe [and Mail] in, he started getting a lot of 'thank yous' from especially like businessmen, professional people around town," said Bernie Bennett.

"They had dreamed of having the Globe here. They probably never ever thought it would come."

It's been a very strange week, so I've been trying to fill my days with other stuff.- Bernie Bennett

The business grew, with papers arriving by plane every day except Christmas. The Bennetts would drop off the papers around town.

But after 33 years, his family's legacy has come to an end.

"Newspaper circulation [is] decreasing all over the country," Bennett said. "I'm not even sure what the future of newspapers will be five or 10 years down the road."

Dave Weaver, who operates the oldest store in the city, recalls when Claude Bennett delivered the papers and notes how much his store continued to rely on the service with Bernie Bennett, waiting for the papers to show up at about 1:30 p.m. every day.
Dave Weaver of Weaver and Devore, Yellowknife's oldest store, says he'll miss Bernie Bennett showing up with the national newspapers every day at 1:30 p.m. (CBC)

"It got to be sort of a routine. We'd have people coming in and say, 'What time's the paper coming in?'" Weaver said.

"You knew it was 1 p.m. when Bernie pulled into the parking lot," said André Dorais, a chef at a nearby restaurant that also received the papers.

That has all changed this week — something that Bernie Bennett still has to get used to.

"I still wake up at the same time every morning," he said. "I have to remind myself, 'No, you don't have to call the airport.'

"It's been a very strange week, so I've been trying to fill my days with other stuff."

Select stores in Yellowknife will still get national newspapers delivered to them despite Arctic News' closure.