Yellowknife visitors' centre takes in stranded Alberta teens
'We managed to get to Yellowknife, but now we can't get out'
A group of teenagers from Alberta visiting Yellowknife with their 4H group who have been stranded in the city by the closure of Highway 3 have found refuge at the visitors' centre.
The N.W.T. Department of Transportation says the current highway closure due to smoke from forest fires will last at least until noon on Wednesday.
The group started their agricultural tour in Edmonton, working their way north through Grande Prairie and Manning, Alta., and then Hay River, N.W.T.
"And then we managed to get to Yellowknife, but now we can't get out," says Shea-Lyn Eddlestone of Paradise Valley, Alta., one of the teens.
Beth Moritz, a chaperone for the group, said the 20 teenagers chose Yellowknife over Washington, California and Montana for their two-week trip and she's glad they did.
"Little did I know, it's been an even better experience," she said. "To be able to spend this many days in Yellowknife, it's been wonderful."
The group had been camping on their travels to the N.W.T, but with the road closure, Fred Henne Park campground was full.
Tracy Therrien, general manager of the Northern Frontier Visitors Centre, said it was pure luck she heard about the group's plight when the group's bus driver stopped back in for souvenirs.
"He shared with me that they had gone to the campground but the campground was full but they graciously accommodated them, but they were sleeping on gravel or pavement or something like that. So I said 'If that happens again, if you're still stranded, you're welcome to come and use our boardrooms to sleep.'"
The group is now using the centre's two board rooms and the centre's kitchen.
"It's what we do in the north. That's who we are as northerners, we help one another," Therion said. "And it's our job, it's what we do for a living here at the centre. We help visitors."
Eddlestone says they couldn't be more grateful.
"It's almost like luxury for us from camping outside and having to do everything and rationing our water to now we get to sleep inside," Eddlestone said.
Therrien says the doors of the centre will be open for as long as needed.
Other tourists are also enjoying a longer-than-planned visit to the area.
Wayne Mundy and his wife were supposed to leave Yellowknife on Sunday, but remain at the campground for now.
"We have no deadline," he said. "So as long as we are back by the first of September, we're OK," Mundy said.