North

Where the streets now have names: Young Yellowknifer posts street signs on frozen bay

Ten colourful street signs have popped up on Yellowknife Bay thanks to nine-year-old Sadee Mitchell.

10 colourful street signs have popped up on Yellowknife Bay, thanks to Sadee Mitchell

You won't find Catskinner's Road or Musher's Drive on Google maps, but you will if you take a stroll on a frozen lake in Yellowknife, thanks to Sadee Mitchell. (CBC)

You won't find Catskinner's Road or Musher's Drive on Google maps, but you will if you take a stroll on a frozen lake near Yellowknife.

Ten colourful street signs have popped up on Yellowknife Bay thanks to nine-year-old Sadee Mitchell who lives on Joliffe Island near the city's Old Town neighbourhood.

"It's hard to tell people how to get to my house because there are roads but there are no road signs," Sadee said. "So I thought, why not make road signs?"

Sadee Mitchell with her grandfather next to one of her homemade street signs on Yellowknife Bay. (Submitted by Mike Mitchell)

In the winter, Yellowknife Bay — a small corner of Great Slave Lake — is a hub of activity, between dog sleds, snowmobilers, skiers, visitors to the annual snow castle and, of course, house boaters going about their lives.

Sadee also had a heritage fair project for school and wanted to look into the history of the area. So she got to work and did some research on her neighbourhood and discovered a rich history.

"There were people who talked to me who know a bit about Yellowknife Bay and they gave me some ideas about these roads and some of the information I found from the NWT Archives."

Sadee designed these 10 colourful street signs after doing research on the Yellowknife Bay area. (Submitted by Mike Mitchell)

Her digging led to the creation of the street names that are tied to either people who lived there or stories tied to the area. Willy-Mac Cul-de-Sac is named for William McDonald, a prospector and naturalist who lived in a house on Back Bay and whose house burned down twice, Sadee said.

Tindee Blvd. is derived from the Tlicho Yattii name for Great Slave Lake, and of course The Kingsway was named for the famed Snowking's Winter Festival and castle.

And Catskinner's Road isn't as morbid as it sounds. Back in the day, cat trains, or Caterpillar tractors, would pull sleighs full of supplies to Yellowknife, Sadee explained, and the drivers were called skinners — hence the name Cat Skinner's Road.

The signs are blue and carved like fishes. They're dispersed around the bay on thick branches stuck in the ice. They've already created a buzz among houseboaters, and many tourists are taking pictures in front of them.

Hear what Sadee has to say:

Sadee Mitchell created colourful street signs that went up on the ice on Yellowknife Bay this year. 2:04

"I think people like them and I was really proud that it was me that did them and my hard work," Sadee said.

The signs will remain until the lake starts to melt, when she'll have to take them down. But Sadee hopes to put them back up every winter for many years to come.

And Yellowknife's Snowking, Tony Foliot, has already confirmed that next year, for the first time, the snow castle will have an address: 1 Kingsway.

Sadee Mitchell had a heritage fair project for school and wanted to look into the history of the area. (Submitted by Sadee Mitchell)

About the Author

Chantal Dubuc

Videographer/Editor

Chantal Dubuc has been a videographer/editor for CBC North based in Yellowknife since 2005.

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