Thursday, July 26, 2012

Reader's Diary #845- Tyler Heal: The Times Behind the Signs Yellowknife

I started Tyler Heal's The Times Behind the Signs back in June. At only 72 pages, it seems like a long time. But I have an excuse.

The Times Behind the Signs, written by then high school student Tyler Heal in 2005, tells the stories and history behind the street names of Yellowknife. I'm certainly interested in the history of my town, but I also used it as my biking guide. With the street names listed in alphabetical order, I'd read through a letter or two, then ride to them in the same order. In total it took me 531km, including starting and returning from my own address. Three flat tires. Some days stuck in the rain. But I managed to make it to every street, and photograph the signs-- those that had signs anyway (a handful were missing). It was a really neat way to see the city, though I suspect many wondered why I was crisscrossing across the city so often. Well, because Ward Crescent and Watt Drive are at opposite ends, that's why! Still Yellowknife is a perfect size for such a task. You couldn't really do this in a large city, unless you planned on doing it over a few years, and any place smaller would probably be too quick.

Heal's book was quite well researched and somewhat interesting, though anyone with even a passing knowledge of Yellowknife history would not find it surprising that the majority of streets were named after aviation pioneers and miners. But there were a handful that didn't fit either of these categories and some were not named after people at all.

I hope Heal eventually does an updated issue to include some of the newer street names (such as Angel Street) or to include some of the few that he overlooked for some reason (Tachee Tili, Trails End, and Hershman Street, for example). I'd also suggest that in the map printed at the front, he should add a grid and coordinates to easily find the streets being described. And while he didn't include any of the numbered streets (I rode to them anyway), I'm curious to read an explanation as to why the lowest numbered street I could find was 41st street and the highest was 57th. Were there streets 1-40, and if so, do they correspond with any streets now? Did it ever go beyond 57? Not that anyone but a local would care!

Below are some photos from my rides:

Boffa Dr- the most scenic part of town, IMHO, is Old Town

Ragged Ass Road- The sign was so popular it was often stolen. Hence this one has been bolted to a large rock.

Sikyea Tili- Signs in N'Dilo all have a yellow knife at the top, to represent the Yellowknives Dene who live there.
MacDonald Dr- In some cases, when street signs were missing, I looked for businesses that had the address posted.
Lois Lane- Though Margot Kidder, who played Lois Lane in the Christopher Reeves' Superman movies did live in Yellowknife for a short time, this street is actually named for Lois Little, another Yellowknife resident.
Weaver Dr- Weaver was one half of a business partnership that began a popular store called Weaver & Devore that still exists today. Oddly there is no street named after Devore.

1 comment:

Barbara Bruederlin said...

What an amazing project you took on! One certainly couldn't take on that scope of project here, so I am rather envious of you. Now I am worried about the fate of those missing numbered roads though...