The paddling delights of Yellowknife and Back Bay

In the quiet embrace of Yellowknife's Back Bays and the sprawling expanse of Great Slave Lake, Bill found himself drawn to the whispering call of the water. Living in a city blessed with the gift of one of the world's greatest fresh-water lakes was a privilege he cherished, a reminder that nature's wonders were at his doorstep.

As the seasons changed, Bill felt an irresistible pull to venture onto the gentle ripples of Great Slave Lake. The North Arm's islands and the East Arm's turquoise bays, painted with the strokes of nature's brush, beckoned him. However, Bill discovered that the real treasures lay closer than one might imagine.

Within moments of paddling from the Latham Island causeway, a realm of enchantment unfolded before him. Yellowknife and Back Bays, veiled in a magic that eludes many, became his sanctuary of adventure, relaxation, and wonder. As Bill silently glided over the waters in his self-propelled vessel, the lake's rhythmic dance resonated beneath him.

In the heart of Yellowknife Bay, surrounded by the vastness, he felt the ebb and flow of the lake's currents, a soothing cadence that buoyed him up and gently settled him back down. The waves whispered secrets as they caressed pebbly beaches and cascaded over rocky points. Bill, immersed in the symphony of nature, savored the scent of fish carried by the wind.

His watercraft became a vessel of discovery, unveiling sacred sites of First Nations people, remnants of mining and aviation days, and memorial grounds, each holding stories etched in time. Creatures of the wild graced his journey — mink, weasels, otters, bears, swans, and eagles. The lake unfolded like a living tapestry, a canvas painted with the vibrant hues of life.

On the eastern shore of Yellowknife Bay, a world seemingly untouched awaited. Berries and mushrooms beckoned in their seasons, offering sustenance amid the untamed woods. Bill found spots for cookouts, places to cast a line, and warm rocks where he could bask in the sun after a refreshing swim.

Venturing to the western shore, Bill explored the history etched in lichen — names of children turned chiefs and leaders, and brass plaques honoring forgotten warriors. Further south, the hum of floatplane bases and the dance of dockhands unfolded, a testament to Yellowknife's vibrant past and present.

Joliffe Island, once a tank-farm, emerged as a floating community on the lake's southwest shore. Houses bobbed with the gentle currents, a testament to human ingenuity, architectural marvels on the water. Bill paddled through this community, studying the blend of creativity and camaraderie that defined its essence.

Under the Latham Island Bridge, Bill's journey continued into Back Bay. Calm waters embraced residential homes, offering a serene paddle and a new perspective on Yellowknife's oldest neighborhoods. Iconic buildings like the Wildcat Cafe and the original Weaver and Devore store stood tall, their reflections mirrored in the peaceful waters.

Along the western shore of Back Bay, Bill discovered the Back Bay Cemetery, where pioneers of Yellowknife found their eternal rest. Paddling north, he traced the shoreline beside majestic rock outcroppings, leading him to the old residential site for Giant Mine employees and the harbor for the Yellowknife Yacht Club.

As Bill navigated the waters, he realized that the beauty of Great Slave Lake wasn't confined to distant arms and sweeping bays. The heart of Yellowknife held its own treasures, waiting to be uncovered by those with a bit of boating skill and an adventurous spirit. For Bill, each sunny afternoon spent on the Great Slave was a journey into the heart of nature's wonderland, a testament to the unparalleled beauty that surrounded him.