Caribou Days: Remembering Carnivals Gone By

For more than 50 years, Yellowknifers said goodbye to winter and welcomed spring with a celebration called Caribou Carnival. It took place at the end of March and northerners from all over the region flocked to town to celebrate. In 2009, the last Carnival took place on Frame Lake.

The Canadian Championship Dog Derby, a three-day, 150-mile sled dog race, was the cornerstone event, but after the teams had taken off, the rest of the Carnival events got into full swing. Traditional competitions like log chopping, muskrat skinning, tea boiling and hand games drew lots of competitors and huge crowds. Carnival King and Queen contests were focal points and there was food: Caribou burgers, candy floss, fish chowder and bannock, maple taffy… all the food groups were covered. Everyone dressed up — even the dogs. Caribou Cops arrested anyone without a badge and threw them into the infamous jail.

Evening events included the famous Tree of Peace talent show, the Dog Derby banquet and a massive fireworks display. By the end of the weekend, exhausted and sun-burnt Yellowknifers and out-of-town visitors really felt that they had seen winter out in style. Bring on spring.

Heat is on: a tea-boiling competitor in 1977


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Up and away: high-jumping in 1977

Get a load of this: dog weight-pull competition in 1985

Cuttin’ time: log-sawing in 1990

Police and thieves: Caribou Carnival Jail in 1992

Champions in action: Canadian Championship Dog Derby in 1994

Power walkers: Snowshoe racing in 1994

Fur fashion: dressing up for the ice in 1995

Faces in the crowd: gathering in 1995


Canine fashion in 1997

Thumbs up for the sweet stuff in 1999








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