story and photos by Pat Kane
I spent a few days this summer at Ykea, or more formally, The Yellowknife Solid Waste Facility. After chatting with salvagers and getting a sense of why this place is so important to Yellowknifers, I decided to take a few portraits of these dedicated rummagers.
The dump is a place to find very good items. A well-paid and transient workforce means you’ll find lots of great discoveries like diamond rings, X-Box 360s, sailboats and even cash. So I suppose, in a way, the dump’s trash really isn’t trash at all.
Some of it is used for art, some for homes and some is refurbished and resold. It’s also said that salvaging is a forward-thinking, green, and effective way to recycle items while adding character and culture to the city.
Any way you slice it, we’re an industrious type and this city was built on foraging, discovering, building homes and making entertainment from what we’ve found or what others have left behind. Sure, a lot of it might be covered in raven poo, but you probably could find a hose at the dump too, and rinse that off, no problem.
Ayrma Schreurs, veteran salvager:
“I absolutely love the dump, it is the best place in Yellowknife! I’m pretty picky about what I get here so I’m mostly just looking for knick-knacks for my garden and toys for my grandkids.”
Bruce Bourque, veteran salvager:
“I look for bike parts and build bikes for kids who can’t afford them.”
Thomas De Bastiani, experienced salvager:
“I’m using this wood to build a dock outside of town.”
Ian Forrest, veteran salvager:
“I found a sink a few years ago. That was cool.”
Lesley Johnson, experienced salvager:
“I’m making a garden so this wood is going to come in handy.”
Rory Macneill and Becky Davis, novice and experienced salvagers:
“Does this count as a couples photo shoot?”
Bill Tetsa, experienced salvager:
“There’s a big bingo tonight so I’m just killing some time.”
Walt Humphries, legendary salvager.
He’s pretty much the Mayor of Ykea, if there was such a position.“This place ought to be designated an official tourist attraction.”
Maliq Barnard, experienced salvager:
“Maliq is a tinkerer and loves anything with dials, buttons and switches,” says Maliq’s mom, Heather. Here he sits next to an old four reel.
Mike Lacroix, legendary salvager:
“I’m at the dump at least five times a week, if not everyday. Today I’m looking for a Mother’s Day gift. Check this out, Robert Frost’s poetry. Gift found!”
Sue and Norm Glowach, intermediate and veteran salvagers:
“We have friends that sometimes find us things and sometimes we find things for friends too. Always be on the lookout for something a friend might like.”
Katie Glowach, novice salvager:
“Some of these coveralls I’m sitting on are wet and gross.”
Ben Russo, experienced salvager:
“I once found a really nice patio set. Brand new.”
Jack Carter, veteran salvager:
“Mostly I come to find things for vehicles but my prized find was a 20-foot sailboat in near-perfect condition.”
Kelsey Magill and Tyson Hauger, rookie salvagers:
“We’ve never got much from the dump. Kelsey is terrified of birds so this place kind of freaks her out.”
Elvis Brown, legendary salvager:
“The dump is my church because I’m here once a week, religiously.”
Marvin Tarr, experienced salvager:
“I’ll take whatever I can get my hands on but my specialty is bikes. I love rebuilding and selling bikes but if there’s a kid that can’t afford one, I’ll definitely give it to them. It’s all about paying it forward here.”
Fred Murphy, experienced salvager:
“I try to find stuff for around the house, like this.”
Lachlan MacLean, veteran salvager:
“The best thing I’ve found is probably an airplane wing. I stick to the scrap metal section where there’s a lot of pipes, sheets and gadgetry. I found this lunch pail and coverted into an little amp. This is the perfect place for a tinkerer like myself.”