Location: Right near Harbour Centre on Hastings & Seymore, the ground-level entry is rather non-descript, with only an etched glass sign and a lineup outside to help identify it.
Lineup Time: We waited about 30 minutes on a late Saturday afternoon. The line moves quickly as they bring people into the House about 40 at a time. There’s a bit of a bottleneck effect as guests are first welcomed by one of the House tourguides, but it helps keep the people capacity within reason.
What’s Inside? Canada’s Northern House has been, by far, the best pavilion that we’ve been to. Spread over two floors, this is a big venue with lots to see and do.
The central focus of the main floor is a stage where various performers and activities are showcased. On the afternoon we went, 4 young men were demonstrating some of the sports that are part of the Arctic Games.
These guys were doing crazy high kicks and wrestling that have, apparently, been traditional games in the arctic for generations. It wouldn’t really sound impressive to think about kicking a suspended target (a small piece of seal fur) with one leg, but really, these guys were kicking like 6+ feet in the air. The records were apparently set, by men, at like 9 feet, and by women at around 8 feet. That’s crazy!
The Lower floor had a large projection screen where travel videos were shown (and were really convincing too, I might add!) and several examples of different arts and craft styles: carving, painting, needlework, jewelry making, textiles, and this gorgeous cut-out wall hanging. I like the modern simplicity of it, with the buttons used as adornments. I could see myself making something like this!
Back upstairs, there are other things to look at, like this display about how much more expensive food costs in the Territories! I’ve heard stories from former work acquaintances when we lived in Edmonton, who, when they would go up to northern reserves would have kids put in orders for things “from the city” – not candy or junk food, but instead lettuce! Another friend supposedly gave up a cushy high-titled job in Nunavut because of the price of milk out there! 🙂
There was also a crazy video postcard activity you could do in front of a green screen which you could email to anyone you wanted, and some information about the history, culture and industry in the territories. Amongst all of this (yes, I told you there was so much to see here!) were great specimens of arctic animals, including this beautiful white wolf.
If you had the patience, you could line up to enter a few raffles, but even after spotting the shorter lineup for the same draw downstairs, we were too pooped to wait in another line!
Towards the exit, a small gift shop offers visitors some quality souvenirs and artisan crafts similar to what is displayed on the lower level. Items range in price from under $10 to well over $500 depending on what you’re interested in. The insane soft (wood?) buffalo wool items were very tempting, but I resisted this time!
This was totally a fantastic pavilion – the best of the bunch, hands down! Major kudos to the governments of Yukon, NWT and Nunavut for putting together such a great exhibit about their territories! The Canada’s Northern House is supposed going to be open until the end of March, so there’s lots of time to go visit! Enjoy!