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Cool Cafes: Wildcat Cafe, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

Historic Wildcat Cafe, Yellowknife

It was late in the afternoon when we arrived into Yellowknife. Our day had started in Ottawa and had included a four-hour layover in Iqaluit and a one-hour one in Rankin Inlet. We were a bit tired, but wanted to make the most of every minute we had on our trip. So after unloading all of our gear into our room at our hotel, we decided to walk around the town and see if perhaps we could find a spot to eat.

We walked out the front of our hotel and took a left. We walked. And walked a little more. Nothing looked open. And of the spots that were open, most seemed to be bars, not restaurants. At one point, I looked around and realized that Hubby and I stuck out like sore thumbs on this particular street. We seemed to be the only people sober. Time to flag a taxi.

We told our taxi driver that we were looking for a nice place to eat. He drove us right past our hotel to the other end of town. Wow, what a different a couple of miles makes! This end of town was fabulous and one of the “must see” locales was the Wildcat Cafe. Although, really, there were only two restaurants to choose from in this neck of town. Of the two, the Wildcat had the better view. In fact, it had just reopened a couple of weeks before after an almost two-year renovation that increased the views and added a large outdoor patio as key elements in the completed job (shown to the far right in the photo below).

@coffeewithjulie at Wildcat Cafe

We considered ourselves lucky and headed straight in. First up was a cold drink. It was a beautiful sunny evening (remember, the sun doesn’t go down until midnight!) and we toasted to the start of our adventure from our spot at a long table with bench seats.

There were a number of these tables inside the Cafe, but when it was originally built by Willie Wylie and Smokey Stout in 1937, there was just one long communal table where everyone sat together — pilots, prospectors, miners, mining engineers, trappers, and First Nations people. And no matter what you ordered, all of the homestyle meals cost the same amount: $1.00.

Inside the Wildcat Cafe

We enjoyed our drinks and our meal (I had chicken with a warm kale salad and fries), but they weren’t really anything to write home about. However, the chance to sit in a place so steeped in Canadian history certainly was.

Chicken, Kale Salad, Fries

P.S. If you’re in Ottawa, here’s something cool: there is a replica of the Wildcat Cafe in Canada’s Museum of Civilization!  


  1. Very cool. And funny. Glad you managed to make it to the other side of town. Your initial description reminded me of what I’ve heard about Bytown back in the good ole bad ole days. : D

  2. Amazing! I love reading trip stories and those photos of then and now – very cool. Thank goodness you guys hailed a cab and found it. Now I’m curious if you stayed up til midnight!

  3. Such a neat experience. I would enjoy the history way up north. Perhaps one day I will get to *ahem* enjoy that plate of kale salad!

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