Winter Wonderland in the NWT

Yesterday I shared with you my plan for this week, and how each day this week would feature winter activities of different ladies, each from a different area of Canada.

I am very excited to kick this off by featuring a fantastic lady from the Northwest Territories. Kristy is one of the most adventurous people I have ever met. I remember when I first met her and thought that she was fearless. I am happy to see that she continues to have some amazing adventures.

Can you share with the readers where you are from?

I live in Hay River, Northwest Territories, a community of approximately 3,600 on the south side of Great Slave Lake.

How long does winter tend to last in Hay River?

Winter tends to start in late October, my birthday is the 28th of October and I cannot remember one birthday without snow nor not wearing a snow suit under my Halloween costume! Winter tends to hold on till mid-April, or later, I remember going camping May Long Weekend in a tent and waking up to a foot of snow!

How cold does it get?

The temperature tends to be COLD, usually – 20 to -25 for December until the beginning of March. Not including the wind chill which could make -20 into -30 in a hurry!

Are there any winter activities that are unique to the area where you live?

Hmm. Lots of people are active during the winter months, I wouldn’t say there is anything really unique to this area… maybe unique to people that live in an urban setting. There is ice fishing, dogsledding, skiing, snowshoeing, hunting, trapping, or skidooing! The options here are endless; there is a lot of open space and freedom to really do what you love.

Are there any winter events that take place in your area?

Every winter most communities in the North have a “Winter Carnival”, usually the Carnival consists of Dog Sled Races, traditional aboriginal games, skidoo races and talent shows! Here in Hay River on top of our Kamba Carnival in the winter we also have; Ice fishing derbies, Polar Pond Hockey, Snow Cross and Skidoo Drag Races. It’s really an exciting time to come experience the north!

Which of these activities do you tend to go to?

My boyfriend Anthony and I both race dogs, so we usually go to every race/carnival in our area, they tend to have the races and carnivals at the same time.

What is your favourite thing to do outdoors in the winter?

My most favourite thing to do in the winter would have to be Dog Sledding.. 110%! It is hard work, but so peaceful and relaxing to be standing on the back of a sled without distractions or sounds. It’s amazing to run at night and shut the headlamps out, the moonlight and northern lights light the path for the dogs and all you hear is the sound of their feet on the snow.


When is the last time you built a snowman?

We actually had a really warm patch of weather in January, and I helped build one in the recreation yard at work with the offenders! (Kristy is a correctional officer)

Who do you spend the most time with outside?

I spend the most time outside with my boyfriend Anthony. We run our dogs almost daily, and we like to go trapping and hunting in the winter.

As a kid, what was your favourite thing to do in the snow?

As a kid my favourite thing to do was go sliding, my parents have a house on the river bank, so we spent a lot of time in the back yard sliding onto the river.

What is your favourite winter activity memory?

My favourite winter activity memory would have to be going out with my brother and sister and sliding, building snow men and then coming inside and warming up with Hot Chocolate in front of the fire place.

In your opinion, at what temperature is it too cold to hangout outside?

In my opinion too cold is -25 because usually the wind blows and it’s actually -35!

What do you think the worst thing about winter is?

The worst thing about winter in the north is definitely the darkness… the sun usually rises about 10 am and sets about 3:30 in the winter months!

What drew you to the sport of dog sledding?

I was drawn to the Sport when I met Anthony, his family is a legacy of Dog Mushers, his dad is 65 years old and still racing dogs! The Becks are a remarkable family when it comes to preserving the art of dog mushing, they recently received an award from Aboriginal Sport Circle recognizing their family’s accomplishments. Also, I have always been a dog lover!


When was the first time you went dog sledding?

The first time I went dog sledding was 2 years ago, I went for a tour ride, then the following winter was the first time I was running them with the help of Anthony and TJ. So this year will be my 2nd year in competitive races.

In what capacity do you do it (as a job, for fun, for competition, etc.)?

We dogsled for fun and competition! We both work full time at a correctional center, after work comes dogs! We have fun training and playing with them, but it’s also fun to watch them compete and run to the best of their ability! We go to races not to win, but to have fun and let the dogs have fun. They really do love to run!


What do you love most about it?

I love getting to know the dogs; they all have their own personalities and quirks! I call them my kids. Traveling with them is an amazing experience, when we stop to let them out on the road (about every 6 hrs) We let them all loose and watch them run around. They are all like pet dogs, it usually surprises people how well they listen and how friendly they are.

Would you recommend it to someone who has never done it before?

I would recommend it to anyone who loves dogs and doesn’t mind the cold!! Its such a rewarding experience… there really aren’t words to describe the feeling.

Do you take Ruby sledding?

Ruby is totally a BED dog… she likes to be under the covers with the bed warmer on for the majority of the winter. In the spring time when it warms up Ruby gets to put a harness on and help train the puppies how to pull the sled. She has a blast! We take Ruby on the road with us and dogs, she runs around with them, but we don’t race her.

Eunice & Ruby


Speed Round: Choose one or the other

Downhill or cross country skiing?

Snowboarding! But I have to choose … cross country skiing

Building a snowman or having a snowball fight?

Snowball fight! I’m very competitive

Shovel the snow yourself or have someone else do it?

Shovel the snow myself!

Baileys in your hot chocolate or coffee?

Baileys in my coffee, between work, dogs and life there isn’t enough coffee!

Hockey on TV or on the road in front of your house?

On the road in front of the house

White or tropical Christmas?

I once had a tropical Christmas, and I would never do it again! A white Christmas for sure!! It’s not Christmas without snow, fireplaces and the cool weather!


Bonus Questions:

When you head back inside, what is the best way to warm up?

The best way to warm up is a mug of coffee in front of the fireplace, or a hot bath.

In line with Canadian stereotypes, how much of a role does Hockey play in your life?

I used to be a hockey player from a very young age, I don’t play anymore but Anthony plays as well as his son. So I usually watch them play!

Which team, if any, do you cheer for and why?

I cheer for the Oilers! I’m really not sure why… I don’t pay that much attention to NHL hockey.


Kristy, thank you so much for answering all of my questions and for letting me raid your Facebook for photos! If I ever make it up to Hay River I will definitely need to see you race. It looks absolutely exhilarating and I am happy that you found a passion for it.

One of the things that I love most about this is that sledding isn’t something that Kristy has done since she was 12. It is relatively new to her but she dove in and fell in love with it. What is stopping any of us from doing the same and uncovering our own passions. Maybe there is a winter sport out there for all of us, we just need to try it out!

If you want to know more about life in the NWT, Kristy’s sister Jeri took part in the Week Around Canada feature back in October. She lives in Yellowknife and told us a bit about life there. They are both amazing in their own rights and it puts a smile on my face to see them doing so well.


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