Art helps the Cat
Carving will be raffled

Michele LeTourneau
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 02/99) - Fort Smith carver Sonny MacDonald has donated a valuable and unique carving to the Old Stope Association to raffle off. The intent? To raise money to help ensure the Wildcat Cafe, a historic landmark, lives on.

MacDonald says that after reading the article in the Yellowknifer about the Old Stope Association's need for funds to conduct important renovations, he felt compelled to do something. That something is a beautifully detailed lake trout arcing out of the water.

For the Old Stope Association this is a welcome move. MacDonald's initiative has been the first tangible response since their need was made public.

"There has been interest but there hasn't been a lot of response yet," says Kris Schlagintweit, president of the Old Stope. "But we certainly look forward to some."

For the association, MacDonald's contribution mean a few things.

"It emphasizes that the Wildcat is not only a Yellowknife heritage building but a value to the whole western NWT," Schlagintweit says.

MacDonald's participation is seen as affirming the Wildcat Cafe's significance to people around the territories.

"It's also inspired us to set up a raffle," says Schlagintweit. "We're going to solicit other artistic donations, and run that raffle at the Cat all summer long. Probably raffle them off the last day of business or sometime late in the summer. The tickets will be available all summer long."

Raffle ticket prices have not yet been set, but they will be available soon and all summer long at the Cafe.

"Certainly Sonny's (donation) will be a front-running prize and we'll try to get other artistic raffle items. And we're looking for some, if you want to put that hot tip in there," laughs Schlagintweit.

As for the sought-after manager for the summer of '99, the deadline for applications was Wednesday afternoon.

The qualities of the new manager will include diverse restaurant experience and the ability to run a high-speed establishment, not unlike performer Tracy Riley's reminiscence of the Wildcat in

Confessions of a Cabin Dweller, where Frisbee-flinging talents were clearly of value.

"It's high volume, short season -- so when you hit the deck you have to be hitting the deck running," Schlagintweit admits. "It's an exciting place to be working. Especially with the renovations under way."

"There was strong interest for picking up the documents (application for manager). So after today we'll start looking through the responses and we'll choose one in the next few weeks. I would expect that to be awarded within two weeks or less. So we're rolling ahead."

Opening date is scheduled for late May.

"Typically Mother's Day," says Schlagintweit. "Usually our Mother's Day Brunch is our opening event. And typically we're open evenings only for the first week. And then full-speed ahead. It is partially dependant on the weather because we're on a water tank. Surface water line starts end of May early June depending on the weather.

Some renovations are planned prior to the opening, in the month of May, explains Schlagintweit.

Decisions about whether work on the foundation logs, windows, or roof come first will depend on money raised and the difficulty of doing the work. Above all, the business at the Wildcat will not be effected. The fall has also been set aside for renovation work.

Artistic donations may be made through the Old Stope Association.