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Old Town revisited

Andrea Markey
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (July 13/05) - Aurora World is offering a new two-hour tour of Old Town twice a week.

The target market for the tour is bus groups, campers and family and friends visiting for the summer.

Bob Dunsmore and Darcy Bourassa guide tourists around Old Town twice a week, pointing out the hot spots on Aurora World's new tour.

With such a transient working population in Yellowknife, even many residents don't know the varied history of Old Town.

"History is important to the North, and the merchants in Old Town in the 1930s are a big part of that," said Bob Dunsmore, one of Aurora's guides for the tour. "This will be as much a talking tour as a walking tour."

Without a script to memorize, Dunsmore and Darcy Bourassa guide people from Pilot's Monument through the lanes of Old Town and into Weaver and Devore's store, explaining the significance of each stop along the route.

"If I know the professions of some of the people on the tour, I try to add little bits that would especially interest them," he said.

After almost 30 years in Yellowknife, Dunsmore knows a lot of the people and places that make Old Town unique.

"Doornbos Lane was named after a man who carried water for 25 cents per pail on a yoke to Old Town," he said.

Popular demand

The new tour is a result of demand, said Mary-Beryl Long, general manager of Aurora World.

"People were asking for more than just a quick drive through Old Town," she said.

They are realizing Yellowknife is more than just the diamond capital, she said.

After filing for bankruptcy protection just over a year ago, Aurora World is back on secure footing.

"We have reorganized and are here to stay," she said.

Overall confidence in the tourism industry is coming back, and with an increased awareness in the Canadian market, there is nothing but positive thinking ahead, she said.

Tourist numbers are steadily increasing to pre-9/11 rates.

"Last year, the numbers tripled from the year before, and numbers are up again so far this year," she said.