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Fraser Tower polar bear to make return

Christine Grimard
Northern News Services
Wednesday, August 1, 2007

YELLOWKNIFE - The polar sign that has adorned Fraser Tower for more than 30 years will make a comeback after the building's new owners fielded complaints about its removal.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Catherine Travis, general manager of Coast Fraser Tower, says that they will be putting the polar bear sign back up on the other side of the building. - Christine Grimard/NNSL photo

The sign was replaced with a swirl last month, the trademark for Coast Hotels and Resorts who took over management of the hotel, and five other Maclab properties in Yellowknife in January this year.

But after hearing protests, Catherine Travis, general manager of Coast Fraser Tower, said the sign will be going back up on the other side of the building.

"Everybody noticed the polar bear," said Travis. "When giving directions we could just say, 'Follow the polar bear."

Daniel Duval, a building inspector with the city of Yellowknife, used to live at the apartments in the tower. He said he was sad to hear that the sign was gone.

"I liked that polar bear," said Duval. "Anytime anyone asked where you lived, you could just say, 'I live where the polar bear sign is.'"

With the public's attachment to the bear, Travis said she offered the sign to the Northern Frontier Visitor's Centre, the NWT Chamber of Mines, and the city's Heritage Committee.

Catherine Pellerin, chair of the Heritage Committee, said that while they made a few suggestions of what to do with the sign, it's not necessarily considered a heritage item.

"For years it was up there as a landmark," said Pellerin. "The polar bear sign, while recognizable, does not have a lot of intrinsic value."

After hearing complaints from people wanting the sign back up, Travis said Coast Hotels' head office has decided to put it back up after some refurbishment.

The sign now sits in the old pool on the bottom floor of the hotel.

With pieces missing and paint chipping off the plywood sign, it'll need some fixing up to make it through another winter.

The sign will go back up on the other side of the building, leaving the swirl facing the city on the west side.

Travis is hoping the swirl will become the building's new landmark.

"It lights up in the evening, it's still a way to find your way home," said Travis.

To bring attention to the swirl, the hotel is holding a competition starting this week.

Eight people will be walking around town with the swirls pinned on their fronts.

Anyone who recognizes the swirl will be entered in a draw, with the first prize being a weekend for two at the hotel.

Travis noted with the old sign needing so much repair, it likely won't go up again until next year.