rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Yellowknife's Wildcat Cafe reopens after two-year hiatus

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Please support our coverage of democratic movements and become a supporting member of rabble.ca.

After a two-year-long renovation that amounted to a rebuild (with considerable controversy  and delays) Yellowknife's oldest restaurant and historic icon, the "Wildcat Café" has finally opened for it's 2013 summer season.

The video below documents the opening this afternoon.

Wildcat Café - HistoricPlaces.ca
"… The Wildcat Café is one of the earliest permanent buildings in the City of Yellowknife. The building's structure and style are an excellent, well-preserved example of its time period. Built in 1937-1938 by prominent pioneers Willie Wiley and Smokey Stout, the Wildcat is a reminder of pioneering days for Yellowknifers, and all Canadians alike. A replica of the Wildcat Café is on permanent display at the Canadian Museum of Civilization's Canada Hall, where it serves as an icon of early industrial development in Canada's northwest.
The Wildcat was a gathering place for the founders of Yellowknife: prospectors, miners and pilots. It was the hub of Yellowknife's social activity. Prospectors wheeled and dealed, community members held meetings and banquets, while visitors came and went by floatplane. Throughout the years, the Wildcat was used as Yellowknife's first ice cream parlour and Chinese restaurant.
The Wildcat is a well-loved community landmark, and a symbol of Yellowknife heritage that nearly every visitor recognizes. From its prominent location in historic Old Town, the Wildcat creates and encourages a pioneering spirit, which is still alive in Yellowknife today.
Source: City of Yellowknife By-Law 3635…." More here

Photo Caption: The Wildcat Café in Old Town Yellowknife, [movie ad on wall for "My Friend Flicka"] Credit: Busse/NWT Archives/N-1979-052-4573

Photo Caption: Wildcat Café, Yellowknife. [There are several identifications for the people. The man on left has been identified as pilot Myron Olson; the man on the right has been identified as either "Old Henry Lafferty" or "Sam"] Credit: Busse/NWT Archives/N-1979-052-4491

North of 60° — Visions of the New North: "...The log building in the Canada Hall is a replica of the Café as it looked in the late 1970s, when it was renovated and reopened after many years of disuse. ... View a Quicktime VR panoramic movie of the Wildcat Café interior ..."

Upgrades to historical Wildcat Café complete 1 year late - New foundation makes renovation costs go over budget  (CBCNorth @CBCNorth)

Wildcat Café $74,000 over-budget: No windows, floor, door but still expected to open on schedule (Northern News Services December 1, 2011)

Asbestos delays Wildcat Café: An unexpected surprise during the restoration of the Wildcat Café has further delayed the restaurant's opening, pushing it to mid-July. (Northern News Services June 8, 2012)

Stolen range hood final straw for Wildcat: Mayor concedes cafe will likely not open this season (Northern News Services Aug 3, 2012)

Daughter of the Wildcat: After John Mainland "Smokey" Stout built the Wildcat Café in 1937 with his brother-in-law Willy Wylie, Stout moved to Kingston, Ont., and got married, then had a child named Bonnie and raised her in Whitehorse. Bonnie Brown is now 64 and has come to Yellowknife for the first time to see her dad's café (Northern News Services July 29, 2009)

Wildcat Café Restaurant Reviews, Yellowknife, Canada (TripAdvisor)

Wildcat Café in Yellowknife, Canada (Lonely Planet)

Wildcat Café - Yellowknife (Urbanspoon)

The Wildcat Café: rebirth process photos from June 2011 (Fran Hurcomb Photography)

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.