Ben Ladouceur

Abstract

The Wildcat Cafe in Yellowknife has certainly become a Canadian institution since it first opened in 1934. But as the final stop in the Canada Hall exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the cafe has also become a symbol of both the eccentricities and the familiarities of life up north. By examining the operation and function of the real Wildcat Cafe in the broader context of “café culture,” the author shows that while the Wildcat retained many aspects of a typical western café, it was heavily influence by the northern environment and its peculiarities. But while the environment certainly effected the settled population of this frontier town, an examination of the cafe shows that physical and spatial difference in environment actually strengthens social communities as they are forced to confront these differences in their environments, fostering a sense of unity in the act of survival.

 Résumé
« The Wildcat Café » à Yellowknife est certes devenu une institution canadienne depuis son ouverture en 1934. Dernière installation dans la salle du Canada au Musée canadien des civilisations, le café est un symbole de ce qui est à la fois excentrique et familier dans la vie quotidienne du Grand Nord. En examinant l‟opération et la fonction du véritable « Wildcat Café » à Yellowknife, dans le contexte de la « culture du café » l‟auteur montre comment le Wildcat a retenu plusieurs aspects typiques des café occidentaux, en même temps qu‟il a été fortement influencé par les particularités de son environnement nordique. Bien que l‟environnement ait sûrement affecté la population de cette ville frontalière, une analyse du café montre que les différences environnementales physiques et spatiales renforcent les communautés sociales qui doivent confronter ces différences, ce qui encourage chez eux des sentiments d‟unité à travers l‟acte de survivance.

Biography
Ben Ladouceur is an MA student in Canadian Studies, focusing on the process of settlement in the Canadian north from the 1930’s to the 1980’s. He is interested conflicting perceptions of the northern climate as an embodied space (settlers’ perceptions, indigenous populations’ perceptions), and the cultural dilemmas to which these conflicts give way.

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