‘A bridge to history’; Yellowknife community builds new bridge to increase access to local cemetery

Over 12,000 hours worth of volunteered time went into building this bridge, says Mike Kalnay director for the Rotary Club.


Mike Kalnay, club director for the Rotary Club was responsible for organizing and planning the bridge initiative. (Mariah Caruso/CKLB)

Yellowknife celebrates the unveiling of a 65-foot suspension bridge at Back Bay Cemetery.

“The people buried here are Yellowknife’s earliest settlers,” as stated in an email.

A gravesite overlooking the bridge. (Mariah Caruso/CKLB)

Over $115,000 worth of labour, supplies, and cash donations went into the construction of the new bridge.

Yusur Al-Bahrani, president for Rotary True North, says the old bridge was considered “unsafe”.

“This project was a lot more work than we thought,” says Mike Kalnay  director of the Rotary Club, “originally we thought it would be a 32 foot-bridge.”

The rotary club spent nine years planning and three years constructing the connecting bridge to the cemetery.

The new suspension bridge built on Great Slave Lake. (Mariah Caruso/CKLB)

Climate change and the effects of permafrost in the surrounding area posed the biggest challenge when figuring out where to place the bridge, says Kalnay.

“We are creating a bridge to history,” says Richard Guy, senior civil engineer for GUY Architects.

With about 38 bodies reported on the land, the Rotary Club says its next efforts will go to identifying all who have been forgotten and buried here.

Access to the Back Bay Cemetery can be found near the Ski club and through the traditional trails.

About the Author

Mariah Caruso
Mariah Caruso is a digital journalist, originally from Toronto, Canada. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a Hons. Bachelor of Arts and completed her Journalism post-grad at Sheridan College. She has an insatiable appetite for life, storytelling, connecting to the people, and getting to the heart of the issue. Mariah is excited to begin her journey and career in Yellowknife, NWT, and get involved with the community. If you have a story idea, feel free to send her an email at mariah.caruso@cklbradio.com