Old Crow

The remote village of Old Crow is the only community inside the Arctic Circle (in the Yukon and North West Territories of Canada). It was established in the early 1900s when some families permanently settled there. It was named after Chief Deetru’ K’avihdik (Crow May I Walk). 

Native people living in that area are called the “Vuntut Gwitchin,” meaning “People of the Lakes.” Their main source of livelihood is trapping, hunting, and fishing. The Porcupine Caribou provides their main source of meat and hide for boots, moccasins, mitts, and traditional outfits. Everything of the caribou is used by the village people.

The population of Old Crow is approximately 250 people. They live in log homes. There is a store that provides groceries and necessities, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment, and a Nursing Station.

Around 1970 first diesel engine generators started operating in the village, bringing electricity to this remote community. However, the diesel fuel had to be flown in, which was very expensive. 

In 2021 the solar power plant was built on the outskirts of the village, which is now supplying clean energy for the people of Old Crow.

My experience of Old Crow is quite minimal, as most of the time I spend with Kenneth in his Goos Camp. However, he and I would eider dogsled or take a boat ride to see his family and replenish our supplies on a few rare occasions there. One time I even skied to the village on my own, staying with Kenneth’s family overnight. 

Probably the strongest impression I had (at the beginning of my stay with Kenneth) was how quiet the village was. Only a few had Skidoos (as dogs were still the main form of travel during winter), and television sets were few and far between; (one TV was in a food co-op store)!

People that I met in Old Crow were friendly and opened up to me, especially after the first winter. They also appreciated that I was helping Kenneth, who at over 60 at that time, was becoming more and more of a recluse. 

I still have a dream, that one winter again, I will walk through the streets of Old Crow under the Northern Lights. I know, I am now in the Australian outback, but hay, who knows, life is still full of surprises!

Van Tat (Crow Flats) and Chyahnjik (Crow River) from a wonderful book: People of the Lakes by Shirleen Smith. (I highly recommended it)! 

Village of Old Crow on Ch’oodeenjik (Porcupine River). People of the Lakes by Shirleen Smith.

Excerpt from my journal, Yandoit, Australia 2022

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