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Where We've Lived

Where We've Lived

Some office memories from our 35 years.
By Marion LaVigne
Sep 26

Until 2018, Up Here always shared an office with its sister company, Outcrop Communications. We spent our first 13 years in the Azzolini Building we purchased on 51st Street. It was handy to the hardware store next door where we could purchase supplies to repair everything from the furnace to the toilets. We shared the building with the local laundromat run by Alfredo and Tina Azzolini. Later, Marg Baile and the Arctic Art Gallery moved in, and before we vacated, the Glad Tidings Church upped the decibel level on weekends.

Over the 12 years we lived there we added a copy of the cover of each magazine we published to the wall beside the stairs—a total of 72 issues. We casually referred to this as “our million dollar wall.” It represented the net loss accumulated over the first 12 years of publishing Up Here. When we moved to a new building, we left the wall and the losses behind, finally turning a profit in our lucky 13th year.

Our second office was in an upscale tower in the downtown core. A diamond company occupied a few floors of the building, and eventually Up Here occupied half of the 10th floor. We stayed there for 20 years. Instead of magazine covers, we papered our hallways with awards for the magazine and its writers and designers. When we moved again, it turned out we didn't have enough wall space in our storefront offices for all those awards, either.

Over all of those years, we had our share of tenancy woes. There was the flooded basement that imperilled our typesetting equipment. The time the waterline to the diamond company’s fridge broke, dousing several of our upscale offices over a weekend and narrowly missing several computers. But the Azzolini Building provided the most excitement. After one very late night, staff encountered a black bear on the street behind the building. And then there was the standoff on 52nd Street when the RCMP cornered a guy with a rifle for a few tense hours.

One of our favourite visitors in the early days was the legendary Tom Doornbos, then in his 80s, who used to stop and warm himself in winter on the radiator by the front door. We always knew he was there from the odour wafting up the stairs. In winter, the ravens across the street would waddle up to the peak of the roof on the daycare building opposite, then tuck in their wings and roll down the snow-covered roof sideways, again and again, like kids on toboggans.

With the sale of our sister company, Outcrop, Up Here sought a smaller storefront space—our current home on Yellowknife’s main street, with our own big sign outside. Readers and visitors now walk in regularly to buy t-shirts, renew subscriptions or just say hello. But we've always been an active community participant.

In year one, under the guidance of editor Erik Watt, and sales manager Joy Watt, Up Here assembled a large display on a flatbed for Yellowknife's Canada Day parade. It consisted of a very artistic depiction of a log cabin, which later found its way into the museum, and all the dogs we could muster. We called it "Up Here's Top Dogs."

All went well, with dogs and staff and dozens of helium balloons, till our float was assigned its position behind the vet's team of horses. We were never awarded the first prize (which we felt we deserved) for our float, but the uproar from our team of dogs hustled the horses along and ensured the parade ended on time.