A road runs through the bush in the NWT, and it tells a story of tragedy, hard truths and the circle of life
A poplar sapling has broken through the pavement in the middle of the street, reaching toward a violet twilit sky. The smell of the bush clashes with the feel of cement underfoot as I walk on the sidewalk past the tree. There are crosswalks but no traffic.
Roads but no buildings. The only thing that stands is a sign back where I turned left off Highway 6 to enter the old townsite. “Pine Point” is painted proudly upon it, with stuffed animals arranged around it on the ground and in trees. It’s a memorial. It ties my stomach in a knot, as if something terrible happened here.
Without that sign, the site would be a mystery. But with it, every memory, death, birth and anniversary held in this town still hangs in thin air. But this sadness and nostalgia was foretold from the town’s very beginnings. It was never permanent, after all. It only existed from 1964 until 1988. And now it’s gone. All I see is an eerie blend of forest and concrete. But then I look a little closer.
Pine Point, summer of 1982: Warm weather meant Pine Days. Every resident of the town lined the streets unless they were cruising down them, vehicles decorated in ribbons and bows, trailing behind Miss Town of Pine Point’s pick-up truck. Behind them, a motorcycle disguised as a giant mosquito whizzes by, leading a gang of children on bicycles, ringing bells, honking horns and letting their streamers fly in the wind.
In alleys, friends compete for the title of Crab Walk champion. Pine Point babies are held up next to each other, fortunately unaware that they’re being judged for the Beautiful Baby Contest. It’s a town-wide party, and every one of Pine Point’s 2,000 citizens is celebrating, and the sun won’t set for weeks.
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