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If you don’t recognize Dustin Milligan, you have been living under a rock. Dustin is a Canadian actor who starred in hit TV shows such as 90210 and Schitt’s Creek along with productions such as Silicon Valley and Me Him Her.
A fun fact about Dustin is that he just so happens to be from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. And… who better to help us plan our next trip to NT than a NT local? Nobody. So, we reached out to Dustin to find out what it was like growing up there and for some tips to help us plan our next trip to the beautiful north…
Firstly, let’s get some of the Northern Canadian stereotypes out of the way:
Now that we have cleared that up, what was it like growing up in Yellowknife, NT?
I loved it. It was a pretty small and isolated town, so you were able to go out and play for the entire day. You could basically walk outside and be in the wilderness, it is literally at your doorstep. The winter is cold, but the midnight sun in the summer is amazing. It could be 2:30 in the morning and it feels like 8:30 at night. When the sun is up late at night you can skateboard home on these wide open streets surrounded by bright red and orange skies… it is pretty magical. Growing up there was pretty cool. You are really removed from the rest of the world. The community is tight-knit and supportive so It was just a really idyllic upbringing up there, tucked away up north. There is so much there and if you haven’t been I really recommend you go there. I really want to go back to NT and explore more.
There is so much there and if you haven’t been I really recommend you go there. I really want to go back to NT and explore more.
If I was to go to Yellowknife for only three days what would you say I have to do, see and eat?
If you were to only go to Yellowknife for three days, go in the summer and go to Folk On The Rocks. During that time you can experience the midnight sun and enjoy a raging music festival on the lake. Along with great music, there is so much great food to try from all the local businesses… it allows you to sample the best of the city all in one place. Every year everybody goes to it. There you will meet the hardcore Yellowknifers and people who are generally looking for a good time. Growing up I went to 10 or 12 of them, it is the thing to do for everyone living in the community.
What is your favourite date-night restaurant in Yellowknife?
The Wildcat Café – it is in this old historic building that is still standing from when Yellowknife was predominately a prospecting and gold mining town. It is one of the oldest buildings in Yellowknife. Go here for nostalgic vibes, homemade and hardy northern food. It is delicious.
How has being from Northern Canada influenced you?
Northern Canada gave me a great sense of community and isolation from the rest of Canada and the world. It is a pocket of eclectic, weird, cool and caring people that form such a unique community. When I moved down south it was different, bigger, and just a faster pace. Growing up in Yellowknife gave me a better sense of being grounded and remembering my roots. I am so grateful that I was protected from all the craziness of bigger schools and cities up north. I had 100 people in my graduating class and it was the biggest the high school had ever seen… nothing compared to down south.
How did you first get into acting?
There is a strong art community in Yellowknife. It started with elementary school plays and then that lead to high school plays. Then after high school, I moved to Vancouver to try and give it a go. I was pretty fortunate that within a couple months of moving to Vancouver I signed with an agent and starting auditioning right away. I was going to go to Capilano University or UBC but I was able to work as an actor right away so that was the best kind of education I could get.
Is there anything you crave from Yellowknife when you are away?
I definitely crave a few pizza places in Yellowknife. The pizza in Yellowknife is amazing. You know how you grow up on a certain kind of pizza so then you associate it as ‘the best pizza ever’? I would say I think about it several times a month… like, “Remember that pizza I had back in 1998, that was good pizza.” My favourite spot has changed over the years… first if was YK Pizza and then it was Bruno’s Pizza, then Corner Mark Pizza (now closed) and then Canadian Pizza (now closed). I haven’t been back recently enough to test the new pizza spots as some of my favourites have closed down. If I go back soon I will follow up with a report on the most recent best pizza in Yellowknife.
What are some of the best activities to do in Yellowknife?
It is an outdoors person’s paradise. You can walk around anywhere you want or get out on the lake really easily. I like to take a quick drive to hike to Cameron falls or a quick plane ride to canoe the Yellowknife River. You can basically get to anything within a 30-minute drive and be totally alone. Skateboarding is another thing that I associate with Yellowknife. The skate scene in Yellowknife is slowly getting better. The parks are rustic but it is a cool city to push around in especially late at night when the streets are empty and it is ‘golden hour’.
Did Dustin make you want to go to Yellowknife? Here are some quick tips to help plan your next trip:
Like this post? Check out Spend A Magical Night At Aurora Village and The North’s Best Kept Secret: The Long John Jamboree, too!