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If you build it, they will come.

“They,” of course, refers to Yellowknifers travelling across the quickly-melting Great Slave Lake during break up.

To accommodate the transition season, Old Town’s Matthew Grogono and Roland Laufer, along with others, built two rafts secured by the government dock.

Laufer calls the rafts “one of the most beautiful things” he’s done, helping houseboaters moving back to shore for summer, commuters transport their bikes from ice to road and, in one case, a resident on crutches move from lake to land.

The resident, an occupant of houseboat bay, asked Laufer if it would be safe to walk across the the lake with her crutches. Laufer told her he would make sure it was.

The Octoped raft, a structure composed of wood planks fastened atop eight recycled propane tanks, was secured at the government wharf Monday – not five minutes before a group of Old Town residents showed up to transport a wood stove from town to the lake.

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“When we deployed it, we wondered if it would be useful and within five minutes, five people showed up with a wood stove,” Grogono said. “There were five people and a wood stove all standing on it,” he said, speculating that the load must have been at least 270 kg.

Tuesday afternoon, the Octoped was joined by the Sexoped, named for its six recycled propane tanks, to form an 8.5-metre floating platform at the wharf.

From calling for the used materials to putting the rafts together, construction took about two weeks – though only about five days of building time.

This year, Grogono said the water levels will continue to rise another eight to 20-25 cm, a surplus of water “which is going to need some responding to.”

Natalie Pressman

Reporting courts and cops and general news, Natalie started with NNSL Media in 2020. Before moving to Yellowknife, Natalie worked as a community radio trainer in Iskatewizaagegan #39 Independent First...

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  1. No doubt you will have many quadrupeds and bipeds happy to use the rafts in the next few months!