NORTHERN NITE
HISTORY PAGE

 

 

 

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NORTHERN NITE LOCATIONS OVER THE YEARS:

2021 KELOWNA, BC
2020 KELOWNA, BC
(POSTPONED DUE TO CORONA VIRUS)
2018 INNISFAIL, AB
2016 SALMON ARM, BC
2014 HIGH RIVER, AB
2013 HIGH RIVER, AB
(POSTPONED DUE TO FLOODING)
2011 PENTICTON, BC
2009 WHITEHORSE, YT
2007 REGINA, SK
2005 RED DEER, AB
2003 RED DEER, AB
2001 KELOWNA/WESTBANK, BC
1999 ABBOTSFORD, B C
1994 EDMONTON
1992  KELOWNA

1988
EDMONTON


I have prepared this brief history of Northern Night knowing that I have missed many things or perhaps recalled them incorrectly. I invite anyone who can contribute additional information or provide a more accurate account to please do so.

The history of Northern Night goes back to ‘K’ Division in the late ‘70’s when a few ex-northerners decided to organize a soirée for RCMP staff who had or were currently serving in ‘M’ and ‘G’ Divisions.  

Arrangements were made to host the function at ‘K’ Division Headquarters and rooms were booked at the Best Western Hotel across the street from Division HQ. Arctic fare such as reindeer, bannock and a blueberry dessert were prepared at the ‘K’ Division mess and baseball hats and key chains were given to the gents and ladies that attended. 

The evening was such a huge success it was decided to host it as an annual event. ‘K’ Division mess staff became quite adept at preparing the arctic fare, which over the years included caribou, mountain sheep, buffalo, arctic char and seal liver. Committee members used their contacts in the north to purchase most of the meat except the buffalo (or beefalo), which was purchased through Red Barn Meats just north of Edmonton.

The success of Northern Night grew and the Officers, Sergeant’s and Corporal’s messes were soon in use for cocktails and after dinner visiting. As it’s popularity continued to grow Northern Night soon outgrew the dining room but rather than turn people away additional place settings were set out wherever a seat could be found. It was a good thing the fire marshal never found out what went on! Guests would grab a plate and eat standing at the bar, sitting in a lounge chair or just standing around chatting with a friend. 

Sign-in sheets were posted so members and staff could write down what their northern postings were and Norm Muffitt used his wonderful artistic talent to prepare posters, displays and whatever else came to mind while old photographs from ‘M’ and ‘G’ division were mounted to create northern ambiance. 

The organizers continued to offer a gift to each attendee with additional sets being offered for sale. Tumblers, wine glasses, champagne-style glasses, and a serving tray with matching coasters were just some of the gifts made available. 

When it was time to create a mascot little ‘Pugnarlo’ was created by Norm’s skillful hand. The name Pugnarlo, which is Inuit for ‘Big Stud Caribou’, was Reg Boughen’s contribution as was the actual Inuit script. Pugnarlo soon began to appear on gifts, napkins, matchbooks, lapel pins, posters and much more.  

By the second or third year Pacific Western Airlines became a very strong sponsor for Northern Night offering return tickets for two as a door prize. Initially it was to North of ’60 but was later expanded to anywhere in PWA’s world. This was one function their representative always looked forward to.

Dance music was offered at the beginning but it became apparent guests were more interested in just visiting with old friends so the DJ was discontinued.

Northern Night became the gala of the year. There was no shortage of bartenders and many non-northerners asked if they could attend just to visit with old friends and colleagues. On one occasion Twin Otters from ‘K’, ‘M’ and ‘G’ Divisions were parked in front of the hangar at the City Center airport; too bad no-one thought of going out to get a picture. By this time people were coming in from across Canada to attend and many groups, such as the Vets, provided lapel pins and the like for sale. 

After the first year, rooms were booked at the Chateau Louis on Kingsway Avenue. Hospitality rooms were offered, which were attended by Northerners and non-Northerners alike, and management was kind enough to book all the guests in one wing, more so perhaps for their other guests. 

Sometime in the mid ‘80’s ‘E’ Division and Ottawa both began hosting their own version of Northern Night to accommodate those who were not able to make it out to Alberta. By the early 90’s Northern Night in ‘K’ Division was no longer drawing the crowds and it became increasingly difficult to reach the break-even point. It was decided that ‘K’ Division would no longer host Northern Night as an annual function and that perhaps a dinner every five years might be more appropriate but it never came to fruition. 

To all those wonderful people who contributed to Northern Night by working on a committee, providing or preparing the northern fare, or in some way contributed, and to the many guests, thank you. Because of you, Northern Night in ‘K’ Division was a great success.

Submitted by Kathy Post

    


NOTE: If you can elaborate on this history or fill in some blanks please e-mail me at georgebliss001@gmail.com