A New Life For Sparks

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July 15, 2021

In August 2020, the Department of ITI, in partnership with the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor), launched the Growth and Recovery by Investing in Tourism (GRIT) Fund to help tourism operators in the NWT dealing with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, adapt and position their operations for future growth.

These are their stories… 

Sparks Lake Lodge is located remotely in the South-East part of the NWT. With its own runway for airplanes, the lodge is a prime destination for fly-in fishing vacations. Dave Thompson and his business partner purchased the lodge in 2019. 

Almost immediately, however, the pandemic slowed down operations, and with a long list of planned renovations to do to their recently acquired lodge, Dave applied to the GRIT fund to prepare Sparks Lake Lodge for the future.

Although there were already cabins at the site, the immediate task was to build three new cabins – complete with plumbing.

“[When we purchased] the place it hadn’t been used in quite a few years, Dave explains. “All of the buildings are really old. New cabins and renovations were a major priority.  “The GRIT fund was a big boost for us.  It also allowed us to do fix-up work around all of the different buildings. We painted them; put new doors on, windows, screens, and whatever was needed.” 

There is still a lot of work yet to be done but with the new cabins and renovations now complete, Dave is looking forward to what the future may hold for Sparks Lake Lodge.

“We’ve applied for hunting permits and when the aurora business comes back, it will be a great spot in the winter also because we have our own runway…  but [for now] we just want to get folks fishing.”

The GRIT Fund was both increased and extended before closing in October, 2020. More than 90 individuals and companies have received contributions designed to adapt and position their operations for the future.


 - Ian Keefe