Ravens are laughing outside my window as I write this. The sun came up at 5:30. A river runs through my city and mountains to hike wait in my backyard.
I chose this city.
I’m not alone.
A lot of people choose to be here over any other place in the world. They come from Japan, Germany, Afghanistan, even Alberta, and they have their reasons for coming here — what they love about this city is unique to them — but what they have in common is that living here was a clear choice.
Maybe a job brought them here originally, maybe a spouse (or an ex-spouse), maybe a summer away from the city, but in the end — no matter what broughtthem — they all chose to stay.
As someone who chose Whitehorse, too, I find that fascinating — the reasons, what we left behind, what we hoped to find, what we discovered here, what keeps us here. The elements that tip our decisions in favour of staying.
My column is about Whitehorse through the eyes of the people who chose to stay. I’ll be talking casually to those people who have come long distances for just this city. Maybe when you hear their stories, you’ll find you will never see Whitehorse in quite the same way again.
Sometimes it is what Whitehorse is that keeps us. The landscape. The river. The laid-back atmosphere. A new exciting job.
Just as often, it is what Whitehorse is not. Not the big city. Not my parents. Not my government. Not my past. Not anything I have ever known.
What I expected: a typical small “American” town — because you had a KFC and a Pizza Hut here. How different could it be?
What I discovered: Every time you get rain, there’s no need to run into the basement. In Texas, every God-given rain is accompanied by an entourage of thunder, lightning, hail and rotating clouds that sit over your house and threaten to descend.
Here, in Whitehorse, rain is a gift, comes straight down (not sideways with a 30-mph wind), waters the lawn for awhile and then leaves.
What keeps me: a town that treasures both the outdoors and the arts. People here know how to enjoy the outdoors, and help you enjoy it, too.
There’s a clear concern about the environment — about our nest — and keeping it clean and safe.
We attract people who study, and enjoy, our wilderness.
People here also enjoy their arts. We have music, theatre, art classes, murals in our downtown and we can bring up lots of guests for our jazz nights, Frostbite, science lectures and writers festivals.
Drawbacks: yeah, it’s expensive to visit conferences, conventions, my folks. But once you get to Vancouver, Thailand and Texas are pretty much the same cost.
From my POV: It is the size of Plainview, Texas with all the advantages of Austin, Texas.
There’s an old Shaker song called ‘Tis the Gift to be Simple that reveals a good truth:
‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free,
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be
And when we find ourselves in the place just right
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
I’d argue that Whitehorse is that good “valley of love and delight”. If you stay for awhile you will make great friends and have incredible experiences. If you are looking to settle — people are waiting to bring you inside.