Yukon Icon

Yukon Icon Columnist Peter Jickling profiles Yukoners

In Defense of Earnestness

In my room I have a desk where I work. And on the wall above that desk I have tacked a What’s Up Yukon article dated December 11, 2008. Titled “Worked Hard, Still Working,” it is about Roger Thorlakson, who settled here in 1964. I wrote it — it’s the first in my Yukon Icon …

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Portraits of Clay

Harreson Tanner and his wife drove up to the Yukon from Vancouver in the summer of 2002. It rained all they way up, but once they got to the Yukon, the Northern sunlight broke through the clouds and put on a show. “We thought the Yukon sure knows how to welcome us,” says Tanner. This …

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Bicycle Parts Reborn as Art

Philippe’s Bicycle Repair occupies a modest little house on Wood Street. The front yard is filled with many bike parts, but they are not strewn about as one might expect; rather, they are arranged – designed to catch the eye and imaginations of those who pass by. Inside, Philippe Leblond, the owner, builds and repairs …

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Taking Medicine to New Heights

Cambridge medical students are expected to be well-schooled in the art of social climbing, but Peter Steele, who studied medicine at the University of Cambridge, in England, chose mountain climbing instead. “There were some really excellent climbers [at Cambridge], and I got bit by the ‘climbing bug’,” Steele says in a British accent that seems …

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The ‘Crazy Uncle’ of CKRW

When Keith Ellert graduated from the Cinema, Television, Stage and Radio program at SAIT, in Calgary, he had dreams of being a “shock jock”. “I wanted to be Canada’s answer to Howard Stern,” says Ellert. “I didn’t just want to push the envelope; I wanted to put enough postage on it to send it around …

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Friendships Forged by (but Not Limited by) Time

Between 1968 and 1978, the Cassiar Asbestos Corporation ran a small mining community called Clinton Creek, about 60 miles northwest of Dawson City. The far-flung location attracted a certain type of person; namely, the young and the adventurous. And so they came – from across Canada and around the world. Noreen McGowan arrived from rural …

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Keeping His Culture Strong

Daniel Tlen sang our national anthem at the opening ceremonies of the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. The event was viewed by one of the largest television audiences ever assembled. “There were some estimates that two-billion people were watching,” says Tlen, though he admits he is a little skeptical of that figure. Tlen’s performance of …

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A Vision Ignited by Love for the Yukon

Bob Van Dijken is a man of deep convictions and strong opinions, but what’s odd is the way he expresses them. Amid the barrage of aggressive sound bites and amped-up election campaigns that we usually suffer through, Van Dijken’s thoughtfully expressed sentiments are an anomaly – but a refreshing anomaly. Van Dijken came to the …

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Almost Everybody Knows One

It seems almost everybody knows an O’Donovan. Some of us know nine or 10 of them. All told, there are 11 siblings and they tend to be an active and creative bunch. After seeing different brothers and sisters pop up at different community events, it is only natural for one to wonder where they all …

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The Intimacy of Live Performance

When you talk about “The Theatre”, these days, it is inevitable that certain eyes will glaze and certain minds will wander. It’s old and out of date, the YouTube crowd might complain. But perhaps the qualities that prevent live theatre from being trendy are the exact same qualities that ensure it will always remain consistently …

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The Little Subdivision That Thought It Could

The Coppermoon Gallery is buzzing. Prospective customers peruse the walls, looking at exquisite Yukon art, a woodworker presents a scaled replica of a new sign for the entrance and there appears to be some renovations going on in the back. At the centre of all this activity is Nerissa Rosati, owner of Coppermoon. She apologizes …

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A Tinsmith Who Creates Community

Rick Griffiths just returned from a vacation in Saskatchewan where he visited many old friends. “There wasn’t a place I visited where I wasn’t given a meal and offered a bed to sleep in,” he says. Griffiths is a self-proclaimed “people-person”, a man who cultivates and maintains long-term relationships. As he talks about his friends …

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What’s in a Name?

In The Yukon, certain family names loom large in our post-gold-rush era: “Van Bibber” is one such handle. Geraldine Van Bibber is one of the family’s new recruits. She took the last name upon marrying her husband, Pat, and has since become a student of the family’s history. “The three Van Bibber brothers came up …

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Acting Out Her Passion

Sometimes people stumble upon their passions accidentally; such is the case with Sophia Marnik. After studying to become a teacher at McGill University, she came North to the Yukon, in 1996, with an open-ended future in front of her. At approximately the same time, a local production of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream was …

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An Icon in Yukon History

If it’s true that artists force a culture to come to terms with itself, then few people have helped define the Yukon more than Jim Robb. We all know his work: the billowing drifts of snow, the wispy chimney smoke, the happy huskies and, of course, the cabins – canting outward from their base. Robb …

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Experiencing the North on Skis

In the early 1980s when Mike Gladish was working for the Canadian Weather Office, in Edmonton, he was given a choice between taking a job in Banff and taking a job in Whitehorse. He chose the latter. “I had just gotten into cross-country skiing,” Gladish explains, “and I heard about the World Cup race that …

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Fulfilling a Childhood Dream

As a young biologist and a newly married husband, the Yukon offered Dave Mossop a chance to combine these recent developments in his life. “[Grace and I] were looking for an adventurous place to have a honeymoon, and I had the chance to research ptarmigan up here,” says Mossop. It’s almost 40 years later and, …

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Telling People’s Stories

It is an odd position for Sandi Coleman to be in. On this particular afternoon, as she sits in a local café and sips on a cup of coffee, Coleman is not the interviewer; she’s the interviewee. For thousands of Yukoners, Coleman’s cheerful voice is one of the first sounds heard in the morning. She …

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Tarot: A Tool for Truth

When Ellen Brian talks, she looks you in the eye. She speaks in well-constructed sentences and, when she finds something funny, she laughs naturally. Brian strikes those who meet her as down-to-earth. With this in mind, some might be surprised to discover what she does for a living. Her business, Little Star Astrological Services, specializes …

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He’s a Real Everywhere Man

Dean Eyre sits on a stool in the middle of his newly purchased bike shop on Wood Street. A man as passionate as Eyre deserves to own a place like this: “There’s something nice about going somewhere and knowing that you used your own muscles to get you there. “I think they (bicycles) are the …

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Offering Shelter

Kip Veale is right at home among the throngs of people who are participating in Rendezvous at Shipyard’s Park. As Yukoners celebrate the coming of spring and the longer hours of daylight, Veale stands outside a large camping tent. She engages passersby with a bright smile and an infectious sense of enthusiasm. But there’s something …

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Their Own Thousand Words on Africa

Local photographer Lisa Marino believes in the power of her medium. According to her, photographs are a “universal language” in which people from a variety of backgrounds can experience commonality. “Eight different people from eight different cultures can all look at the same picture and understand it,” says Marino. As such, photographers can be, among …

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Tour of Canadian Organic Farms Starts Here

Tana Silverland didn’t ask for any attention, but she’s learning quickly that it has a way of finding her. The British ex-pat, who used to be a university administrator in Cambridge, England, is about to embark on a two-and-a-half-year bicycle odyssey across Canada. Attention seems to be a natural consequence of doing something interesting and …

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A Lifetime of Caring

Marny Ryder seems to have her thoughts in order. The high-energy septuagenarian sits in her Riverdale dining room and recounts her life —in almost perfect chronological order. She starts in December 1959, when she first arrived in the Yukon as a newly minted nurse. She worked in Whitehorse for a little over a year before …

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The Yukon Beats Out New Zealand

Nesta Leduc’s 1962 journey north, punctuated the remoteness of her new home in the Yukon: “It was a six-hour flight to get up here from Vancouver,” she says, “we had to stop in Williams Lake, Prince George, Fort St. John and Watson Lake first.” Leduc came to our territory as a newly minted doctor who …

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Hate to say I told you so

In September of 2008, I was working construction in Edmonton when the bottom fell out of the economy. There were a few workers on my crew that were good enough to find work in a recession, but I wasn’t one. After spinning my wheels for a week or two, I bought a bus ticket and …

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The Garden That Love Made

Have you seen the flowerbeds outside the Subaru/Kia dealership? They are, in a word, immaculate. Nestled together in concrete planters, the Geraniums, Petunias and Marigolds burst forth in almost psychedelic technicolour. It all leaves one to ruminate about the tender loving care that has been invested in the garden. The gardener’s name is Joginder Grewal …

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A Yukon Playwright Presents the Yukon

Celia McBride will be representing us at the 2010 Olympics, in Vancouver. Is she a curler? or a luger? Neither, actually. She’s a local playwright with an incredible opportunity on her hands. As the host country of next year’s Olympics, Canada has been afforded the opportunity to showcase its provinces and territories on the world …

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A Marriage of Music and Technology

If you’ve been to a concert or stage performance, recently, and admired the crisp sound or the well-lit stage, then chances are you are already a fan of Bill Charron’s, the owner/operator of Omni Productions. Charron has been a mainstay of the Yukon entertainment industry since his arrival on the scene in September of 1979. …

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Worked Hard, Still Working

Rodger Thorlakson cuts a unique figure amongst the early Christmas-season shoppers. He wears a hat that would look affected on a lot of people but, on him and Indiana Jones, it looks perfectly in place. His belt buckle is the shape of The United States — complete with red, white and blue background colouring — …

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