An Englishman’s Favourite Place


I’m English. I hope we can still be friends.

I’ve read many of the historical narratives about how my distant forebears brought “civilization” to the Yukon, and they don’t all make easy bedtime reading. I guess I can’t do anything about that. We are where we are, after all.

But for anyone who harbours historical grudges, hey, I’m really sorry, folks.

At the time of writing, I’m here in Whitehorse. Again. This is the fifth time I’ve been here. You may believe I rather like it here in the Yukon.

The first occasion I arrived, one December, it was cool … cold, actually.

In England, temperatures rarely fall below freezing. The next time around was with my young lady (again, in winter), and this time she was the one in fear and trepidation. However, as she discovered, too, winters here in the North are only made to frighten people from down south.

Then we brought our two young daughters to see the Yukon. We’d promised them a white Christmas. And what better way to guarantee that? coming from a country that sees snow on maybe two days each year.

Making snow angels on Shallow Bay, in the light of the full moon, on Christmas Eve. Unforgettable. Our elder daughter later did a school project, A World-Class River, for her geography class. Reading about the Yukon River made, said her teacher, a nice change from reading about the Nile.

As a tour operator, I brought a group to Whitehorse one spring. We sent our happy customers back home with some very fond memories.

We all enjoyed the Takhini Hot Springs. And there aren’t many tour companies that would take their customers to see a city dump, but, then again, tourists do enjoy seeing bald eagles. And we were honoured to run into Dick North over breakfast one morning in Dawson City.

That was visit number four.

This time around, it’s summer. The swallows are here. And it’s a novelty to experience daytime for most of the night.

I regret that I didn’t visit Whitehorse before the WP&YR closed its doors here. I’ve heard accounts from those who travelled the full distance, and as a railroader myself, it’s a darn shame I missed out. My first visit to Canada was, after all, in 1971, so I have only myself to blame.

But the spell of the Yukon is real to me. I live in a tiny, overcrowded island that is home to nearly 70-million people. For me, the Yukon represents freedom and space. Peace and quiet.

Next year we plan to visit friends in Tennessee. I doubt Robert Service is well-known in the Lower 48, but I’m surely going to tell them about Sam McGee, anyway.

As for visit number six? I hope to drive the Dempster.

Although, in a way I’m glad that the English brought “civilization” to Canada because, without us, there might have been no Yukon at all, at least not as we know it today.

In any event, roll on 2011 … I’ll be back.

This story will be entered into a draw for a chance at a free Logan Super Tour on Sifton Air or Moonlight Mushing with Sky High Wilderness or a boat tour of Kathleen Lake with Kruda Che. Send us your 500-word story describing your favourite Yukon place to [email protected] This contest is sponsored by Yukon Tourism and What’s Up Yukon.

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