BY EMA M. WIKE
Recently, my husband and I visited your fair city, with minimal knowledge of the Yukon region. Choosing to spend our first few nights in Whitehorse at the Muktuk Adventures and Guest Ranch seemed a little sacrilegious as I am not a lover of dogs and this is a special place for people who love dogs.
Upon our arrival, Frank Turner, the leader of the ranch, did not ask us if we loved dogs. But within minutes of getting to know him, his staff and his wife, Anne Tayler, I was converted: I loved his dogs!
The beauty, love and devotion, ever-present at the ranch, just leaves one filled with admiration for Frank and all the members of his “extraordinary team” who make the place seem like home.
Moving into the city for the remainder of our vacation, Jim and I chose the Gold Rush Inn. Our main objective on this vacation was to experience the Northern Lights; however, the lights were being very elusive … so we decided to just focus on the early settlers and the history of the region.
Stopping at the Yukon Visitor Centre, we were kind of swept away with the excellent advice we received. As we were departing the centre, a charming lady said, “Hi, did you find a place to stay in Skagway?”
This friendly inquiry was just the beginning of an introduction to Phyllis LePage Simpson. We did not realize we had struck gold when it came to learning from her the history of the Yukon wilderness. The time we would later spend with Phyllis would truly be priceless.
After returning from our overnight in Skagway, Phyllis agreed to meet us at a local bookstore. There she showed us the book Yukon Riverboat Days and many other wonderful documents.
Her willingness to share her life experiences with us made each of our photos seem extra meaningful.
Every place we visited, it seemed Phyllis knew all the history of the early days. The S.S. Klondike seemed to be Phyllis’s own riverboat. The Teslin River was but one of the many rivers upon which Phyllis had travelled.
Needless to say, we loved Whitehorse, Frank’s Huskies and we adore Phyllis and deeply appreciate her vast knowledge of the beautiful region of the Yukon.
Eva M. Wike, Ph.D., is the author of The Matheson Cove: In the Shadow of the Devil’s Post Office.