June 14, 2002.
That is the day I first arrived in Whitehorse.
To be exact, it was the evening, 20 minutes before midnight, just me and a crammed ’88 Pathfinder.
I had recently finished school and was coming North to visit relatives for the summer and work for the feds for a few months … or so I thought.
I can still remember driving down Robert Service Way, passing the SS Klondike and thinking to myself, “Where am I?”
Maybe it was the sunlight or the fact I had been driving for close to 18 hours straight, but regardless, every moment from that first night here is still vivid in my mind.
Asking the kid at PetroCan where the 202 was.
His confused reaction and skewed directions.
Me driving past the “All Day Pasta” sign three times before eventually getting directions from a scantily clad women standing outside the Blue Moon Saloon (which, by the way, at the time was located across the street from the 202).
Telling that same woman that it was, indeed, only directions I was looking for.
I remember it all.
I’m not sure why, but June 14, 2002 is forever imprinted in my memory.
And I’m not the only one who remembers their first day or night here.
If things are slow at work one day, ask a co-worker if they can recall when they first arrived in the Yukon.
Chances are they do.
My aunt moved here more than 30 years ago and she still recalls the day to a tee.
Who she was with, where they stayed, what they did … all of it.
I lived in Prince George for two summers, but for the life of me can’t commit to memory when I first arrived.
Sure, I remember my roommates, my job, my co-workers and the stale, stale stench of the pulp mill that filled the downtown core, aptly nicknamed “the bowl”, each morning.
But ask me the day I got there and I draw a blank.
To put my theory of “first-day recollection” to the test, I asked a few other Yukoners if they remembered when they initially touched down in the Yukon and, sure enough, they do.
At first bewildered by my question, they soon realized just how much of that day they could recall.
Buying a Happy Meal at McDonald’s, grabbing breakfast at the now-defunct Cheechakos, starting the first fire at the cabin on the Mayo Road … the stories I heard were all unique but proved my point.
Is it because of the history here or perhaps the exhausting effort it takes just to arrive?
Perhaps it is the spell that Bard Bob Service often references.
I don’t have the answer.
But go ahead, ask yourself or a friend … I know it’s crazy.