Not One, but Many Places …


For almost 50 years, I have travelled and worked throughout the Yukon, but I cannot say, “I have a favourite place.”

I wouldn’t want to detract from the overall aura to select one corner and say it is my favourite. It would be like arguing which ocean is greater, the Pacific or the Atlantic.

I spent the summer of 1969 surveying the Dempster Highway. Our camp trailers were set up at Mile 78 where the road joins a landing strip for a short distance. The construction went on 24 hours a day, six days a week.

I was a trained draftsman, so I was given a truck and the job of grade inspector with a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift.

Riding out on the tundra, at night, I experienced the peaceful moment when the time of dawn meets the already-risen sun.

It is a contradiction, but I think it has significance in a universe full of meaning. I have never figured out what it is, but I still encourage visitors to get up early to experience it.

I remember when Barry, a friend and painting contractor, and I were renovating a restaurant in Ross River. We left late one Friday night to drive into Whitehorse to be with our families.

The highway was deserted and the deep sub-zero weather held the Yukon firmly in its grip. Barry fell asleep and I was alone as the Ford pickup hummed down the moonlit road.

It seemed we were the only people on the planet.

I turned on the radio and picked up the distant strains of classical music on CBC. It was beautifully surreal, sitting in the warmth of the cab, in the depth of night, speeding along under the black starlit sky and listening to Bach.

I thought that no one else on this planet could be as happy and as fortunate as we were.

When I first came to town, as a boy of 13, I walked to the end of Main Street and saw the Yukon River for the first time. To this day, I still remember how impressed I was of the massive rush of beautiful aqua-green water.

Almost five decades later, I still have the same feeling: wherever the river winds, that is also my favourite place.

There is another place I love, and it is contained in the poem by Robert Service, The Law of the Yukon.

This is the Law of the Yukon, that only the Strong shall thrive;

That surely the Weak shall perish, and only the Fit survive.

Dissolute, damned and despairful, crippled and palsied and slain,

This is the Will of the Yukon, – Lo, how she makes it plain.

The Yukon is a place of trial and development and has influenced who we are. We are a distinct culture of people and we should be proud of it.

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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