Play Makers: Yukoners of No Fixed Address

You know that feeling you get when you go through your old yearbook or look back at school photos from the high school glory days?

I believe the scientific term is … “What Was I Thinking Phase-itus”.

It usually involves big hair, big glasses and neon and results in an array of emotions from embarrassment and regret to humour and curiosity.

Lately I’ve been looking at photos from when I first moved to the Yukon.

I’m talking about photos I’ve actually printed; you know, the good old pre-Facebook days.

Remember those times when you would actually go to the store and select the pictures you wanted to have developed and not worry about checking your Facebook Monday morning only to find half a dozen tagged photos of you flashing the rocker sign.

When was that taken?

What was I thinking?

Who is that?

Anyways, lately I’ve been looking at photos from a few years back and I’ve realized something.

It is something that I already knew, but didn’t fully comprehend to what extent.

Whitehorse is full of transients.

Some are baristas with French accents who live at Robert Service Campground for the summer.

Others are recently graduated university students looking to make some fast money and put a dent in the student loan.

Then there are the Ontarians.

They’ve come north hoping to get away from the rat race.

They usually house sit for the duration of their time here.

They learn to cross-country ski, hunt caribou and the men grow beards, while the ladies let their leg hair go au’ natural.

They become Yukoners, even if it is for just four months or so.

And I’m friends with these people.

That’s the great thing about Whitehorse.

So many great people live here.

After all, it’s not everyone who is willing to pack up their comfortable everyday routine to venture north.

It is people who are outgoing, adventurous and, more importantly, willing to try new things.

That is what makes it so tough when they go.

And it happens all the time.

I’m looking at a photo right now from my first Dawson City Music Festival in 2002.

In the picture there are about 20 of us and, of the 20, only three still live in Whitehorse.

In fact, I would be the sole survivor if it weren’t for the fact that two of the people posing under the big tent in Dawson recently decided to move back north after five years in Vancouver.

Go ahead and ask yourself how many times the first thing you ask a Cheechako is how long they are here for?

Initial disappointment when they say the summer or excitement when they say they’re unsure.

Yes, like discount furniture stores and late-night Chinese restaurants, they come and they go.

We’re talking about great people, too.

And while you keep in touch with a handful like the old high school friends with the big hair and the big glasses you slowly lose touch (mind you Facebook is making communication easier).

I guess that is one of the toughest things about living in the north … you meet such great people and then you have to say goodbye.

Just as you were about to order the lemon chicken or the tacky armoire — poof — they’re gone.

Oh well, there’s always next summer when a new crop of transients will come to town.

Maybe, like the rest of us this will be the year they wise up and stay.


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