Naturally, I miss the Yukon.
Though, to be specific, it certainly wouldn’t be the weather (heh … sorry), but far more importantly, the people.
The territory not only has a high concentration of Chinese food restaurants and hairdressers, but you’d be hard pressed to find another place packed with so many individuals.
There’s an in-your-face quality about the Yukon that not only engenders uniqueness, but also celebrates it. Who hasn’t heard of Jim Robb’s Colourful Five Percent?
The people you get to know, that you can point to and say, “Now that’s a Yukoner,” have myriad qualities that go beyond having been born there. It’s difficult to say what exactly makes a true Yukoner, but it is indeed something innate. Some people have to work at it, and some come by it naturally.
Transplants like myself use coming to the North as prime opportunities to make themselves into distinct individuals, whereas they’d be lost in crowds in a big city. And I’m talking about something a little more than diving into the bin at the Sally Ann for that insta-vintage 1985 Mayo Curling Club T-shirt.
Suffice to say that whether it comes naturally or fabricated, being a Yukoner is all about character.
This doesn’t mean one would head out into the world, finding it lacking for diamonds in the rough. It just so happens that the Yukon has a lot less … rough … and a whole lotta diamonds.
Though, “Everybody’s got a story” isn’t just an aphorism for the Yukon.
On my travels through Western Canada this past summer, I had the fortune of meeting two people who, if I didn’t know otherwise, I could have sworn were Yukoners.
Which got me onto this whole individuality thing, a sort of quality of Yukon-ess that I was missing more than anything else.
Until I met Louise.
She was the billetor for my fiancée and I at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. Once we got past the oddness of living in another person’s house, we found out quite quickly that this lady had bucketloads of character.
Sure, this wouldn’t automatically make her a candidate for a Yukon Health Card, but it was overwhelmingly comforting to notice that Louise wouldn’t have been out of place, Friday afternoon at a Taku Happy Hour.
(Let us all bow our heads for a moment of Taku remembrance. Thank you.)
So, Louise was a mix of affable demeanour, sharp wit and boisterous hospitality. We came home one night to a full chow-down meal with a large note saying: “Don’t think you’re getting away without having some effing burgers!” Now that truly filled the Yukon-ess I was lacking.
And thankfully, we discovered another non-territorial Yukoner in Saskatoon. Our host at the Fringe green room took gregarious to great heights, topped only perhaps by his capacity for debauchery. He not only reminded me of some of my favourite Yukoners, I actually think he did a better job in some cases.
Every evening, Peter would ensure absolutely everyone was happy and entertained – either from his own antics, stories or likely his never-ending supply of a certain combustible plant material.
I honestly think that the Yukon may not have enough room for Peter, unless Mr. Robb would like to change it to the Colourful Ten Percent.
Far be it from me to get maudlin, but while I may be gone, I know now that there are people “Outside” (there, I used it) who can remind me that there’s a little bit of the Yukon in some of the most unlikely places.
Now, can I find one while on vacation in Florida? Mayyyybe …