Having spent a bit of time in Scotland, I can attest that the scenery in the Highlands bears more than a passing resemblance to the Yukon, albeit in miniature. That being so, the idea of holding Highland Games in the Klondike is less odd than it might seem.
In fact, according to the members of the committee organizing the Top of the World Highland Games, it’s been done before.
In 1899, there was a competition on Front Street, where there was a good deal less traffic in those days when the river was the prime mover of people and goods.
There haven’t been any in Dawson since, although there are games held all over Canada every year, and not just in Cape Breton, either.
In fact, wherever in the world Scots may have made their mark, which, thanks to the Highland Clearances, was just about everywhere, you are likely to find the Highland Games.
The Yukon even has its own tartan, designed by my friend and former fellow Faroite, Janet Couture, and accepted as an official tartan by the Court of Lord Lyon in Edinburgh, Scotland, back in 1984.
The weekend of June 15 to 17 will see the games return to Dawson, organized by a group that has been working towards this goal for more than a year.
Some of the events, such as the tug-o-war, will be familiar to audiences. Others, such as the hammer throw and the caber (log) toss will seem a little stranger, not least because they will be executed by people wearing kilts.
For those who want to try out some of these contests and have never done them before, there will be a training session led by the guest professional Highland Games athletes from 1 to 4 p.m. on June 15.
The tentative schedule athttp://topoftheworldhighlandgames.caindicates there will also be some Yukon-themed contests as well. Nothing specific has been listed as of this writing, but I can imagine that some of the things we do at our Thaw di Gras would fit right in.
Not all the events will involve feats of athletic endurance, although the various types of Scottish dancing do require a fair bit of stamina.
There are some who would say that the bagpipes need some stamina and distance as well—for those listening to them.
There will be pipes aplenty at the Front St. gazebo on Friday, played as part of the opening ceremonies and as part of a competition, but the most dramatic piping will no doubt be that sounding from the Midnight Dome between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. that night.
The fields at Crocus Bluff Park will be the venues for the man events on June 16, with both men and women competing for kilted glory. At the same time there will be kids’ games and fun activities for adults as well, with closing ceremonies scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.
The Art and Margaret Fry Arena will be the venue for a closing banquet and Ceilidh to round out the weekend.
All told, it sound like it will be an exciting weekend.