Don’t get me wrong, Whitehorse is great: I love Canadian Tire and sushi, but there is an air of excitement and freedom when living in the communities that is irreplaceable.
This personal freedom is partially derived from the pop culture telling us that big metro is cool and rural is not. So no matter how shiny your grill is, if you ride a quad to work in Ross River, you’re not cool (pop cool, that is).
We generally are not trendy people and the chance of finding a Subarctic metrosexual from Toronto, wearing an $800 parka and $500 mukluks in downtown Watson Lake, is slim.
You won’t find people sitting in Starbucks discussing how the Yukon is not like the Lower Mainland and how the ratio of white to black sunglasses remains low.
This inherit inability to be cool is a blessing in disguise because once you come to grips with MTV condoning your lifestyle, you can move on and ignore that superficial Californication, and just be you. With these external phony-isms gone, substance emerges.
The other major upside of living in the communities is working in the communities. For one, you’re removed from the government and private headquarters of Whitehorse and thus spared the nastier politicking and overseeing.
The commutes are usually slight, and I personally can roll out of bed at 0730 hours and roll in to work at 0800 hours. Finally, work is more intimate with less e-mail and memos and more face-to-face interactions, which is always interesting when dealing with the “colourful 33 per cent”.
The outdoor recreation is unmatched in the communities, with a plethora of wild opportunities spanning from our backyards to the next community located hundreds of kilometres away. There are so few recreators, diluted over such a vast landscape, that 90 per cent of the time you have the entire lake, road, trail, mountain or river to yourself.
And, finally, the communities have this sense of the wild frontier with current events reminiscent of happenings likely occurring a century ago. Wild animals roam through town, eating pets; locals convert derelict cabins into homes; neighbours disappear on walkabouts for weeks on end; native elders scrape caribou hides in backyards; and trappers discuss the upcoming season at the local gas station/café/town hall/good-old-boys club.
I moved to the Yukon for the above experiences and, quite frankly, would feel shortchanged if my experience took place in Whitehorse.
The things Jack London wrote about, almost 100 hundred years ago, are still alive and well in the communities.