The Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous has been around since 1945 and a defining part of the winter festival has always been the Military.
The term “Sourdough” comes from a sour-tasting bread starter that’s made by fermenting dough through a natural process involving lactobacilli and yeast. Miners were known to bring it with them on journeys north and into the bush. The term has evolved to also define a Yukoner who has lived through a winter. This is traditionally marked by the freezing and thawing of the Klondike.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to interact with Yukoners. Come support this event with a lot of history to it! Everybody at JTFN is really excited for this year,” said Maj. Alexander Trousdale, detachment commander with the Joint Task Force North Detachment Yukon, Canadian Armed Forces.
In its modern form, JTFN has been celebrating the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous since 1980. However, Canada’s military presence in the North dates back to the Yukon Field Force in the 1890s. The Canadian Forces Northern Area was founded in 1970 under the motto Custos Borealis, meaning “northern guardian” in Latin. The force was later replaced in 2006 with JTFN.
Trousdale said that Rendezvous is just a part of military life in the Yukon.
“It’s a great event. It gets you out of the house in the wintertime and the chance to interact with other Yukoners and the Canadian Armed Forces members that are here in the Territory,” he said.
This year JTFN is responsible for coordinating all of the Canadian Armed forces present at Rendezvous. Static displays this year will be ongoing at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre from Feb. 22 to 24. The Canadian Artillery Band is up from Edmonton and will be performing at the KDCC all weekend.
“They’re a jazz-type band, but they do a variety of music,” said Trousdale. “It’s right close to all the events so [Yukoners will] be able to see us compete in the competitions.”
Originally from Ontario, Trousdale has been posted in the Yukon since being reassigned from Val-Cartier, Quebec in 2017. This will be his second Rendezvous experience. He said he enjoyed last year’s flour-packing event, where participants carry large sacks of flour as far as possible.
“It’s a very heavy rucksack. I think it got over 1,000 pounds at some point. I think I got to seven hundred and something. I could not believe how heavy it was,” he said. This year he’s looking forward to the community challenge.
Other military contingents involved in Rendezvous this year include the The 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (1 CRPG), Royal Canadian Artillery Band (RCA Band), Area Support Unit (North), HMCS WHITEHORSE, Naval Display Bus, 2 and 3 Canadian Forces Flight Training Schools (CFFTS), 2685 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps and the 551 Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron.