A filmmaker documents archeology work

Unfrozen After 85 Years

Parks Canada got the call late last August—a cache of items left behind in 1937 (by legendary photographer Bradford Washburn…

A painting of candles

Let There Be Light

The longest night, the shortest day. Either way you measure, if you celebrate during or near midwinter, or Winter Solstice…

A skeletal display of a wooly mammoth

Time Travelling in the Yukon

Living in the Yukon, it’s hard not to feel distinctly aware of time, of its passing and of our relationship to it.

Unearthing a ‘miracle’

Nun cho ga is a near complete mummified female mammoth calf. This piece of Yukon history was found by placer miners working at Eureka Creek

Elder Marie Kochon

Dog Gone Long Time

How a traditional walk helps make sense of life. Learning about stamina and resilience between Colville Lake and Fort Good Hope

The Battle at the Mad Trapper Bar

Northerners; we tell stories. Our northern stories are our wealth & our identity. They are about independent, hardy people full of character.

125 years of gold

2021 marks 125 years since the discovery of gold in the Yukon. This year there is a series of new commemorative activities.

Chew on this

Robertson, nicknamed Nimrod, was a gentlemen gold miner and inventor, whose homemade choppers were just one of many memorable things about him.

Dublin Gulch

The present book, one of several projects Michael Gates has had on the go since he retired, is one he was commissioned to write by Victoria Gold, the owners of the Eagle Gold Mine.

Early geological mapping – Part 2

One project was to traverse and map the Mackenzie Mountains near the Yukon-NWT border by Joseph Keele who spent an entire year in 1907-08.

Early Geological Mapping

When you fly over Yukon and British Columbia, look out your window if you can. You will see an endless, rugged landscape, broken by lakes and rivers. The first geologists who came to map this vast land did not have the fortune to do a flyover first. As different means of transportation evolved over the …

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The Klondike Gold Rush Steamers

In these days of highways and 1000-year level flood dikes, it’s easy to forget that the best way to get to Dawson used to be by sternwheelers. While most of the stampeders made their way here in small boats and rafts in 1898, a sizeable number cruised to the fledgling town from St. Michael’s, Alaska, in riverboats and steamers and, once the White Pass chugged into Whitehorse, still more hopped on boats from there.

Back to the land

On an evening in early November, Teri-Lee Isaac and her family butchered a caribou that was given to them by family in Fort McPherson. While the practice gives the family a freezer full of wild meat for the upcoming winter, it also connects them to the land, and to Northern Tutchone cultural practices that have been passed down through the generations.

Early Geological Mapping

The earliest geology maps of the Yukon show only the rocks that line the rivers. You traveled by boat, mapping as you went. 


Sid reflects on the worldwide pandemic that is COVID-19 and our current reality. He said the only other time in his life when he felt stuck was during the War.

Save a Space Station for a picture

The Russian Space Agency gave it to me for helping them out,” he said. He went on to tell me how he had attracted the interest of the Russians

Sharing Northern Tutchone stories, culture and heritage—one bar at a time

Sometimes when Joella Hogan returns home after a long day, she’ll find a bag of fresh rose petals on her doorstep. And once in a while, neighbourhood kids will knock on her door with fists full of wild flowers and plants. “People always want to help me; they see this little business and they see …

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The ballad of “Buck” Choquette

Buck Choquette spent his last days and hours in Dawson telling Jack London true stories of his long pioneering life in the Northwest. Is it just coincidence, then, that the main character in his most successful novel, The Call of the Wild, is also named Buck?

As Elsa moves towards an uncertain future, a former resident reflects on its past

The Hamlet of Elsa—a collection of homes and industrial buildings nestled into the Silver Trail at kilometre 97—transformed from a booming mining town in the 1960s to a ghost town in the 1990s. Today, it faces an uncertain future. But to Mike Mancini, it was the first home he knew as a child. It was …

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For more than 30 years Doug Davidge has helped solve Yukon’s historic mysteries, both hidden and exposed

Doug Davidge finds lost things.  Over the course of more than three decades in the Yukon, Davidge has been known to find things that people know are missing–such as the A.J. Goddard, a steamboat that vanished in Lake Laberge in 1901–and things that people might not even realize are lost. For example, a few years ago …

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Erin Dixon – Artist documents the vintage, the eclectic and the historical houses of Whitehorse and Dawson

Erin Dixon is interested in how other people live.  “I have been interested in other people’s houses, since I was a little kid,” she said. “Trick-or-treating was always my favourite because you got to go to other people’s houses and peek inside. Now, I love it when you drive down a dark street and everyone …

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Explore culture in your own town

The Yukon Historical and Museums Association (YHMA) wants Yukoners to learn more about the history in their own towns. As part of the national Culture Days weekend event, which takes place across the country from Sept. 27 to 29, the association will be hosting a do-it-yourself Heritage Highlights Scavenger Hunt. The event is the result of …

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Main Street or bust

Rolf Hougen stands with Harreson Tanner beside the bust of Sam Steele that he commissioned Chuck Buchanan to sculpt as part of the centennial RCMP celebration in 1992 What do Jack London, Martha Black, Pierre Berton and Ted Harrison have in common? They’ve all been commissioned by Rolf Hougen to be sculpted by Harreson Tanner …

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Changes are not always welcome, even if they are historically accurate

Sometime before the beginning of winter, the old CIBC building on Front Street will turn grey and I’m quite certain that some people will be upset. The building has been going through changes since the town bought it for $170,000 back in 2013. I don’t think we had any idea how much potentially toxic material …

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Vote Livesey

The smoke has begun to clear in Beaver Creek, but hot embers still smoulder along the highway. We haven’t had a fire like this one for many years, not this close to town. Sid has the morning off so we are heading down to Livesey’s near the Creek. It’s no more than a three-minute drive …

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Bon voyage

Back in those days, ‘20s and ‘30s was known as the Golden Age of Tourism. It was a pretty busy time! I have lots of old maps from that era. Fold-out maps to show the layout of the boats,” Sid tells me on this very smoky day in Beaver Creek, Yukon. He brings out a …

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Protecting more than a park

Park ranger keeps Inuvialuit stories alive on Herschel Island-Qikiqtaruk When Richard Gordon was a young man he worked on an oil rig in the Beaufort Sea, but often found himself looking across the water to a special place he had visited as a child. “I’d look out and think about all the times my parents …

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A Northwest Passage to the sea

(Ed. Note: The following article was first written for the Northwest Passage Project excursion to take place last summer from August 23 to September 13 aboard the R/V Akademik Ioffe. Shortly after departure, the expedition was grounded on the western Gulf of Boothia in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and cancelled. WUY did not print the …

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Forgotten Town: Dyea, the town Alaska forgot

Two prominent American tourism publications hit the streets recently. Neither included much of a mention of Dyea, except to list the Dyea Campground in Skagway and note that it is the start of the Chilkoot Trail to the Klondike. Considering your roving RV reporter proclaimed from the top of the Golden Stairs last summer that …

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Map to the gold fields

Passage routes marked in red which includes the “Chilcoot Pass” and the “White Pass” Sid’s days off consist of visiting with other locals at coffee time, doing several dump runs in a day and shuffling his classic cars around his yard. Today, Sid gathers a few items from around his house to give the appearance …

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Yukon historian builds online community

Murray Lundberg – Yukon historian – builds an online community for sharing stories and building a collective memory When it reached 500 people, Murray Lundberg was satisfied. Then, out of the blue, it jumped to 2,500, then 5,000. Now the “Yukon History and Abandoned Places” Facebook group has more than 11,000 users. And it steadily …

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Teddy bear time

“I don’t know its full history but I found it in an old trunk. It must be from the early 1900s,” said Sid, carrying the teddy. “Everything is homemade. Someone’s pride and joy.” Sid set the teddy bear down on his coffee table so we could have a better look at the toy. “From the …

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Raven kronks, Leprechaun croaks

I remember my first conversation with Joe Ben Raven like it happened yesterday. It was the winter construction season of 1972-73 up on the Eagle Plains of the Yukon’s half-built Dempster Highway in a borrow pit south of the Oasis in the Wilderness—a hotel which is itself only 35 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle. …

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Rations and cookbooks

Late May brought sun and warmth to the bordertown of Beaver Creek, Yukon. Sid was already back working hard at the Visitor Information Centre. He could feel the season was going to be a good one. Sid had come a long way from his childhood in northern Netherlands during the end of the Second World …

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The London Tower ravens

[two_third] You may have noticed the above quotation comes to you without attribution. That’s for good reason. Nobody seems to know who muttered it or even if it was ever uttered at all. The Tower ravens of London are arguably the most famous birds in history. They’re also the most difficult to explain because of …

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Oral history in a modern context

Reconciliation. We have all heard the term used in modern-day politics. You may have heard about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, or even the 94 calls to Action that came out of it. However, few, if any, educational institutions have put reconciliation into practice as authentically as Yukon College. The spirit of reconciliation echoes through …

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Ravens and Poe

Very few writers throughout history have bonded with their subjects quite like Edgar Allan Poe and the Yukon’s territorial bird – the Raven

There is more to Raven mythology than clamshells and Odin

One of my many favourite Bill Reid carvings, Raven and the First Men, is part of a Haida creation myth which is permanently displayed in the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. It depicts the exact moment, on a remote Pacific beach, when Raven found a clamshell full of tiny human beings desperate …

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Family fortune tied to the Klondike Gold Rush

U.S. President Donald Trump’s grandfather started the family fortune during the great Klondike Gold Rush. He never reached the Klondike Gold Fields; he was hundreds of miles short.

Alaska history

From now on, whenever Valentine’s Day pops up out of a snowbank in mid-February like a lost and lonely holiday heart/fart, my thoughts will be of Elizabeth Peratrovich and what she accomplished for all northerners.

We will remember them

It’s important to reflect each November 11th and remember those young men and women who gave their lives on behalf of their country.

Honouring and remembering sacrifice

The Battle of Vimy Ridge was a great victory for Canada, but it came at a price. In this battle, there were more than 10,500 casualties and about 3,600 killed. To our knowledge, Herbert Lawless was the only known Yukoner to fall in this battle.

Rope wreaths and Yukon steamers

Ruth Treskatis, volunteer and Janna Swales, executive director, proudly display their creations in front of the popsicle stick model of the SS Klondike at the Yukon Transportation Museum on Oct 15/18 What a history-packed day November 3, 2018, will be at our local Yukon Transportation Museum (YTM). The special activities start at 3 p.m. with …

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Ship of Sorrow: S.S. Princess Sophia

The S.S. Princess Sophia (So-PHY-Ya) under full power in a north-wind whiteout blizzard ran aground on Vanderbilt Reef, halfway to Juneau.

Celebrating the role of mining in the Yukon

The Yukon Chamber of Mines has prioritized outreach and community engagement as part of their programming. Heading into its 10th year, the annual Mining and Exploration Camp, which is held during Yukon Mining Week each spring, is one of two major events geared towards that work. (Family Day, held during the annual Geoscience Forum in …

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The sordid saga of ‘Shoeless Joe’

Shoeless Joe is the only player in baseball history to win multiple World Series as a pitcher for one team and a home run hitter for another; a distinction that will last forever.

‘Canadian Ice Man’ tells his story

Editor’s Note: This is part two of two highlighting Kwädąy Dän Ts’ìnchį: Teachings from Long Ago Person Found. It was introduced during the Haines Junction Mountain Festival, which took place December 8 to 10. Part 1 is available in the December 6 edition of What’s Up Yukon. Diane Strand, director of community wellness at the …

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Lest we forget

Remembrance Day is now as much an opportunity to recognize all those men and women who have served and returned home. We owe them thanks. That’s why we wear our poppies and hold our ceremonies, to support and remember.

From Bonanza to Bucharest

With the exception of sports figures, Max Fraser contends, Canadian heroes seldom get the respect they deserve. The Whitehorse filmmaker and military history buff wants to help change that, especially when it comes to a larger-than-life former Yukoner, Joseph Whiteside Boyle. “I’m still trying to figure out this character, Joe Boyle, because I’ve never met, …

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Visiting Fort Selkirk

As someone who has always been very interested in Yukon history the Fort Selkirk Historic Site was definitely on the list of places we wanted the visit during the year we lived in the Yukon. But how to get there since there is no road access? Located near the confluence of the Yukon and the …

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Canadian Red

Ever since I was a child I would see the Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers and think, “Wow! Our national police force is beyond cool!” Today, I still think that. The Mounties definitely know how put on a good horse show and parade. Located throughout every province and territory, the RCMP are there to “stand …

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How Times Have Changed

Times have changed since 1933. Monopoly was invented, Joan Collins; Joan Rivers; and Willie Nelson were born. So was this columns author.

The Legacy of the Klondike Cancan

The cancan that began as an 1830s dance craze in Paris was a direct revolt against the rules imposed by men, society, press, clergy and narrow-minded citizens. From the beginning the cancan was a statement, and it became a symbolic statement through the various revolutions and movements from that point forward. As the great cancan …

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Planes, Trains and Automobiles

The history of how we move is full of wild and wondrous stories about survival, romance, perseverance and everyday life. It’s also a great lens through which we can explore science and technology. Two new summer programs at the Yukon Transportation Museum will explore stories and science with kids and seniors to celebrate Canada 150 …

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The Cancan Arrives at the Klondike Gold Rush

On November 28, 1891, the New York Sun dedicated a full page to the cancan. Titled “Eccentric Paris Dance,” the article highlights Paris cancan stars of the day who describe intricate cancan dance moves. After the two decades of being attacked in the press by misogynist newspaper editors and pious moral reformers, the Sun article …

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Filling the Gaps in Our History

“Everyone talks about the Goldrush. I’m interested in the gaps in history. The points in between,” says Yukon writer Michael Gates, author of From the Klondike to Berlin. Published last month, this book is, perhaps surprisingly, the first to offer an in depth account of the Yukon’s contribution to World War I. Gates says that …

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Do You Remember When?

Allow me to take you back in time to when the words of today had a great difference in meaning… Close your eyes… and go back in time… before the internet, Mac, Dreamcast, Playstation or Nintendo 64… away back, I’m talking hide and seek at dusk… hopscotch, Double Dutch, jacks, kickball, mother may I, Red …

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Can You Do the Cancan, Kate?

During the 1890s, the United States was a melting pot of entertainment – and vaudeville became the perfect vehicle to showcase this wealth of diversity. From New York to Victoria, B.C., vaudeville reigned supreme as the most popular entertainment in every city and many small towns. The key to vaudeville’s success was that it allowed …

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The Cancan Under Arrest

Appearing nightly in vaudeville, burlesque, ballets and operas, on tiny rustic stages of the Wild West mining camps and in the frontier theatres of the Pacific Coast, by the 1870s the cancan was in North America to stay. When the cancan first became a part of the entertainment fabric, it was celebrated in newspaper reviews …

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Ancient Februarys

Valentine’s Day is parallel to Disney stories, The initial holiday is more comparable to Grimm’s Fairy Tale, intertwined love with gore. 

McQuesten’s Diary a Historic Treasures in a Box

I have been told the “winner writes history.” Taking this idea a bit further and you might think history is all about battles, economic or ecological, or just about power. But history is much more than that. I recently had an opportunity to touch history. To look at and study a wonderful collection given to …

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That new guy next door is definitely one of a kind

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the 32nd president of the United States of America. The wealthy and patrician New Yorker, whose New Deal policies helped pull the U.S. out of the Great Depression and laid the foundation for much of its existing social policy, was the guy in charge the year I was born. Roosevelt died …

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Delightful Devilry: The Cancan Invades New York

Although the cancan made its North American debut with Offenbach’s opera Orpheus of the Underworld in 1861, it wasn’t until it appeared in the first American musical that the cancan became a true phenomenon in North America. In 1866 Henry C. Jarrett and Harry Palmer imported a large group of Parisian dancers to perform the …

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Harvey Burian: Growing up Multicultural on the Stewart River

Life on the river was isolated, especially in winter when the steamboats were not running. Sometimes visitors did stop in to catch up on the news. Harvey remembers: “We had radios…and we got mostly Alaskan stations…KFRB in Fairbanks…[and] in the last few years…we had a Ham radio…and the RCMP office in Mayo had one and …

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Remembering Japanese Canadian Soldiers of WWI

Remembrance Day has taken more meaning for me lately.  Recently Yukon Archives shared some information about some Japanese from Dawson City who served in the First World War. This was a complete surprise to me. I wondered, Why would they serve? The Dawson Daily News of June 21, 1918 reported that there were five Japanese …

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Hepburn Tramway Historic Walk

“There is nothing like walking to get the feel of a country.  A fine landscape is like a piece of music; it must be taken at the right tempo.  Even a bicycle goes too fast.” Paul Scott Mowrer Whitehorse resident Peter Long is an avid walker.  He has explored many trails in and around Whitehorse. …

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The dance craze with a kick!

In her book “DANCING” Lilly Grove describes the invention of the chahut which evolved into the cancan.   “About 1830, a stage dancer called Mazarie played the part of a monkey in the Theatre de la Porte St. Martin.  He invented for the occasion a figure dance which he called ‘chahut,’ which surpassed in its …

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The Laundress and the Kick

Although women of Paris played an integral role in the French Revolution, once the dust settled they were given a stern message by the new men in power: Stay home, tend to the children and leave the important business of governing to us. By 1825, the post-revolution preoccupation of keeping women in their place was …

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Pioneer Agronomist

The Hidden Histories Society Yukon collects stories and research on people of Asian and Black heritage who have contributed to the Yukon. It’s been doing this for 15 years.  Yoshikazu (Joe) Tsukamoto was an early pioneer in the development of northern agricultural research and practice in Yukon. Here is his story. The Early Years Yoshikazu …

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An Enterprising Adventurer

The lure of the Yukon brought many enterprising people north.  Togo Takamatsu was one of them. He was born in Chojumura, Japan on February 10, 1875 and immigrated to Vancouver in 1907. In the spring of 1920 he arrived in Carcross becoming one of 20 Asian people living in the Yukon according to the census. He …

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Yukon History Image: Boyles Yukon Gun Detachment

The Yukon and the First World War

In the view of Dr. Ken Coates, the North’s response to the challenge presented by World War I was to do the opposite of what people Outside might have expected. “They historically were seen as being very separate from the whole country,” he says, “kind of unique places, off in the wilderness, having problems of …

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Mrs. Black Goes to War

During the Great War of 1914-1918, nearly a thousand Yukoners enlisted for service in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, or fought for Britain, France and other Allied countries. Of these only a small handful were women. One woman who did not formally enlist to serve in the armed forces, but played an extremely important role in …

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Surviving a Grizzly Attack and the Great War

Jim Christie was born in Scotland in 1867. He emigrated to Manitoba and then came to the Klondike in 1898. The short, wiry Scotsman took to living in the north like a duck to water. He prospected in the summers and trapped in the winters, learning everything about the isolated regions of the northland. He …

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Joe Boyle: The Klondike King Who Became a War Hero

Joe Boyle came to the Klondike with the first wave of gold-seekers in the early summer of 1897, but soon left with a dream of becoming rich. He was successful in obtaining a large mining concession in the Klondike Valley from the federal government in 1909, and within a decade had gained control of one …

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Flat Feet and Brave Hearts: The Yukon at War

Canada was part of the British Empire, so when war was declared by Great Britain on August 4, 1914, Canada, too, joined the the conflict. There was a tremendous upswing of patriotic fervour. The vast American influx during of the Klondike gold rush had been largely replaced by a more settled British population, eager to …

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Yukon Hidden History: Extraordinary Endurance

Lucile Hunter was an intrepid Yukon pioneer. Just 35 years after slavery was abolished in 1863 in the United States, she and her husband, Charles, joined the stampede to the Klondike from the US in 1897. As black Americans, they hoped to trade the cruelties of their homeland for a frontier that promised equality and …

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Explore, Dance, and Learn

February is known as Black History Month, March is known as Women’s History Month. In the Yukon, January could be known as Yukon History Month. The MacBride Museum in Whitehorse is launching a new event called Night at the Museum, set to start on Jan. 27. Contrary to the name, this event is not screening …

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Sometimes Your Mind Kicks Up Things You Don’t Want to Believe

It took a king, a pope and a former prime minister to make me rethink my scepticism about extrasensory perception. Let me set the scene. August 16, 1977 was a stinking hot Tuesday in southern British Columbia. I was on Highway 3, mid-way between Hope and Princeton, when CBC Radio announced that the King, Elvis …

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Reminders of Time Past

A few years ago, my brother found an ancient tool that had migrated upward through the soil in the middle of his wheat field in Southern Alberta. It was a sure sign of human life on the prairies long before Europeans came to “settle” the land. The tool, it turned out, was a unique find. …

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Mine, All Mine!

The next time you travel north on the Alaska Highway between the Fish Lake Road and the Porter Creek Super A, ask yourself why the canyon there is called Rabbit Foot Canyon. Why not Anaconda? In 1899, the White Pass Railway was wondering whether it would be worthwhile extending its track all the way to …

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The Survivor Tree

Germany: a land of farms and old cities, and the destination of my travels every two years. It is a land with a past. Most towns here still hold scars of war in the form of bunkers that are sprawled throughout the country. A reminder of what once was. One such reminder is a tree. …

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Sharing the Past

Out on the old Alaska Highway, halfway to Haines Junction and only a few kilometres from Champagne, an observant traveller may spot Kwaday Dan Kenji, or Long Ago People’s Place. The privately-owned camp, the only one of its kind in the Yukon, represents two decades of Harold Johnson’s dedication to preserving and sharing Champagne and …

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Tagish Khwaan researcher

Formerly Tools, Now Artifacts on Display

The Kwanlin Dün First Nation recorded elders’ stories in 1993. This turned into about seven boxes of transcripts, which sat in an office. Elders gathered several more times, and their stories of camp locations and trail locations were again recorded, transcribed, and combed. Archaeologists compiled and compressed the information-as-stories, and honed in on one geographic …

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Enzo and his Masterpiece

Enzo Ferrari emerged from World War II with a bold plan to design and build automobiles under his own name. At first, he favoured the construction of racecars and had little interest building street-legal sports cars, but economic realities necessitated he pitch his products to a somewhat wider demographic. So he compromised; he built cars …

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Finding our Faces

Melissa Carlick learned about residential schools in a class, First Nations 100, during her first year at UNBC in Prince George. Afterward she asked her dad, and found out that he went to Lower Post when he was a child. “It made sense when I found out,” she says. “That’s why I don’t know my …

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Making Croquet History

There’s only one archived photograph that proves croquet is part of Yukon’s past. When she saw it, Nancy Oakley’s imagination sparked; she’s got big plans for the future of croquet in the Yukon. The executive director of the Yukon Historical and Museums Association was struck with the notion to host a fundraising croquet tournament. After …

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Salt of the Yukon

Dwayne and Nellie Backstrom might never be listed in the pages of The Colourful Five Percent; I don’t think they would care to be. But 2014’s Sourdough Rendezvous’ Mr. And Mrs. Yukon have a more meaningful legacy. In their own quiet way, they are quintessential Yukoners — understated, hard working, and full of love for …

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Sled dog racing along the Yukon River in a Rendezvous of yore.

Rendezvous In the Old Days

Rendezvous – it’s always been our mid-winter break. A chance to unwind. It’s competition, and horseplay, and fun.

The Evolution of Rendezvous

It’s the biggest party in the territory, and this year Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous celebrates its 50th anniversary. For a lot of Yukoners the festival represents the nearing of the end of winter, but for others it’s a chance to compete for coveted titles, from Sourdough Sam, to Best Frozen Hair, to Furthest Log Toss. Sibell …

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The History Hunter

Helene Dobrowolsky found her vocation as an author and historian by happenstance. “After a few years of camp cooking, a friend told me about a job researching and writing points of interest signs along the Yukon River,” says Dobrowolsky. “I got the job partly because I was the only applicant who had actually paddled down …

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Naming and Renaming History

Change sometimes takes time, even if the change means a return to the familiar. On July 26, 1978, the Whitehorse Star reported that, “a beautification scheme for downtown Whitehorse which would make Main Street a road for shoppers and the waterfront a historical attraction is approved in principal by the Downtown Whitehorse Businessmen’s Association. The …

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Andy and Esmé Cruickshank

A 1920s Love Story, a Ryan B-1 high-winged monoplane named the Queen of the Yukon and the start of the Yukon Airways and Exploration Company.

Leading a Heroic Life: Jane Jacobs introduces us to one of her favourite people

My friend Paddy Sumner’s had a past that was rich in memories, a present that was always adventurous and fun, and a future that was full of challenges. The first time I met Paddy was 24 years ago at a going away lunch in Good Hope Lake, B.C., for the school principal and I. I …

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Lost but not Forgotten: RCMP honours officers killed in 1963 Carmacks plane crash

It’s been 50 years since the worst RCMP plane crash in Yukon history. On July 13, 1963 at 8:10 p.m. a DHC-2 Beaver (CF-MPO) on floats crashed in Carmacks, killing four on-duty RCMP officers — Sgt. Morley Laughland, Cp. Robert Asbil, Const. William Annand and Const. Laurence Malcolm — and a prisoner, 56-year-old Joseph Philippe …

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Rendezvous 101

Canuck Chuck Lands Difficult “Job” Wrangling a bevy of beautiful can-can dancers and introducing them to the world is a tough job, but Canuck Chuck, aka Charles Frisbee Tiberius Mackenzie, handles his duties with style and grace. The Rendezvous can-can MC originally hails the small coastal town of Inverness, Nova Scotia. At a young age …

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Yukon Past and Present

Bold strokes of the present, intriguing photographs of the past: two new shows at Arts Underground offer you the Yukon in stereo. Simon Gilpin displays After the Fire at Arts Underground until Feb. 23, and The Andover-Harvard Yukon Expedition, 1948, which will remain in place until early April. After the Fire Gilpin, who moved to …

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In Praise of Do-it-Yourself Culture

I am a “DIYer.” I like making things for myself, family and friends. My kit includes wool, paper, stickers and beads. Books and magazines give me inspiration. This year I created craft baskets for my youngest friends. The craft baskets included pencils, glue, a few buttons, stickers, beads and construction paper. I used little bits …

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Walls Can Talk: 609 Strickland Street … Then and Now

Sitting in the dining room, at 609 Strickland Street, I visualize the house as it was when Bob Jacobs lived here as a child. This room was the living room, with windows along the west wall. The original building was constructed of wood. Old bridge timbers were used for main-floor construction. Re-using and recycling of …

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Walls Can Talk: A Moving Story, 701 Cook Street

“I did the work in a consciousness manner and not with the idea of cutting corners,” Michele Silvestri wrote me from his home in Langley, B.C. Hamish Laurie, the present owner of 701 Cook, agrees: “Silvestri was a great carpenter.” Many of the existing features are original. The second-floor kitchen re-creates wainscoting with yellow linoleum. …

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The Lives of Maryhouse

In 1954, Earle Smith arrived in Whitehorse. He came with the RCAF and was stationed here for a number of years. He left the territory in 1961. Smith was on shift work at the RCAF station and had time off with nothing to do. “Somehow I got volunteered to do carpentry work and painting at …

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Nostalgia for Rendezvous Past

The Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous began in 1945. The prime feature of the festival was the colourful dog races made up of working dogs owned by trappers, the village priest or the RCMP. Held on the Yukon River (yes, kiddies, the river froze) against the background of the picturesque sternwheelers, it was a scene of pure …

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Walls Can Talk: 410 Ogilvie – Squeaky Clean

“We think it was originally an army wash house,” Lee Nunn informs me as we discuss 410 Ogilvie Street. Pete McCracken, carpenter extraordinaire, responsible for many of the renovations, agrees. In the areas he renovated, McCracken saw evidence of a number of urinals and toilets. There were markings on the plywood sub floor when McCracken …

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206 Hawkins: The Riverboat Captain’s Braw House

Joanne Baines, current owner of 206 Hawkins Street, says she can’t remember who told her that Albert Henderson built the house for his sweetheart, but the first time she walked in, she knew the house was now hers. To restore the house, however, would bring alive the love the builder put into it so long …

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A land where pilots are noble

Over 100 planes will be in the Yukon this weekend as the Century Flight Club heads for Whitehorse, its first destination event following last year’s successful cross-country trek. Now, 100 planes in one place is always an impressive sight. Talking with John Lovelace last week, he could barely find the words to describe it. And …

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510 Hawkins: the kachelöfen Guest House

I appreciate meeting people who live their life philosophy. Suat Tuzlak is one such person. I admire his philosophy about good wholesome food. I applaud his successful bakery adventure and organic food supplies. But Tuzlak has another passion you might not be aware of. He has owned, renovated and refurbished a number of downtown homes …

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308 Hanson: A Cozy Staff House

Nestled between the T.A. Firth Building and a small apartment building, 308 Hanson looks like a relic from the past. It is the only house on that section of Hanson Street. I wondered what the street looked like when the house was new. Were there other houses on the street? From previous research, I have …

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508 Wood Street: The Tale of Two Arthurs

Arthur #1 lived in Atlin, B.C. when he first encountered Arthur #2. Arthur #1 noticed a withdrawal from his bank account he did not authorize. After checking with the bank, it was discovered Arthur #2 owed the money. The bank had confused accounts. A few years later, Arthur #1—then living in Whitehorse—was attending the birth …

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Three Generations

Lusia visits with Grandma and Grandpa now. She helps out in the garden that Grandma has tended for decades. When Lusia’s grandparents first moved in, the yard had been neglected. Now, the gardens are spectacular and have been the site of many garden parties. Grandma and Grandpa have lived in the same little downtown house …

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Norgetown Laundry

Well, the tourists I have seen are the best. One summer as I folded my laundry I spied a couple of young, robust Austrians also folding their laundry. Dressed in traditional leather shorts, suspenders and white crisp shirts, they added to the fun atmosphere. I saw Valdy doing his laundry one Friday evening, although I …

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DEW Line Devices

The Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line, built from 1954-57, demonstrated strongly how technology became a dramatic part of how nations claim space in the North, at least ideologically. At the Old Fire Hall until April 6, an intriguing sculpture and media installation called The DEW Project reveals one artist’s obsession with the ongoing relationship between …

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Hibernate? Not Us.

Everyone knows the Yukon is a laid-back, sleepy little place – especially come November, when we gorge ourselves on seal blubber before bedding down with a tiger torch or an oversized husky until spring breaks through the igloo sometime in mid-April. Right? Wrong. Anyone who believes that obviously hasn’t been to the Yukon in February. …

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Duke the Doughnut Thief

Remembering Duke, Dr. Ron Pearson smiled. “I still do not know how he did it. The box of doughnuts was still taped shut, sitting on the front seat of the vehicle”. On the way to Aishihik Lake, the family stepped into a gas station for drinks. When Pearson walked back toward the vehicle, he saw …

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Fenix House

Everyone, it seems, has been interested in the project. I spoke with Tanya Handley about Fenix House. She recalled many downtown residents stopped by regularly to chat and see what was happening. Some people talked about former residents. Some people talked about the great gardens in the yard. Stroll down 6th Avenue in downtown Whitehorse …

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Birth of an Idea

Do you ever wonder how an idea comes into your brain? Once it’s there it is up to you whether or not you proceed to the next step. Like, “I want to learn to knit” is the idea. And you head off to Knit Now for a lesson on knitting a hat. Over the last …

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Klondike Catwalk

In a show of pre-season energy akin to athletes’ pre-game excitement, Parks Canada interpreters Carrie Docken and Carly Sims gallantly put on their copies of 100-year-old fashion and posed for What’s Up Yukon last week in Dawson City. Sims’ tea dress is a replica of the styles Martha Black and other Klondike pioneering women, of …

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Landing the Cup Final

I guess that means I’m the only one left,” Ed Schiffkorn told me in fall 2009 when I called to inform him of Merv Miller’s death. All I said was that Miller had passed away. There was no need to explain why I was telling him nor did I ask what he was referring to. …

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Looking Back: 3,000 Horses

One of the interesting names on the map in Yukon history is Dead Horse Gulch. It’s a name that has been well-earned. During the height of the Gold Rush, from 1897-1898, there were thousands of horses that joined the thousands of people making the epic trek from the south up to the Klondike. A North-West …

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Joan Veinott: An Amazing Woman

My friend Jan O. recently told me she liked my research ideas about the Memorial Bench people. She said she worked with Joan Veinott and that everyone who knew her says the same thing: Joan Veinott was amazing! When I spoke with Veinott’s daughter, Linda Smeeton, she also exclaimed that her mother was an amazing …

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Desmond Carroll: Enthusiasm and Hospitality

The love and respect for the man is so vivid in all the articles I have read. A dear friend of Desmond Carroll graciously lent me her archival material on this most beloved man. I especially enjoyed reading Northern Reflections, a collection of Carroll’s writings, organized and gathered by his wife, Marion Carroll. The book, …

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Looking Back: The most interesting man in the world

Every now and then, a figure emerges out of the shadows of history with so much success and so many adventures that you swear they must be made up. Without the historical record and extensive documentation, we might swear it is impossible for these people to exist. (After all, there’s only so much a person …

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Landing the Cup Final: Part 2

You have 10 minutes,” the International Ski Federation (FIS) representative in Lake Placid told Don Sumanik and Bjorger Pettersen. So they made the best of it. “They weren’t going to decide but maybe I could alleviate some of their concerns,” Sumanik told me in our interview more than 30 years ago. “The meetings are usually …

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Heart of the Trail

On a typical 2011 August day I walked the Millennium Trail. When I started out it was sunny and warm. I stopped at a favourite spot to read an interpretive sign. All of a sudden it started pouring. Ah, just wait a few minutes and the weather will change. It did. As I finished my …

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Lifetime Love of Vintage Bikes

I’ve always had trouble when it came to focusing on a particular passion in my life. Anyone who knows me would likely say that I am constantly pursuing my passions. That’s the point: it is passions, plural, and they are changing all the time. I never stick with anything beyond intermediate knowledge or competence. Jörg …

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First Lady of Northern Gardening

One hundred years ago, the Yukon’s First Lady, Martha Louise Black, set about making a statement with her gardens. Black moved into the Commissioner’s Residence in Dawson City following her husband, George Black’s, appointment as 10th commissioner of the Yukon in 1912. Upon consultation with her gardener, William Horkan, (whimsically known as “Me Hearty” Horkan), …

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Jan Phenix Blair: The Tall One

Friends and colleagues called her “The Tall One”. Jan Phenix Blair was an occupational therapist in Yukon from 1995 to 2000. Her mother, Anne Blair, told me that when Jan entered a room – whether a classroom, a large university event, or a small cabin in northern Yukon – she was like a magnet; people …

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All Yukon’s a Stage

What do Lily Munster, Jonas Wilkerson (the brutal overseer in Gone with the Wind),Battlestar Gallactica’s “Helo” Agathon, Howard Hughes’s mother and Charlie Chaplin’s movie double have in common? This being a Yukon-based column, the answer might be fairly obvious—all of them have Yukon roots. It’s not uncommon for stars of the big and small screens …

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Looking Back: Fickle Fortune

It was inevitable, considering the sheer volume and variety of people who joined the Klondike Gold Rush, that a few people with connections to the occult made it up to Dawson City—psychics were in the crowd. On February 2, 1901, the North-West Mounted Police (NWMP) visited the locales of four practising fortunetellers to alert them …

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Looking Back: House of Life

The Klondike Gold Rush brought people from all over North America and the world to Dawson City. It should be no surprise then, that among the thousands that poured over the Chilkoot Pass on their way to the City of Gold were representatives of a range of faiths. The variation in churches that sprang up …

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Landscaping Landmark

If one takes a stroll in the hills behind Whitehorse General Hospital, they’ll find what looks like a short road that runs up the slope behind the hospital area toward and through a gap in the ridgeline. Beyond that they will notice a sort-of clearing that opens up hillsides, a small valley bottom and what …

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Walter Holway: Anytime Thanksgiving Fun

One of Walter Holway’s favourite activities was participating in Edna’s “Anytime Thanksgiving” suppers. The couple didn’t wait until the actual Thanksgiving holiday to host a feast. Any time during the year, Edna would plan and prepare a big Thanksgiving meal and invite friends and family to join the festivities. Holway loved his family and friends …

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Bert Law; a Yukon Pioneer

What a glorious Saturday afternoon! I wandered the path in Bert Law Park, on Temptation Island. The sun was warm on my skin, but there was a hint of the changing season; autumn beckoning on the wind. An interpretive sign informs the visitor of numerous berry species to be found—soap berry, northern black currant, high …

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That Summer in Elsa

One morning in the mess hall, the man sitting across from me took a sip and—as much to himself as anyone else—said, “I think this is my last cup of coffee here.” By the time I’d finished my shift underground, he was gone, his musing over caffeine his only goodbye. Lots of people left Elsa …

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Putting the Giant to Rest

The Bonanza Creek Road winds through piles of dredge tailings—hills of gravel mounded like ground deposited by a gigantic earthworm—and abandoned, rusting mining equipment. This road was once the life vein of Dawson City. In the mid-20th century, the city was a supply centre for the dredges and the dredging community located at Bear Creek, …

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We Got Us a Convoy

They rolled out of Dawson Creek, B.C. on August 4: 77 historic military vehicles, plus 36 civilian support vehicles, with drivers from the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, even the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their mission: a 6,600-km northern odyssey to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Alaska Highway. Their average speed of 56 …

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Sylvia MacIntosh: Respected Lawyer, Mother, Friend

“I liken her to a fizzy drink—refreshing, invigorating and fun.” “She was a hummingbird with high energy.” Those colourful terms are how two very good friends, Debra Fendrick and Pamela Muir, remember Sylvia MacIntosh. Her colleagues, friends and former husband all describe her with warmth and admiration. MacIntosh was born in Sidney, Nova Scotia in …

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Sam McGee “at home”

Looking Back: The real Sam McGee

Sam McGee was a real person, but nothing like Service’s character. He stole the name off of a deposit slip.The two men never knew each other.

Looking Back: Snowball

Herschel Island is the Yukon’s most northerly point, and one of its most beautiful. For a stretch in the late 19th century, it was also the busiest. This 16 x 13 km2 island, well north of the Arctic Circle, was home to a bustling community of whalers. The bowhead whale brought them to the island. …

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A Glimpse Into the Vault

A man once had a dream. He had a vision of a secure, environmentally-controlled building with reading rooms and plenty of white gloves. If this doesn’t sound like just the thing for a gritty pioneering place like the Yukon in the 1970s, you need to pick up a copy of For the Record: Yukon Archives …

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Beefer Madness

The first thing that comes to mind when you think of the Klondike might not be cattle. But the men who moil for gold need to eat just like the rest of us, and an appetite for beef only grows the longer the carnivorous among us are away from it. The result for the Yukon …

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A Very Active Elder

It all started when Bill Simpson went to the wrong meeting. “Went to a meeting. Paid my dues. Thought I was joining the Golden Age Society.” Instead, he found to his surprise that he had just joined the Golden Age Society.. It was the first step of a journey that recently earned him the Yukon …

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Coming Home: 509 Strickland

In 2008 my sisters and I travelled to Ireland. We were looking for “Grandma’s house” and the “Dale Castle”. One afternoon in Dublin our taxi cab driver delivered us to 120 Tritonville Road – a posh part of town, he said. We stood together at the front door and he took our picture. The cab …

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Museum Prepares You for the Drive

BURWASH LANDING If you are fortunate enough to have already driven through portions of Kluane National Park, you know the breathtaking scenery that lies behind every bend and curve in the road. Despite the reputed beauty and relative proximity to most Yukoners, I have been shocked and dismayed to learn that many Yukoners have not …

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Virtual Stampeders

So, you are not the type to visit a museum … or your latest trip to a museum has left you wanting to learn more. Luckily, museums are now available at the click of a mouse. The days of only enjoying museums on site are long gone. Museums have come alive in the virtual world …

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These Old Buildings Can Talk

If you were around Main Street doing errands today, there’s a fairly good chance you visited one. If you reside in the downtown area, you may even live in one. The heritage buildings in Whitehorse are home to a wide range of services: restaurants, retail stores, offices and entertainment. And, yes, many are private residences. …

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Museums Can Pull Double Duty

Museums in the Yukon are becoming more than just a one-time stop over for many visitors and Yukoners. The variety of programs and services offered by our local museums keep people coming back for more and the museums continue to deliver memorable events and opportunities. You may often see full parking lots outside of the …

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Free Rides On That ‘Other’ Train

I’m sure that most of you are aware of the little yellow trolley that chugs along the waterfront every summer. But what you may not be familiar with is the other Whitehorse Railway attraction. The Miles Canyon Historic Railway Society, in addition to running the waterfront trolley, operates the Copperbelt Railway and Mining Museum located …

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