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 Chuck headed to Newfoundland to become a stage man on George Street, St. Johns.
After four years working the George Street saloons the urge to travel hit him once more, so he began his journey west and North, with nothing to his name but a bowler hat and a lucky bow tie previously owned by Fred Astaire, handed down to him by his father.
He worked odd jobs across the country until finally the desire for riches and gold brought him to the Yukon. In his first winter Chuck found the North hard; he was cheechako in every sense of the word.
Then he met Kabin Fever Kate, the can-can manager — she took him in, showed him how to get through those long, dark months and set him up with the gruelling gig of controlling 10 beautiful women with a penchant for trouble.
Now in his second year as the can-can MC, Canuck Chuck declares, “Rendezvous is everything that is wonderful in the world, it is a time to celebrate, to reach out and enjoy simple revelries with your neighbors and friends. It is rare that one can find a festival that reminds you so much of home and still 100 per cent Yukon authentic. That makes Rendezvous my favourite time of year.”
Keystone Kops Kollect the Delinquent and Donations
With their black hats, billy clubs and the trench coats covered in buttons, I find the Keystone Kops to be one of the most iconic aspects of the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous. Though certainly not a destination in the whole Rendezvous experience, their presence during the week is always felt.
The Keystone Kops are a part of Rendezvous you can’t get away from (unless you have on your garter, beard or button). They can come for you (remember that co-workers, friends and family can put out “a hit”).
The Keystone Kops can be seen around town “arresting” any “low life gamblers, leggy dancers and wise-cracking miners” they see on the streets not sporting either a beard or a garter and placing them in the mobile paddy wagon pulled behind their car.
I arrived in the Yukon too late to see it, but they used to lock up their guests and parade them around town in the cell as they drove.
You will see the Keystone Kops all over town collecting the delinquent and donations. Freedom can be yours for the purchase of a pin and maybe the telling of a dirty joke.
They are available for special functions and can be called upon to target an offender of your choice for a suitable donation.
You can call upon the Keystone Kops by calling the Kinette Club Hit Line at 393-3537.
The Tao of Rendezvous
Sure, there is the One Dog Pull, the Yukon Arm Wrestling Championships and the Ice Carving Competition, but for many people the true spirit of the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous still resides far from the sanctioned events.
For these folks Rendezvous is about setting aside adult responsibilities for a weekend, getting together with old friends and trading stories and wise cracks until the hour grows late — and then early again.
For this group of merry-makers, Rendezvous is not something to be attended; it’s something to be catapulted into the centre of. And of course, the natural habitat for this particular breed of Rendezvous reveler is the bar.
Which bar? It hardly matters . T hey are all packed to the gills with good friends and old acquaintances; all eager to have a good tim e; all excited to be shedding January’s Seasonal Affective Disorder (more colourfully known as Cabin Fever) for the euphoria of palpably longer days.
Taoists have this concept called wu wei. The idea is that one should not hold too tightly to one’s plans and should instead be open to spontaneous action as dictated by the flow of the universe.
Rendezvous weekend is filled with wu wei. If you simply show up at a bar with no preconceived notions about where the night will take you, there is no limit to the possibilities.
You may find yourself debating the Kennedy assassination outside the Roadhouse, or trying to make a citizen’s arrest of gas thief at 3 a.m., or better yet, sharing a cheap bottle of wine with someone on top of the clay cliffs.
Admittedly, it’s not everyone’s scene, but if you have a few cab numbers memorized and you are open-minded about the possibility of phoning in sick on Monday, the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous can be the first magical adventure of the spring.
Dropping Your Jeans and Donning Your Petticoats
Getting out of jeans and into a Gold Rush era gown is a popular part of the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous festival. So much so that a local dressmaker has developed a collection of more than 600 turn-of-the-century dresses. But Myrna Kingscote doesn’t just dress the ladies, she’s also got another 300 suits for men in the style popular in 1898.
Myrna and her husband Jack have been like an engine generating Rendezvous good times for 32 years, and not just with costumes. Jack organized the air show during Rendezvous for decades and the two are notorious for hosting some pretty rowdy Rendezvous parties at their place.
The costume rooms promise more good times — and women take their time in there.
They’ll try on a dozen dresses/feathers/gloves/hats/purses looking for the perfect outfit.
But when the right outfit comes together, hoots and squeals emanate through the house.
“Jack sits upstairs and listens to me and it’s like I’m doing a jig down here,” Myrna says.
Men, on the other hand, are in and out.
Myrna has developed such a knack for eyeing a gentleman’s size and setting him up that she can suit up a guy within about 15 minutes.
“A man will tell me, ‘Oh, I’m this size of jacket and pant.’ And I’ll look at him and say, ‘Not bloody likely,'” Myrna says.
She’ll then put him in the right size of vest, pants, tails, top hat (or bowler hat for a gambler) and arm band — with enough room to feel comfortable through the Rendezvous week.
A whole outfit for men or women rents for $75 per week.
But for those who want to buy a costume, Adult Temptations sells such party favours as corsets, fishnet stockings and feathers. Feather boas and boys’ top hats and bowler hats can be found at the Great Canadian Dollar Store.
Rent or own, wearing a costume during Rendezvous should at the very least keep you out of the Keystone Kops’ paddy wagon and might even get you into the kind of party that will go down in history.