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 creating wreaths from ropes that formerly adorned the Canadian National Historic Site in Whitehorse, our very own SS Klondike sternwheeler that used to ply the waters of the mighty Yukon River between Whitehorse and Dawson City.

The beautiful rope is in two sizes, twisted together of many strands that cannot be easily broken. It was quite a process to figure out how to cut the three-inch-diameter rope to a usable length. It is scratchy, itchy and can give slivers—gloves are definitely suggested when handling.

These ropes are not artefacts, although they have been used on the Klondike. Parks Canada replaces the ropes periodically and, two years ago, they asked the YTM if they would like them for exhibits or programming. They have been on display, and now some will become wreaths under the creative expertise of Janna Swales, executive director of the museum.

I had the privilege of being there as the first prototype was constructed by Janna and an eager, crafty-minded volunteer, Ruth Treskatis. It was fascinating to see the two at work, exchanging lightbulb ideas and aha moments, as they first problem-solved to form the wreath, then pulled decorations from a plastic bag that contained a variety of Christmas decorations. Photos were taken showing some of the process, as well as the proudly displayed finished wreath.

Janna enthusiastically created a second wreath after her official hours were over that day. She invites you to come and construct and then decorate your own wreath with a piece of the historical rope. Start thinking, now, about what your creation will look like—Christmas, Remembrance Day… It’s versatile, so you can keep it on display all year as the seasons and holidays change … You are welcome to bring your own decorations: ribbons, pine cones, ornaments … The opportunities to personalize are endless. There will be all of the help, support, guidance and even inspiration that day to empower you to leave with your own created wreath. All tools and supplies will be provided, including gloves, if you don’t bring your own.

Wreath-making is scheduled from 3 to 5 p.m. on November 3. More details are available on, or you can call the YTM at 867-668-4792 or email [email protected] Space is limited.

This will be followed by sharing your wreath with the other co-creators while enjoying hors d’oeuvres from 5 to 6 p.m.

In addition, Ione Christensen, former Yukon senator, commissioner, and current president of the Whitehorse chapter of the Yukon Order of Pioneers-Ladies’ Auxiliary, and inspiring history buff, will be giving a talk, from 6 to 7 p.m., on her reminiscences of growing up with Yukon steamers. This is open to all. Please pre-register, as there is limited seating, although larger capacity than for the wreath-making. There is a nominal fee for this event. There will also be a public viewing of the wreaths. Hope to see you there.


A short hemp rope lesson via Janna

These hemp ropes are but one of the products that come from hemp. Another commonly known one is canvas. Did you know that the word canvas comes from the word cannabis? People have been making clothing, canvas, ropes and medicine for 10,000 years out of this and its headline-grabbing sister fibre.

Breaking News: This project has already been expanded, even as this story was being written! Janna Swales and participants of the wreath-making event will now also be creating Remembrance Day wreaths to be laid at Remembrance Day ceremonies in Whitehorse, Dawson City and at Vimy Ridge, France.