It was novelist Lawrence Hill who told me while we sipped tea in the Downtown Hotel dining room in Dawson in March that his early career as a journalist taught him to embrace the adventure of his stories.
The beauty of living in the North is the adventure that is innate to every story.
Pursuing stories over the past year, I’ve whipped around town in an electric truck, roamed the boreal forests hunting for mushrooms, peddled and paddled to interview locations, and got a first-hand look at grafting trees.
Being active in the community, such as competing in curling bonspiels, joining the table tennis club, learning how to fiddle and teaching figure skating triggered other stories.
A year ago I joined the What’s Up Yukon team as the Dawson editor. I was thrilled at the opportunity to cover the North at a territorial level. It meant my focus shifted to learning about the communities—Keno, Elsa, Old Crow, Mayo, Carmacks, Haines Junction and Pelly Crossing—as well as Whitehorse.
Recently, I’ve made the very difficult decision to move on from this position. However, what I will take with me I owe to you, Yukon, and the fantastic team at the magazine.
It has been inspirational to work with our enthusiastic night owl James Cackette and learn about what is happening in the night skies, Jeffery Mickelson, our off-the-grid chef serving up recipes like beet brownies and chicken-fried caribou steaks, and word nerd Lesley Grant and her approach to writing about everyday life through food.
I feel fortunate to have received special contributions by past mayor of Dawson John Steins, Dawson filmmaker Lulu Keating, Whitehorse comedian Sharon Shorty, Berton House writers in residence Tim Falconer and Dan Dowhal, and Toronto singer-songwriter Shelley O’Brien.
What’s Up Yukon is about getting everyone involved in sharing about what they are passionate about, bartenders, cashiers, cooks, students, artists, carpenters, athletes, musicians and teachers alike.
It has astonished me the list of keen contributors that I have worked with over the past year: Connor Matak on the music beat, Winnipeg’s Lisa Ewasko on environment and innovation, and Australian Michael Schroeder on just about everything.
West Dawson’s Gabriela Sgaga has done people profiles, history buff Phil Wolters has covered the Yukon’s past (during his last couple of columns, he has been corresponding with us from Drumheller, Alberta), Whitehorse’s Amoree Briggs and Lee Randall bring us the scoop on health and fitness.
Meanwhile, Klondike Sun head editor Dan Davidson gives us the town’s beat, Old Crow’s Birch Kuch has shared profiles from a fly-in community, and, of course, the lovely Meg Walker, past editor of What’s Up Yukon, has written about art and life.
Rebecca Hogarth was a pleasure to work with as she trekked through East Asia. We’ve been humoured by Gord MacRae, got the kid’s perspective with Jamie Thomas-Van Bibber, learned about taking care of our bodies with Liris Smith, and glimpsed at how Yukoners are making a difference in Haiti with Brooke McKenzie.
Once in a while, we were treated with stories from gardening guru and museum archivist Molly MacDonald, outdoor enthusiast Mark Essiembre, film geek Nathan Bragg, and artists and entrepreneurs Aubyn O’Grady and Rian Lougheed-Smith.
This summer, with the influx of talented, bright individuals spending the summer in the Yukon, I’ve had the pleasure of working with journalism student Torey Ellis, Klondike Institute of Art and Culture intern Caitlin Gardner, Klondike Sun intern Carly Lovett, and artist Andrew de Freitas.
Recently, Allie Haydock has jumped on board to write about food, Kelsey Eliasson is writing about bears, Lisa McKenna is writing stories for kids and kids-at-heart, and Joanna McDonald, my roommate this month, about music.
And, of course, I’ve been awed by the photographers who’ve illustrated these stories. My go-to-guy Allen Kelley, the talented Michael Edwards, art student Matt Smith, artist Justin Apperley, and, whenever I was lucky enough to have him around, Evan Rensch.
A year has taught me that I am not done with the North. It has fascinated me and drawn me close with music, art, innovation, industry and community.
Yukon, thank you for allowing me to get to know you. I pass the torch now to the new editorial team and leap into the new adventure at hand.