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Sliding into Life in the Yukon

Sliding into Life in the Yukon

We love adventure, so what is more adventurous than leaving Canada’s capital in our all-wheel-drive vehicle that’s stuffed so full of our belongings and our two trusty canine companions during winter? Nothing! Like many before us, we came from Ontario -and like a lot of them, we too came for “just one year”. Haha- just a year! As Hank Karr sings “Where do you go after Yukon?” We had studied the Yukon in school, but really only learned that there was gold here. So after nearly a year of living North of 60, here are a few things that stand out to me about the Yukon:

The Sourtoe shot is real and it’s nasty!

To celebrate, I use that term loosely, we headed to Dawson City for my 35th birthday. Of course, you can’t go to Dawson and not pan for gold at the free claims, but this was also the first time that the Sourtoe Cocktail was being offered since COVID-times had begun. I had escaped it on our last trip up to Dawson but wasn’t so lucky this time. Yes, of course, you want to do it, but not ACTUALLY do it. Coming from a medical laboratory background (where I used to receive severed toes) did not help to settle my stomach. Luckily, there are other drinks to be had to get that liquid courage going! “You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow, but your lips must touch the toe…” says the Captain who has just dropped the mummified toe into my shot. Cheers! I survived, but never need to do that again! I am now member #93277 of the Sourtoe Cocktail Club. Just kiss the toe, no one wants to do it, but it’s a right of passage.

Pepsi is the Yukon’s Choice?

Apparently, Pepsi just decided it was going to be known as the Yukon’s choice and it doesn’t appear that Coke wants to fight for the title. It stuck out to me, as I began listening to “the Rush”, that there is an abundance of Pepsi commercials claiming to be the Yukon’s choice. Northland beverages offer all fifteen Pepsi promotional songs for live stream or download on their website (Yukon Pepsi). This was probably the best discovery I have made all year! I am proud to say I know the majority of the commercials by heart. Thanks, Northland Beverages for your variety of fun commercials! Your ads seem to be working as my husband now only drinks Pepsi and tends to bring one on all our adventures.

There literally is wildlife everywhere

As you drive down Robert Service Way you can see the eagles hovering over the Yukon River and sometimes a small cluster of mule deer hanging out at the baseball diamond. This is only the beginning! As you drive downtown it’s pretty standard to catch a glimpse of a fox- often actually crossing at a crosswalk or sitting/basking on top of a truck. Then there are the ravens sneaking a sip from a forgotten cup of coffee or flying by our Main Street office with a whole slice of pizza in its beak; hands down, one of my most memorable days since moving here! As you drive the Alaskan highway towards Haines Junction you will likely get to see the herd of wild horses, the elk grazing beside the highway, a fat porcupine making his way through the ditch, a couple of strong coyotes looking for their next meal, a playful moose standing in a shallow lake and a few grizzlies or black bears swarmed by mosquitoes. I will never tire of seeing wildlife in their natural habitat and the Yukon is one of the best places to enjoy it and a lot of it is actually right in your own backyard.

-20°C does not feel like -20°C

You hear it all the time, but it is true! Until you actually experience the two types of -20°C (or colder for that matter) it just won’t make sense to you. Just pull on your layers and get out there! As long as you stay dry, which seems to be easy enough even when rolling around in the snow, you can easily enjoy the lovely winters here. The Yukon is known as a year-round place to have fun- not just a summer destination! Whether you are taking a lap on the skating rink in Shipyards park, have strapped on your snowshoes to wander the Hidden Lakes, added a bit of air to your fat bike tires before heading downtown, covered every inch of skin to hop on your sled, are at Mount Sima ready to carve-it-up or are dropping a line in one of the many frozen lakes- there’s an activity for everyone. Winter was never our favourite thing back in Ontario, but good luck catching us indoors here!

This is what it feels like to be part of a community

Living in Whitehorse just makes you smile time and time again. Whitehorse broke the record for the amount of snowfall on November 2, 2020- receiving between 40-60 centimetres according to Doug Lundquist, a meteorologist with Environment Canada[1]. We had front row seats from our large windows facing Main Street to see the love in full force. We started the day by counting- and later losing track of- how many vehicles got stuck on Main Street. Once one vehicle would get stuck, a group of strangers, seemingly from out of nowhere, would arrive and assist the stuck motorist. Every-single-time, good samaritans would come to help. Within the neighbourhoods, volunteers went from house to house helping to dig out entrance ways, driveways and cars with no expectations except to lighten someone else’s load. A Facebook group that was created to assist Yukoners with anything they may need help with, has recently been registered as a not-for-profit organization and continues to help this beautiful Territory (Yukon Helpers Network). Between the food drives, the signs to thank truckers and essential workers, volunteers helping to paint the new BIPOC and QTBIPOC crosswalks at Main and Front street and the many more projects that are ongoing will warm your heart- even in this cold.

Conclusion

Moving to the Yukon was tricky to get all moving parts in line, but we wouldn’t trade our experiences for anything. Wherever you look you are surrounded by beauty in the forms of landscapes, wildlife and the caring people of the Yukon. The Yukon has surpassed all our expectations and I can’t wait to see what the real Yukon has to offer once COVID is a thing of the past. Our friends and family have no idea what they are in for when they come to visit. Yukon- it really is Larger Than Life.

[1] https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/whitehorse-snow-storm-schools-open-1.5786263

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It didn't feel very cold, but I learned to apply mascara only after I get to work. Selfie captured by myself.