October 3, 2017

A grand day! My dear sister Sherry and husband Tim are here with me in Dawson City. We talked, we laughed, we talked some more, we hiked, we drove up to The Dome and had our breath taken away.

2017 10 03 view from The Dome

There was no point of land higher than we were and it was like we could see to the ends of the earth.

2017 10 03 Sherry and Tim at The Dome

Above are Sherry and Tim at The Dome.

This evening we went for another drive and came upon a Northwest Mounted Police cemetery.

2017 10 03 NWMP cemetery

Some very young men died in the line of duty.

2017 10 03 cemetery


And to end the day with a giggle:

2017 10 03 t-shirt giggle


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October 2, 2017

Sometimes we have an experience in life that profoundly changes the day or the week or sometimes the experience changes us, in our core, in our being. That was the case for me last evening.

A few weeks ago I bought a ticket from the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture to hear the workings of Khari Wendell McClelland, Freedom Singer. This amazing musician “traces his ancestors’ path to freedom through music”. His research took him from Vancouver to Halifax where he was able to find lyrics and stories about African-Americans, specifically his great-great-great-grandmother Kizzy escaping slavery to start a new life in Canada. It was a touching, poignant story and one that moved everyone in the room.

We met in the KIAC ballroom, a small venue and I’m not sure how many were in attendance but the room was full. The evening was started in the right tone when Peter Menzies, a local musician and volunteer extraordinaire, someone who works tirelessly in his community, introduced Khari and his team of Noah Walker and Tanika Charles. Peter spoke of the power of the small but mighty community of Dawson City that recognizes the humanity of each of us and our inherent rights. And then the music and story-telling began.

The songs that African-Americans sang were coded language within oppression to share messages of hope. The songs were maps to freedom.

Khari quoted James Baldwin, an American writer and social critic. “Our crown has already been bought and paid for all we have to do is wear it.” We are born worthy.

He reminded us to be careful of the narrative of the Underground Railroad and African-Americans being fugitives before they found freedom. The story in our history books tends to paint the picture of weak blacks, victims with strong white people saving the day. We must remember that these slaves, these fugitives rewrote their own history, with their courage and lives sacrificed they created their own freedom. He also reminded us any positive change, any breaking free requires discomfort, requires sacrifice.

We closed the evening with all of us singing Bill Withers’ Lean On Me and I am certain that everyone in that room believed the lyrics they were singing.

I am beyond grateful for Peter Menzies for buoying me up and for Khari and his team for giving me hope and insight.  If you get the chance to be witness to the story that is Khari Wendell McClellan, Freedom Singer, jump at it.

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September 29, 2017

When I was walking the other day I came upon an elderly woman walking her dog. Her pace was slow, her back bent and her legs bowed. Her dog had a similar pace and body structure. I slowed my pace so as not to startle her and stayed behind her until she turned into her own yard. Well, when I walked by her house today I caught her in the act. She was splitting firewood. She lifted her very large axe over her head and slammed it down on the wood and voila, it split perfectly. Not a scene you see every day and note to self: never underestimate anyone.

Then I was walking along the dike and hitch-hiking on the side of the road were two young men looking very much like courier de bois. These weren’t just your average every day hitch-hikers. They were hitch-hiking with large packs and … wait for it … their canoe. They held up a sign that said “Whitehorse”, so they were hopeful that someone with a half-ton would come along willing to take them and their canoe the six-hour drive to Whitehorse. I admired their positive thinking. No one stopped while I was walking, but I wished them luck. I went by a few hours later and they were gone and so was their canoe.

It’s Friday. As I walked home from the grocery store I watched people making plans for the evening and for the weekend and for just a moment I felt very strange, very alone. That’s okay; being alone is a good thing.

I wish I had a photo of the woman chopping wood and I hope I can chop wood when I am her age.

The nights are cooling down. The river looks colder and winter is whispering. “I’m coming for you,” it is saying. Well, winter, bring it on. I’ve got my parka ready.


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September 28, 2017

A lovely day. I took myself out for breakfast, which is always nice. The coffee is good, not the pathetic excuse for coffee I create most mornings. I just don’t have the knack. Sadly.

I felt the urge to do some math so I figured out how many rolls of toilet paper I would need before departure. Twenty-one. I knew you’d want to know.

I hiked my usual route, scared the bears off with my choice of music. I’ve never known a bear to like Andrea Bocelli’s version of The Lord’s Prayer though they may enjoy the beat of Bruno Mars Uptown Funk. Nothing says hike like The Lord’s Prayer. I jest.

When I had climbed to my highest lookout point, I turned my gaze below me and watched the tractors and graders and loaders working at the river’s edge, readying for winter I suspect. West Dawson is a community on the other side of the Yukon River. During freeze-up and break-up these residents are stranded on the other side of the river until the ice is firm enough to support an ice road. So it is during October that they stock up on supplies and groceries and I was told they don’t consider this a hardship, but rather a welcome challenge to have isolation and hunker down, a bit like a self-imposed hibernation. I’m not sure how long they must wait for the ice to be firm enough but I’m thinking it would be a reasonable length of time what with the current in the river being as strong as it is.

A couple of ravens were having their Thursday meeting on my roof this morning and I was quite certain a couple of elephants were wandering around up there. I expected one to crash through into the living room, but alas when I went out to check it was just ravens and they looked quite pleased with themselves before flying away.

The leaves have mostly gone from the trees and the bright yellow beacon of the birch have faded, I’m sad to report. I feel a slight trepidation for what is to come, weather wise. I’d best buckle up.



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September 25, 2017

The day started out a bit dreary, overcast and rain off and on, but by afternoon it had cleared and was quite lovely out so … I took to the Ninth Avenue Walking Trail. Every day since I got here I have been admiring the white lichen that grows in abundance at the top of the trail beneath the Moosehide Slide.


It is as if lace is growing on the ground. This is Caribou Moss (Cladina species). I found this: “Lichens absorb their food and water through their surface cells, making them an easy target for pollutants in industrial areas.  An area with a healthy lichen population is one with pure clean air.” Well, it grows in abundance around Dawson City so .. I’m guessing the air is very pure and clean here.

caribou moss

caribou moss 2


Remember that building I took a photo of but had no idea what it was and further study was required?  Well, it is the:

Palace Grand Theatre sign

The Palace Grand Theatre has been under restoration for the past two summers and it is hoped to be operational next year. The townspeople are looking forward to the opening of this wonderful theatre.

The Palace Grand Theatre was built in 1899 and was a “lavish theatre in the wilderness”. The Dawson City gold rush boom died almost as quickly as it started. As a result, Arizona Charlie Meadows (who built the theatre) sold it for $17,000 in 1901, which was less than a third of its original cost of construction. “The Palace Grand Theatre was saved from destruction by the Klondike Visitor’s Association in 1959 and was donated to the National Historic Parks branch of the Canadian government, who began replication of the theatre in the early 1960’s.”


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September 23, 2017

I had an adventure today. I went along with students from the School of Visual Art in Dawson City and we boarded a lovely bus with Jeffrey Langille at the wheel and we headed off through the fog to Forty Mile, the oldest settlement in the Yukon and where the Tr’ondek Hwech’in had their first settlement.

foggy start Sep 23

We were on our way to the Tr’ondek Hwech’in Fall Harvest Camp. I wasn’t sure what to expect, what it was they would be harvesting. But once I arrived I thought to myself, ‘Ahh yes, of course.”

They were harvesting moose and fish to be ready for winter. The young woman explained to us how they use all the parts of the moose save a small piece of hide and a few internal organs. They thank the moose for giving his life to sustain them and sharing the meat is of utmost importance.

We saw the first Mission School in the Yukon at Forty Mile.

first Mission School 40 Mile Sep 23

And a short distance from the school was the first Northwest Mounted Police detachment.

first Northwest Mounted Police station at Forty Mile

And then next door to that was the Telegraph Station. The site is a designated Heritage Site and interpretive signs provide information as to the original stories of Forty Mile.

original telegraph station Forty Mile

Forty Mile community is where the Fortymile River flows into the Yukon River. A rainbow welcomed our arrival.

Fortymile River at Yukon River at Forty Mile

The Yukon River upstream from Fortymile River.

Yukon River at 40 Mile Sep 23

And then we were on our way home.

path in to 40 Mile

The fog had cleared for the drive home. And one does get the sense that we were at the Top Of The World. An absolutely lovely day


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September 19, 2017

There was a bite to the air this morning as I took myself out for breakfast and to buy a loaf of bread from the bakery. The food at the Cheechako’s Bake Shop is delicious and as I sat eating my breakfast patrons were discussing their upcoming escape to a warm relaxing climate involving a beach, a well-earned rest after a very busy summer, no doubt. I will be sad when the Bake Shop closes in a few weeks.

Riley, a local gardener who takes care of the Berton House flowers etc, came yesterday and pulled out the withered plants and tidied up the gardens. She had her able-bodied four-legged assistant with her. She picked me a lovely bouquet from the remaining blooms. So very thoughtful.

bouquet from garden

So I walked … and walked … and

 view from Moosehide Slide Sept 19

ferry Sept 19

Yukon River Sept 19

This building has been restored, but I don’t know by whom or for what purpose.  Further study required.

building Dawson Sept 19

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