Big City Tales

The Call of the Wild in Whitehorse | February 17, 2018

In a region where critters actually outnumber humans, the Yukon Territory truly is where the wild things are but a quick trip to the capital city of Whitehorse revealed a highly civilized and very friendly environment as well.

For anyone who has been hearing the ‘call of the wild’ but has yet to answer and explore Canada’s north, Whitehorse and surrounding area is a good place to start. 

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Majestic Mountains

While much of Canada’s north is flat tundra, there are many majestic mountain ranges.

The Saint Elias mountains along the western border of the Yukon are noteworthy for being the home of Mount Logan, which is Canada’s highest peak, and for being snow-capped throughout the year.

On clear days, the mountains in all their glory are visible on flights into Whitehorse and certainly paint an inviting picture of the beautiful and epic northern landscape.

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MacBride Museum of Yukon History

If your preference is museum exhibitions over mountain expeditions, the MacBride Museum is a recommended venue that offers a taste of the ‘great outdoors’ in a controlled indoor environment.

From the early beginnings of its First Nations people to the intrepid northern explorers who sought to conquer the land and strike gold, the museum pays homage to many of the Yukon’s bravest and most colourful characters.

Located along Whitehorse’s quaint and picturesque Front Street, the museum houses close to 30,000 historical and cultural artifacts.

Gold, Gold and More Gold

The ‘Gold to Government’ exhibit winds along the Yukon River that is painted on the museum’s floor. The exhibit tells the story of early prospecting efforts that gave rise to the Klondike Gold Rush in the late 1890s and the eventual establishment of a formal government and capital city in Whitehorse some 50 years later.

As the gateway to the Klondike, prospectors stocked up with basic necessities in Whitehorse before heading out on the long haul journey to Dawson City. The General Store offered a wide array of goods and the Miner’s Saloon served as the local watering hole where some celebrated their success; while others drowned their sorrows. Other amenities included a hospital, barber shop, confectionery and road house.

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Critters, Critters and More Critters

Another main attraction of the MacBride Museum is the Wild World exhibit that showcases the most common mammals and birds found in the Yukon, depicting them in their natural habitats and all their life-size glory.

The standing grizzly bear is seven feet tall and the antler span of the grown male moose is up to six feet.

Population-wise, there are 170,000 majestic caribou in the Yukon, along with 70,000 moose and 17,000 bears.

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Indigenous People

With a total of 14 First Nations groups calling the Yukon home, native history, art and culture feature prominently in the MacBride Museum and in other Whitehorse venues.

The Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre, situated along the banks of the Yukon River, celebrates the traditions, language, values and practices of the Kwanlin Dun First Nations people. The centre is also a gathering place for all cultures to come and learn about the unique aspects of the Kwanlin Dun, participate in festive ceremonies and observe canoe carving techniques with traditional hand tools.

A True Local and National Treasure

Home of  largest sternwheeler vessel to travel the Canadian waters of the Yukon River between Whitehorse and Dawson Creek, the S.S. Klondike National Historic Site pays tribute to the glory days of river transportation.

The S.S. Klondike was indeed a mighty vessel. Its sternwheel design gave it incredible power to haul silver-lead ore, as well as general goods and passengers.  Another notable distinction was that one of its pilots was the only First Nations man to ever obtain Master papers.

Building Art

One of the most interesting and unique aspects of Whitehorse is the large number of murals painted on building exteriors. Ranging from small to large and covering historical to contemporary subject matter, the murals definitely add a lot of colour and character to the city’s streets.

One of the largest murals (and the first to be painted) is found in the parking lot behind the Hougen’s retail complex on Main Street.  Painted to look like a frontier main street during the filming of a movie in 1993, old-fashioned storefronts and a vintage pick-up truck make up the main scenes.

Depictions of the Klondike Gold Rush are also prevalent, along with First Nation, riverboat and train transportation, and general wilderness exploration themes.

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Land of Midnight Sun 

During the summer months, the natural phenomenon of the ‘midnight sun’ is experienced in the Yukon offering extended daylight.

There’s no need for flashlights, headlights or reading lamps in the late evening/early morning hours, which makes for ample time to explore the wonderful wilderness that lies beyond Whitehorse.

Due west of the city along the historic Alaska Highway is Kluane National Park and Reserve that offers mountains, glaciers, forests and lakes in over 22,000 square kilometres of wide open space.

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1 Comment »

  1. As a Canadian, I always feel bad about how little of our northern regions I’ve discovered. Hopefully I’ll get to visit soon!

    Comment by Carly | FearlessFemaleTravels.com — February 17, 2018 @ 12:39 pm


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