Whitehorse…..the capital of the Yukon Territory. Population is approximately 28,000. It is the largest city in Northern Canada and the only city in Yukon! Whitehorse was reported by ‘Guinness World Records’ as being the city with the least air pollution in the world!!! It is situated along the Yukon River.
One of the top attractions in Whitehorse is the SS Klondike National Historic Site. The Klondike was built in 1929 and was the largest sternwheeler on the Yukon River. With a cargo area 50% larger than the rest, it could carry 300 tons! It ran aground in 1936 and the salvaged parts were used to build a new ship, identical to the first, launched in 1937. She carried mail, general supplies, passengers and silver lead ore between Whitehorse and Dawson City until 1955 when she was retired.
She was powered by steam. Along the route there would be stops to bring more wood on board to be able to carry on the journey. Due to the strong current of the Yukon River, the upstream trip to Dawson City took 4 to 5 days, while the trip back only took one and a half days.
The self guided tour takes you through most of the ship, however the main dining room was closed for renovations while we were there. It looked like dining on board would have been a very luxurious experience!
Whitehorse has many impressive museums besides the Klondike. We particularly liked the Transportation Museum.
They featured so many areas of the Yukon history, too many to mention. Almost 300 commercial steamboats worked the Yukon River over the years, they have the Neecheah on display.
One thing of interest was the ‘most famous truck in Yukon’. Andy Hoopers truck was a well known ‘work horse truck’ used to move buildings, among other things! He bragged it could move anything! It was first brought to Yukon by Canadian Military during WW2.
Life in the early days was hard and isolated. In 1920 a group of women began the Canadian Sunday School Caravan Mission, to provide Anglican Sunday School to children in these isolated communities in the western provinces. The ‘vanners’ were usually 2 British ladies, one trained in religion, and one a driver and mechanic. The vans were equipped with beds and camping gear, to be their home for the summer months. In 1949 they incorporated the Alaska Highway into their frontier services. These vans operated until the early 1970’s!
One of the other museums we found impressive was the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Center, which traces the Ice Age in northern and central Yukon. 20,000 years ago North America and Asia were connected by a land bridge. Part of a longer, unglaciated area called Beringia. Grasslands flourished providing feeding grounds for a wide variety of animals. Some stayed in N. America, some returned to Asia, and some disappeared forever. They feature a full size skeleton of a Woolly Mammoth.
During early mining in Yukon, bones and skeletons were routinely dug up and discarded, it is not until more recently that the mining companies and the Archaeologists began to work together to preserve these ancient remains.
Today much of the attraction of Whitehorse is the outdoor lifestyle. Areas like Miles Canyon have great hiking, rafting and boating. It is hard to imagine those big sternwheelers navigating down these narrow channels!
Float planes are also popular for scenic tours as well as to fly fishermen into remote lakes for fishing.
I could go on and on about what to see and do in Whitehorse, it is a wonderful city and I wish we could have spent more time there! They have ‘real’ shopping!! If you have been to the Yukon you will know what I mean! There is Canadian Tire, Superstore, Independent , and Walmart, with the same prices as at home, unlike all the other areas we stopped in where the cost of groceries was very high.
But it is time to move on a little further north up the Klondike Highway! One of the first stops along this route was the Braeburn Lodge, taste test # 2 for Cinnamon Buns!!
Yes….this is just ONE cinnamon bun! Needless to say you could not eat the whole thing in one sitting, although I am sure some have tried!!
Until next time!