The Yukon, arts, culture & adventures!
my amazing adventures in whitehorse
I spent two and half days in the city of Whitehorse experiencing arts and culture, adventures and amazing culinary.
I stayed at the The Westmark Whitehorse Hotel located in the heart of the city. The hotel is a strong supporter of Yukon Pride and is proud to welcome LGTBQ guests. The rooms are spacious and comfortable. There is a full-service restaurant and lounge. I found the staff to be very courteous and friendly, it’s worth mentioning at this point that hotel rates are some of the lowest in the country. There are many hotel options centrally located in the downtown area.
There’s a lot to see and do in the Yukon!
How The Yukon Was Born
I highly recommend your first stop should be the “Beringia Interpretive Centre” I found this centre fascinating and really helpful in understanding what happened in the area during the Ice Age. Vast glaciers covered most of northern North America. Global sea levels dropped as much as 100 -150 metres, revealing the floor of the Bering Sea creating a connection of land between Alaska and Siberia. This land bridge was part of the area now called Beringia, an area stretching from the Yukon to Siberia. Ice age Beringia was home to a diverse, and yet unique mix of strange and familiar animals. The exhibits are well laid out, some interactive; you leave with great knowledge and an understanding of how the Yukon was born.
Beringia Interperitive Center
Finding My Inner Artist
Another unique stop is “Arts Underground.” This is not only an art gallery but also an interactive arts studio, offering workshops and drop in classes. I had my very first (and only one so far) lesson in creating art in glass. The instructor showed me how to take pieces of coloured broken glass to create a picture or image - a glass mosaic. I surprised myself and didn’t do too bad.
Arts Underground is a community space dedicated to the exploration, teaching and presentation of visual arts and heritage through a partnership between the Yukon Art Society (YAS), Yukon Arts Centre (YAC), Friends of the Yukon Archives Society (FOYAS) and MacBride Museum of Yukon History.
Moving Around In History
The Yukon Transportation Museum brings to life the transportation history in the Yukon and follows the stories of the early bush pilots as they struggled to make a community access easier. At the Yukon Transportation Museum, you will see, read, and hear about the rich history of the north through lively stories and the interesting, detailed and surprising size of displays. “Hike” the Chilkoot trail alongside the intrepid stampeders as they forged their way by boat, foot and train to make it to the storied riches of Yukon’s Klondike gold fields. Hear the tales of the people that shaped the Alaska Highway, the road is still essential to life in Canada’s famous Yukon.
Yukon Transportation Museum provides a glimpse of stories of people moving themselves, their possessions, and their ideas through a vast landscape and ever-changing seasons. There are stories of love, loss, riches, ingenuity, devastation, adventure, fear, separation, and joy. They show us how and why people have been moving over this land for thousands of years.
Yukon Transportation Museum
High Flying Adventures
I boarded a Horizon Helicopter for a flight to Sky High Wilderness Ranch; we flew up in to the hills above Whitehorse (30-minute drive by car) and landed in the midst of this rustic wilderness. It was like stepping back in time, totally off the grid no telephones, Internet, electricity, or television. They advertise the ranch as the “Adventure of a Lifetime” - it definitely is that for sure.
Colin and new friend
Colin made friends with a retired Husky
They offer dog sled and horseback adventures with guides and overnight camps as well as cabin and lodge stay packages. They have 150 dogs and 24 horses, a retired husky that I became great friends until it was time for me to visit the outhouse, what an amazing animal.
You can also go hiking, fishing, canoeing, and kayaking.
Sky High Wilderness Horizon Helicopters
Cruising Through Miles Canyon
Cruising the Miles Canyon
Cruising the Miles Canyon with Up North Adventures
Up North Adventures took us on an awe-inspiring cruise on Schwatka Lake and through Miles Canyon - it was so peaceful, a landscape of ever changing vegetation and rocks, scenery was stunning. Up North Adventures is a local award winning adventure travel outfitter that offers many exciting experiences from snowmobiling, ice fishing in the winter to canoeing, kayaking and boating in the long sunny days of summer.
Up North Adventures
Celebrating Yukon First Nations Heritage
Situated on the banks of the Yukon River, the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre is a place where First Nations celebrate their heritage and contemporary way of life. The building is an architectural masterpiece representing and preserving the Kwanlin Dün First Nation people and also a gathering place for people of all cultures. It’s a cultural experience for everyone to see how they have revived, and preserved their language, values and traditional way of life.
The centre plays host to the annual Adäka Cultural Festival in July. Adäka means “coming into the light” in the Southern Tutchone language. The Festival is committed to shining a light on the creative spirit of Yukon First Nations people, helping to preserve and revitalize their arts and culture, while inspiring artists and youth to take pride in their heritage and communities. The Centre offers a picturesque location for conferences, galas, cultural festivals and memorable weddings.
Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre
Dawson City’s Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre
North of Whitehorse, in Dawson City, Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre is the gateway to Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in heritage. The Centre is a meeting place for cultural activities, performances and special events that celebrate their traditions and how they live today. Dänojà Zho is open year-round with visitor programs and activities in the summer season. From May to September, they provide guided tours of the Hammerstone Gallery to share their perspective on the gold rush era. Each summer the Gathering Room hosts a new exhibition that reflects their vibrant and rich culture. The Hän speaking group of people known as Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in lived and travelled in a large area of the Yukon River valley spanning the Yukon-Alaska border. The tour is very informative and again reflects the heritage of the region.
Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre
Delightful Food and Drink
Culinary Experiences in Whitehorse are both plentiful and unique, and you are sure to find what you are looking for. Either food type or ambiance and remember all restaurants welcome LGBTQ visitors with respect and inclusion.
Antoinette’s - Restaurant and Bar
On entering Antoinette's, my eyes took in the unique architecturally, locally built restaurant and bar. It is very colourful and reminded me of a calypso type design relaxing and fun. The lovely mosaic tiled floor leads you to the dining room, they also have a great outdoor area.
Rack of lamb at Antoinette's
This meal was second to none!
The cuisine is a mix of Nouveau Canadian, Latin, East Indian, Thai, and Vegetarian (some with a Caribbean infusion).
I am a great lover of lamb so when my eyes spotted the Rack of Lamb there was no debate on what my choice was going to be. I can honestly say it was the best rack of lamb I have ever had, moist not over cooked just perfect – Kudos to Antoinette.
They are also noted for their many featured Martini’s.
Burnt Toast Café
Lunch at Burnt Toast Café was another great food experience, atmosphere is clean and minimalistic and very popular with locals.
They refer to their food as Eclectic and that really does sum up the menu, they also have a good selection of wines and imported beer.
Lunch menu Highlights are Alaskan Smoked Salmon Salad and a good selection from the Panini Grill.
I chose Guacamole grilled cheese which was a great new taste experience for me.
For a small additional charge, you can request Gluten free bread, bun or wrap. I highly recommend Burnt Toast Café for a relaxed laid back meal.
Burnt Toast Cafe
The Wheelhouse Restaurant – Upscale Dining
My next dining experience was at The Wheelhouse Restaurant an upscale restaurant located in a newly constructed building known as Waterfront Station. This building of modern, distinctive design, which commands a compelling street presence on Second Avenue, is located adjacent to the Waterfront Trolley Line, Millennium Trail, and the Yukon River. It has a great atmosphere of Yukon heritage with 1930’s era décor offering a comfortable and welcoming feeling. Located on the banks of the Yukon River just 200 yards downstream from Shipyard’s Park, and in the City of Whitehorse with its sternwheeler logo, it’s fitting that lends for stunning views.
The varied menu has some really different dishes such as bison shepherds pie, which was my entrée choice. It was excellent in flavor and texture. For my appetizer I chose pan seared scallops with smoked tomato & caper relish, pork cracklings & birch-balsamic reduction – outstanding. They also have an extensive wine list and cocktail selection.
The MacBride Museum holds a collection of nearly 30,000 artifacts, documents, and photographs. The museum collects items that are of historical significance to Yukon and Yukoners. This is yet another fascinating example of learning about the growth and hardships people encountered in the early days of living in the Yukon. It’s a place where you can spend a long time viewing the exhibits, viewing the old photographs and talking to staff who are very knowledgeable. The museum illustrates Yukon’s history, with a focus on the role of Whitehorse in the development of the Territory. Not long after my visit it was showcased to Prince William and Kate during their royal visit to the Yukon.
White Pass & Yukon Train
One experience I was unable to take but is really worth mentioning is the “White Pass & Yukon Train” I heard it is an amazing trip with some of the world’s finest scenery. Although now commonplace, shipping goods in large containers was once just the aspiration of a little railway company based in Yukon and Alaska. Originally established to service the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898, the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway (WP&YR) linked the port town of Skagway, Alaska to Whitehorse, Yukon.
White Pass and Yukon Train
Trip of a Lifetime
The Yukon is a beautiful and rugged part of Canada, with so much to do, warm and friendly people, so for any of the LGBTQ travelling population who are looking for a unique and adventurous vacation, this needs to be on the top of your bucket list.
This was a trip that will always stay in my memory, I intend returning to experience it all again – may even go horseback riding my first time ever.
I would highly recommend you check out www.travelyukon.com and http://whatsupyukon.com/ these websites are full of information including restaurants, events and places to stay.
I cannot finish without thanking my hosts Alida and Coralie of Yukon Convention Bureau, and Yukon Tourism, Air North and their partners for making this a once in a lifetime experience for me.
Editor in Chief
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