The Start of the Yukon Quest 2017 Sled Dog Race

Yesterday was the start of Yukon Quest 2017. It was a long, exciting day, and I’m posting some photos from the hundreds I shot, with few captions. It was a short night and we’ll be off to Skagway and Haines early this morning, so at this point there’s no time, but I’ll fill in more information when I have time.

I took the group over the Shipyards Park early so they got a chance to wander among the teams and rigs, and meet some dogs and mushers if they choose to.

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1
This rig belongs to Brian Wilmshurst. Hailing from Dawson City, he’s running his fifth Yukon Quest this year.

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1
Hank DeBruin, a 54-year-old Yukon Quest veteran, has come all the way from Haliburton, Ontario, with his gorgeous team of Siberian huskies.

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon
Race veterinarians seem to be everywhere, checking on the dogs.

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon
This is the 11th Yukon Quest for Brent Sass (4th from the left) of Eureka, Alaska.

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon
For those people who are really into mushing, this is a great opportunity to check out new ideas in equipment (like this sled from Dog Paddle Designs), or new ideas about how to use old equipment.

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon
At 10:15, it was time to go and find a good spot to watch the start. As I generally do, I went to a bit of a curve and hill where the track goes down onto the Yukon River ice.

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon
Looking back to the start line at 10:25…

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon

The bib/starting numbers for the race are:
1 – Jessie Royer
2 – Yuka Honda
3 – Ben Good
4 – Rob Cooke
5 – Sebastien Dos Santos Borges
6 – Jason Campeau
7 – Paige Drobny
8 – Allen Moore
9 – Hugh Neff
10 – Gaetan Pierrard
11 – Laura Neese
12 – Ed Stielstra
13 – Dave Dalton
14 – Brent Sass
15 – Ryne Olson
16 – Brian Wilmshurst
17 – Hank DeBruin
18 – Ed Hopkins
19 – Katherine Keith
20 – Matt Hall
21 – Torsten Kohnert

Mushers start 3 minutes apart. At 11:03, here comes #2, 44-year-old Yuka Honda from Japan, running her third Yukon Quest.

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon
At 11:06, #3 is Ben Good, a 37-year-old Yukon Quest rookie from North Pole, Alaska.

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon
This is Sebastien Dos Santos Borges’ leaders – as of Sunday morning at 06:10, he’s at Braeburn Lodge, in 19th place.

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon
It’s all about the love. Michelle Philips and Ed Hopkins at the Yukon Quest 1000 start. Michelle is now running the Yukon Quest 300, and will meet Ed in Dawson. And my group and I will be there to see both of them πŸ™‚

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon
After a leisurely lunch, we all went out to a cabin belonging to a friend of Jeremy’s, overlooking the Takhini River about half an hour hour (by van) west of Whitehorse. This is always a great place to go down onto the river ice to watch the race’s progress, and relax around a big fire with some beer and wine.

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon
Ryne Olson is always beaming when she’s with her dogs.

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon
Heather and Vi taking the really easy way back up to the cabin! πŸ™‚

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon
A final look at the wonderful view before we drove back into Whitehorse. We’d finish off the day with dinner at one of the top restaurants in Whitehorse, Antoinette’s.

Yukon Quest 2017 - Day 1, Whitehorse, Yukon


A day of dog sledding – a superb Yukon adventure

Today was our day for what is always the highlight for most if not all of our guests – a day of dog sledding on Lake Laberge with Ned and Jeninne Cathers of Cathers Wilderness Adventures.

The temperature was about -24° (-11°F) when we arrived, with a very slight north wind. That’s pretty much a perfect day for good snow conditions and comfortable dogs. There was a bit of confusion at our end about where we were to meet the Cathers, but we got it sorted out fairly quickly, and when we arrived, the four teams of huskies were ready to go, and being very vocal about what they’d like to see happen as soon as possible.

Our sled dog team awaits us in the Yukon
Ned tried to give the group some instructions, but his choir made that really difficult, so they moved down onto the lake where Ned could be heard πŸ™‚

Ned Cathers giving instructions for a day of dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
Seeing most of the people walking away did nothing to calm the dogs down!

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon, with Cathers Wilderness Adventures
Two snowmobiles were used to bring the dogs and sleds across the lake from the Cathers’ home, and then down onto the lake once we were all ready. Keeping them up in the trees until needed provides shelter and a bit of confinement.

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
It takes a while to get everybody organized and ready to go.

Getting ready to go dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
This is the team that Jeremy and I would take, with Cirrus and her mother Storm in lead.

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
Next in line in our team was Pipe, a handsome, powerful, and independent boy. Exactly the sort of husky that I’m particularly drawn to.

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
All set to be off on the adventure!

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
Oh no, a flat tire!! But it was okay – they self-heal quickly πŸ™‚

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
And the first team is off headed east towards the south end of Richthofen Island, which we’d circle.

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
How “Yukon” is that scene? The vibe was as wonderful as the scenery – good company and wonderful dogs on an adventure amid stunning scenery.

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
Team number four on the way, with me in the sled so I can take photos more easily. Snowmobiles are okay, but given a choice, I’ll pick a dog sled every time. As soon as you start moving, huskies go dead quiet. You can yell like hell that you want to get going, but once the humans listen to you, work is the focus. Like snowmobiles, though, their exhaust is quite foul!

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
Ned, Jennine, and handler Bob were always nearby on the snowmobiles when any advice or assistance was needed by any of the rookie mushers.

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon

Snow machine on Lake Laberge, Yukon
Some conversation, some encouragement to the dogs, and a whole lot of just listening to the sound of the runners on the hard snow, and marvelling at the experience.

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
I don’t recall ever being around to the east side of Richthofen Island, where the ruins of the Middle Laberge Roadhouse can still be seen.

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
Back on the west side of the island, heading south.

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
When the trail split, the call “GEE!” would get Smoke and Cirrus to lead the team to the right. Often, Cirrus would glance back to make sure that she made the right choice, and always got “good work!” or “good job!” in response. This is the relationship that I love most about this sport.

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
We took a bit of a shortcut, which took us past this team.

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
Pulling into the bay where we’d make a lengthy stop for lunch.

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
I didn’t see any dogs who looked like they needed, or even particularly wanted, to stop πŸ™‚

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
But, the sun was warm, and everyone soon settled down. This is my boy Pipe again.

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
I quickly discovered that my beautiful little lead dog, Cirrus, is as soft and cuddly at break time as she is smart and hard-working when it’s time to get the sled going.

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
A fire was soon going…

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
..the hot chocolate and apple cider was poured…

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
…and hot dogs were cooking. Everything tastes better over and around a campfire, doesn’t it?

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
While some of the kids stayed alert to what was going on around the camp…

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
…others couldn’t have cared less.

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
In 1989, Jeninne decided to run the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest race, and at 18, became the youngest person to ever finish the race. That also made Ned and Jeninne the first father-daughter team to run the race. She went on to run the race 5 more times, and has plenty of stories from the trails to keep people entertained, as well as being a very efficient hostess as well.

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
Ned first ran the Quest the year before Jeninne, and ran it a total of 10 times. In 1997, he won the award that impresses me the most, the Vet’s Choice Award for the best dog care during the race.

Ned Cathers, our mushing guide in the Yukon
The dogs were the first ones to start hinting that it might be about time to break camp and get going again.

Husky sled dogs on Lake Laberge, Yukon
Cirrus completed her “Most Adorable Husky” package with the most wonderful voice a husky can have. It wasn’t a bark, it wasn’t a howl, she was talking, encouraging us to get our stuff together and hit the trail.

Husky sled dog on Lake Laberge, Yukon
It really takes a video to show you the sounds and the feel of mushing, so here’s a bit of the preparations for, and the start of, the return trip.


I only shot a few photos on the way back to the truck.

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
We spent a lot time talking back in the forest. It had been an absolutely perfect day, and it felt like nobody wanted it to end. But, end it did.

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon

Tomorrow, the Yukon Quest begins, and that will be our focus for the day, in the dog yard, at the start line, and then out along the Takhini River.



Seeing Whitehorse, and the Yukon Quest Start Banquet

Yesterday was a long day, starting with a tour of Whitehorse at 09:00, and I got home from the Yukon Quest Start Banquet at about 10:00.

There’s a lot see to get a good impression of what life in Whitehorse is like, and 4 hours never turns out to be enough time. One of our early stops was at the Visitor Information Centre in Whitehorse to see the film “As the Crow Flies”. It’s getting awfully dated from a local’s perspective (it was made in about 1992), but gives an excellent look at the Yukon and the people who choose to call it home. The scene below is from a Tatshenshini rafting trip.

Tatshenshini rafting trip
Our longest stop was at the Yukon Transportation Museum, where we spent an hour (and it could easily have been much longer). On their Web page, I shot the video of “The World’s Biggest Wind Vane” that forms the background of the home page.

Yukon Transportation Museum

The group got about 4 hours free time to have lunch and explore, and at 5:30 I drove them over to the banquet, which appeared to me to have the largest attendance yet.

This video is from the formal introduction of the 21 mushers in this year’s 1,000-mile “World’s Toughest Sled Dog Race”, led by some of the Canadian Rangers who build the trail on the Canadian side.


Those are the people who get people so excited about what they’re doing that they travel from all over the world to watch.

Yukon Quest 2017 mushers
The introductory speeches were all keep fairly short. This is our newly-elected Minister of Tourism and Culture, Jeanie Dendys.

Yukon Minister of Tourism and Culture, Jeanie Dendys
Entertainment at the event is always good, but when Grant Simpson came onstage, I knew that it was going to be extra special. He’s been the force driving the Frantic Follies vaudeville show for the past few decades. Audience participation is always part of the show, and “Cathy from Edmonton” got swept off her feet by a romantic Mountie in this skit. πŸ™‚

Grant Simpson in a Yukon Quest skit
The Mountie’s huskies weren’t too eager to take the sled anywhere – when they laid down, the Mountie said that they must be Frank Turner’s dogs (Frank, now retired from racing, is a legendary Yukon Quest musher).

Huskies in a Yukon Quest skit
Dale Cooper, best known for her work with the Frantic Follies.


Seeing Grant Simpson, Dale Cooper, and Hank Karr perform together was amazing. The lady in pink, whose name I don’t know, ended up on my knee for a minute as part of the show! πŸ™‚ Jeremy got a photo that I’ll add here when I get a copy.


Hank Karr is one of the Yukon’s gems, and his “Yukon-style” songs are often heard around the territory, especially as background music in tourist operations. He closed with “After Yukon”, which you can hear on Youtube.

Hank Karr

The main reason for the banquet is for the mushers to pull their starting positions for Saturday’s race. I don’t often get so wrapped up in what’s going on that I forget to take photos, but that’s what happened – the photo of Hank was the last one of the night πŸ™‚ The Yukon Quest Facebook page has a good album from last night.

In just over an hour, I’ll be heading into town to meet the group, and we’ll be spending the day mushing out on Lake Laberge. Two years ago, we had a wind chill of -42°C for this event, but the forecast for today is much better!



Last puppy, cemetery research, and starting a Yukon Quest tour

It’s been 3 weeks since I’ve talked to you, but it’s not because I’ve just been sitting around watching TV and drinking beer.

When I wrote back on December 17th, that our puppy-fostering had reached a happy conclusion with everyone having found a forever-home, I was a bit ahead of myself as it turned out. Two weeks later, on December 30, I got a call saying that another of Blue’s puppies needed a better home. He’d been adopted before YARN and I got involved, and it hadn’t worked out – a foster was needed until a new home was found. We of course agreed to take him.

The boy we called Peanut turned out to be my favourite of all 8, and he was with us for 22 wonderful days. Letting him go was extremely difficult and I tried many times to rationalize keeping him, but he has a great home in Dawson now.

My foster puppy Peanut
Once I got de-puppied, my attention turned back to history. A discussion on Facebook led me to discovering that in my collection I have about 700 photos of graves and cemeteries, most of them in the Yukon, Alaska, the NWT, and northern BC. So, I started building Northern Cemeteries and Graves pages on ExploreNorth. I got about 1/3 of the way through them when the date to begin guiding a Yukon Quest tour arrived.

Yukon cemeteries Web pages
The tour I’m guiding is organized by Jerry Van Dyke Travel, a company I’ve been working with for many years. There’s a long list of reasons that this is the only tour I still guide for. Yesterday, February 1st, I picked up my tour van from Driving Force and to keep things comfortable in the van, a trailer for our suitcases and the extra winter gear that’s supplied for our guests. I drove down to the SS Klondike to get this “start-of-the-tour” photo, and then went home to await the 3:30pm flight.

Jerry Van Dyke Travel van at the SS Klondike
The temperature was sitting at -24°C (-11°F) by the time I got everything together. That’s pretty much the perfect temperature for the Yukon Quest sled dog race, and to get a great “Yukon” experience. This was the Yukon River in front of the SS Klondike.

The Yukon River at Whitehorse in February
Lots of papers and other important stuff to keep track of.


Murphy’s Law – the longer your day has been, the more likely that your last flight of the day will be delayed.

Late flight

The group is staying at the Westmark Whitehorse. We normally allow for a rest before dinner, but the delayed flight eliminated that. A small group (6 people) makes the initial meeting much easier, and a good dinner put the Yukon part of the trip off to a fine start.

At 7:30, we drove up to the Meet the Mushers event, always a fun event that sets the stage well for the main event. Each of our guests sponsors a mile on the race route, thus joining the Thousand Mile Club and getting a very nice jacket, and also sponsors a musher. This event allows them to meet the musher they’ve sponsored.


There was cake, too! πŸ™‚


With clear skies and a very good aurora forecast, I offered to take anyone who was interested out on an aurora hunt at 01:00. On the way back to the hotel, I stopped at the SS Klondike to set my camera up and make sure everything was working okay.


I drove about 20 km west on the Alaska Highway, far from the lights of the city, and we spent about an hour waiting, and watching a fairly faint aurora trying to make a good show. This was about as good as it got, but it was still a good experience (I think).


Day 2 begins as soon as I post this – a city tour this morning, and the Yukon Quest start banquet tonight.



A Dog’s Purpose – the movie and our experience with Reincarnation

This morning, a friend sent me the trailer for the movie “A Dog’s Purpose” that’s going to be released on January 27th. I’d seen it before, but its theme of reincarnation really struck a deep chord with me this morning. Click on the video below to watch it to start off.



I first had an experience with human reincarnation during a violent storm on the North Sea off the coast of Germany in 1991, and maybe some day I’ll tell you about that. Shortly after watching the trailer, though, I came across this photo of my Kayla, and the look in her eyes made me decide to tell you about our personal experience with canine reincarnation.

Kayla looking into my soul

My belief about reincarnation is pretty simple. First, reincarnation is earned – not every soul comes back. If you have a strong spirit, and if you leave the Earth better than when you arrived, you get to come back and try to get better yet.

Like all of the dogs who have become members of my family over the past 25 years, Kayla was a rescue. How she came to me in 2000 is a long story, but what was intended to be a brief fostering of a registered wolf-hybrid from Florida became instead my first “foster fail” πŸ™‚

Kayla and Murray
Kayla was the most completely beautiful dog, inside and out, that I’d ever met. While her bad-boy brother Kodi got most of the attention because of his postcard-husky looks, some dog-lovers noticed that special something in Kayla and got to meet her. Kayla loved everybody, and had a particular soft spot for one of her cats, Latimer.

Kayla at the Carcross cabin

When Kodi vanished in 2003, Kayla took the loss very hard. The sparkle left her eyes, and she had no real interest in doing anything. Seeing her so deeply depressed made the situation even more difficult, and I soon began the search for another husky who needed me. That’s when Monty came into our lives. He and Kayla had wonderful lives together for nearly a decade.

In 2013, 6 weeks before her 13th birthday, Kayla had to leave us. The message on one of the cards of condolences we received following Kayla’s death would hold an even more special meaning in the not-too-distant future.

Kayla's gone
Cathy and I knew that Monty needed a partner, and we began the search. It was almost a year before we saw something in the eyes of a puppy in Canmore, Alberta. It was a look that made us know that she was the puppy who wanted to adopt us, and we obliged. Soon, the puppy who we named Bella was enjoying Yukon adventures with her new family.

My dogs Bella and Monty canoeing in the Yukon

By the time she was a year old, we knew why the new puppy had looked at us the way she did. Kayla had come back to us. I can’t even describe it properly, I expect, but there was something in her eyes, as well as her behaviours, that has never stopped convincing us that Kayla’s reincarnation had happened. It’s easy to shrug this off as people’s need to fill the void left by a death, but Bella is unique, despite the fact that I’ve had many dogs die over the years.

I mentioned at the beginning that my belief is that If you have a strong spirit, and if you leave the Earth better than when you arrived, you get to come back and try to get better yet. Unfortunately for us, we believe that by the time his life on Earth ended this last time around, Monty had Life perfected, and so he won’t be coming back again. We often say that there will never be another Monty. And that makes me very sad – the world needs more Montys. He and I were deeply connected, and as he perfected his life, he made me better. Now, 10 months after Monty’s death, talking about him still often makes my eyes wet.

Monty in the White Pass
Bella continues to mature beautifully, and as Kayla did, she loves everybody, and loves life. Her comical little side-kick Tucker is her particular joy, but even our puppy-fostering that’s about to end (we have one left of the 8), as overwhelming as it was, hasn’t stopped her from being a great mommy-dog to these little souls.


So, there you have it. Will I go to see “A Dog’s Purpose”? Maybe, but given my reaction to the trailer, it won’t be in any public venue πŸ™‚



Heritage BC Stop of Interest Signs

While I’m puppy-sitting so am not very mobile, I’m going through many thousands of photos from this past summer. They need to be captioned and put in categories so I can find them when I need them. I usually do this soon after shooting, but never sat still long enough this year. There are so many great memories in these files, and there are also lots of ideas for travel, for photo subjects, and for articles/posts, including a few on BC history.

This morning, I went through the files to see how many of BC’s heritage signs I’d gotten photos of over the years. I was surprised how few I have, and will try to rectify that in 2017.

In a program started to commemorate BC’s centennial in 1958, Stop of Interest signs were erected around the province to increase people’s knowledge of significant historic people, places, and events. Over 140 signs were erected between then and 2008, but many have been moved, damaged, and apparently even lost. A list of what is termed “the 139 known signs” can be downloaded here – but you’ll see 3 signs below that aren’t listed in that inventory.

An article in The Chilliwack Progress on June 29, 1977, said that 35 signs had been installed in 1958, and another 98 between 1958 and 1977. They were made of cast aluminum with a baked enamel finish, with the text limited to about 50 words. At that time, a guide to the signs could be picked up at tourism offices.

In September 2016, the B.C. Government announced its intention to create 75 new Stop of Interest signs around the province. Building on Heritage BC’s 2015 assessment project to locate all the existing signs, the government is also repairing signs that need work. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (TranBC) adds: “In some cases, they need to be replaced because the language is out of date. Really, really out of date. So we’ll work to update these signs and start replacing them this fall [2016].”

Until January 31, 2017, you can suggest sites, people, and/or events that you think should be included among the 75 new Stop of Interest signs – visit this Web site to make your suggestions.

The signs that I’ve found in my files so far are below, listed roughly from the south to the north of BC. The location, the full text of the sign, and the date of installation when known, are included with each.

Hedley, Famous for Gold – located on Highway 3 at the western edge of Hedley, this sign was installed in 2008 to replace one from about 1958, “Gold in Nickel Plate”.

Nestled between Stemwinder and Nickel Plate Mountains, the historic gold mining town of Hedley sprang up shortly after the yellow precious metal was discovered here in 1897. The town was named after Robert R. Hedley, mining engineer. Both the mountain top Hedley Mascot and Nickel Plate mines extracted millions worth of gold, silver and copper before finally closing in the 1950s after the ore body was exhausted. Today tourism brings new life to the town famous for gold.

BC history: Hedley, Famous for Gold

BC history: Hedley, Famous for Gold
Engineers’ Road – located on Highway 3, sixteen miles east of Hope, this sign was installed in about 1958.

A wagon road across B.C. – this was the ambitious scheme of the Royal Engineers in the 1860s as miners clamored for better access to the Southern Interior. Sent from England, these military engineers replaced the first 25 miles of the Dewdney Trail with a wagon road. Their work halted when attention shifted to the gold-rich Cariboo.

Engineers' Road

BC history: Engineers' Road
2003 Okanagan Mountain Fire – located on Highway 97 at Antler’s Beach Park, just south of Peachland, the sign was installed in 2008:

Directly across Lake Okanagan, on August 16, 2003, lightning 2008 struck a tree at Squally Point. The ensuing blaze consumed over 25,000 hectares as it spread to Kelowna, Myra Canyon, and Naramata. More than 33,000 people were evacuated and 238 homes were destroyed or damaged. The Myra Canyon section of the Trans Canada Trail saw 12 historic wooden railway trestles destroyed and 2 steel ones damaged.

BC history: Okanagan Mountain Fire sign
Fraser Canyon – located at the Hell’s Gate Air Tram, the sign was installed in 1966:

This awesome gorge was always been an obstacle to transportation. Indians used ladders and road builders hung ‘shelves’ to skirt its cliffs. Canoes rarely dared its whirlpool; only one sternwheeler fought it successfully. Railroads and highways challenged it with tunnels and bridges, but today men and nature still battle here for supremacy.

BC history: Fraser Canyon
Canadian Northern Pacific’s Last Spike – located on Highway 97, ten miles north of Spences Bridge, the sign was installed in 1967:

Canada’s third trans-continental rail link was completed near Basque on January 23, 1915. In a simple ceremony the last spike was driven, witnessed by a small group of engineers and workmen. The line later became part of the Federal Government’s consolidated Canadian National Railways system.

BC history: Canadian Northern Pacific's Last Spike

BC history: Canadian Northern Pacific's Last Spike
Steamboat Saga – located on Highway 1, fourteen miles east of Kamloops, overlooking Kamloops Lake:

Smooth rivers and great lakes once were the highways of travel. On them plied stately paddle-wheelers, helping exploration and settlement of the Interior. They speeded goldseekers bound for the ‘Big Bend’ rush of 1864-65. They freighted grain from the Okanagan. They were vital in building the C.P.R. – and doomed by the railway they helped to build.

BC history: Steamboat Saga
B.X. – located on Highway 97, six miles north of Cache Creek, the sign was installed in 1967:

Connecting Barkerville with the outside world, the ‘B.X.’ stage coaches served ‘Cariboo’ for over 50 years. The terminus was moved from Yale to Ashcroft after the C.P.R. construction destroyed the wagon road through the Fraser Canyon. The red and yellow coaches left Ashcroft at 4:00 A.M., and 4 days and 280 miles later reached the end of the road at Barkerville.

BC history: B.X.
Paddlewheels North – located on Highway 97, ten miles north of Soda Creek and 32 miles north of Williams Lake (this photo with one of the famous “Garbage Gobblers” was shot in July 1997):

Down river lay the perilous and unnavigable canyon. Up-river the Fraser was swift and strong, but sternwheelers could travel for 400 miles from Soda Creek. Men and supplies embarked here in the 1860’s for the fabulous Cariboo goldfields. Later, and the G.T.P. Railway was forged across the Province, nine paddlewheelers formed a life-line to the north.

BC history: Paddlewheels North
Overland Telegraph – located on Highway 16, three miles east of Burns Lake:

Perry Collins, an American, envisioned a land route to link America and Asia by telegraph. All attempts to lay a cable across the Atlantic had failed. Western Union had completed 800 miles northerly from New Westminster in 1865-66, when the ocean cable was successful. The overland project was abandoned but the line to Cariboo remained.

BC history: Overland Telegraph
Moricetown Canyon – located on Highway 16, twenty miles west of Smithers:

This site, once the largest village of the Bulkley Valley Indians, later was named after the pioneer missionary, Father Morice. Salmon, staple food of the Indian, concentrated in the canyon and were caught with basketry traps, dipnets, and harpoons. Indians still catch salmon with long gaff hooks and smoke them at this historic native fishery.

BC history: Moricetown Canyon
Yukon Telegraph – located on Highway 37 at Km 288 (from Highway 16), the sign was installed in 1974 (but it is not listed in the 2015 inventory):

Born of the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898, the 1,900 mile Dominion Telegraph Line linked Dawson City with Vancouver via the CPR wires through Ashcroft. Built in 1899-1901, the line blazed a route across this vast northern section of the Province but gave way to radio communications in the 1930s. Today, some of the trail and cabins used by the isolated telegraphers still serve wilderness travellers.

BC history: Yukon Telegraph
Cassiar Gold Rush – located on Highway 37 at Km 618 (from Highway 16), the sign was installed in 1975 (but it is not listed in the 2015 inventory):

The prospect of quick riches lured hundreds of placer miners to the Cassiar, where gold was discovered first at Dease Creek in 1872. Rich claims were later found at Thibert Creek and here at McDame Creek. From this creek in 1872 a 72-ounce solid gold nugget was recovered – the largest recorded to date in British Columbia. By 1878 much of the gold had been removed and the fortune seekers moved on.

BC history: Cassiar Gold Rush
Lifeblood of the Tahltans – located on the Telegraph Creek Road at Tahltan (Km 91.3 from Dease Lake), the sign was installed in 2008 (but it is not listed in the 2015 inventory):

The Stikine River at the Tahltan has always been the lifeblood of the Tahltan Nation. Each year the Tahltan returned to the Stikine when the salmon were running as the fish it provided was a main food source. One fishing method involved using a gaff (long pole with a large hook at one end) to catch the salmon, which were dried in smokehouses. The Tahltan has been a main gathering place for meetings, potlatches and other ceremonial traditions.

BC history: Lifeblood of the Tahltans
Atlin Cemetery – located at the Atlin cemetery, the sign was installed in 1973:

In 1898, Fritz Miller and Kenny McLaren found gold on nearby Pine Creek, triggering British Columbia’s last placer gold rush. The boom subsided by 1908, but gold has kept Atlin alive. Now Miller and McLaren lie here among hard-bitten prospectors, young miners, northern aviators, brave women, and new-born infants, all part of Atlin’s pioneer heritage. R.I.P.

Atlin Cemetery

BC history: Atlin Cemetery


The happy conclusion of our experience fostering puppies

When I last talked to you, our family of 4 rescued puppies and their mom had only been with us for a couple of days, and we were all trying to understand how it would all work. We got it figured out, but then 3 more puppies arrived and had us really scrambling. It all worked out in the best way it could have, though – as of last night, all 7 puppies and their mom have loving homes. As I start writing this, we still have 3 puppies and mom with us, but that number will be dropping by at least 2 this afternoon, and the other 2 will move on in the next couple of days.

My Facebook friends have gotten used to seeing a LOT of puppy pictures lately. There are over 30 in this post, with more of the story of this wonderful experience.

The rescues that the Yukon Animal Rescue Network (YARN) is using “berry” names for arrived on December 2nd, and on the 5th, I felt confident enough in Elderberry to let her explore our fenced acre by herself.

Rescued Yukon husky Elderberry
That was a breakthrough day for Elderberry, and she very quickly understood her role as a house dog. Our little Tucker looks like he could be one of her puppies!

Rescued dogs Tucker and Elderberry
The loan of a friend’s kennel got the puppies moved inside during part of the day starting on December 7th.

Rescued puppies
Strawberry. OMG what a character! Always laughing and boinging up and down to get out of the kennel πŸ™‚

Rescued puppy
Cathy getting a better introduction of our Bella and Tucker to the puppies – in this case Strawberry. Neither Bella nor Tucker were quite sure what to make of them. That didn’t surprise us with Tucker, but it did surprise us that Bella didn’t go maternal as she did when Tucker arrived.

Rescued puppy meeting our dogs
Blackberry was the best snuggler right from the start. She was so timid and underweight when we got her, it’s unlikely she would have survived once the deep cold hit.

Rescued puppy
On December 8th, I started bathing puppies. I actually enjoyed it, and neither Blueberry nor Strawberry objected to it a lot πŸ™‚

Bathing a rescued puppy
They smelled so much better after their baths!

A freshly-bathed rescue-puppy
Good-night snuggles with the boys, Strawberry and Raspberry.

Rescued puppies
Raspberry soon became the puppy that we would have kept if we were going to keep any. His combination of affection and adventure really attracted both Cathy and I, and we were very surprised that he was one of the last to be adopted.

Rescued puppy
Tucker, Bella, and Strawberry. I’ve just noticed that the boys are getting more than their share of photos here. I’m not really sure why – maybe their higher levels of activity just put them in front of the camera more often.

Rescued puppy with my dogs
Oh Strawberry!! He very quickly became the escape artist, and it’s only in the past couple of days that I’ve managed to contain him in the house. In the garage enclosure, any barrier that stopped him also stopped Elderberry, and I wanted her to have some freedom.

Rescued puppy escaping
A tired puppy is a happy puppy. And a happy foster-daddy πŸ™‚

Tired rescue-puppies
The more socialization the better, and I was more than pleased when Karla asked if she could bring her daughter over to help with that.

Rescued puppies
Until this morning, all of our feeding was done in the garage.

Rescued puppies
With temperatures now nearing -40°C, outside wasn’t an option for anything for the puppies. A couple of experiments with having outside time were very short. The garage wasn’t suitable except with very close supervision, and a lot of changes will be made before we foster another litter.

-40 degrees
Yes, the boys again!

Rescued puppies
In the early days, my anxiety level was very high at times. One of those was the first time I let Elderberry out to play with Bella and Tucker. After a few minutes of play, though, Elderberry came back in laughing and very excited. I didn’t worry about her after that. The 3 of them quickly learned to play very well together, though sometimes various pairs would break off.

Rescued husky playing with my dogs
Tucker sometimes got left out, but his insistence that he be part of the play usually got results fairly quickly.

Rescued husky playing with my dogs
Elderberry had a couple of good role models for learning how this house-dog gig should work!

Rescued husky learning to be a house dog
Last Wednesday (December 14th), I got a call that 2 more of the puppies had been captured, and we agreed to take them. That quickly turned into 3 puppies, and at 4:00 pm they arrived from Atlin with another volunteer driver. One of my first jobs was to get photos of them to YARN, and within an hour of me posting photos of Cranberry on my Facebook page, she had been adopted! YARN wondered how the adopting family even knew about her πŸ™‚

Rescue-puppy

Alpine Veterinary Medical Centre once again stepped up and got the new additions – all females – in for their checkups and shots the next day. This is such a huge part of making for a successful story.

As with all of the other puppies, Cranberry got a gold star for this part of her training.

Snuggling a rescue-puppy
Moving the puppies between the house and garage enclosures became much more difficult once there were 7. A storage container became the method of choice – 4 in the first load, then 3 more. Buckets of Berries πŸ™‚Β  All the stuff on top of the kennel was a partially-successful attempt to contain Strawberry. Raspberry and Cranberry were both quickly learning from him.

Moving rescued puppies
In the centre, Gooseberry chilling in the house kennel. We barely got to know her, as she went to her new home in the Whitehorse area last night.

Relaxing rescue-puppies
The whole pack sleeping after a hard spell of play.

Relaxing rescue-puppies
Mornings are pretty exciting! Here, all 7 of them greet me at the garage enclosure yesterday morning. I very quickly got a soft spot for Huckleberry, the second from the left. Within hours of arriving, she had learned to be a first-class snuggler.

Excited rescue-puppies
It’s hard to capture the reality of puppy activity without a video πŸ™‚


Another loaner kennel, this one with 36-inch walls, solved our escape problem. The puppies all like the sleeping-kennel that I attached to it. This used to be our breakfast area – my office is directly to the right.

Rescue-puppies in their kennel
Huckleberry is still with us as I write this, but has been adopted and will be leaving soon. She is so incredibly sweet with that little teddy-bear face!

One of our foster puppies
Getting Blueberry and Cranberry ready for the big trip to their new homes in Nanaimo. Elderberry (we learned that her actual name is Blue) knew that something was up, and wanted into the kennel. She was all over them, licking and nuzzling them. Poor Blue – she did such an incredible job of keeping them safe πŸ™

Two of our foster puppies geting ready to go to their new homes
Blueberry and Cranberry were on last night’s Air North flight to Vancouver, the first stop on their journey. I may have dropped the girls at Air North “Cargo” but all 4 agents on duty sure made it clear that they knew that it was Precious Cargo. Air North, Yukon’s Airline, rocks!

Air North, waiting to transport 2 of our rescued puppies

Last night, things got crazy within minutes of Cathy getting home from work. Among the visitors were 2 families who wanted to adopt and had been approved by YARN. Once they met Gooseberry and Strawberry they concluded the adoptions in our kitchen, and took the puppies home with them!

It was a very quiet morning today. Here, Mom is curled up with 2 of her remaining babies in the kennel beside my desk. Cathy took the 3rd puppy (Huckleberry) to bed with her when we got up for them at 04:30.

Our greatly-reduced foster puppy family

We still have mom and 2 puppies to be picked up, but our adventure is pretty much over. It’s been a very, very special experience that we’ll definitely be repeating.



My New Project – Fostering Rescue Puppies

In my last post, I mentioned a new project that you were going to want to see photos of. Although I’m a bit later showing you those photos than I’d expected because they aren’t many free hours left in my life at the moment, here they are.

The number of dogs needing rescuing is appalling, and rescue puppies often need foster families to get them ready for their forever-homes. The last addition to our family, little Tucker, was a rescue that we adopted through the Yukon Animal Rescue Network (YARN), and I’ve now started working with them in a big way, by fostering a family that’s been rescued from Atlin.

I actually tried to get started with the tiny puppies seen below, a couple of weeks ago. When they got to Whitehorse from Pelly Crossing, though, it was discovered that they had parvo (canine parvovirus or CPV), and I have neither the facilities nor the experience to deal with that awful disease. Luckily, Humane Society Yukon has both at their Mae Bachur shelter in Whitehorse, and agreed to take the puppies and the sick Mom who had been brought down as well. There’s much more to that story, but I don’t know yet whether it has a happy ending, so I’ll move on to one that does.

Rescue puppies from Pelly Crossing

The next request came in to foster 9 puppies (!). I found that initially overwhelming, but offered to take 4, to break into fostering. Things changed, only 4 puppies were caught, and then the mother. Then there was another mother and 2 more pups hidden under a cabin, who couldn’t be coaxed out. I agreed to take the puppies, but not the Mom, as I couldn’t figure out how to keep her separated from Bella and Tucker, whose safety is paramount.

When a photo of the family was sent to me on Wednesday via the man in Atlin who had rescued them, Cathy and I both melted and said that we’d take them all. They would be brought to Whitehorse by the rescuer on Friday.

My first requirement was to get a safe place for them. Another YARN foster family in Whitehorse had a large whelping box that was far too big for their one-day-old litter, so I said that I’d build one more appropriate for them, and take the big one.

Building a whelping box for the YARN rescue puppies
I got the box finished off Friday morning, took it into town, and returned with the large box and a bag of food for the new family. The plan was to have them in the semi-heated garage that normally houses our 2 main cars initially, then see how things play out.

Building a whelping box for the YARN rescue group

YARN uses “group” names to keep track of their rescues/adoptions, and mine was to be the “Berry” litter – Strawberry, Raspberry, Blueberry, and Blackberry for the pups, and Elderberry for Mom.

At about noon on Friday, the Berry Babies arrived, and I got them as settled as possible in the garage while trying to figure out how best to house them. The puppies were in a large kennel while Elderberry was loose. Not surprisingly, she was pretty freaked out.

YARN's rescued husky Elderberry
The little female I named Blueberry, the only one that has blue eyes and looks like Mom, was the first one to melt my heart.

YARN's rescued husky puppy Blueberry
A puppy-pile in the kennel, with Strawberry at the left front.

YARN's rescued husky puppies - the Berry litter

My first job was to get the family to the vet for check-ups and shots. As soon as I’d agreed to take them, I’d made an appointment at the Alpine Veterinary Medical Centre for 2:30, a couple of hours after they were to arrive. Dr. Graham Ellingsen was wonderful with them, as always, and in an hour or so I was headed home with my confirmed-healthy family.

The second job was to get photos of each of the puppies for the adoption page. This is Blueberry again.

YARN's rescued husky puppy Blueberry
Strawberry…

YARN's rescued husky puppy Strawberry
Raspberry…

YARN's rescued husky puppy Raspberry
and Blackberry. I’d get a better photo of Elderberry when she calmed down.

YARN's rescued husky puppy Blackberry
A big part of our job as fosters is socialization. It’s a tough job but somebody has to do it! πŸ™‚ The different personalities of the puppies was very quickly apparent – Blackberry is the snuggler.

YARN's rescued husky puppy Blackberry
Cathy with Blackberry.

YARN's rescued husky puppy Blackberry
The big whelping box didn’t work out – Elderberry said that she couldn’t get over the 2-foot-high walls. So I used it as one wall of a containment area that’s worked out very well. It has a gate, but Elderberry discovered that she can easily clear the lowest wall, which is 22 inches. And that was the plan – the area is to contain the pups, while she has some freedom.

Our containment area for the rescued husky family
Strawberry and Raspberry on the dog bed in the containment area. Everybody learned very quickly what the newspapers were put down for, making life much easier for Cathy and I.

YARN's rescued husky puppies Strawberry and Raspberry
The best photos aren’t staged, they’re records of events that just happen when you have a camera handy. The difference in the whole family is wonderful, but it’s particularly heart-warming to see Mom already enjoying her new life, and trusting that it’s all going to be okay.

Rescued husky and one of her puppies
Elderberry is a very patient Mom. We’re pretty sure that there are puppies from 2 litters here, though, and that Blueberry is her puppy. They have a special bond beyond what the other puppies have with Elderberry. Why she only has one puppy is one of those questions that you quickly learn not to ask in rescuing – you very well may not want to know.

Rescue puppies playing on top of Mom
We have deck chairs set up in the garage now, and snuggle puppies and Mom several times a day, and sometimes just sit and watch them. Watching the changes in them, becoming more confident and more affectionate, is a very special experience. It appears that Elderberry has never been in a house, and has certainly never been on a leash. She really wants to come in the house, though, and Cathy got her into the kitchen this morning. Not surprisingly, she has some food aggression issues, but is very, very affectionate.

Rescue puppies playing on top of Mom

Elderberry and the puppies were posted on the adoption page last night, and as I write this at 06:00, there are already 3 applications in from potential adopters. The puppies are probably just over 6 weeks old, so although they can be adopted now, we’re keeping the family together for another coupleΒ of weeks (until December 15th), as Elderberry is doing some important teaching now. Then we have 2 days to get those who have been adopted to their new homes before the Christmas “no-adoptions” period. See an article I wrote quite a few years ago, Puppies for Christmas, to understand why there are no adoptions for 2 weeks.

We’re still open to the idea that if the other mother and puppies are caught, we’ll take them as well. With temperatures nearing -40 coming on Thursday, we actually hope that that’s what happens.

Many of our friends don’t think that we’ll be able to let all 5 get adopted. It’s a simple decision for us, though. In the summer I hike a lot and simply can’t safely handle more than 2 dogs on the trail. So my part in this process is very clear in my mind.

I’m going to finish this post off with a poster I created this time last year, using a photo of baby Tucker.




I have no shortage of winter projects

Being retired is wonderful. I work as hard as I ever did, but I only take on winter projects that I enjoy. Well, mostly. Toilets and woodstoves still need cleaning πŸ™‚

I’ve just taken on a big new project that you’re going to want to see photos of. Before that starts this afternoon, though, I want to show you what’s been going on the past couple of days.

My project to get my collection digitized will be continuing for years. One of the boxes on the floor behind my desk is full of documents that have been organized and are ready to scan. The other is documents that have been scanned, and are of high enough quality that they’re going back on eBay (where pretty much all of them came from).

Getting documents ready for scanning
The breakfast table right now is my sorting table. The vast majority of that material will be scanned and then will go in the recycling bin. I’ll tell you about the manual in the front in a minute…

Sorting documents for scanning
This is my work station, where I spend several hours every day this time of year. The scanner, an Epson V370 Photo, is getting a lot of use, but will be getting upgraded in the not-too-distant future, as I now need one that can handle large negatives. The big SAD light is on for 20 minutes a day now. With clear skies getting to be more and more rare as the climate changes, dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder becomes more and more important to me. That means vitamins and the light, and getting out as much as is reasonable.

SAD light in my office
The other big project involves driving into Whitehorse. While I was in my comfortable car yesterday, these guys were hard at work at the entrance to my subdivision, making sure that my communications work. Brrr!

NorthwesTel workers up a pole near Whitehorse
It’s been staying fairly mild still, but there are some days like yesterday when the Alaska Highway is just ugly.

A snowy Alaska Highway near Whitehorse
The project lives here, at the Yukon Transportation Museum. Luckily, it lives inside.

Yukon Transportation Museum
This early-1950s Austin A-40 pickup is my project. I’ve offered to finish the restoration of it, to be ready for the Canada Day 2017 parade.

Early-1950s Austin A-40 pickup
It’s a pretty cool little rig. It’s solid, but has been banged around a lot. The mechanical work has been mostly done, but the electrical and body work need a lot of hours.

Early-1950s Austin A-40 pickup
It’s not going to be a show car, and for financial reasons, the interior may not see much more than a cleanup.

Early-1950s Austin A-40 pickup
What a cute little motor! I’m hoping that there’s nothing to do with it other than fix a bad leak from the oil filter that was reported.

Early-1950s Austin A-40 pickup
In the back room, there’s an Austin A-40 panel body as well as spare body and mechanical parts for A-40s.

Early-1950s Austin A-40 panel body
The truck has been on display at the museum, in a partly-restored state. This sign was part of that display. In the 1950s, you could buy a long list of vehicles in Whitehorse, including Ford, Monarch, Chevrolet, GM, International, Chrysler, Renault, Morris, and Austin. The Austin dealership, Tourist Services, was a real “Yukon” business, offering not only cars but a service station, a grocery and meat store, a restaurant, a campground and even a cocktail lounge!

Austin A-40 sign at the Yukon Transportation Museum
An Austin arriving at Skagway in the early 1950s, bound for the Whitehorse dealership.

An Austin arriving at Skagway in the early 1950s

Yesterday was my first long visit with the Austin. I wanted to pick up the manual, and have a thorough look at it so I can develop a work plan for it.

On the way home, I made a quick stop to pick up my mail, and was soon poring through the Austin manual.


I was going to be back to the museum this morning to start work on the Austin, but a call came in yesterday that takes priority for a coupleΒ of days. I’ll let you know about the new addition to my list of winter projects tomorrow, and you’re going to want to see the photos! πŸ™‚



It’s not a Dark Sky Park, it’s just the Yukon

Around the world, light pollution is a concern for many people. For some, it’s an aesthetic issue. Many people today will never see a dark sky, so will never see incredible sights like the Milky Way.

For others, health is the main issue. Artificial light at night can disrupt our circadian rhythm, and the International Dark Sky Association says that “research suggests that artificial light at night can negatively affect human health, increasing risks for obesity, depression, sleep disorders, diabetes, breast cancer and more.” Plants and animals can suffer from similar disorders because of the light that humans have injected into their world. See “5 Species Threatened by Light Pollution” for more information about sea turtles, fireflies, Atlantic salmon, tree frogs, and Monarch butterflies.

Energy Waste

There are also huge energy issues with artificial lighting:

There are huge energy issues with artificial lighting
“Losing the Dark” is a 6½-minute film produced by the International Dark Sky Association. The intro to it summarizes the concerns: “Starry skies are a vanishing treasure because light pollution is washing away our view of the cosmos. It not only threatens astronomy, it disrupts wildlife, and affects human health. The yellow glows over cities and towns β€” seen so clearly from space β€” are testament to the billions spent in wasted energy from lighting up the sky.”


Dark Sky Tourism

It’s hard for those of us who live in places with relatively little artificial light to believe, but Dark Sky tourism is an actual thing. The International Dark Sky Places Program currently lists 69 locations – parks, sanctuaries, reserves, and communities – that have been accepted. There are, of course, lots of places with dark skies around the world that aren’t part of the official program. Those include the territories of northern Canadian, and Alaska.

Dark Sky tourism
As amazing as the Milky Way and even a starry sky in general are, during the winter, many of us in the North want to see more than stars. For anyone wanting to see the aurora borealis – the “Northern Lights” – getting away from any other light sources is really important. Without a dark sky, the colours just aren’t as bright as they could be. Avoiding the full moon is one of the considerations, but getting away from town is huge. A strong aurora display can overpower even some city lights or a full moon, but a lesser display gets washed out.

Aurora borealis south of Whitehorse, Yukon
Although artificial lights of any kind wash out the aurora, I sometimes go looking for traffic, as I did this night up at the Yukon River Bridge on the Alaska Highway. The orange light to the right, however, is the lights of Whitehorse, which is about 25 kilometers (15 miles) away from this spot.

Aurora borealis over the Alaska Highway at the Yukon River

Dark Skies in the Yukon

Driving through or flying over the Yukon, dark skies are the the norm. The Yukon has relatively little artificial outdoor lighting, simply by virtue of there being relatively few people. As of June 30, 2016, there were 37,858 people, of which 29,258 lived in Whitehorse. Most of our communities have street lights.

Lighting up our communities is something that we just do. This is Whitehorse in the photo below. Most people probably think that the lights are installed to keep us safer, but do they? The International Dark Sky Association says that “there is no clear scientific evidence that increased outdoor lighting deters crimes. It may make us feel safer, but has not been shown to make us safer.” A 2015 study in the UK found that streetlights don’t prevent accidents or crime despite the high cost. Researchers looked at data on road traffic collisions and crime in 62 jurisdictions, and found that lighting had no effect, whether the lights were turned off completely, turned off at certain hours, dimmed, or replaced with low-power LED lamps.

Whitehorse, Yukon, on a winter night

In Whitehorse, the increase in city lighting has been dramatic in recent years. Some residents, including me, think that the lighting has reached an absurd level. We have kilometers of streets and highway lit in the middle of nowhere, for no reason. When I drove taxi 25 years ago, we had some winter business taking people to Mountainview Drive, 3-4 miles from the downtown hotels, and sitting by the side of the road watching the aurora. Mountainview and all the roads for miles beyond are all too well lit to allow that now.

At the junction of the Alaska Highway and the road into the Country Residential subdivision I live in, their are 8 sodium-vapor street lights removing the darkness from a long stretch of the highway. Then there’s one more lighting the corner where the street that I live on meets the main road. Then we’d have a dark sky except for the huge sodium-vapor “security light” on one of my neighbour’s property.

The bill for outdoor lighting varies dramatically through the year in the Yukon. With nearly 24 hours of light in mid-summer, lights aren’t on for very long each day. This time of year, on a cloudy day, they can be on for 20 hours or more.

Christmas Lighting

For the first time since 2009, I’m adding to the light pollution in my neighbourhood. I have the lights and inflatable bear on a timer so they’re on from 5-10 pm, but turned them on this morning to take this photo. Putting up lights to make people happy makes Christmas somewhat of a different situation.

My outside Christmas lights

Dark Sky Friendly Lighting

Obviously not all outdoor lighting is bad. Some of the dark sky will be destroyed, but there are ways to mitigate that. The graphic below shows some of the basics, and you can read more about minimizing light pollution and finding dark sky friendly lighting fixtures here.

How to help preserve dark sky

What does the night sky look like where you live?