Whitehorse at Night

Friday night was intended to be another night of aurora photography. Despite a great forecast, the aurora never showed in any photograph-worthy way, but I did rediscover a side of Whitehorse that I hadn’t seen in many years. There will certainly be other nights like this, as it’s a very different world than the one I used to know.

My drive into town at midnight was just meant to kill time until some decent aurora began – although there were some of the vaporous clouds of aurora as the night before had ended with, there was nothing worth photographing.

I had taken some photos of the Yukon Theatre the previous day, so went there first to get some night shots. It appears to be the last Whitehorse business still using old-style neon tube lights, and I expect it to be bulldozed in the very near future. I haven’t been inside the building in probably 20 years, but people who have say that it’s in terrible condition, and Landmark is apparently just sucking the last few dollars out of it before closing it.

Yukon Theatre, Whitehorse, Yukon, at night
The peeling paint visible in this photo shows the lack of maintenance that continues inside and is prompting complaints in every possible venue – the reviews at Tribute.ca are appalling. Cool sign, though 🙂

Yukon Theatre, Whitehorse, Yukon, at night

I went over to The Wharf on the Yukon River, where the sky was dark enough to check on the aurora, and when the sky was still black, decided to continue seeing what Whitehorse at night is like now.

In the early and mid 1990s, I saw a lot of the city at night. Both driving taxi for Yellow Cabs and later as an RCMP Auxiliary constable, nighttime was when my services were needed. Although it had calmed down a bit from when I first saw Whitehorse in 1985, it was still a pretty wild town at night, and some of the bars from those days are legendary – The Roadhouse, 60 Below, Joe’s, the Taku, the Capital…

Now, although there were a fair number of young people walking around or just hanging around, there was virtually no traffic other than a handful of taxis. The Edgewater was never much of a nighttime action place, but was completely quiet. The people seen in the distance are outside the Capital, which was a very busy place at midnight on the Fridays of 20 years ago, both inside and outside.

Edgewater Hotel, Whitehorse, Yukon, at night
The 98 is the last of the old-time bars, though my impression is that even it is much calmer than it used to be. The manager for 30-odd years, Barney Roberge, was a real gentleman but was also as colourful as the bar. The 98 (“The Breakfast Club”) was one of my regular spots to drink, as it opened as I got off night taxi shifts (you can’t get a beer there until 9:00am now). This is another place that I expect to disappear any time now.

98 Hotel, Whitehorse, Yukon, at night
Looking for more subjects, I saw a huge dust cloud up towards the north end of town, which I narrowed down to this sweeper cleaning up the Qwanlin Mall parking lot. When my daughter first arrived in Whitehorse, her comment when I showed her the mall was “That’s not a mall!!”), and it has even fewer stores now – the #1 hit on Google for “Qwanlin Mall” is this hilarious video about it 🙂

Whitehorse, Yukon, at night
Back in the old days, “the KK” was one of the hottest bars in town. It was one of the most common bars to do bar checks of (looking for underage drinking and over-serving, mostly) when I was in uniform. It’s sure quiet now except early on “Wing Night”.

Whitehorse, Yukon, at night
I decided to go out to the Yukon River Bridge just in case a very brief good aurora display happened, but this was as good as it got. The trees are lit up by the lights of a semi that was there for a half-hour or so. At 02:30 I gave up and went home to bed.

Faint aurora near Whitehorse, Yukon

So, no aurora, and yet a very interesting night that brought back a flood of good memories (and yes, some not so good). With a plan, I’ll be going back into Whitehorse at night for a better look.



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