Whitehorse Attractions – Miles Canyon, the SS Klondike and more…

Whitehorse is a great town to be a tourist in. As well as having spectacular wilderness not only at our back door but within the city boundaries, we have a large number of really high quality man-made attractions. We had company from southern British Columbia last week (one of my sisters and her hubby) so I’ve been touring a lot, and the next few blog posts will be showing you what we did.

Miles Canyon is a fine place to start a tour of Whitehorse – we got there at 9:30 on June 16th and had the place to ourselves. This view is looking downriver, with the Robert Lowe suspension bridge built in 1922, crossing it.

We took a walk along the canyon and as we were on the bridge going back to the car, a young man asked if we’d like to join a Yukon Conservation Society nature walk led by botanist Bruce Bennett. Having been on a few walks with Bruce over the years, the answer was an emphatic “yes!”.

We spent an hour and a half with the tour then had to leave for a lunch date with Cathy. As always, it was excellent – Bruce is passionate about what he does, and it’s contagious.

After lunch 3 of us went to the Visitor Reception Centre downtown to see the film (while Cathy went back to work 🙁 ). Even after 15-20 times seeing the film, I still think it’s excellent, though the colours are fading badly and it’s time to load a fresh copy of it.

Then across the street to the YTG building (Yukon Territorial Government) to see the huge stained glass mural, and some of the artworks from the Yukon Permanent Collection.

While there we checked out the 2 protests going on. I doubt that this contractor, Norcope, has much support from the public for their dispute.

On the lawn around back is a tent camp set up (and growing) to protest the lack of affordable housing in Whitehorse. This is a protest that it’s tough to not support – even in my small circle people are quitting good jobs and leaving the territory because there’s just no place to live. If you have a pet, there’s no point coming up unless you can afford to buy a $400,000 house (and there are few of those avaialble).

Our next stop was the iconic sternwheeler S.S. Klondike, a National Historic Site.

My sister had picked up the tourism department’s Yukon Gold Explorer’s Passports for all 4 of us when they passed through Watson Lake, so at the S.S. Klondike we got the 3rd stamp in each one. These are an excellent souvenir when you collect stamps from the places you visit in the Yukon – and you can win up to 5 ounces of gold in a draw in September if you collect enough stamps!

A tour through the boat costs only $6.05 per person and as many times as I’ve been through her, I never pass up the opportunity to do it again. The restoration is perfect and I always find myself wishing that I had been born a few years earlier so I could have made a trip to Dawson on her.

For a few years a private contractor ran this attraction for Parks Canada – while I occasionally got excellent guides, there were also some duds. Since Parks Canada took over the quality of the guides has consistently been extremely high.

Ah, “the good old days” – not if you had to load a sternwheeler with wood!

The first-class dining room. It’s the first class lounge that always makes me wistful – and I often also think about a headstone I found in the Atlin Cemetery that reads “Thomas Frederic Harper Reed. Gentleman Adventurer. 1878-1965”. I would like to be a Gentleman Adventurer sailing on the Klondike 🙂

The wheelhouse.

The view up 2nd Avenue from the top deck of the Klondike.

We finished off our first day touristing with dinner at the Edgewater Hotel’s new Patio restaurant on the roof of the hotel. The view is good, but our bison burgers arrived badly undercooked and were sent back. They were really good when they eventually came back, but I don’t know if I’ll give them a second chance when the menu expands (all they offer now is burgers). It’s a great place for a Friday-after-work drink, though.

The weather forecast for the next day was excellent so Skagway would be our destination.

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