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. 🙂

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! 🙂 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 🙂 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!

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