Woolly mam­moths are long gone but the re­mote parts of Canada still of­fer a wild ex­pe­ri­ence

Sunday Herald Sun - Escape - - DESTINATION CANADA - TIM RICHARDS

Yukon! Just the name of Canada’s re­mote north­west­ern ter­ri­tory sparks ex­cite­ment, with vi­sions of wilder­ness and far fron­tiers. Yukon is still all that, even in the 21st cen­tury. Trav­ellers reg­u­larly fly into White­horse, the ter­ri­tory cap­i­tal, to hire an RV and head north to Daw­son City and its relics of the 19th-cen­tury Klondike Gold Rush.

Be­fore head­ing out, how­ever, it’s worth tak­ing time to ex­plore the “big city” (pop­u­la­tion 25,000). Though it’s a gov­ern­ment town and prac­ti­cal ser­vice cen­tre, White­horse also has plenty of at­trac­tions.


Opened in 2012, this at­trac­tive build­ing serves First Na­tions peo­ple from across Yukon. It’s a beau­ti­ful struc­ture of tim­ber and glass, dec­o­rated with tra­di­tional in­dige­nous de­signs and mod­ern in­ter­pre­ta­tions of them. Open to ev­ery­one, the cen­tre con­tains an art gallery with chang­ing ex­hi­bi­tions, along with key ex­hibits dot­ted through its in­te­rior. There are also ex­hibits of pho­to­graphs with in­ter­pre­tive cap­tions, out­lin­ing past achieve­ments and tragedies of the Yukon’s first in­hab­i­tants. Vis­i­tors can re­quest a free guided tour of the cen­tre and its grounds, which bor­der the fast-flow­ing Yukon River. 1171 FRONT ST, WHITE­HORSE. FACE­BOOK.COM/ KWANLINDUNCULTURALCENTRE


It may sound a touch dry, but in such a re­mote ter­ri­tory trans­port is an es­sen­tial, even ex­cit­ing, topic. This mu­seum in a for­mer air force han­gar does a good job of cov­er­ing the var­i­ous trans­port means used through­out Yukon’s his­tory, from dogsleds to light air­craft. Its prize ex­hibits in­clude a red-painted Royal Mail sled, a replica of the fa­mous Queen of the Yukon plane, and a yel­low snow­mo­bile with tank-like tracks. Out front is a re­stored Cana­dian Pa­cific DC-3 air­craft. 30 ELECTRA CRES, WHITE­HORSE. GOYTM.CA


Dur­ing the last Ice Age, sea lev­els dropped so far that it was pos­si­ble to walk from Siberia to Yukon – and many an­i­mals and hu­mans did so, pop­u­lat­ing a unique re­gion known as Beringia. Its fas­ci­nat­ing nat­u­ral his­tory is ex­plored here, with de­tails of such cu­ri­ous crea­tures as woolly mam­moths, steppe bi­son, scim­i­tar cats, and gi­ant short-faced bears. The tale of the first peo­ple to in­habit North Amer­ica is also in­trigu­ing, with spec­u­la­tions on their cul­ture based on scant re­mains. ALASKA HIGH­WAY, WHITE­HORSE. BERINGIA.COM


Though trains no longer call at White­horse’s cen­tral train sta­tion, it’s the start­ing point for a day trip on the White Pass & Yukon Route rail­way. Con­structed from 1898 to 1900 at the height of the Klondike Gold Rush, the nar­row-gauge line linked White­horse to the port of Sk­ag­way, Alaska, head­ing through spec­tac­u­lar moun­tains on the way. Nowa­days it’s a pop­u­lar tourist rail­way. From White­horse, you’re bussed to nearby Fraser to en­joy a ride in the train’s her­itage car­riages down to Sk­ag­way, from where you’re re­turned by bus to your start­ing point. As this jour­ney passes to and from the USA, re­mem­ber to take your passport. 1109 FRONT ST, WHITE­HORSE. WPYR.COM


The per­fect place to drop into when the un­pre­dictable Yukon weather takes a rainy turn. Out­side town in a light in­dus­trial area, this brew­ery is of­ten full of lo­cals. The most Yukon brew op­tion is the Spruce Tip Pale Ale, in­cor­po­rat­ing an el­e­ment of the lo­cal fo­liage. Spruce beer first be­came pop­u­lar be­cause the spruce tips con­tain vi­ta­min C, ward­ing off scurvy. Toast your health with a glass. 83 MOUNT SIMA RD, WHITE­HORSE. WINTERLONGBREWING.COM


If you have no luck spot­ting Yukon’s dis­tinc­tive an­i­mals in the wild, you’re sure to see them at this sprawl­ing open zoo out­side town. Within large nat­u­ral habi­tats are mule deer, thin­horn sheep, arc­tic foxes, cari­bou, moose, muskox, elk, bi­son and the elu­sive lynx. You’ll also see go­phers pop­ping up here and there. The eas­i­est way to meet the crit­ters is via the 5km bus tour, and it’s also pos­si­ble to walk 2.5km or 5km loops. TAKHINI HOT SPRINGS RD, WHITE­HORSE. YUKONWILDLIFE.CA


Just along the road from the Wildlife Pre­serve is this set of out­door ther­mal pools. Nat­u­rally heated wa­ter is fed into two open-air baths, whose tem­per­a­tures are kept mod­er­ated to 36°C and 42°C re­spec­tively. Soak­ing here un­der the Yukon sky is a re­lax­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, and in win­ter you can have the strange ex­pe­ri­ence of do­ing so sur­rounded by snow. TAKHINI HOT SPRINGS RD, WHITE­HORSE. TAKHINIHOTPOOLS.COM


This glass­blow­ing stu­dio in down­town White­horse wel­comes any­one who’d like to try their hand at cre­at­ing an art­work from scratch. Glass-blow­ing ses­sions guide you safely through the process, as you cre­ate an or­na­ment you can then take home. It’s a good way to snare a unique White­horse sou­venir. 101 KEISH ST, WHITE­HORSE. LUMELSTUDIOS.COM


White­horse’s down­town build­ings tend to­wards mod­ern and blocky. Not so Woodcutter’s Blan­ket, a so­phis­ti­cated cock­tail bar housed in a beau­ti­ful 1938 log cabin which was once a prospec­tor’s home. Frontier his­tory seeps from its in­te­rior, with its bare log walls and cen­tral tim­ber bar. Try a cock­tail with a dash of Free Pour Jenny’s bit­ters, con­cocted by a lo­cal us­ing Yukon plants such as fire­weed. 112 STRICK­LAND ST, WHITE­HORSE. WOODCUTTERSBLANKET.COM



Yukon’s dis­tinc­tive at­trac­tions in­clude lynx, elu­sive wildlife that can be seen at Yukon Wildlife Pre­serve; toast your health with the lo­cal spruce beer; and travel on the rail­road route link­ing the port of Sk­ag­way, Alaska, with White­horse.

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