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She is just a Klondike Nugget

We had a relaxed and fun first day in Whitehorse on Saturday. We rented a beautiful two bedroom apartment in a B&B just outside the city. It’s on a beautiful acreage with the Versleuce Meadows as the backyard. We had breakfast at home before going out for the day.

One of the reasons we wanted to bring my parents here is my Dad’s love of Robert Service poems, especially “The Cremation of Sam McGee”, which starts like this:

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

While walking around downtown Whitehorse yesterday, we came across a small tribute to Robert Service, with the above quote inscribed on the desk. This is a picture of my folks at that desk:

(Photo to come when we get a stronger signal)

We also visited the McBride Museum of Yukon History where we learned a lot about the history of the Yukon, including the real Sam McGee. As the poem goes, Sam McGee was from Tennessee, hated the cold, thought he’d sooner live in hell than the Yukon, and while he was dying, asked the character in the poem to cremate him so he would finally be warm.

Well, the real Sam McGee lived in this cabin in Whitehorse with his wife:

(Photo to come when we get a stronger signal)

He was from Peterborough (not Tennessee) and apparently loved the Yukon. While in the Yukon, he met a young bank teller from the CIBC in Whitehorse–Robert Service–and they became friends. Service asked Sam McGee if he could use his name in a poem, and McGee agreed, never for a moment thinking that anything would come of a poem written by a bank teller at the CIBC in Whitehorse. Of course, the poem went on to become famous around the world, and everyone knew the name Sam McGee. The real Sam McGee could not escape the infamy in the Yukon, so he finally left and moved to Alberta. However, he returned to his beloved Yukon many times before he died in Alberta, and during one of those visits, he met a man selling an urn that he claimed contained the ashes of the legendary Sam McGee!!!

We spent a couple of hours wandering through the museum, soaking up the atmosphere and learning about the characters that have contributed to this amazing part of Canada. One of these included Cam Smith, a Prankster from the Yukon who wrote a couple of songs that made it big around here. One of those songs was “She is just a Klondike Nugget”–this is a picture of my Mom holding the sheet music for the song:

(Photo to come when we get a stronger signal)

We were also lucky enough to be at the museum for a talk by Rob Cooke, a British guy turned Yukoner who finished the Yukon Quest in 2012. It was a fascinating talk, full of real life anecdotes from someone who has actually finished the 1000 mile race from Whitehorse to Fairbanks.

It was a great and informative day, and we finished with a yummy dinner at a restaurant downtown called Klondike Rib and Salmon. We gorged ourselves on–you guessed it!–ribs and salmon before coming back to our apartment to play cards. The salmon here is a special treat–fresh, never frozen Alaskan sockeye–and is one of my favourite things ever.

Bye for now and thanks for reading!


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