After being part of the Yukon Quest, I arrived in Whitehorse slightly earlier than I had planned. I have never had any problem entertaining myself while travelling, but to be honest, being that it was winter, I was a bit worried I would look around town in a day and wonder ‘what now?’ Oh how I was wrong! Without knowing it, I had arrived just in time for Whitehorse’s Rendezvous Sourdough festival.
the sourdough festival
Whitehorse’s locals have been celebrating winter since 1945 with a week-long carnival, now known as the Rendezvous Sourdough festival. It is a great way to get people out and about in winter. There are so many activities happening all over town that is difficult to attend to all of them. The year I visited, there were dog sled races, hockey tournaments, a dog sled pulling competition (a single dog would try to pull as much weight as possible on a sled), a hairy leg contest for women and ‘Chainsaw Chuck’ just to name a few. Sourdough pancakes for breakfast were also on offer, to get you prepared for the day ahead.
a walk around whitehorse
On my first morning, I went on a short stroll to visit the town and the area. Walking along the frozen Yukon river eventually brought me to the S.S. Klondike. The steamboat was one of the transportation vessels used to ferry people up to Dawson City before the highway was built. Unfortunately, it was closed that day.
Below is a bust of Jack London, well known for ”The Call of the Wild.” And yes, it was so cold even Jack needed a toque and a scarf.
squirrels, snow carving and soughdough sam
A giant squirrel mascot and I; I am not sure where it came from but it was so life-like I had to have my picture taken with it. Yes, I am wearing a pink hat – like they say in Yukon during the festival, “it takes a real man to wear pink.”
Sourdough Sam made an appearance too, below.
The Festival has a snow carving competition, which, to my surprise, had competitors from all around the world.
A bear driving a car from the Japanese team. They came second.
For first place, Team Alaska carved a hunter spearing a woolly mammoth (see the tusks coming out of the ‘water’ on the right). It’s amazing the detail that can be carved into snow.
log cutting and burlesque
I found a British friend I had met my hostel competing in the log cutting contest, in front of quite a crowd.
For those who like a good show, one tent had all sorts of entertainment from a Military band playing rock ‘n’ roll to French can-can and burlesque.
Don’t be surprised to see the festival Queen contestants while wandering around town, or even an French can-can dancer or two.
And this brings us to the night side of the festival. The can-can dancing continues on snowshoes, thanks to the ‘Snow Shufflers.’ Meanwhile, Sourdough Sam and the men of Yukon compete to prove their masculinity, and a multitude of bands play all around town. There were even fireworks one night.
I had the chance to have a picture taken with ‘Ace of Spades,’ one of the French can-can girls.
fun for all the family
The fun of the festival can make you revert to your childhood self. I had not been on a crazy carpet in over 15 years and there I go with a lollipop in my mouth as well!
At Whitehorse’s airport, there is an old Canadian Pacific that was transformed in a wind/weather vane (below). I might be wrong but I believe it might actually be the biggest in the world, if not at least in Yukon.
The air force also got involved in the festival, showing some of their nicest planes and helicopters with an air display.
sunset on the north
Just before I boarded the plane back home I got to enjoy this view, one of those long sunsets only the far North can offer. Whitehorse came as such a surprise to me, such a good one that Yukon will have another visit from me really soon. I didn’t expect to have such a good time in winter, so I’m hoping for an even better experience in summer.