Each country has its own “mythical” place. In Canada, this is the North. “Ice desert”, “snow country” — this is how many imagine the whole of Canada.
Until recently, in the territory located north of 60 «N, you could only see the Inuit and Indians living there long ago, as well as a few prospectors and geological prospectors. If you hold a football match between the Yukon and the Northwest Territories, then at the stadium the entire population of these provinces would fit.
More and more adventure seekers “from the mainland” are heading to the harsh mountains of the Yukon and the ominously beautiful Arctic wastelands of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut (the northernmost point is only 830 km from the North Pole).
During the “gold rush” of 1896 on Klondike, those who hoped to get rich wanted to come here. Now wildlife lovers come to these places to watch the last free-grazing herds of bison or to catch trout and grayling in the Big Slave and Big Bear Lakes.
A trip here by car will take several days, but there are a number of airlines serving the cities of this region, such as Whitehorse, Yellowknife and Frobisher Bay to get to Auyuittuk National Park on Baffin Land, in Frobisher Bay, transfer to the plane to Pangnirtung )
Baffin Island is home to about a quarter of Canadian Inuit. Cape Dorset on the southwest coast is the center of modern Inuit art, the underestimated simplicity of which expresses a harmonious view of life in the Arctic. Inuit paintings have attracted international attention since the 1950s, when they began to be on sale.
For outdoor enthusiasts, Cape Dorset offers hiking and skiing excursions. Iqaluit (formerly known as Frobisher Bay) on the southeast coast, is the capital of Nunavut and another repository of Inuit heritage. Here, local residents laid a network of hiking trails that pass by the ancient stone pyramids that serve as signs.
Another object of admiration on Baffin Island is its glaciers. For example, Penny Ice Cap, 5700 km2 of ice and snow. Sections of the eastern coast of the province, with fjords and picturesque cliffs up to 2100 m high (higher than the wall of the Grand Canyon), also allow you to feel the «breath» of the ice age. In summer, belugas frolic along the local shores.
Today, in Dawson City, located one day from Whitehorse on the Klondike Highway and 240 km south of the Arctic Circle, there are no more than 2,000 inhabitants.
Nevertheless, at the initiative of representatives of the city authorities in charge of historical monuments, the “monuments” of its former glory were restored and reconstructed. Two annual events remind us of the history of Dawson.
The first is rafting on the Klondike River, accompanied by a fancy-dress street procession, music and dancing; they are held on August 17, the opening day. If you miss it, then try to see the second — the race «sheds on wheels» in early September.
One of the city’s main attractions all year round is Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall, an old-fashioned (and legal) casino where girls in red garters famously dance cancan to strum a frustrated piano.
The Dawson City Museum (Dawson City Museum; open: daily mid-May — beginning Sept. 10.00-18.00) will tell you all about the prospecting and mining of gold; among its exhibits are the tools and things of prospectors. Behind the museum is the log cabin of Robert Service, who praised their work and is particularly famous for the poems “The Killing of Dan McGrew” and “Cremation of Sam McGee”.
However, he himself avoided the harsh life of a gold digger, preferring her to work in a local bank. Well, then you will see Jack London’s house: stories and tales of the harsh North brought him much more money than gold mining attempts at Henderson Creek. Nowadays, museums are organized in both houses and readings of the works of these masters are held.
The Klondike Gold Rush has not only ignited the imagination of people around the world with dozens of novels, epic poems and films; she supplied this vast territory with such everyday but necessary things as highways, railways, telephones, electricity and hot water.
In the subarctic country of mountains and glacial lakes near the great Yukon River, modern tourists can thank the miners of the century before last, who spent part of their income on creating certain amenities.
The closest to the events of that time and still being the most striking evidence of the Klondike era, the city of Dawson City in 1951 lost the status of the capital of this territory to the Whitehorse transport and communication center.
Today, this city on the northern shore of the Great Slave Lake is the provincial capital and diamond mining center. We recommend using it as a starting point for travel. On June 21, there is a Midnight Golf Tournament. At the height of summer, daylight hours can last all 24 hours.
To familiarize yourself with the customs of the Inuit of the Arctic and the Dene Indians of the Mackenzie Valley, visit the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Center; open: daily June-August 10.30-17.30; Sep.-May Mon-Fri 10.30 — 17.00, Sat-Sun 12.00-17.00; archives are open: Mon-Fri 9.00-12.00 and 13.00-16.30).
The best view of the city and the lake opens at the monument to the Bush pilots (Bush Pilot’s Monument). They will be absolutely indispensable if you want to go fishing both to the Big Bear Lake (one of the best in the country) and to other remote lakes.
Once the terminal station, where gold miners were transferring from the Skagway train to steamboats traveling along the Yukon River, Whitehorse grew in the midst of the Gold Rush and fell into decay along with its “extinction”. Now it is at the intersection of the highway going to Alaska and Klondike.
The capital of the Yukon since 1953, this quite modern city, home to two-thirds of the provincial population (about 23,000 people), has its sights; among them, for example, an old log church on Elliot Street and several old two- and three-story wooden houses called “log skyscrapers” — their appearance was due to the fact that the city did not have enough free space for building.
In one of these houses is the McBride Museum; First Avenue with a collection of memorabilia from the Gold Rush era and an exposition dedicated to the wildlife of the Yukon.
You can explore the SS Klondike (open: daily May-September), once sailing the river to Dawson, and now anchored at the end of Second Avenue. Upstream, 3 km south of the city, you can take a two-hour cruise along the Miles Canyon on the MV Schwatka.
A two-hour drive southeast of Whitehorse along the Alaskan Highway is the George Johnston Museum, featuring a magnificent collection of artifacts made by the Tlingit Indians, as well as the work of Johnston himself, Tlingit leader, trapper and illustrious photographer.