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Alaska and the Yukon:
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The 2008 Artpoints Tour of Alaska and the Yukon

Traversing Alaska's great distances. We sail on toward the Yukon!

yukon queen riverboat The Yukon River

It was to be another grueling day of travel. We departed from Gold dredge #8 for our hotel in Tok. An interesting stop at Rika's Roadhouse State Park. The roadhouse was operated by a Swedish Immigrant from the 1920s through 1947. Rika, must have been an very energetic woman, she managed a lodging business, livestock, an extensive garden and restaurant. Tok itself held no great attraction for us. It was a just place to sleep on our way to the Yukon Territories.

We boarded the motorcoach early in the morning heading to Eagle, Alaska where we would board the Yukon Queen riverboat for a cruise to Dawson City, British Columbia. It was another long morning on the motorcoach along a narrow road through the Alaskan Interior. We were glad to get to Eagle!

Eagle, the first incorporated city in Alaska, was founded by disgruntled prospectors. 
We were warmly greeted by local young people who gave us a tour of the local wonders and gave us a brief lesson on Eagle’s colorful  history. We got a glimpse of a small community that has found a way to survive the long dark winters. Local craftsmen set up a marketplace to sell locally produced jewelry and crafts. The jewelry was particularly beautiful. I purchased a pair of gold earrings with tiny beads of mammoth ivory.

wild roses grave grave
Grave markers and wild roses above Dawson City

Dawson City still has some of the feeling of the Gold Rush boom town it once was. The streets are unpaved with boardwalks. Many of the town’s historic building are restored and maintained by Parks Canada. We walked around town and took a hike on the hills above town to a complex of historic graveyards. There was a large Catholic cemetery, a small Jewish cemetery, areas for several fraternal organizations such as the Yukon Order of Pioneers, the Elks and the Masons. A separate and well maintained plot held law enforcement officers, many of whom died young. The grave markers were mostly made of wood, so even fairly recent placards were weathered and difficult to read. Dawson City is also the home of a cabin once inhabited by Robert W. Service, the annointed "Bard of the Yukon".

klondike institute of arts and culture The Klondike Institute of Arts And Culturedawson City 1898Front Street, Dawson City, 1898
kiac KIAC Classroom
kiac gallery KIAC Gallery

We were astonished to see a newly restored building in the center of town serving as a College of Art. We had to investigate! A lovely young librarian gave us an impromptu tour of the recently founded Klondike Institute of Art and Culture. We toured the library, classrooms, media labs and gallery, all beautiful and newly installed. 2007-2008 was the Institute’s first year of operation with 20-some students completing a foundation year in preparation for transfer. The on campus gallery was showing a selection of works by local artists and craftspersons. Of particular interest was a chair created with hand tools by “the Caveman”, a local who lives in a cave above town with his pet chickens.

chair

We were directed to the off-campus ODD Gallery where we saw an installation painted directly on the gallery walls by local artist Jesse Mitchell. How wonderful to see an energetic new Arts institution in the thinly populated Yukon! The community of Dawson has clearly moved mountains to create and support the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture.

 

 

 

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