The Yukon Territory: Canada’s Far North… The Alaska Highway Series— Part 4

A series of totem poles represented the different Tlingit First Nation clans at the Tlingit Heritage Center on Teslin Lake. This is beaver. I thought he would be a good kick-off to my posts on the Yukon Territory.

Peggy and I, along with our friends Bob Bray and Linda Hart continue to make our way north on the Alaska Highway in my Wednesday photo essay. Today we enter the Yukon Territory, a name that is almost synonymous with the Far North, at least in my mind. Sargent Preston and his dog King were big in my childhood! We didn’t enter with a bang, fortunately. We could have; a tire on our van had developed a large bubble. It was ready to pop! Fortunately, we were able to limp into the small town of Teslin and get it fixed at the local junk yard. The junk yard owner even turned out to be a shovel artist!

This bridge is a beauty backed up by some very impressive scenery. The beauty and the scenery aren’t why I was glad to see it, however. I was hoping the tire on our van that was threatening to blow at any minute would wait.

The tire with its tennis ball sized bubble. The steel belted bottoms of our tires handled the numerous pot holes of the Alaska Highway well. Not so much the side walls. We stopped at a small restaurant in Teslin and asked where we might go to replace the tire.  “Whitehorse” was the reply— 110 miles (177 Kilometers) up the road. “Not likely,” was my reply. “Well, you might try the local junk yard.” It came out more a question than an answer.

We were greeted by this. “Mmm, maybe not good,” Peggy mumbled. A small semi-derelict trailer was apparently the office. I knocked on the door. No one home. I went wandering out among the junked vehicles…

And found John, which is the name I sort of remember. He turned out to be a nice guy. “Well obviously the tire is dead,” he told us, “and I don’t have a replacement. But, I can put on your spare, and maybe you can make it to Whitehorse.”

In talking with John, we discovered he was something of an artist, painting both canvasses and shovels. He quickly agreed to break out his paintings for a photo.

One of his oil paintings of an old cabin.

On our way back south, Peggy and I spent more time at Teslin Lake, first camping there and then visiting the Tlingit First Nation Heritage Center. I decided that our two visits called for a post! Next Wednesday we will continue our journey up the Alaska Highway through the Yukon Territory.

We camped next to Teslin Lake and were treated to this view.

The clouds insisted on showing off. Distant shores suggested the size of the lake. And this was just looking across. The lake was much longer than it was wide.

I was surprised to find the Tlingit First Nation people with their Heritage Center on Teslin Lake since I normally think of the Tlingits and their fabulous totem poles as inhabitants of the coast from the American-Canadian border north. We were greeted with a line of totem poles at the Center that represented the different Tlingit clans. This is Raven.

Meet Frog.

I couldn’t help but think, “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down,” when we checked out Wolf.

Eagle with its hooked beak.

The Center was quite attractive and included both cloth and wood art representing the Tlingit people. This is Beaver with an extra tail and pair of rear legs.

And here we have Wolf with his tongue hanging out.

A number of carved masks were on display. I think that this is Eagle.

I’ll conclude with this carving and what appears to be a female representation. The Tlingit are a matrilineal society with property held and passed down by the women of the tribe.

FRIDAY’S MisAdventures POST: When mischief took place in the town of my youth, there was a mantra: The Mekemson kids did it.

MONDAY’S Travel Blog POST: We continue our journey down the Colorado River, stopping off at the Phantom Ranch. Tom wears Bone and I jump off a cliff.

WEDNESDAY’S Photo Essay POST: We continue on our journey through the Yukon Territory and arrive at the Alaska border.



31 thoughts on “The Yukon Territory: Canada’s Far North… The Alaska Highway Series— Part 4

  1. Whenever I hear mention of the Yukon, I think of Haines Junction. It is one of those places where a bit of your soul remains when you leave. It is where God goes on vacation.

  2. I had just about convinced Alie to try driving the highway — and then she heard about the potholes and the tire. We will still do it if we can — but it might take a little more convincing. 🙂

    • Laughing. Just drive carefully, Ray. Actually, chipped windows are much more of a problem, especially in construction zones. The road is being worked on constantly. Mainly it is a modern highway. It was much different when I drove on it in the 80s. And I can’t even imagine what it was like in the 50s when my cousins were driving it! –Curt

    • My dad painted on a saw or two, G. 🙂 As for the Tlingits, I had been familiar with their work from my trips up and down the Inland Passage to Alaska, but this was my first contact with them inland. –Curt

    • Scary… I thought they were more humorous… But they do represent figures of power, Gerard. So maybe scary is a better definition. And we were ever so happy to roll into Teslin. –Curt

  3. How cool is all this art! I’ve never heard of anyone painting shovels, so that’s fun to see. But I really appreciate the art of the Tlingits. And thanks for adding the term matrilineal society. I’m not sure I’ve heard of that.

    • The Tlingits do some incredible, and fun work, Rusha. And the shovel guy was quite a character. Several cultures around the world have matrilineal societies. I wonder if we would be a more peaceful place if there were more? 🙂 –Curt

    • Worrisome, Peggy! My friend Bob, who was driving behind, called us on the walkie-talkies we were carrying and said, “Um, Curt, I think you have a problem.” 🙂
      On another note, a friend from Alaska just informed us that the ice carving contest in Fairbanks was cancelled this year for lack of sponsorship. Sad. –Curt

  4. That tire bubble reminds me of an incident when I was a kid and the family was driving through Oklahoma City. Cool picures, you’re giving me the itch to go driving at least into BC a ways.

      • Driving through the city on the freeway we developed a bubble even bigger than the one in your picture, to the point it was starting to bang on the fender. We ended up on the side of the freeway on top an overpass or some sort of hill, traffic whizzing past, while my Dad changed the tire. In the car, we all had crossed fingers that nobody would hit him. Dad swore off retreads after that…

  5. That tire had a serious problem, for sure. I don’t get that far off the beaten path, but given my propensity to wander, I keep a close eye on my tires, and replace them just a bit before I have to. Better to blow a tire in the Yukon than in other parts of the country, though. One of my uncles had a flat on one of the bridges going out of Manhattan years — decades — ago, and when he came around to the front of the car after getting his tools from the trunk, there was a guy happily disassembling the wheel and saying something like, “Yo — man. You get what you want from the back, and I’ll take the front.” Life in the big city.

    I really like the fabric art. The carvings are great, but the fabric’s unusual.

    • We’re with you on the tires, Linda, especially given our wandering ways. The tires were in good shape but the side-wall lacked the protection of the bottom. Laughing about your uncle. Or you could be caught like Dave Ply’s dad and be changing a tired with cars whizzing by.
      I’m more a fan of sculpture, so the carvings were my favorite, but the fabric work showed some interesting creativity. We have a number of cloth molas in our house that Peggy brought back from Panama. The fabric totems reminded me of them. –Curt

  6. Beautiful totems, full of colour and drama! I also liked John and his art ..why not paint on a shovel?! 😀 The scenery is simply stunning and awe-inspiring! Wow! 😀 Happy Weekend to both you and Peggy! 😀🌺🌻

    • Both John and the totems were a delight to find, Annika. One of the treats of travel. As for the scenery, there were a few areas where we were driving though forests that blocked all the views. But for the most part, each mile opened to grand vistas. Thanks! And a happy weekend to you as well. We are back in Connecticut visiting with our son and his family. –Curt

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