Canada & Alaska

Michele & Stephen's trip in 2013

Dawson City (Music Festival)

Contrary to our normal practice of just missing festivals we did manage to arrive at Dawson City just in time for their 35th Annual Music Festival.

Dawson City sits at the confluence of the Yukon River (the big brown one) and the Klondike River (the little black one). It went from obscurity to being the Paris of the North (it had electric light before New York) with the 1898 Klondike Gold Rush. At one point Dawson City had a population of around 30,000, this eventually fell to a few hundred, and now sits at 1,900.

Unlike Skagway (which feels like a Disney recreation) Dawson feels real. Admittedly many of the old buildings have been restored by Parks Canada, nevertheless it is a real town city, with real industry (Gold Mining), and a University as well as tourism.

The Masonic Hall (second row, right) looks as if it is made of stone, but like all the other buildings in town it is made of wood, but in this case clad in "tin plate" and painted to look like stone.

The Dawson City Music Festival runs for three days, and whilst the majority of acts could, very broadly, be described as "country" there were other genres on offer.

We particularly liked Hannah Epperson (violin and loop pedal).

The music festival was divided between the main tent and the Palace Grand Theatre (restored to gold rush era grandeur by Parks Canada).

One interesting feature of the festival was the "pot luck" event where performers were mixed at random and then with little or no rehearsal performed in "workshops".

Other interesting performers were Rachel Sermanni from Scotland.

The star of the festival (for us at least) were The Jerry Cans. The Jerry Cans will take you on a stroll through Iqaluit, Nunavut with their unique mix of Inuktitut country swing, throat singing, reggae, and blues, sharing a glimpse of life in Nunavut while challenging misrepresentation of the great white north. Nunavuttitut! Nunavut Style!

Dawson City is well worth several days, with or without the music festival. Recommended. Stay at the Gold Rush Campground in town if attending the music festival (book in advance). Both the Jack London and Robert Service cabins are well worth a look. It is not essential nor probably even desirable to "kiss the toe".