For the Love of Whitehorse: Why I Live in the Wilderness City

Occasionally, people will ask me why I’m here.  They don’t mean I should leave– only what it is that keeps me here.  It’s good to think about why you live in the place you do.  You can always say that work brought you here, or love, or you were raised here, or it’s all you know… but I can’t say any of these…  so I start thinking about why Whitehorse is the perfect city.  

Whitehorse has some very unique qualities.  In a nutshell:  It functions as both the capital and largest city of our territory, while maintaining many characteristics of a small town.  It has the cultural capital of a city 10 to 20 times its size, compressed in a small area, as it is home to a surprisingly large number of artsy folk–musicians, artists, writers and our ilk.  Whitehorse is drenched in pivotal and interesting history.  Finally it is surrounded by extensive wilderness that affords outdoor enthusiasts a vast playground, and keeps folks green-minded.    Continue reading

The Fantasy of Beringia, except it’s true

Woolly Rhinoceros
Woolly Rhinoceros

I work at the Beringia Centre, where we preserve Yukon history from 14,000-10,000 years ago. The great land mass of Beringia, situated in what is now the Bering Strait, connecting Siberia and Alaska, was our Atlantis–land that flourished for awhile and then sunk beneath the sea.

While it was here, it was a huge grassland bordered by glaciers and mountains, a refuge untouched by the Ice Age going on in northern North America, a place where plants and animals evolved and lived. And the animals, like the Woolly Rhino to the left, looked like something out of an ancient bestiary.

I think Beringia is a fantasy setting untapped. I would love to get a group of science fiction and fantasy writers to choose Beringia as a setting—scimitar cats, woolly mammoths, hunters crossing the land bridge, giant sloths and beavers, and the magic of the Gwich’in and T’lingit storytelling to go with it. It’s our living fantasy setting, or was.

Everything there is true, and the facts and science could aid a group of writers in developing storylines based on the science and setting of Beringia.

Perhaps one of our assignments in my after school sci-fi/fantasy writing program will be to go to the Beringia Centre and imagine it as a fantasy/sci-fi setting—research the science–develop a story. True, fantasy writers like to come up with settings that utilize wizards, dwarves, dragons, but these are northern European settings, northern European mythology, and Canadian writers have a treasure sitting beneath them.

We don’t have to live by Elves Alone.

Perhaps Beringia will inspire new writers to come up with their own mythology and characters based on this place–and break the European mold. Eh, it’s just an idea. Come visit and see the Fantasy that was really true. I dare Europe to find the bones of a dragon!