Blog / Archives / August 2014

Culture Days Call for Submission

The Yukon Arts Centre and Yukon Historical and Museums Association are pleased to present Culture Days / Doors Open Yukon 2015. The sixth annual Culture Days weekend that  will take place across Canada September 25, 26 and 27, 2015, and will feature thousands of free, hands-on, interactive activities that invites the public to engage with the arts and cultural life of their communities. Similar to last year, we will be combining Culture Days with Doors Open, an annual international event that provides free public access to culturally and historically important buildings, and celebrates our local arts, heritage and culture with free events including a mystery tour, self-guided heritage and culture tours, artist demonstrations and much more.

We would like to invite artists to participate in Culture Days / Doors Open Yukon 2015 and help us in our goal of offering the public free access to Yukon’s vibrant culture. Artists are encouraged to complete the Call for Subissions Form  and submit a project that would support the Culture Days/ Doors Open initiative. We are interested in any and all ideas that you may have in contributing to the celebration, this is an opportunity for a variety of activities or performances. An honorarium will be available for successful artists!

Provide an overview of your project and include any and all information required to fully describe your project proposal. Visit the Yukon Culture Days website to find out what activities are already registered for this year. 

NOTE: All submissions will be matched with a confirmed list of locations TBD. For consideration, please feel free to suggest a location which you feel would best suit and accommodate your submission. If your project requires site specific specs, please do include these in your description.

Artwork Wednesday: Jacqueline Olson

Artwork Wednesday: Jacqueline Olson

This week’s Artwork Wednesday features the work of Jacqueline Olson’s Gwich’in Dress and Moccasins, currently on display until August 23rd in the Locate: Selections from the Yukon Arts Centre Permanent Collection exhibition. Olson’s heritage is of both Gwich’in and Danish descent and the artist was born and raised in Dawson City, YT. Olson studied Arts Administration at Camosun College (Victoria, BC) and later pursued a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Alberta College of Art and Design (Calgary, Alberta).  The artist returned to Dawson in 1992 and remains very involved in the Yukon arts community.

Gwich’in Dress was created in response to Bill C31. The bill sought, in part, to revise specific elements of the Indian Act governing Indian Status, which were considered discriminatory. Consequently, when the bill came into effect, Olson became a status Indian. This prompted the artist to explore her cultural background as a newly designed First Nations person and, more specifically, the Gwich’in heritage which she shares with her grandparents. The artist associates the fibre of paper to tanning skin, the process, the texture, and the overall look are the parallels she seeks.  Olson views paper as a medium with great duality with its ability to be both fragile and durable. Gwich'in Dress and Moccasins is constructed out of handmade paper and is adorned with decorative porcupine quills.

Olson identifies with the notion of process, whether traditional or contemporary, as the most important part of creating. The traditional craft in tanning a hide or making paper from fibres is a tedious process which provides the artist with a meditative period to contemplate her future works. Olson strives to project a uniqueness that is individual and expresses the balance of cultures she is a part of.  

To view more works by the artist, here

2014 Conrad Boyce Award presented to Scott Wilson

2014 Conrad Boyce Award presented to Scott Wilson

Conrad Boyce is best known for his love of theatre and great dedication to the arts in the Yukon. In recognization as a crucial member of the community, the  Conrad Boyce Award is annually presented to a new recipient, this year it is Scott Wilson. Similar to Boyce, Wilson has been an integral part of the arts community in the Yukon and is best known for his commitment to Jazz Yukon and as a band member in the Whitehorse based group Second Cousins, that preforms a medley of bluegrass, roots, and alt-country music.

Initially not having known much of Boyce's history, Wilson first heard of his participation in the Yukon arts scene as a board member of and director for the Golden Horn Music Society (GHMS). When Wilson first arrived in the Yukon the GHMS was spearheading performances such as Man of La Mancha, Annie, and Sound of Music to name a few. Boyce and Wilson first met while playing in the pit orchestra for Annie, which Boyce directed. Wilson recounts on story from the opening night:

The show was well on its way, when Boyce came out from the curtain and said "Is there a doctor in the house?"  Everyone laughed, but he was serious.... My friend Rachel was directing the pit orchestra and she pointed her baton at me and said, "I think you are needed back stage".  I ran back stage to find Daddy Warbucks (Mark Smith) writhing around in the wings with a dislocated shoulder, a recurring problem, and provoked by a very quick costume change trying to get into a jacket. My dear friend Dorothy Martin (an ER nurse who was in the play) was on the wing when I arrived.  As the band played on and the actors improvised on stage... we looked at each other... didn't really say much and just did our nurse-doctor thing and reduced the dislocated shoulder, strapped him up, put Daddy Warbucks in his next costume change and sent him back on stage... to complete the evening's performance. Dorothy and I resumed our respective spots in the cast!

Boyce first arrived in the Yukon by way of the Alaska Highway in the summer of 1977 from Grande Prairie, Alberta, where he was living at the time. He enjoyed the Frantic Follies to the point that he decided to audition, was accepted, and returned to the Yukon to work for them in the summer of 1978. Boyce began to explore his love theatre at an early age while in high school in Edmonton, Alberta. Apart from the Follies, his first theatre experience in Whitehorse was that winter of 1980/81, when he directed some of the first productions held at the Guild Hall and Man of La Mancha at FH Collins. La Mancha is one of Boyce’s most memorable productions along with and Godspell, also at FH Collins, Annie and The Wizard of Oz held at the Yukon Arts Centre, and a Bevy at the Guild Hall. Boyce recounts what he suggest may have perhaps been his favourite production "Romeo and Juliet for the Whitehorse Drama Club, in 1989 at the old Indian Centre in Riverdale (no longer there). I had two young teenage Juliets who were amazing. One of them, Kelly Hayes Milner, still lives in Whitehorse."

Closed on Discovery Day

Closed on Discovery Day

The Yukon Arts Centre will be closed Monday, August 18 for the holiday. Happy Discovery Days!

Artwork Wednesday: The Birthplace of McGee and McGrew

Artwork Wednesday: The Birthplace of McGee and McGrew

With the Jim Robb’s Yukon exhibition coming to a close on August 23rd, this week’s Artwork Wednesday will feature his piece entitled The Birthplace of McGee and McGrew currently on display in the gallery.

A popular Northern poem as told by the bard of the Yukon, Robert W. Service, here Jim creates a mystifying composition illustrating the house where the iconic poems The Shooting of Dan McGew and The Cremation of Sam McGee were conceived.  Before his literary career, Service was an employee of the Imperial Bank of Canada and in 1904 he was transferred to the Whitehorse branch. Legend has it, that during a walk one Saturday night, Service overheard the lively sounds of the town’s nightlife drifting from a saloon. Inspired by the cacophony coming from the bars crowd, the verse “a bunch of the boys were whooping it up” was brought to mind. Instantly inspired, he immediately head to the bank to write down the line. In Jim’s piece, the artist depicts the silhouette of Service sitting in the bank window burning the midnight oil completing The Shooting of Dan McGrew.

A bunch of the boys were whooping it up in the Malamute saloon;
The kid that handles the music-box was hitting a jag-time tune;
Back of the bar, in a solo game, sat Dangerous Dan McGrew,
And watching his luck was his light-o'-love, the lady that's known as Lou.

It was only a short while later that Service heard a story from a Dawson miner about fellow who cremated his companion after a long cold journey. Once again inspired by the fantasy of the North, Service was taken by the tale and embarked on a walk through the forest where he composed The Cremation of Sam McGee. These poems along with a small selection of others all inspired by the Yukon were published in Service’s book of poems titled Songs of a Sourdough in 1907.

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Sam McGee's cabin


This photo shows the cabin of Sam McGee where it was orginally located on Elliot Street between Third and Fourth Aveune in Whitehorse. Today, the cabin is maintained and held on the MacBride Museum site. While Service describes Sam McGee as a prospector from Tennessee, this is merely a testement to the elaborate imagination of the poet. The real Sam McGee was in fact a buisness man, who operated lodgings at Canyon Creek, orginally from Ontario and arrived in the Yukon in 1898. Service ultized the rhyming properties of McGee's name, and excersiced his poetic license in re-creating the Dawson miner's story. 

Service's cabin in Dawson City

Robert W. Service

Read The Shooting of Dan McGrew here, and The Cremation of Sam McGee here. Also, to learn more about Robert W. Service's career and life in the Yukon visit here