Sour-Toed Cocktail


One gets the feeling that the citizens of Dawson City believe that their town is the end-all of everything.  We meet very few people who drive up the Dempster Highway like we will tomorrow. Time moves slowly in northern Yukon. Life is happy, despite the hardships.

To get a picture in your mind of what I’m experiencing, try to envision the 1920s.  Dawson’s streets are not paved.  The sidewalks are wooden.  We play golf at the Top of the World golf course.  You drive your car on a simple ferry barge to get there.On the first night, we amble over to Gertie’s Gambling Hall, reportedly Canada’s oldest casino.  We purchase tickets for the midnight show, a kind of musical review with scantily-clad dancing girls.  We meet a gaggle of women from the Netherlands – extra tall, of course – who, turned on by our cameras, want to know what we’re doing.  They, like everyone else, consider Mike captivating.

The day ends in a peculiar way. We are having dinner at the Triple J Hotel and Saloon, when Willy, an Invaluit fiddler in a three-person music group playing an assortment of Bluegrass and mountain songs to the delight of a few clog dancers, including me, stumbles by to meet Mike. When we tell him we’re headed for Inuvik, he says, “Tell them Willy says hi.” His demand seems a tad strange because Willy doesn’t identify “them,”  doesn’t give us his last name without prompting and hasn’t been above the Arctic Circle in five years – who’ll  remember him?.  We shall see, I suppose.

Three people that we’re sure not to see in Inuvik are a trio of women who ask to take our photograph. They have seen us in Whitehorse at the Boston Pizza and in Skagway at the Red Onion and know that we’re making a movie.  They’re heading home to wherever they came from as soon as their husbands down a sour-toed cocktail.  Monkey see, monkey do. We follow suit.

Jim and I can see that drinking a shot of whiskey in which a severed human toe has been dropped is not something that Dan wants to do.  But, Mike’s all in on the hoot, of course, so his name’s on the souvenir certificate that we’re taking home to Chicago.

Till Next Time,