Welcome to the Yukon

Trip Start Sep 13, 2008
Trip End Oct 04, 2008

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Where I stayed
Laffing Loon

Flag of Canada  , Yukon,
Monday, September 22, 2008

We left Iskut and continued on Hwy 37 North. We passed through Dease Lake and whilst there was not much there it was certainly bigger than Iskut, with a wider choice of accommodation. The scenery along the highway was again stunning we saw the occasional bear and a couple of moose on the edge of a small lake.

We continue through this magnificent countryside until we reached Jade City. Jade City is situated right on the Highway and is made up of a couple of gift stores selling Jade products mined in the local area. We had a good look through the store and chatted with the owner who seems to know everything there is to know about Jade and the local area. Apparently Jade City, BC is the source of 92% of the worlds Jade. There were apparently three Jade mines in operation in the local area and all of them were more than 20 miles into the wilderness, making access very difficult. Jade is one of the densest rocks known to man and therefore very difficult to extract from the ground and transport as it is so heavy.

Having finally picked out a few small souvenirs we got back on the road. After another hour or so we reached the border of British Columbia and The Yukon. This border also marks the crossing of the 60th parallel. The large sign signalling our entry to the Yukon was a perfect photo opportunity. After a couple of miles we reached the end of Highway 37 the Stewart Cassiar Highway. This has been a fantastic drive and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who likes to get off the beaten path.  Hwy 37 ends at the junction with Hwy 1, the Alaska Highway (another of Canada's great northern roads). As much as I wanted to head west and further into the Yukon, we had a schedule to keep and the Northwest Territories were waiting. So we headed south east towards Watson Lake.

We arrived in Watson Lake at around 4pm and decided to drop into the local tourist information centre, which was incredibly useful and housed a museum about the building of the Alaska Highway during the Second World War. After the attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941 the Japanese started making for Alaska and invaded the illusion Islands. The US aware of the strategic importance of Alaska set out to build a road through northern British Columbia to Alaska. Originally there were three proposed routes to take, but due to the need for the road to link up with existing airfield the longest and more difficult route through the Northern Canadian Rockies was chosen. The road starts in Dawson Creek, British Columbia and runs to Delta Junction, Alaska via Whitehorse, Yukon. Completed in 1943, it is 2,237 kilometres or 1,522 miles long. Work began in March 1942 and was completed an incredible 8 months later.

Outside the Tourist Information centre is the Watson lake Signpost Forest. There are hundreds of posts in the ground, with different signs people from around the world have brought and put up. The Sign Post Forest started in 1942 when an American GI, Carl Lindly erected a sign pointing to and stating the distance to his home town in Illinois. Others have since followed his lead. In 1990 the 10,000th sign was erected. In 1992 Carl Lindley returned to the site 50yrs after his first post was erected.  

Following a good walk through the Sign Post Forest we headed to the Laffing Loon B&B, situated on the Robert Campbell highway. We checked in and then headed back into town to find something to eat. Watson Lake like many other small towns in the remote north lacks any real places to have dinner. We decided to buy a few groceries at the local market and make our own gourmet meal (cold pasta and sausage). Food prices are expensive with a loaf of bread costing around $7.

The Laffing Loon B&B was very comfortable and cost $120 for a double en suite room. The B&B is situated on the edge of the Watsons Lake with great view out over the water. Our room had great views over the garden and lake. The Laffing Loon B&B has two guest rooms and the downstairs of the property is made into a guest suite with seating area, kitchen area with microwave and fridge and even a home cinema system.

Distance Travelled - 367Km
Time Taken - Approx 4.5 Hours
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