Kluane Klondike North-Yukon Silver-Trail Campbell Whitehorse Southern-Lakes Watson-Lake

Places to See and Buy Art

An array of experiences await you – enhance your travels by exploring Yukon's creative side.
Search for places where you will encounter art so that you can build an art-infused itinerary. Meet artists who open their studio doors to visitors, check out a local event, make a stop to browse local galleries and shops, see public art, or plan a visit to a museum or cultural centre. Find that one-of-a kind item to take home with you, as a reminder of your Yukon journey. No matter where it takes you, opportunities for unforgettable experiences abound.

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Watson Lake

Southern Lakes
Mount Lorne
Crag Lake
Johnsons Crossing
Marsh Lake
Atlin B.C.

Haines Junction
Destruction Bay
Burwash Landing
Beaver Creek

Ross River
Silver Trail
Stewart Crossing

Pelly Crossing

North Yukon
Old Crow

Watson Lake Region

Watson Lake is a welcoming town. Two main factors spurred the town into existence: the construction of a military airport and the creation of the Alaska Highway, both during World War II. The community and surrounding region are the traditional territory of the Liard First Nation. Today Watson Lake is an important communication hub for tourism, local airlines and mining. Tucked into the southeast corner of Yukon, it is either the gateway to the territory from the Stewart-Cassiar and Alaska highways or a satisfying finish to a Yukon art adventure.

After all that driving, visit the Signpost Forest. Designated as a Yukon Historic Site, the forest was created in 1942 when a homesick U.S. soldier erected a marker showing the distance to his hometown. You're welcome to bring your own sign to add to the 75,000 signs here or make one with supplies provided by the Visitor Information Centre (VIC).

Sparkling lakes are a prominent feature in the boreal forest around Watson Lake, inspiring detailed drawings, meditative photography or creations made from local driftwood.

On Saturdays, find local artists selling jewelry, cards, drawings and other wares at the farmers' market. The Watson Lake Chamber of Commerce hosts an arts and crafts display every year. Ask at the VIC for details of this year's event.

Visit Lucky Lake Park, home to the only outdoor waterslide north of 60, or join a game of beach volleyball. Then wind down with a stroll following the hand-drawn sketches in the historic sites walking tour guide available at the VIC.

You can still enjoy the winter season's phenomenal aurora borealis during the long summer days. Catch a panoramic video of the dancing lights at the Northern Lights Centre's high-tech, domed theatre and let the colours amaze you.

Wherever the road takes you next, a stop in Watson Lake will refresh you.

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Southern Lakes Region

Exploring the Southern Lakes communities can take the form of a day-long drive or a week of road-trip therapy, depending on how many art venues and photo-ops catch your eye. The Southern Lakes area was originally crisscrossed by First Nations trading routes. They, and later adventurers, returned to the area to live surrounded by fish-filled lakes and stunning mountain peaks. Modern adventurers can explore each corner of the region to see how artists in different communities are inspired by the beauty and the rich palette of the seasons.

Mount Lorne tempts visitors with its stunning views of the Wheaton Valley where many homes are off the grid. Daily tasks for artists include chopping firewood as much as weaving or blending paint colours. Watch for creative workshops in drawing and felting, or dances and music nights at the community centre.

Carcross — originally known as Caribou Crossing — comes into view at the end of Bennett Lake. The area is part of the traditional territory of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation and was a staging ground for gold seekers headed to the Klondike. One street houses the oldest operating store in Yukon. In the Carcross Commons murals and totem poles present a lively engagement with traditional Tlingit imagery. Find art shops, cafés, a carving studio and impromptu performances.

Further east at Crag Lake, artists living in cabins along the shore pursue intensive art practices with media such as mosaic and metalwork. Well-known Yukon painter Ted Harrison donated his log cabin and property on Crag Lake for an artist's retreat where Canadian and international visual artists create and share their work.

Bright berries and rare white fireweed add to the boreal forest's colours at Tagish. Moose, caribou and martens thrive in the area. Sculptors may watch the woods for weeks until they see just the right bend of wing for a clay owl or carved raven.

The art-quest trail now takes a jaunt to Marsh Lake where flocks of waterfowl populate Swan Haven during spring and fall migrations. This easily accessible area is perfect for viewing, sketching and photographing birds, perhaps contributing to the fact that so much birdlife is captured in Yukon art.

When you are ready for breathtaking mountain views cruise down to Atlin B.C. The glaciers and mountains here are as spectacular as the Rockies. Embrace the immense views and the intimate details of the area, known affectionately as "Little Switzerland" and home of the Taku River Tlingit First Nation.

Atlin Lake and the dramatic Coastal Mountains are favourite subjects of painters and photographers. The landscape's flowing lines resonate gracefully in quilts, fibre arts, jewelry and carving. Colourful buildings make a funky backdrop for community life, such as the town's annual Atlin Arts and Music Festival in July.

Teslin, home of the Teslin Tlingit Council, is a place where carving and beading are time-honoured traditions. Teslin is home to many Tlingit master sewers and carvers whose work inspires much of the traditional carving and sewing throughout Yukon.

The Teslin Tlingit Heritage Centre offers interpretive displays of centuries of Tlingit history and culture. The five clan posts welcoming visitors to the centre represent each of the Tlingit clans.

The gallery shop features items sewn and carved by hand. Teslin artists have deep bonds with ancestry and the land which is reflected in carving, drumming, storytelling, dance and media arts. The Hà Kus Teyea Celebration is a bi-annual event where all are welcome to celebrate Tlingit culture including dancing, music, food, art and cultural demonstrations.

At every stop in the Southern Lakes, travellers can look for an artwork that captures their own experience of exploration.

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Whitehorse Region

Embracing its role as a capital city, Whitehorse is vibrant and culturally rich, with much to offer. For an urban community with fewer than 30,000 people, there is a remarkable number of galleries and public spaces showing art and fine craft. Light and airy paintings may hang beside earth-toned clay sculptures in one gallery, while at another you might linger over intricate jewelry on your way to discovering hand-bound books and felted hats. Downtown galleries are within easy walking distance. Plan your own gallery hop starting with a coffee in one of the many cafés that showcase local artists' work.

Check local listings for exhibition openings. Some nights see several happening at the same time. At these bustling gatherings, artists and art lovers welcome visitors' perspectives to their animated conversations.

Many artists have open studios. See work in progress and gain insight into the creative process. Events and arts festivals often include workshops, so if you find the creativity contagious, try your hand at making a piece of art!

Experience the array of impressive large-scale artworks in a surprising number of public places. The Canada Games Centre, the Whitehorse waterfront, Shipyards Park, various green spaces and more all make room for visual art. These permanent installations transform ordinary locations into creative spaces. The legendary Yukon River is always nearby when you want to put your feet up and contemplate Whitehorse's visual treasures.

For centuries citizens of Kwanlin Dün First Nation and Ta'an Kwäch'än Council lived beside the Yukon River — Tàgá Shäw, meaning "big river" in Southern Tutchone — lining the banks and surrounding area with fish camps, hunting trails, lookouts, meeting places and burial grounds. The Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre represents a profound connection to the river, a place to experience the First Nation's culture, language and values. View displays of carving, weaving and painting or stop by the Elders' Lounge to see films about Kwanlin Dün history and culture.

Many Yukon arts organizations and facilities are headquartered here in Whitehorse. The Yukon Arts Centre is a visual and performing arts facility offering northern, national and international presentations, surrounded by outdoor sculptures and a stunning view of the river valley. Downtown, the Yukon Art Society fosters creativity through art classes and programs. Arts Underground has visual art and heritage exhibitions and a gift shop. Yukon Artists @ Work, an artist-run cooperative, fills its walls and shelves with artwork for sale by over 25 artists.

Here you can find creations from around the territory. Regional variations and similarities are revealed, evidence of lively interactions in a land of extreme seasons and an underlying belief in live-and-let-live.

This is a creative hub, offering a sample of Yukon art, to inform your plans for further exploration. The Yukon Visitor Information Centre in Whitehorse can help you plan your itinerary.

Your art adventure might be a few intriguing hours or last for colour-infused weeks. Whatever duration you choose, a dose of Whitehorse creativity will fortify your vacation with inspiration and stimulation.

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Kluane Region

Let the Kluane Region captivate you with the St. Elias and Ruby Range mountains, home to the greatest diversity of flora and fauna in Yukon. The main attraction here at the westernmost edge of the territory is Kluane National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site containing the world's largest non-polar ice fields and Mount Logan, the highest peak in Canada. So don't be shy to fill your camera with photographic notes on peaks at sunrise, moose at noon, and historical buildings at dusk.

The beauty and the wonder of the St. Elias Mountains have inspired scientists, artists and writers from around the world. Paintings, quilts and traditional crafts express emotional relationships with this location, and will stand as mementos for travellers.

The tiny settlement of Champagne is within the Southern Tutchone's traditional meeting place called "Shädhäla Ku" or sunny hill camp. The area saw temporary expansions with the Dalton Trail and the Alaska Highway but today is a peaceful place to experience the wilderness. Along the road to Champagne, visitors can stop at Kwäday Dän Kenji, or Long Ago Peoples Place, to experience local First Nations traditional knowledge and food in a pristine setting.

If you love watercolours, you're in for a treat in Haines Junction. Many painters here create light-infused landscapes. The Artists' Guild runs a seasonal gallery in St. Christopher's Anglican Church.

Nearby, the St. Elias Convention Centre boasts a permanent art collection. Highlights include The Millennium Quilt, designed by Libby Dulac and stitched by the Threadbearers Quilting Group, and the dramatic painted triptych Kluane's Mount Logan, by Nathalie Parenteau.

For such a small community, Haines Junction has an inspiring commitment to creativity. One per cent of municipal income is spent on public art! Look for sculptures along the main streets. Several are made with metal, their robust angles a reminder of the surrounding mountain peaks.

The Parks Canada Kluane National Park and Reserve Visitor Centre and the Yukon government Haines Junction Visitor Information Centre (VIC) share the same building as the Da Kų Cultural Centre. The elegant sculptural centerpiece is Ice and Flowers, made by Teslin Tlingit artist Doug Smarch Jr.. You can view artwork from around the territory, take in the interactive displays and plan an exciting day of hiking, wildlife viewing and art seeking without having to move your vehicle.

The cultural centre reveals the history of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations people. The ancient tradition of adorning clothing and moccasins with porcupine quills evolved into beadwork when trading with Europeans began. Today, beadwork appears on everything from clothing, footwear and dolls to phone cases. Check out the retail shop.

The Alaska Highway offers sustained views of pristine Kluane Lake. Destruction Bay, built as a maintenance camp during the construction of the highway, appears tucked against the lakeshore. This tiny but welcoming community is worth a stop for photography, lunch and browsing the local artwork, including burl bowls.

Along to Burwash Landing the visual feast continues. Originally a summer camp for the Southern Tutchone people, it is the main settlement of the Kluane First Nation. The gift shop at the Kluane Museum of Natural History features functional fur hats, knife scabbards and moccasins. Yukon singer Diyet grew up here and her CD could be the perfect soundtrack for the drive to your next stop, Beaver Creek. This community and the surrounding area are the home of the White River First Nation. The friendly VIC staff here, in Canada's most westerly community, can guide you to nearby points of interest or show you displays of local sewing and beadwork.

Whether you're leaving or just nosing your vehicle into Yukon, the grand vistas in the Kluane Region will add wonder to your art adventure.

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Campbell Region

On a quest for a peaceful, scenic journey off the beaten path, head to the Campbell Region, named for explorer Robert Campbell, a Hudson's Bay Company fur trader. The mountains in the region, have older, softer summits than other Yukon ranges. Many travellers plan for a day or two here but stay longer to soak up the quiet beauty.

The Campbell Highway runs beside Little Salmon Lake for several picturesque kilometres. You'll pass Eagle Rock, a prominent feature on the Yukon River where the sternwheeler Columbian exploded and burned in 1906. Across the lake, a more recent wildfire burn creates spectacular colour and views when the fireweed blooms.

U.S. naturalist and conservationist Charles Sheldon explored the area and wrote The Wilderness of the Upper Yukon in 1911, a vivid description of the region's history. Available as an e-book, it could be perfect for reading around the campfire.

Faro was built in 1968 as a company town for one of the world's largest lead-zinc mines, which closed in 1998. Now known for its wildlife, history and the serenity of the landscape, artists love the many areas of this region: Little Salmon Lake, the Pelly River, the South and North Canol roads, Fisheye Lake and the Anvil Range.

Faro hosts the Crane and Sheep Festival each May. Huge flocks of sandhill cranes pass through on their annual migration. You can observe Fannin sheep, unique to this part of Yukon, year-round from nearby Mount Mye. Look for art at the Campbell Region Interpretive Centre and gather information about walking trails and wildlife viewing. Watercolour is the ideal medium for evoking river mists; acrylics vibrantly express autumn's hues. Find one-of-a-kind sculptures made from local diamond willow.

The area at the confluence of the Ross and Pelly rivers, has long been a summer gathering place for First Nations, and the community of Ross River is home to the Kaska Dena people. Carving, beading and sewing are the main Kaska art forms. Dramatic facial expressions and unique materials like feathers and horse hair give masks an unforgettable emotional charge. The antler carvings of local wildlife and the beaded floral motifs reflect the longstanding relationship with the land. Meet artists to hear the stories behind their work. Many don't have formal studios so feel free to ask for introductions at the local hotel, gas station or when chatting with the locals.

The historic North Canol Road (short for Canadian American Northern Oil Line) attracts history hunters, cyclists, hikers and artists. The road was built for a World War II pipeline project and is now maintained seasonally. It runs up into the Northwest Territories and offers a breathtaking, though bumpy, journey into rarely seen landscapes.

Literary fans will recall a scene from Margaret Atwood's novel, MaddAddam, where a desperado encounters cyclists on the remote Canol Road. Travellers will be awed by views of the Selwyn Mountains to the north and the Pelly Mountains to the south.

Along the Campbell Highway, take advantage of the laid-back atmosphere and search out local artists, their creations and their love of the area's solitude. The far-flung reaches of the region's winding highway hold artistic treasures for those who venture on the road less travelled.

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Silver Trail Region

The Silver Trail starts where the North Klondike Highway meets the Stewart River, about 350 kilometres north of Whitehorse. In this region, keep an eye out for the treasures missed by those who stick to Yukon's southern routes. Stewart Crossing, the gateway to the Silver Trail, is more than a beautiful spot to stretch your legs. Find a surprise collection of wooden burls and small carvings in the gas station. The tourist information booth has brochures and walking trail guides.

The Village of Mayo and the surrounding region are the traditional territory of the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun. The area is home to many artisans, as you'll see at Binet House. The restored heritage building's museum collection includes early twentieth-century photographs and geological displays. Binet House also showcases beaded and fur clothing made by local First Nation citizens. The gift shop includes traditional beadwork alongside colourful fibre art and jewelry.

Each June, artists and musicians gather for the Mayo Arts Festival, a weekend celebration of Stewart Valley creativity. Take a workshop in felting, moose hair tufting or quillwork.

When you're ready for spacious hillsides, head up to Keno. With the discovery of silver in 1919, this community sprang up in the hills between Mayo Lake and the Patterson Mountain Range. Workers flocked to the area, forming a flourishing international community until the mines closed in 1989. Today, about 30 people live here.

On a walking tour (free maps are available at the Keno City Mining Museum) you'll see historical buildings still intact and in place, like Geordie Dobson's Beer Bottle House. If it's raining, the tiny one-room library door is always unlocked and you can cozy up for a read.

The Keno City Mining Museum occupies Jackson Hall, Keno's old community centre. As you explore displays about mining life and a tight-knit community, take note of the collection of exquisite butterflies found only around Keno. The gift shop carries works by artists captivated by Keno.

Keno's stories continue to inspire Yukon artists. Folk singer Kim Barlow created musical portraits of Keno's citizens in her album luckyburden, while Andrew Connors has made several films mixing contemporary images with archival footage of the boomtown years.

The Keno Snack Bar is irresistible. It's a quirky time capsule of snack and toy items from the mines' peak years. You can order homemade pizza as you take in the eccentric display of pop cans, tobacco tins and memorabilia.

The Silver Trail is an excellent place to see how artists thrive when they head off the beaten path. The long evenings give plenty of time for you to chat up the locals for tales of life here.

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Klondike Region

Tens of thousands of people set out for the Klondike when gold was discovered, and about thirty thousand made it there over daunting mountains and down the unpredictable Yukon River. Today, the six to seven hour drive from Whitehorse to Dawson is on comfortable roads. But the sense of adventure still exists in the vast scenery, vibrant First Nations culture and storied communities you'll discover as you head to the rugged Klondike Valley, where gold is still mined today.

The expedition starts at Carmacks, named after George Carmack, an American prospector and one of the co-discoverers of Klondike gold. Carmacks and the surrounding region are the traditional territory of the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation. By the turn of the century, the town was an important overnight stop on the trail to Dawson and a fuel stop for sternwheelers. A telegraph line went through to Dawson in 1899 and today the community visitor information centre is housed in the old telegraph station. A walking tour guide from the centre lists the historical buildings in Carmacks, many visible from the waterfront boardwalk.

Long ago, the Northern Tutchone established fish camps here and traded with Tagish, Tlingit and Southern Tutchone people. The Tagé Cho Hudän Interpretive Centre features Northern Tutchone culture, including bone and stone tools and a moose skin boat.

Just north of Carmacks, is a panoramic view of Five Finger Rapids. Many stampeders lost their boats here en-route to Dawson. Take a short hike for a closer look at this treacherous part of the Yukon River.

The North Klondike Highway curves north into the Pelly River Valley. First built as a construction camp for the highway, Pelly Crossing later became home to the Selkirk First Nation people who left their riverside settlement at Fort Selkirk when traffic switched from sternwheelers to highway vehicles.

Big Jonathan House, Selkirk First Nation's cultural centre, is a replica of the original building at Fort Selkirk. Exhibits feature a model of a fish camp. Look for birch bark baskets and beaded moose hide slippers and admire the carvings, especially masks made in birch, alder and cedar.

Next is Stewart Crossing, the start of the Silver Trail. From here head to Dawson, the heart of the Klondike Gold Rush, and the first city in Western Canada to have electric street lights and an opera house.

The spirit of '98 brought gold seekers, entrepreneurs, dance hall girls, poets and schemers, collectively nicknamed "stampeders", to the Klondike. Check with the VIC for walking tours that reveal amazing tales.

During the gold rush, many Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation (Hän) people relocated to the village of Moosehide, northeast of Dawson on the Yukon River. The Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre describes Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in historical and contemporary culture. The gift shop has delicate beadwork, books and CDs of Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in stories. Visitors can enjoy bannock, interpretive trail walks, music, dance and film.

A century into Dawson's evolution, the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture (KIAC) was formed. Part art venue and part community hub, the organization offers contemporary art exhibitions in the ODD Gallery and events in the KIAC Ballroom. Its residencies attract artists from all over the world adding an international flavour to the creative flow.

Gold rush tenacity continues today. Dawson is home to goldsmiths, painters, photographers, milliners and more. Jewellers work with gold nuggets and mammoth ivory, prized local materials unearthed by current mining activities. Peruse downtown galleries and jewelry stores, and weekly artists' and farmers' markets. Find woodcut prints, mosaics and nature photography in the gift shop at the Dawson City Museum.

Klondike dreams are reinvented every year as travelers and locals relive the excitement of adventures made in this legendary land.

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North Yukon Region

Old Crow nestles near the top of the territory's wedge-shaped outline on the map. Yukon's most northern community, it is home to the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, known for trapping muskrat and hunting caribou. Today, the visitor-friendly community continues to live in close relationship with the Porcupine River and the surrounding wilderness. The area's arts and crafts reflect a connection to the land. Travellers can find locally made artisanal works at the John Tizya Centre and, on a lucky day, might sample dried moose or caribou meat.

Access to Old Crow is only by air (unless a vacationer is ready for a lengthy river journey!). Though remote, people, ideas and goods travel in and out regularly. Over time, Gwich'in artists have embraced new art forms such as painting and photography. Old Crow art flows southward, too. Elder Fanny Charlie, for example, has beadwork in the Yukon Permanent Art Collection.

This is a place of time-honoured artistic traditions. Grandmothers and mothers teach younger generations the intricacies of beading and sewing, passing down traditional colour combinations and patterns, like the Old Crow Rose. Beadwork patterns also evolve as artists personalize their work on vests, boots, slippers and gloves. Baby belts — traditional garments for carrying infants — feature intricate floral patterns and tassels, obvious statements of commitment and love.

Most sewn goods are made from caribou or moose skin, and trimmed with wild-trapped rabbit, marten or beaver fur. Caribou antler appears in an amazing number of forms, from hair clips and buttons to sculptures made from an entire antler, their natural curves outlining scenes of dog-sled teams, howling wolves or ravens.

Cultural products made in Old Crow are gorgeous, and take plenty of time to make. Long summer days find the people who create these works busy fishing and spending time on the land. Many artists adapt their studios to work in temporary camp set-ups.

The John Tizya Centre is the place to find local creative works and offers a marvellous collection of art if you are looking for a memento of your time spent under the midnight sun.

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