It was the week before Christmas when Australian television presenter, Eddie McGuire, arrived at Canada’s Yukon Territory with his family.
The Yukon, with its official catch-phrase being ‘Larger Than Life’, was the perfect match for Eddie, also famous for his larger-than-life personality. And it was truly love at first sight. From the friendly township of Whitehorse to the immense snowy mountain vistas, the Yukon served up a sensory smorgasbord for the McGuire family. One that they’ll never forget.
Winter in the Yukon
Winter in the Yukon is a 360-degree experience. It’s the snow and ice crunching under your feet. It’s the crisp air and the endless fir forests drenched in what looks like vanilla ice-cream. Overhead, it’s the night sky lit up with a billion sparkling stars and the aurora borealis, a light show to end them all.
Eddie and his family stayed at the luxurious Inn on the Lake, 35 minutes from the capital city of Whitehorse.
A luxurious spruce lodge on Marsh Lake, the Inn is one of the few places in Canada where you can actually stay and see the aurora right from the Inn. The lonely call of the loon was the perfect soundtrack for Eddie as he stepped on to the frozen lake in the early hours of the morning.
“We stood on the frozen lake at two in the morning, looked up and saw the northern lights,” says Eddie. “It was truly a moving experience. It was something you have to see to believe.”
The aurora borealis – also known as the northern lights – dance across the Yukon night sky with shimmering and pulsing washes of green, magenta and blue that arch and sway in the heavens. You never forget the first time you see the phenomenon, and if you visit the Yukon between August and April, you have some of the best odds of catching the celestial fireworks anywhere on Earth.
The lights are caused by solar flares on the sun.
The flares release charged ions that take two to five days, at 60,000 km/sec, to reach Earth’s atmosphere and shower it with neon pink and green swathes of colours. It’s a spectacle as old as Earth itself, giving birth to ancient legends.
The Inuit believe the lights are a team of dead souls playing soccer with a walrus head, while the Japanese say a child conceived beneath these shifting curtains of colour will be lucky in life.
Fun for Eddie McGuire
How to top the world’s greatest light show? Eddie and his family headed off to Sky High Wilderness Ranch in the mountains surrounding Fish Lake.
Located 30 minutes from Whitehorse, right on nature’s doorstep, Sky High provides incredible outdoor adventures during summer and winter, while always respecting the culture and land of the local Kwanlin Dunn First Nations people, whose history dates back centuries in around this area.
With traditional yurts and a kennel of 150 dogs at Sky High, Eddie and his family were able to step back in time, gaining first-hand knowledge of how life once was, when dog sleds were the only means of winter transportation.
Eddie admits he was a nervous first-timer. But when he finally let go of the brakes and let the dogs take over, the exhilaration was overwhelming.
Placing his trust in his well-trained canine friends, Eddie sped along the snow, through a perfect winter wonderland. In that moment, time seemed to stop and an overwhelming sense of being one with nature took over.
“With the sun setting over the snow-capped mountains, you couldn’t get any more ‘back to nature’ than this!” says Eddie.
The team at Sky High Wilderness Ranch are Yukon enthusiasts, the ultimate guides for a dog mushing adventure. Ian McDougall, Jocelyne LeBlanc, and Gary and Trudy Burdess relish the chance to show visitors what the Yukon lifestyle is all about. Each one has a wealth of experience and knowledge to share.
Ian is a true Yukon cowboy, a talented trapper, musher and horseman who knows every trail, creek and mountain in the Fish Lake area.
Jocelyn has around 44 dogs at the ranch and raced in the 2010 Yukon Quest, winning both the ‘Red Lantern Award’ and the ‘Challenge of the North Award’ for completing the Quest from Dawson City with only seven dogs.
Gary and Trudy have lived in the Yukon for almost 20 years, truly dedicated to ‘keeping the wilderness alive’ in the summer and winter activities at Sky High.
With its impossibly vast landscape, untamed wildlife and meandering rivers, the Yukon speaks for itself. But for those of you who like to assign words to a place that defies description, Eddie McGuire has this to say:
“The Yukon is better than anything you could ever imagine. If you’ve ever dreamed of doing something completely out of your mind-space, this is the place to come to.”
Eddie McGuire and his family flew 2.5 hours from Vancouver to Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory on Air North. The airline offers a year-round daily commercial service and is known for its authentic Yukon hospitality, reliability and commitment to a world-class customer experience. Air North flies to Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, Northwest Territories and Ontario.
For more information see Travel Yukon.
For more things to do in Canada see Best of Canada.
Where else to visit? Here are some historic and nature-based attractions with accomodation you will love.