Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tahmoh Talks About Whitehorse

Facebook Follower Erik Frederiksen asked, "Whitehorse is such a beautiful place, could we have Tahmoh tell us about growing up there"?
Image courtesy of the City of Whitehorse.

Growing up in Whitehorse, Yukon was obviously a somewhat unique experience. I had perspective as I often visited family friends and cousins in British Columbia (BC) while growing up.
Whitehorse was only about 12 thousand people when I was in my first years of school and had almost doubled in population by the time I was in high school. That's significant growth for a small town but 24 thousand is still a far cry from what most would call a city.
That being said, it was the city for many of the smaller communities in the Yukon and even Alaska. People would travel to Whitehorse to get groceries and necessities that they couldn't in their communities. Because of that, I think a lot of us "city" folk felt that status, too.
I could go on and on about growing up in the north but I think there's some common characteristics that most northern communities share. People are often friendly and forward, not know to have a facade or angle. Northerners can be the most hospitable people but will quickly take it back if they don't feel it's being acknowledged or appreciated.
Northern communities, especially Whitehorse, can be rich with the Arts. As a child, I always remember all the music in bars and music festivals. There was also a lot of theatre and a number of play houses. Many internationally known artists who were from the Yukon or, like many, got sucked into that mysterious allure of the Yukon, made it their home. Ted Harrison and Jim Robb, to name a few.
The Yukon also produces some amazing athletes. Sports of all kinds, including Hockey, Soccer, Curling, Baseball and anything else you can name are actively played. Sports and games indigenous to the north are also popular. You can see the best athletes at these sports at The Arctic Winter Games held ever year. A competition for northern and arctic athletes with Nations from many different countries.
People in the north can be wild. Being a Yukoner means you're one of 34 thousand people in a territory of some 483,000 Sq Km's. You're surrounded by vast amounts of wild and fertile northern forest and all the animal inhabitants in it. Impossible not to have a bit of that rugged, wild land in you.
I also had a unique upbringing as I have a First Nation mother and father of British descent. I'm very blessed to have had these two very opposite cultures to be nurtured in. Many of the First Nations culture in the north is ten of thousands of years old, and I was lucky enough to have an incredible Grandmother who was a Matriarch and teacher of the rich customs, oral history and song and dance.


  1. Incredible. I'm going to have to add Whitehorse to one of my dream destinations.

  2. Thanks for the quick answer, I'll give you a tour of Denmark in return, some day. ;)

  3. This may sound like an odd question, but did he write this (as in, type and submit it) himself or was it transcribed from an oral interview?

    It's quite lovely (would get a high grade in a Creative Nonfiction class, really nicely organized and succinct storytelling) but also has some idiosyncratic language usage. Or perhaps I should say, it's quite lovely AND has some idiosyncratic usage.

    If he writes this well AND writes with such an idiosyncratic voice himself, I hope he gets a chance to apply it to a "Hollywood" job (or whatever) because, well, he has a strong voice!


  4. J, if I remember correctly, he did write the parts in italics himself.