Category Archives: Letters from Lynn

Lynn Went to Whitehorse

Here’s a new travel journal from Lynn! Last month, she took off on an adventure to Whitehorse, in the Yukon Territory.

Flying to Whitehorse

On November 18, I boarded the Air North flight from Vancouver to Whitehorse, YT. It’s a two-hour flight, and if the sky is clear, it’s one of the most spectacular trips in the country. From take-off over the North Shore, you see the Rockies tumble and crest like waves—one massive white-capped peak after another. You see glaciers grinding their way through the rocks and canyons scored by rivers; the silted arteries, which lured gold rush pioneers into the heart of northern British Columbia. Few roads are visible, yet thousands of people travelled inland risking their lives hoping to strike it rich. On horseback, by mule, dogsled, and on foot they explored every inch of this impossible terrain. I prefer to fly!

The Whitehorse River

The Whitehorse River

Air North is a surprise in this day of “pack ‘em in, get ‘em off,” bottom line expediency. Not only do you get two cups of coffee, included is a hot sandwich and a fresh, still warm cookie—something the regular commuters always look forward to. Added to this excellent treatment was the assurance that personal belongings left on board would be returned to you. I found this out when my seatmates and I were called to a desk while waiting for our luggage. A book had been found in the seat pocket in front of us and the staff didn’t want it to be lost. How extraordinary.

Traveling with Musicians

I’d been looking forward to this trip for several weeks. All year, my friend Paul Lucas and his trio had been performing in Northern BC, the NWT, and several places in Alaska. This time, they were working with a wonderful singer and preparing for a concert in Whitehorse, which I wanted to attend. Paul plays jazz guitar and is well known for his talent, his originality and his great sense of humour.

Yukon Comic Culture Society

Since I’d be spending a good ten days in the city, I thought it would be fun to meet some of the local artists. I asked Paul to connect me with some of the folks there so I could ask about doing a workshop or two. As it turns out, there is a comic art society in Whitehorse (the Yukon Comic Culture Society), and in no time, two workshops, a school talk and a book signing were organized. I was going to be busy!

Paul and I set ourselves up in the High Country Inn, the same place William and Kate stayed last summer. The giant carved wooden Mountie at the front entrance makes it easily recognizable. Unlike the statue of David, which has a large head (reported to have been purposefully done in order to give the figure correct proportion when viewed from below), the High Country Mountie has an extremely small head. I thought about this every time I went into the building: the word “High” —perhaps a significant tool in the artists’ method and design.

The small-headed Mountie.

The small-headed Mountie.

Exploring Whitehorse

It didn’t take long for me to find my way around. Whitehorse reminded me of North Bay, Ontario and Lynn Lake, Manitoba combined. With its northern location and a neat population of residents, I immediately felt at home. What impressed me most was the level of creativity and the emphasis everywhere on art and culture. Live music, galleries, theatre and dance are encouraged all year ‘round. I was told that there were more kids enrolled in dance than in hockey. Where else in Canada does that happen?! The Christmas craft fairs were in full swing. Coloured lights were being wrapped around trees in the parks, along the streets and everywhere. With fresh snow on the ground, the place was joyously festive and alive. It made me laugh to know that people in the south ask why anyone would want to go to the Yukon in winter. Having lived in small northern towns, I know why people go north and why they stay there.

The old Whitehorse train station.

The old Whitehorse train station.

Mac’s Fireweed Books

Mac’s Fireweed Books is the city’s delightful independent bookstore. On the 22nd, they hosted a book signing, and for an hour or two, I met and chatted with folks from the area and beyond. One couple was from Los Angeles. They were newlyweds and had decided to go somewhere exciting for their honeymoon. Now, there’s a marriage with a great start!

Mac's Fireweed Books

Mac’s Fireweed Books

Teaching Workshops

The two workshops were held on the 24th in a central gallery located in the basement of a large sporting goods shop, and appropriately called “Arts Underground.” My first crew of 10 were ages 8 to 11 or so…all of whom had talent and enthusiasm. In the evening, my second class of 10 were all women—all accomplished artists and all welcoming and encouraging. Afterwards, I felt as though I’d known these ladies for much longer than two hours. We exchanged phone numbers and addresses, and promised to get together again sometime. Wow!

Golden Horn Elementary

On the 25th, I visited Golden Horn Elementary School. The first thing I noticed were the racks of skis and snowshoes at the entrance; just one of the things which made this school exceptional.

Skis and Snowshoes for the kids.

Skis and Snowshoes for the kids.

Everywhere I looked, I saw great ideas; drawings of “worry monsters” (the things which occupy your mind when you’re worried), a handmade fishing net filled with paper fish, a tank with salmon eggs waiting to hatch, handwritten original poetry, superb art projects, and so much more. I kept wishing I was a kid again and was a student there. My talk was an hour long and the kids were wonderful. When they aren’t in a rush to leave, you know you’ve hit home!

A Private House Concert

I had brought several small paintings to finish while I was there and I also had a good book. I had little time for these. Paul rehearsed often and then the concert was on! The venue was a spacious private home and it was a sold out crowd. Couches and chairs were set up to face a “stage.” Two tables of munchies and a BYOB bar made this show a great big party. I think there were 55 people there—all ready to enjoy live music and an evening of fun. Brazilian jazz began the first set, followed by some Rhythm and Blues. People were dancing in the halls and the band got several standing (or trying to stand) ovations. What a great way to stage a show: in a private home, with the musicians so close you can touch them!

Heading Home Again

The following day, we had breakfast with friends, packed, and planned our flight home. It’s hard to believe that something I looked forward to and the band rehearsed for for so long, was over so fast. Still, that’s the way it goes with good times; looking forward is almost as exciting as the event itself … and then, you’re looking back! So, here’s to looking forward again, and to all the good times and all the great memories yet to come! Have a happy December.

ship

The Klondike, moored in the river.

Lynn J.

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Lynn Visits Atlin, British Columbia

In another life, my dad must have been a prospector. As a jeweller, he was interested in gemstones and minerals, but he was also captivated by stories of the gold rush and read extensively about the people who pioneered their way through the interior of British Columbia. I often went with him to gold pan on the Coquihalla River and to check out sandbars on the fast flowing Fraser. He had a sixth sense for finding gold-bearing quartz and for jade good enough for carving. One summer, he took the family on a road trip to Barkerville, a town built by the gold rush and still standing thanks to a small tourism industry. On the way, we camped on the property of a friend of his—a man who had staked a claim and was busily digging his own mine, but that’s a story for another time!

Even with my dad’s focus on our provincial history, I had never heard of Atlin, B.C. Accessible by road through Whitehorse in the Yukon, it remains one of the few gold rush towns (still active) still inhabited by people whose family histories date back to the late 1800s. I have just returned from Atlin and I have to tell you about this experience while it’s still fresh in my mind.

My friend, Paul Lucas, a talented musician, has had a cabin in Atlin for over 40 years. During the late 70s, he travelled to the Yukon with other artists and musicians looking for freedom, space, adventure and the possibility of owning a small piece of property. Atlin, a two-hour drive southeast of Whitehorse and just over the BC border, offered all of that. Paul’s life and his music have revolved around this part of the country, and despite extensive travel and another life in Phoenix Arizona, his roots are set firmly in Atlin. Continue reading

Lynn’s Notes: Canada Day on the Quay

Here’s a note from Lynn about the Canada Day festivities she enjoyed, near her home in Vancouver:

I live a 15 walk from the waterfront, where the Sea Bus comes in to the Quay. There are family parks are on all sides.

I walked down with my daughter and her family, to see the Canada Day spectacle. There were tents set up everywhere with the usual buskers, crafts, and balloon animals…but the food trucks are the big draw. There are dishes from everywhere: Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, China, India, Persia, the Caribbean, Greece, Germany…and then you have Québecois poutine, English pot pies, and the Canadian grilled cheese sandwich vendor (with the best mac’n’cheese anywhere), whose stuff is so good he had to get a second truck.

People-watching is the best here. WASPS are in the minority, and even if you do run into a European family, you can’t expect them to speak English. You hear Russian, Dutch, Danish, and Spanish…it’s a real melting pot, with couples of all colours going hand in hand. My mother used to say "We should all intermarry, then the population would all be the same colour. There would be no racial differences, everyone would get along." So, I said "Mom, you’d be happy if I married a Japanese man?" She looked shocked, and said sharply in her British best, "Not US, dear!!" Well, Mom. The day has come. There is mixing and matching, and it’s all working out just fine.

We stayed most of the day. Large tugboats came up to the wharf, and did what they called the "tugboat ballet". These things have monstrous engines and side thrusters, which allow them to be maneuvered in every direction. Four of them, polished and new, did movements in unison, facing each other in square dance fashion, lining up side to side, then swirling as fast as they could in place…the way they whipped the water up looked like a frothing storm—everyone on the jetty was sprayed, and the kids were mesmerised. None of us will ever watch the tugboats now without thinking about the day they danced at the Quay!

We stayed until 3:00, just in time to walk up to the movie theatre and take in a show. It was quite a day. We then went back to Kate and Lane’s. We were all full from the food trucks, so my granddaughter, Laura, and I had painting time in the basement studio. I’ve been working on a rather goofy cartoon painting of a dog, and Laura puttered about with watercolours. What’s good about her being there when I’m painting, is that I’m too focused on what I’m doing to watch her closely. I can’t answer her questions the way I normally would, and she can only break my concentration if she needs clean water or has an accident. This means she has become independently creative. She’s doing lovely abstract designs, learning to mix colours, and is enjoying the freedom to see whatever materializes from her hands.

When he’s in the mood, my grandson, Ryan, is also fascinated by colours and paper, crayons and clay. I think we have more artists in the family.

So, I have given you our version of Canada Day!  We celebrated our wonderful mixed nationality with food, music, and fireworks. And in the end, it really was a great way to express our joy and relief. To be able to live in freedom and harmony is not something one can take for granted!

A Note From Lynn: Deering and Down

As I mentioned in this earlier blog entry I took my friend, Paul Lucas, to the Reubens. I thought that taking a musician to Memphis would be a lot of fun. It was!

Meeting Deering and Down:

Paul has played guitar professionally for many years and has musical friends, of course, everywhere. At Sun Studio, he introduced me to Lahna Deering and Rev Down of "Deering and Down", and we were lucky to be able to hear some of their work.

deering and down

Deering and Down

If you visit their Bandcamp page, you’ll hear one of their many original compositions: "Ain’t no Secret".

After listening to them, Paul said "isn’t it amazing that they’re not famous." I agreed. Lahna has the most unique voice, and both are outstanding musicians and performers. As co-creators of original lyrics and melodies, they have received praise from coast to coast. I thought it would be fun to introduce their music to a completely new audience.

I’m wondering: if you listen to their album, "Out There Somewhere", can you tell me why they aren’t famous?

Lynn’s Friend Paul Lucas:

You can find my friend, Paul, at www.paullucasmusic.com. He is a composer, performer, and teacher. We’ve known each other since grade 5!

Lynn’s Reflections on the 2016 Reubens

Seeing Some Old Friends

Well, the Reuben Awards is over for another year. Once again, a group of tireless comics created an opening stage act worthy of Broadway—and then the awards began.

So many wonderful talents, so many awards! The National Cartoonists Society has expanded since I joined in the late 70s. I found it hard to recognize the people whose hair was dark, and whose skin still fit properly. The old guys, I can pick out right away. We are the ones who’ve grown old together over the past 40 years.

Visiting Sun Studio

The event was held in Memphis this year. I took a musician friend with me, which was a very good idea. Professional musicians know folks all over the planet, and Paul had two right there in Memphis. Lana, a singer with the most amazing voice, and her partner, Rev, are professionally called Deering and Downe.

With them, we saw the workings inside the fabled Sun Studio, where Elvis recorded with legends like Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins. Besides being a tourist destination, it is still an active recording studio.

Exploring Graceland

Because there were so many NCS members wanting to see Graceland, we were able to take over most of the complex for our farewell party. I had imagined Elvis’ house to be large, gaudy, and overdone. In reality, it is a lovely family home with enough space for company and some recreation. The interior was left as it was in the 1960s. There are some whimsical features, like the mirrored stairwell, and a billiard room completely decorated in ornate fabric, but the house itself is warm and inviting.

As we walked through it, we had a sense that we were intruding, somehow. Several outbuildings hold exhibits, like Elvis’ car collection, and his many gold and platinum records. There are a couple of restaurants, and the inevitable gift shops.

On a busy day, there would be lineups for everything, but we were able to look around in relative quiet. There are four graves in the garden. On Elvis’ stone is a particularly moving family tribute. He loved and was loved, and the experience left us all with the feeling that we had known him. The man was evident in everything around us. I was never an Elvis fan, but after this experience, I feel lucky to have been around when he was alive and well, and performing at his best.