Tag Archives: travel

Atlin Chalk Talks

The last week of August saw me heading north. I had agreed to do a “chalk talk” at the tiny Globe theatre in Atlin, BC – just south of the Yukon border. The flight to Whitehorse on Air North was pleasant as always – one of the few airlines which treats passengers with courtesy and appreciation. There is no charge for checked luggage, you get a nice lunch and at the end of the trip, they bring you a warm chocolate chip cookie! I always sit in a window seat. The scenery along the B.C. coast is spectacular and must be seen from above if possible.

Forest fires were raging again, and the result could be seen from 30 thousand feet above the ground. I took some pictures to show that smoke filled the valleys. It came up to the mountain crests. No wonder people were evacuating to safer and clearer areas; the air was bad. Paul (my partner) picked me up at the airport. It was a cool, clear day and compared to the dry heat of the city, it felt like fall.

After a fast trip to Skagway to see friends, we returned to Atlin and Paul’s tiny log cabin. It’s a cozy space nestled in the woods. He built it by hand when he was in his 20s and he says the land is in his DNA. I love being back in the north. When I was a kid and just leaving home, I wanted to stay in the city, be an animator or go into advertising. Like all city kids, I thought the north and the prairies were off the map; no place for me. Later, when fate took my family and me to Lynn Lake Manitoba, I changed. Small towns connect you to what’s real; what’s important. You learn to do without, to create your own entertainment, to be resourceful and to depend on your friends and family. Atlin is one of these special places and it comes with scenery too beautiful to photograph. Maybe that’s why so many talented artists choose to live there.

The Globe theatre, on Atlin’s main drag, was built during the Gold Rush. It has been beautifully restored and seats about 100 people. Heather, the Globe’s young and enterprising operator, had arranged a number of fundraisers in order to pay for the boiler which has to be repaired before the long winter sets in. Paul and I were the last of the “shows” and 23 people showed up. It was like a reunion as everyone knew everyone else.  Heather set the heater in the middle of the aisle to heat the place up a bit, then put on the coffee and the popcorn. She had also made Rice Krispie squares. We had an hour and a half to perform, as there was a baseball game on as well – an inter-community game which was a serious draw! Paul “opened” for me, with a few numbers on his guitar. He is a local favourite and I asked him to play something he’d never played for an audience before. I figured – if he’d roped me into this, I was going to give him a challenge in return! He played some fine original tunes – which I had only heard in part.

This shows the board in front of the Atlin Gas station, advertising the show. I told Heather that what I did was called a “chalk talk” and wondered how many folks would know what that meant! Not many, I’m sure – but there it was!

The chalk talk always goes well and is never the same twice. I talk about the things that go into a cartoonist’s mental rolodex: childhood memories, personal truths and lifetime adventures I want to share. I draw while I talk, using an overhead projector – a machine which is becoming harder and harder to find! I have always loved to watch my cartoonist friends draw. It’s a magical experience. With this in mind, I use the projector to illustrate my talks and it has become more than a tool, it’s kind of a “Dumbo’s Feather”. I need it to hide behind and give me the confidence I need to do public speaking! I’m still an amateur. I have learned that stand up comedy is the hardest job in the world and I’m awed by the people who do it well!

After the talk and some more visiting, Paul and I left the Yukon and began the long drive home. Every year, he likes to bring his truck back to Tsawassen where he has a cottage. I have begun to look forward to this four-day journey – for the scenery and for the experience. I love a good road trip!

There were fewer fires. Firefighters and some much-needed rain had lessened the threat and the smoke had dissipated. We were able to see the great walls of rock, vast mountain meadows and deep winding gorges of B.C’s interior highways. We listened to “books on tape” and enjoyed staying in out-of-the-way hotels and cabins. I didn’t want the trip to end.

We Asked Lynn: 3 Interview Questions

As part of our ongoing “We Asked Lynn” series of blog entries, we asked Lynn a few questions — the topics of travel, imagination, and animation are always safe bets, because we know we’ll get interesting responses!

We asked Lynn 3 interview questions 1. What have you learned from all your travels around the world? Is
there anyplace you still really want to go, where you haven’t yet visited?

I’ve learned from my travels that people are all the same, no matter where you go. We all want to be safe and happy; to provide for our families; to have meaningful work; to laugh and play music; to belong and to love. We are all the same.

The barrier for me has always been language. When you talk to someone, a relationship happens.  Learning Spanish has been life-changing for me. I no longer go to Mexico, Cuba and Peru as a tourist — I can get to know people; really connect with them. In my opinion, our inability to understand each other is what separates us, not our clothing or our colour or our beliefs. It’s easier to think the worst of someone if you can’t understand them!

Where do I want to go next? Australia beckons, but first, my partner and I are going to England, to celebrate our 70th birthdays. In October, we’ll be attending a comic art festival in the town of Kendal [the Lakes International Comic Art Festival], before going on to see friends and relatives here and there.

2. Do you still spend a lot of time “living in your imagination”?

Yes, I still spend a lot of time in my imagination. I can go anywhere I want to go and it’s free! Not having to write and draw the strip makes my mental forays less focused and less productive, but I still go drifting off into my own thoughts. Really…isn’t this something we all do?

3. Have you seen any really good animated films lately? What are some of
your favourites?

Yes, I’ve seen some amazing animated films. The new CGI techniques blow me away. The one show that stays in my mind, however is Pixar’s “Inside Out” — directed by Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen. It has a wonderful premise, great story arc, was ingeniously storyboarded and beautifully animated. It’s both entertaining and ingenious, so in order to appreciate the truly important content you should see it twice!

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.


The Klondike, moored in the river.

Lynn J.







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