Whitehorse, Yukon

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City of Whitehorse, Yukon
Official flag of City of Whitehorse, Yukon
Motto: Our People, Our Strength
Coordinates: 60°43′00″N, 135°03′00″W
Country Canada
Territory Yukon
Established 1898
 - City Mayor Bev Buckway
 - Governing body Whitehorse City Council
 - MPs Larry Bagnell
 - MLAs Todd Hardy
Elaine Taylor
Arthur Mitchell
Glenn Hart
 - City 416.44 km²  (160.8 sq mi)
 - Metro 8,488.48 km² (3,277.4 sq mi)
Elevation 670–1,702 m (2,200–5,584 ft)
Population (2006)
 - City 24,151
 - Density 45.8/km² (118.6/sq mi)
 - Metro 21,405
Time zone Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)
Website: City of Whitehorse

Whitehorse is a Canadian city, the territorial capital of the Yukon. Its population is 24,151 (Yukon Bureau of Statistics Dec 2006), which accounts for more than 75% of the territory's population.

Whitehorse is at Historic Mile 918 (current kilometrepost calibration is kilometre 1,425.3) of the Alaska Highway and is the former terminus of the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway from Skagway, Alaska (although the rails are still there, the train only goes as far as Carcross now). At the head of navigation on the Yukon River, the city was an important supply and stage centre during the Klondike Gold Rush. It has been the territorial capital since 1953[1], when the seat was moved from Dawson City after the construction of the Klondike Highway. Whitehorse is in the mountain climate region, the tundra soil region, the arctic vegetation region, and the boreal cordillera ecozone.

The city gets its name from the White Horse rapids, which were said to look like the mane of a white horse. The rapids have disappeared under Schwatka Lake behind a hydroelectric dam, which was completed in 1958.

Nowadays Whitehorse is a government town, and it is the home of the main campus of Yukon College. A $45 million (CAD) multiplex centre has been built for the Canada Winter Games in 2007. Whitehorse also previously hosted the 1972, 1980, 1986, 1992 and 2000 Arctic Winter Games.


[edit] Law and government

Whitehorse is a city under Yukon municipal legislation, and has a city council of six councillors and one mayor, elected every three years by eligible Canadian citizens of age 18 or older, resident within city limits.

[edit] Geography and climate

Downtown Whitehorse seen from the east side of the Yukon River
Downtown Whitehorse seen from the east side of the Yukon River

Like most of the Yukon, Whitehorse has a dry subarctic climate, although with warmer winters than some Canadian prairies cities. Whitehorse experiences annual temperature average daily highs of 21 °C (70 °F) in July and average daily lows of −22 °C (−7.6 °F) in January. Record high temperature was 34 °C (93 °F) in June 1969 and the lowest was −52 °C (−62 °F) in January 1947. Whitehorse has little precipitation with an average annual snowfall of 145 centimetres (4.75 ft) and 163 millimetres (6.4 in) of rainfall.

According to Meteorological Service of Canada, Whitehorse has the distinction of being Canada's driest city, mainly because it lies in the rain shadow of the Coast Mountains. Surprisingly, despite its relative cold, Whitehorse was ranked among Canadian cities with the most comfortable climate.

Whitehorse has been described as "pearls on a string", with its residential, industrial and service subdivisions located along the main thoroughfares that carry traffic within city limits, with large gaps of undeveloped (often hilly) land between them. The Alaska Highway is the primary roadway, with branch roads reaching additional subdivisions. One such branch road, signed as "Highway 1A" and following Two Mile Hill Road, 4th Avenue, 2nd Avenue and Robert Service Way, is the main access to downtown, Riverdale and the Marwell Industrial Area. Other branch roads (Range Road, Hamilton Boulevard, Mayo Road) access smaller residential areas and recreational facilities.

[edit] Transportation

Aerial view of Whitehorse, Yukon, July 1990.  The Whitehorse International Airport can be seen on the bluffs to the right of downtown Whitehorse.
Aerial view of Whitehorse, Yukon, July 1990. The Whitehorse International Airport can be seen on the bluffs to the right of downtown Whitehorse.

Whitehorse is served by the Whitehorse International Airport and has scheduled service to Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Fairbanks and Frankfurt, Germany (summer months). During the September 11, 2001 attacks, 3 aircraft approaching the United States from Asia were diverted to Whitehorse as part of Operation Yellow Ribbon, including a Korean Air 747 that was feared hijacked but this was not the case — the plane was low on fuel. Many of the buildings in the downtown area below the airport were evacuated. Those who witnessed the plane's landing said that they saw the RCMP order the crew out at gunpoint.

Log cabin. All buildings in Whitehorse are limited to four stories.
Log cabin. All buildings in Whitehorse are limited to four stories.

Surface access to Whitehorse is provided by a network of highways, including the international Alaska Highway connecting the Yukon with the Alaska, British Columbia and Alberta highway networks.

There is presently no active railway service to Whitehorse; the city is reached by the unmaintained tracks of the White Pass and Yukon Route, with the last scheduled service to Whitehorse stopping in October, 1982. Speculation of a trans-continental rail link to Alaska includes one possible route option through Whitehorse, although it is more likely that a route with some ease of construction will bypass the city by over one hundred miles.

The Yukon River is essentially navigable, but no passenger or freight services use the river at Whitehorse.

Within Whitehorse, there are several taxi companies, as well as the city-owned Whitehorse Transit which provides bus service on weekdays and Saturdays from morning until early evening. There is a waterfront tram, known as the "trolley", which provides transport along a short rail section along the Yukon River; it is chiefly tourist-oriented and is not yet integrated into the municipal transit system.

The city road network is adequate, although it is congested during rush hours and discussions occasionally occur as to how it might better be managed, such as designating one-way streets. There are some bottlenecks, such as the single two-lane bridge to the Riverdale subdivision; street surfaces are in fairly good condition

[edit] Education

Whitehorse has several schools as part of a Yukon-government operated public school system, and is the home of the main campus of Yukon College.

There are three high schools (Grade 8 -12):
Vanier Catholic Secondary (Catholic)
FH Collins Secondary (offers programs for English and French Immersion)
Porter Creek Secondary

Ten elementary schools (Kindergarten - Grade 7):
Christ the King Elementary (Catholic)
Holy Family Elementary (Catholic)
Elijah Smith Elementary
Golden Horn Elementary
Hidden Valley Elementary (outside of city limits)
Jack Hulland Elementary
Selkirk Elementary
Takhini (pronounced TUH-KEENIE) Elementary
Whitehorse Elementary (offers programs for English and French Immersion)

One Primary School (Kindergarten - Grade 3):
Grey Mountain Primary

One French First Language school (Kindergarten - Grade 12):
Ecole Emilie Tremblay

Specialized programs:
Wood St. School (programs are attended by students drawn from the high schools)
Individual Learning Centre (for students who have had trouble in the regular school program, and are not attending school)

The Catholic Schools of Whitehorse are attended by Catholic and non-Catholic students.

Outside of the one French First Language school, the territory does not have school boards; they do, however, have school councils for each school, composed of elected citizens (including parents of students in the school) and the administrators of the school. All teachers work directly, as Yukon Territorial employees, for the Department of Education.

Whitehorse also has Yukon College, a post-secondary institution with ties to the University of Northern British Columbia.

[edit] Sports

Whitehorse has no major junior sports teams; however, local high school teams play teams based in Alaska from time to time during a sports year. The local business community sponsors a number of local teams for baseball, hockey and soccer.

[edit] Arts and culture

Some of the tourist attractions in Whitehorse include Miles Canyon, the S.S. Klondike sternwheeler, the Yukon Transportation Museum, the MacBride Museum, the Old Log Church Museum, the Beringia Centre, Yukon Gardens, "Log Skyscrapers," the Whitehorse fish ladder, the Yukon Wildlife Preserve and the Takhini Hot Springs, and the Yukon visitor center.

Whitehorse supports a thriving, vibrant art and music scene, hosting several music festivals every year. In the dead of winter the Frostbite Music festival warms things up with everything from funk to klezmer punk and much more.

[edit] Army Cadet Force

Located just outside of downtown Whitehorse, Whitehorse Cadet Summer Training Centre (WCSTC) offers a variety of cadet based courses and activities throughout the summer. Most of these courses last 6 weeks and are mainly leadership and adventure orientated.

[edit] Communications and media

[edit] Television

Whitehorse has no local television stations; however, the regional Yukon bureau of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation contributes daily to the regional pan-northern newscast that originates in Yellowknife. CBC television established a TV transmitter in Whitehorse in 1968, using the Frontier Coverage Package until Anik satellite broadcasts became available early in 1973. In addition, some local TV programs are produced for APTN.

Whitehorse is served by a cable television company, founded in 1958, that carries 71 analog channels plus a digital service; as with all of Canada, direct satellite TV is available from Canada's two competing providers, Star Choice and Bell ExpressVu.

[edit] Radio

[edit] Print

Whitehorse has two newspapers. The Whitehorse Star, founded in 1900, progressed from a weekly to twice-weekly, three-times weekly during the 1960s, ran five times per week briefly around 1980-1983, and has been published five times per week since about 1986. The Yukon News, founded in 1960, was a weekly until the late 1970s, and currently prints three times a week. Whitehorse also has periodicals for local special interests, such as L'Aurore boréale for the francophone community.

[edit] Telecommunications

Internet service, including broadband service, is available from a number of local providers, including the cable television and telephone companies. The local telephone service provider is Northwestel.

[edit] Notable Whitehorsians

Although he grew up mostly in Dawson City, Canadian author Pierre Berton was born in Whitehorse. Robert W. Service started writing poetry when he moved to Whitehorse. Other famous people from Whitehorse include Senator Ione Christensen and actor Tahmoh Penikett (whose father served as premier of the Yukon).

Audrey McLaughlin was leader of the federal New Democratic Party (1989-1994) during the time she lived in Whitehorse and served as federal Member of Parliament for Yukon (1987-1997). Another Member of Parliament, Erik Nielsen (brother of actor Leslie Nielsen), was the Yukon's first cabinet minister in Ottawa, and served as interim Leader of the Opposition in 1983.

[edit] Demographics

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According to the Canada 2001 Census:

Population: 19,058 (-0.5% from 1996)
Land area: 160.8 sq mi or 416.44 km²
Population density: 118.6 people/sq mi or 45.8 people/km²
Median age: 35.1 (males: 34.8, females: 35.3)
Total private dwellings: 7,831
Mean household income: $60,139

[edit] See also

Bob Smart's Dream, a 1906 poem by Robert Service that speculates about the Whitehorse of the future

[edit] References

  1. ^ The Whitehorse Interactive Traveller's Guide History->Facts->Whitehorse->The Name "Whitehorse". Retrieved on July 3, 2006.

[edit] External links