Whitehorse, YT, Canada - August 2012

How appropriate was is it start off our Yukon vacation with Ryan and Kayla doing their best to impersonate Sergant Preston of the Yukon and a troublesome Klondike prospector?

Besides allowing me to do some research for my book, and take some photos with a "Yukon content", we decided to take a family vacation to Whitehorse for no better reason than exposing our kids to a part of Canada most people forget exists. (Trevor McTavish)

I was only four years old when my family last visited the Yukon back in 1983, so I don't remember much. But I was surprised to see the water front along the Yukon River turned into an attractive park, complete with parks, green spaces, museum access and a vintage stern wheeler. (Trevor McTavish)

The kids were impressed with the S.S. Klondike stern wheeler; Ryan because it was a big boat, and Kayla because we'd ridden on a smaller stern wheeler back home at Heritage Park. (Trevor McTavish)

The S.S. Klondike and her sister ships transported goods up and down the Yukon River for the better part of 60 years. Thankfully when they were retired they weren't scrapped, but donated to the Canadian government where they're now heritage items. Sadly one stern wheeler was burnt by arsonists in Carcross, and the remaining examples have been outfitted with sprinkler systems to prevent the loss of another. (Trevor McTavish)

Of course, kids can entertain themselves with just about anything. Kayla discovered it was fun to throw rocks into the river, and Ryan discovered that it was okay to copy her. Surprisingly, we didn't have to worry about wet shoes. (Trevor McTavish)

Right in the heart of downtown Whitehorse sits the MacBride Museum, a small facility that does an admirable job telling the story of the Klondike and the area's history. Although the gold fields are further towards Dawson City the museum imports gravel from that region so you can try panning for gold. For $5 a pan, they guarantee there's gold flakes in each pan, but its up to you to find them. It's not as easy as it looks. (Trevor McTavish)

Even Ryan wanted to get in on the act, so the lady from the museum lent us a pan so we could go panning for pebbles. Naturally Ryan got soaked, but he was happy. (Trevor McTavish)

One nice touch about the river front park was that a small trolley was running from one end to the other, and for $2 you could save your feet the walk back. Looking at the pictures I'm reminded of Mr. Roger's neighborhood, which I would have been watching when I was Kayla and Ryan's age. (Trevor McTavish)

Along the way we snapped a couple pictures. Don't worry, the trolley takes 45 minutes to reach the far end and return; plenty of time to wrangle two kids into place for a snapshot - or two. (Trevor McTavish)

One item I do remember from my visit as a kid was the old DC-3 weather vane up at the Whitehorse Airport. Once an airliner that served Northern BC and the Yukon, CF-CPY was saved and turned into a weather vane that sat in front of the passenger terminal. About 10 years it was moved next door to the Yukon Transportation Museum and given a fresh coat of paint. (Trevor McTavish)

Inside the transportation museum are an impressive collection of trucks, tractors, diggers and airplanes. Each one connected to the Yukon. The Ryan B-1 Bougham hanging from the ceiling is a replica originally displayed outside the Yukon pavilion at Expo 1986 in Vancouver. Its because of that airplane that I still remember that pavilion as being the coolest (I was six years old at the time). (Trevor McTavish)

Also in the collection are the remains of two Fokker Super Universals, a cabin WACO and one of my favourite bushplanes, a Fairchild 71C/FC-2W2. The person heading their restoration is Bob Cameron, a long time Yukon pilot and aircraft engineer, who is also the foremost expert on Yukon aviation.(Trevor McTavish)

Outside the museum is undoubtedly the most unusual artefact in their collection. Looking like a massive, orange, wheeled caterpillar, this machine is called a LeTourneau LCC-1 Sno-Train. I thought it was pretty cool. (Trevor McTavish)

Almost equally unusual was this pickup truck covered in knitted quilts. People still think we Canadians live in igloos and keep polar bears as pets. How could we ever convince them otherwise if we have to keep our cars warm with blankets? Actually, a group of knitters were working to make enough blankets to cover the museum's DC-3 as something to get them into the Guinness Book of World Records. The pickup truck was just a test and the blankets were to go to charity afterwards. (Trevor McTavish)