We started the day off at the farmers market where it seemed like everyone knew their shit about foraging, making natural tinctures, lotions and jams out of the forest goodies around them. So cool, again reiterating the awesomeness of Dawson city. We then stopped by the Yukon river quest tent to snag a sticker and say hey to the other volunteers. Low and behold who pops out of the shadows around the tent? None other than our Quebec buddy Matt who we met and partied with at Ear Lake with the bus kids in Whitehorse! He volunteered with the Quest as well at an earlier checkpoint and was traveling through! Small world and it gets smaller the more we do this kind of stuff. We hung out with Matt most of the day, cleaned ourselves up as we were face painting the next day for Canada day and Matt was determined to get a job in Dawson for a bit to save money. He said if he didn’t get a job that day that he’d be leaving. We parted ways once we were all clean and wished him luck.
Even though we just showered we still decided to do some climbing at what we like to call ‘the Dawson city nose’ which is this large rock cliff you can’t miss as you drive into town. It was a series of top-roping problems ranging from 5.7-5.9+ so we battled the bugs and partied on the rocks for a few hours dealing with all the beeps and hoots of people driving by. Since it doesn’t get dark ever we finished climbing and walked across the street to the Klondike river where Jordan threw in a few casts. He ended up catching 1 decent sized arctic grayling that we cooked up for dinner with our pasta and veggies.
Pretty excellent Dawson City day. We slept once again in the confines of the visitor parking lot; cooking on the old boardwalk and eating our tiny fish; prepping for the big Canada day celebration tomorrow morning.
Early wake up, it’s Canada day! And what better way to celebrate than in the Yukon in an old frontier town! Even better, we get to be IN the parade since we volunteered with the Quest! Slap on your Canadian flag tattoos and get going! We were told to meet at the central town gazebo at 10:30am to get ready and figure out our line up. We met a bunch of other volunteers and participants from the race and each got our own flag or board to carry showing off the River Quest.
I had a checkpoint sign around my neck. We all started marching around 11am and we were about 3rd in the parade. We waved our Canadian flags, hooted and hollered at the people watching. Then Jordan and I were like, "we are totally missing the rest of the parade if we keep marching with these people." I quickly pawned off my checkpoint necklace to another girl who looked like she wanted to carry something and we went to stand and watch the rest of this epic frontier parade. Fire trucks, old cars, people wearing moose outfits, Mounties on bikes with oversized mustaches, a limo covered in Canadian flags and lastly an old dude on his motorcycle with sidecar acting as the parade caboose. Canada day parade Dawson city style -- check.
We then went to the park where the parade ended to watch some cool speeches by the Dawson city mayor and the local chief.
Great things were said, one phrase that really stood out was from the mayor about people living in this beautiful country: “Canadians are born all over the world it just takes them some time to find their way here.” That one gave me a lil shiver, a fat smile and single tear. Perfect words, especially for us as recent recipients of Permanent Residency. After the speeches, we touched base with our city workers who gave us this face painting position; Paul and Melissa. They were super busy but gave us our paints and glitter stencils for the face painting table-which ended up being where the balloon animal lady was stationed as well. We just took over the other half in the shade as it was like 90* this particular day. Then we basically blacked out, somehow painted and glitterized over 80 humans -- mostly little humans.
I went through the insane effort to set up a ‘menu’ of face painting choices for the kids. Simple things like maple leaves, tiger faces and bumblebees. The first kid who sat down said, ‘can I have a butterfly?’ - not on the menu kid, but fine. Next kid was like, ‘I want a moose.’ Ok that’s definitely not on the list of provided choices that were printed in black and white in the visitors center office at 9am this morning. I painted everything from moose, to tigers, to unicorns, to dinosaurs. One kid was like I want my face to look like the joker. Sorry kid that’s terrifying I’ll give you a white circle with a red smiley face inside, he was not impressed. Last but not least my favorite was this indecisive little girl who was holding up the line because her mother thought it was cute. ‘She can get whatever she wants, it’s her day.’ Okay lady she’s 4, she doesn’t know what she wants and these kids waiting are impatiently getting into my paints. Finally after me trying to get an answer out of this child, she asks me to paint her ears blue. I looked at the mom for approval, ‘it’s her day’, blue ears it was, and that was a first. Meanwhile jordan is reusing the glitter stencils on several people; ‘use this once only for sanitary purposes’. Meh, it’s Canada day and this is free. He used them until the moose no longer looked like a moose. We closed shop an hour over when we were supposed to as they were starting to set up for the town's annual cricket championship. We had a bit of a breather and since we missed out of the free food 7 feet behind where we were painting faces, we went to get a falafel wrap at the Greek place in town. We sat outside and made friends with this cool older couple traveling the Yukon and Alaska on a motorcycle. They called themselves ‘smiles for miles’ and gave us their card. Said if we ever needed a place to stay in Arizona to hit them up. Then they kindly offered us their pita and dolma scraps which we gladly ate with 0 shame. We turned around to look for a menu to order a wrap to split, and who was there working with an apron on running around taking orders? Quebec Matt! He found a job! We all had a good laugh and found out he just walked into that restaurant yesterday and got a gig right off the bat. They needed a dishwasher, he said he does more of a waiting position and they hired him anyway. So funny. We scarfed down a falafel wrap and headed over to the main town gazebo to wait for the Prime Minister. There was yet another free bbq to feed the whole town and all it’s visitors so we stood in line for our share of smokies and pasta salad. Then, we waited and waited. And found a new spot to hang out and waited some more. And then the crowd got crazy to the south end of the park by Front Street. There he was! Bright white shirt, rolled up sleeves, shiny and clean making his way up to the gazebo with 4 security guards on each side.
How cool is this?!! He traveled to 3 Canadian cities for Canada day, Dawson being his final stop. He gave a speech mixing English and French, (as a Canadian Prime Minister does) that everyone video taped. Then he wished everyone a happy Canada Day and proceeded to walk through the crowd of Dawson City locals, prospectors, and tourists alike. He snaked his way through with 2 guards in front and 2 in the back and tried to shake as many hands as possible. He was approaching our little section and going back and forth to each side; it was either going to be me or jordan so we both got prepared. I ended up being the lucky one and shook the freaking Prime Minister's hand! My face, still covered in Canadian flag tattoos. I think I said something thoughtless like, ‘happy Canada Day! Thanks for being here!’ He was way cleaner than anyone in that crowd. What a cool moment. It was like meeting a backstreet boy, but not really.