He was trained as a classical painter in England. He served with the British army in the 40s. He came to the Yukon to teach school in the late 60s. Here, the scenery changed the way he looked as things, and turned him into one of Canada’s most recognizable and loved artists.
Ted Harrison headed for Carcross in the summer of 1968. At the time, his mind was on his new job as a school teacher, but it wasn't long before the Yukon landscape took on almost mystical proportions for him. In later years he would call the territory his Shangri-La.
Ted threw out all the classical painting knowledge he had been taught. He saw the Yukon as a land of vibrant colours and strange shapes. His skies became awash in golds, yellows, purples, reds and pinks. His tilted houses were equally colourful. The ravens were slightly out of kilter. People wore brightly coloured clothes. His hills, valleys and mountains curved hither and yon under the vivid sky.
Ted Harrison had developed a style so distinctive that I remember looking at a particularly stunning Yukon scene, and my sister saying… it looks just like a Ted Harrison painting. In the early days of this style, many critics called his work naïve and child-like.
Many of those detractors would now be hard pressed to afford a Ted Harrison original. Outside the Yukon, his works are contained in the best of collections. To have a Harrison in the art world is to have a Yukon gem.
Ted received international acclaim with the publication of his first book “Children of the Yukon.” Subsequent books include two hard-covered art illustrations featuring the Cremation of Sam McGee and the Shooting of Dan McGrew.
He’s had numerous showings outside the Yukon and the National Film Board made a feature film called “Harrison’s Yukon.” I’ve enjoyed many a pleasant time with Ted and his wife Nicki, both gentle souls, who though they no longer live in the Yukon. Yukoners were saddened to learn of the depature of artist Ted Harrison with his wife Nicky for Victoria, B.C. Their move was necessitated by the deteriorating health of Nicky. They have left a legacy of art which has changed the way many people see the Yukon landscape.
Yukon has received international fame with poet Robert Service, writer Jack London and, now, artist Ted Harrison.
A CKRW Yukon Nugget of Les McLaughlin
Most of us love horses, and why not. They have worked for and played with us for centuries. They are generally friendly and sometimes downright loyal, and in the Yukon, they have a history that may pre-date man.
Horses originated in North America about fifty million years ago. They were then the size of a terrier. Through time, they increased in size, and grew larger teeth with better grinding surfaces.
In the north, scientists call the early ancestors of today's horse, the Yukon horse. It lived on grasslands of Eastern Beringia, areas of the Yukon that remain unglaciated. The Yukon horse was one of the commonest Ice Age animals. Indeed, horses evolved in North America and spread out to the Old World via the Bering Land Bridge. Yukon horses probably arose in Beringia two hundred thousand years ago.
We know what the Yukon horse looks like, partly because of an exceptional carcass found in 1993 by placer miners at Last Chance Creek near Dawson City. Backhoe work had exposed the foreleg and a large part of the hide in a mining trench. Archaelogists collected tail hairs and a small portion of the lower intestine.
It had died about twenty thousand years ago. The horse, about four feet tall, had lived in a parkland environment. While one of the best specimens, there have been many other partial carcasses found over the years. Many excellent specimens were found near Fairbanks, Alaska and the Dawson City area.
Fossils have been found as far north and east as Baillie Islands, Northwest Territories, and as far south as Ketza River and Scottie Creek in the Yukon.
Yukon horses seem to have died out about twelve thousand years ago in Eastern Beringia, mabye because of quick climatic change about the time of the last glaciation. It is also possible that human hunting hastened its demise.
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin
Once upon a time, the world grew cold. Got your attention? Beats another story about global warming eh! Well, about a million or more years ago, the earth began to cool. That lasted until just ten thousand years ago.
Great sheets of ice, sometimes a thousand feet thick, moved from the north, gouging out the land. It was the ice age. Somehow, these harsh conditions encouraged the development of giant mammals. Among them were the Mastodon and the Mammoth.
Both Mastodons and Mammoths were closely related to today's elephants. The Mastodon was shorter than an elephant, but more heavily built, with upward curving tusks. Mammoths ranged from six to 14 feet high at the shoulder.
Both were covered in thick reddish-brown hair. Both were vegetarians.
Mastodons originated about thirty-five million years ago in North Africa, spreading to Eurasia about twenty million years ago, and then came to North America via the Bering land bridge about fifteen million years ago.
They were followed by the Wooly Mammoth. We know what they looked like because of an amazing number of skeletons and sometimes, full animal carcasses were trapped in ice and kept frozen over the last thirty thousand years. The woolly mammoth, which was about the size of present-day Asiatic elephants, had a shaggy coat and large, curved ivory tusks.
Unlike most of the Yukon Territory, the Klondike was not glaciated in the last ice age. Thus gold nuggets, mammoth tusks and the bones of long-extinct, prehistoric animals settled to the bottom of the creeks and remained there, frozen in permafrost. In 1903, the New York Times featured an article about an amazing mammoth tusk more than ten feet long that had been found by a miner in the Klondike and brought to his Chicago home.
Hundreds of these ancient tusks have been found in the Klondike, along with the frozen remains of other primeval animals and artifacts from prehistoric peoples. The Yukon has become one of the world's major sources of fossilized woolly mammoths.
But these creatures could not cope with the rapidly changing environment and increasing human hunting toward the close of the last glaciation, and most became extinct about 11,000 years ago.
However, in 1993 came the startling discovery that dwarf woolly mammoths lived on Wrangel Island in the Bering Sea only about 4,000 years ago.
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin
It’s a long way from describing the Sourdough Rendezvous dog races on radio to doing the play-by-play broadcasts for the San Jose Sharks of the National Hockey League. However, it’s a journey Randy Hahn made with relative ease.
He was born in Edmonton and took his schooling at F.H. Collins in Whitehorse. In 1974, at age fifteen, Hahn impressed the folks at CKRW with his pleasant youthful voice and easy-going manner. He was hired for a weekend shift as a disc jockey.
Nearly a year later, that job would lead Hahn to his first play-by-play assignment -- calling the dog sled races at the Sourdough Rendezvous. He refers to it as "paw by paw" coverage.
A move to CBC and a series of summer relief jobs followed. When he graduated from F.H. Collins, Randy attended the University of British Columbia and got a job offer from a Vancouver radio station working broadcasts of NHL and Canadian Football League teams. That eventually led to a play-by-play job with the Edmonton Drillers soccer team.
In 1988, Hahn was hired as studio host of Los Angeles Kings hockey games on the Prime Ticket cable network. However, his broadcast career would continue to revolve around soccer. He was the play-by-play announcer at the 1990 World Cup in Italy and called action for the USA National Team soccer games on SportsChannel.
In 1990, Hahn was living in San Jose and helped bring the NHL to the area when he served as vice president of Pro Hockey San Jose - a grassroots corporation formed to attract an NHL franchise.
Hahn worked ten games as the Sharks' play-by-play man during their inaugural 1991-1992 season, and twelve during their second season. Then in 1993, he was hired as the full-time play-by-play announcer for the San Jose Sharks, and has held the job ever since.
Randy is looking forward to the day when he calls the games for the San Jose Sharks in the Stanley Cup final.
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin
Respected Native Elder dies
George Dawson, hereditary Chief of the Ta'an Kwach'an people, died in Whitehorse General Hospital Wednesday night. Born at Lake Laberge, the traditional homeland of the Ta'an Kwach'an people, in 1902, Dawson spent a number of years working on Yukon River riverboats and in Whitehorse.
A greatly respected member of the community, Dawson received formal recognition from the Ta'an band last spring as hereditary chief. Funeral arrangements will be announced by the family.