So am I officially a “sourdough” now that I’ve spent a full winter in the Yukon? Or maybe I have to do all four seasons? Just spring left to go!

Winter was really easy. Sure it is long, but who needs the mess of fall or spring. We just get winter and summer up here!

The coldest I saw this winter was -34°C here in Dawson City, which is so warm! We were expecting -40’s and -50’s but the El Nino kept it mild here. Uncle Jeff in Huntsville, Ontario had a colder night than we had!

Going into our first winter here, I was worried about 3 things:

  • dryness and nosebleeds
  • my very frostbite susceptible face
  • darkness

When I lived in Thunder Bay, the dry winter air was so rough on my nose I had terrible nose bleeds. I haven’t had an issue here at all! Our house stayed at 30-34% humidity all winter, which sounds dry to me, but I drink plenty of water and haven’t had any trouble.

I was also worried about my face. I’ve frostbitten the skin around my eyes and upper cheeks a bunch of times and my skin is now really sensitive there to the wind and cold. It wasn’t too much of an issue. I just covered up my face in the cold.

The darkness scared me off coming north years ago. I love the sun. I thrive in the sun. How could I do without it all winter? This wasn’t much of a concern either, mostly because the length of daylight drastically changes every day. Before Christmas we were down to just a few hours of light a day, and we went two months without direct sunlight on town, but it’s just March now and it is light until 9:30pm at night already! I tried out a SAD (seasonable affective disorder) light during the darkest months in the mornings, and felt like it gave me a good shot of energy, but hard to tell if it is necessary. I’m sure it didn’t hurt though.

How to do winter in the Yukon

  • It will take 10-15 minutes to leave the house, so add that to whatever time you need to get where you are going. You need time to add a second pair of socks, long johns, tuck your pants into your boots, zip up your coat, get your toque and mittens on, and if it is really cold, add your face mask.
  • That’s it! Up here the snow is light and dry, easy to shovel (can usually sweep it away), it is rarely windy, it’s usually too cold and dry for frost to form on your vehicle’s windows, and it is never slushy. It is all the best kinds of winter!

Our house has been really easy to heat. I’m guessing the insulation is good and thick! We’ve spent less than $100/month on oil, which is a relief, since we’re spending significantly more than that on electricity to minimally heat our much larger house still for sale in Nova Scotia.

Here are some iPhone photos I took today when I walked to the mailbox, the Downtown for lunch and a couple hours of work borrowing their wifi, and then a walk back home on the dyke along the frozen Yukon River.

The Midnight Sun Hotel. Closed and For Sale if you’re interested!
Heading to the Post Office
Heading to the Post Office
The town is working on grading the streets. They aren't plowed much in the winter, and now they are scraping them down to the frozen gravel.
The town is working on grading the streets. They aren’t plowed much in the winter, and now they are scraping them down to the frozen gravel. This is looking east at the corner of Third and Queen.
Looking north at the corner of Third and Queen.
Looking north at the corner of Third and Queen.
Looking west towards the river.
Looking west towards the river.
From the dyke, a view of an ice rink and parking lot for the frozen river race track.
Heading south along the Yukon River.
Heading south along the Yukon River.

It was -12°C this morning, but by mid-afternoon it was +3! I walked without my coat on! Not even a toque or mittens!


An awesome sliding hill for the kids to slide and toboggan down onto the river.
An awesome sliding hill for the kids to slide and toboggan down onto the river.
Looking back at the businesses along Front Street.
Looking back at the businesses along Front Street.




The historical old courthouse.


Yes we have a Chinese Food restaurant! It is even open most of the winter too.
Haven’t been in it yet, but we have a pool in the summer!
Part of the Westmark hotel on 5th Ave, a block from our house. Still closed and boarded up.

Slowly life is returning to town. The bakery is reopen and the pizza shop. People are drifting back to town for summer work, mostly because it is nearly impossible to find a place to live here so they are trying to beat the rush. Many people will end up living in tents and shacks just like it has always been here since the days of the Gold Rush.


Lisa (Verkley) Schuyler is a blogger reporting live from her new home in Canada's Yukon Territory. Often found wearing a hoodie, covered in pet hair, Lisa is a mis-placed forester who now spends her days engineering happiness for WordPress users. Lisa loves nature, animals, and most importantly, her handsome husband Jeff.

2 Replies to “We did it! We survived our first winter in the Yukon

  1. Good day and I hope your getting the weather we are in Ft Sask. We are planning almost daily or anytime we are around a few beers our Yukon Trip. Changed our plan and now are entering the ” Top of the World Highway ” from the West. I have tried and our number one coordinater has tried to find out what is along that 108 kilometer highway. Camping,quading,dredges excetra. You know anything that you could tell me? You wont have to kill me. Plus I have a 30 ft motorhome and a 24 ft quad trailer. My two other partners have 30 ft 5th wheel How we looking for road conditions? Help

    1. Hi Rob! The Top of the World Highway border crossing opens on May 15th this year, I believe! By then the Yukon River will have opened and the ferry will be back in the water. There isn’t anything along that stretch from Alaska to Dawson, except for beautiful scenery and caribou and bears! When you first cross into the Yukon from Alaska, it is open tundra, and then you’ll come into the trees more as you head towards Dawson. There are some places to pull over, but no services. Several side roads and trails you could quad on – mostly for mining and hunting. Road is gravel and is a good road, when it is open. You can check for road conditions after the middle of May.

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