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Murals in Whitehorse, Yukon

An Explorer's Guide to Whitehorse, Yukon

Most recent update: October 16, 2021.

      Since the early 1990s, dozens of murals, from small to massive, have been painted on buildings all over the city. I originally posted an article about them on August 20, 1999, and now, in February 2017, it's time to hugely expand on it. The effect that the murals have had on the community has, I think, been significant, and they continue to be added. Although some are rather dark, many are colourful enough to brighten up even the brilliant days of summer, and they're all wonderful additions to brighten up and add interest to winter days.

      What qualifies as a mural rather than a sign or graffiti is up to interpretation. I've accepted the government's interpretation from the walking tour for those pieces, while my own ideas about it controlled the other additions.

Also see individual artists' murals (their work is also included on this master list):
- Murals by Colin Alexander
- Murals by Lance Burton
- Murals by Bill Oster

Click on each photo to greatly enlarge it.

In about 2012, a walking tour of 37 of the murals (2 pages - a map and a list) was published by the Yukon Department of Tourism & Culture, and although some things have changed, their map is a good start. Click on the map to enlarge it in a new window. Their printed list can be downloaded here. The murals shown below will follow the map order initially, then new murals will be below those.

#1: The wall of the main Visitor Reception Centre facing Lambert Street is the home of this 5-panel piece created by Bill Oster and David Ashley in 1997. Called "Crow's Yukon Journey", it illustrates Crow's journey over the developing Yukon. The first scene shows the world before humans changed the landscape, and then First Nations' traditional use of the land. Next comes the changes in the landscape brought about by early industrialization which continues into the modern world where both natural and man-made elements co-exist. In the centre, a turning wheel represents the introduction of machines into the Yukon during the Klondike gold rush.

#2: A small mural by Hattie Nielson graces the upper front wall of the Canada's Best Value Inn - River View Hotel at 102 Wood Street. It shows a horse-drawn White Pass & Yukon Route sleigh in front of the Regina Hotel, which was the original hotel on this site.

#3: The Steele Street Patio at the Westmark Whitehorse hotel hosts a mural by Colin Alexander, showing the Chilkoot Pass during the Klondike Gold Rush. It was painted in 2004.

#4: The wall of the Yukon News building (211 Wood Street) that faces the Westmark Whitehorse hotel features a mural by Michael Lane and Jane Haydock, with 2 views of the sternwheeler Casca, and her captain and crew.

In the summer of 2021, the wall seen above became the home of a vibrant mural created by Emma Barr. The building is now home to Triple J's Collective, and the hotel it faces is now The Sternwheeler Hotel & Conference Centre.

#5: At Lepage Park, Wood Street and 3rd Avenue, Chris Sherbarth created a mural in ceramic tiles around the circular garden in front of the stage.

#6: This scene of dog sledding at sunset is on the 3rd Avenue wall of The Claim (formerly The Chocolate Claim), at 305 Strickland Street. It was painted by Colin Alexander.

#7: The Centre de la francophonie, 302 Strickland Street, features "Kébec and 400 Years of History", by Marie-Hélène Comeau, Amber Renée Walker, and Daniel Benoit.

#8: This panoramic mural of mining history on the Yukon Chamber of Mines building at 3151 - 3rd Avenue was painted by Lance Burton and the Youth of Today Society.

#9: Upper photo - in 2010, the sternwheeler Nasutlin was seen struggling through a river full of huge blocks of ice on the facade of Kelly's audio store at 4161 - 4th Avenue.

Lower photo - the Nasutlin mural was painted over with this one of rock music legend Jimi Hendrix, by Colin Alexander. When Colin painted it, it covered both store facades - on the left was Mark & Paddy's Wondrous Music Emporium, and on the right, Northern Hempishere. You can see a photo of the entire mural on Colin's Facebook page. In 2013 when the lower photo was shot, the tenant in the store to the right had painted over their section of the mural. In 2017, Mark & Paddy's is gone and you can see a remnant of the Nasutlin mural exposed where their sign had been.

#10: This mural painted by Colin Alexander in 2005 depicts a First Nation family and two shadowed faces of a child and an elder. It is on the 5th Avenue side of the the Däna Näye Ventures building at 409 Black Street.

#11: A mural at Whitehorse Motors by Bill Oster showing an old Ford Truck was destroyed when a new building was constructed in about 2015.

#12: The picnic area behind Alpine Bakery at 411 Alexander Street is the home of a mural depicting Emerald Lake on the South Klondike Highway, painted by Colin Alexander.

#13: "Graffiti Alley" is between Wood and Jarvis Street, and 5th and 6th Avenues. Various artists have made this an ever-changing gallery of graffiti art.

#14: This mural depicting loons on a lake, painted by Lance Burton and the Youth of Today Society, is over the entrance of a former elementary school now called the Wood Street Centre, at 411 Wood Street.

#15: One of the most colourful of the murals is the huge one that was painted on the side of the Wood Street Centre, facing onto 4th Avenue. The beautiful gardens and picnic tables help to make it a very popular spot. It was painted by Lance Burton and the Youth of Today Society.

#16: The lower floor of the north wall of the RBC Royal Bank building at 4110 - 4th Avenue, facing the parking lot, hosts a mural by Lance Burton, showing a White Pass & Yukon Route steam locomotive behind men building the new railway.

#17: Beside the front door of the T.C. Richards Building (home of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce) at 307 Jarvis Street is a small mural depicting prominent Whitehorse residents, and scenes associated with them. Painted by Bill Sinclair, it shows Yukon Member of Parlament Martha Louise Black, merchant Charlie Taylor, entrepreneur T.C. Richards, sternwheeler pilot Frankie Slim, and Dalyce Smith, Miss Canada 1955.

#18: The Westmark Whitehorse hotel at 201 Wood Street was the home of the Frantic Follies vaudeville show, and their sign on the Steele Street facade of the building, painted by Bill Oster, is on the list of murals.

It is now on the "Murals that are now history..." list at the bottom.

#19: Bill Oster painted the mural depicting a miner resting in his tent that graces the rear wall of Klondike Rib & Salmon, 2116 - 2nd Avenue.

#20: In the alley behind Mac's Fireweed Books at 203 Main Street is this wrap-around mural painted by Lance Burton and the Youth of Today Society.

#21: NorthwesTel's main office parking lot is the beneficiary of this grand piece. It faces onto 2nd Avenue (a main street), so the addition of this work to the formerly blank wall has been widely commented on. This is one of 5 murals painted by Lance Burton and a crew of 10 talented young assistants from the Youth of Today Society in 1998.

#22: In the alley behind Murdoch's Gem Shop at 207 Main Street, you'll find the mural "Mountains of Gold", painted by Lance Burton and the Youth of Today Society.

#23: The CBC Yukon offices at 3103 - 3rd Avenue host this mural by Colin Alexander.

By October 2021 when this photo was shot, the mural had been repainted.

#24: The parking lot behind the Hougen's retail complex on Main Street was painted to look like a frontier main street during the filming of a movie in 1993. The work of Haines Junction artist Lance Burton and the Youth of Today Society, this was the first of Whitehorse's murals.

#25: Located facing the parking lot at Triple J's Music at 308 Elliott Street, this mural by Colin Alexander shows the sternwheelers Australian and William Ogilvie at Canyon City, on the Yukon River just above Whitehorse.

#26: On the rear wall of radio station CKRW at 4103 - 4th Avenue is a mural painted by Bill Oster, depicting performers whose work they've aired since 1969.

#27: A mural painted by several artists was outside the headquarters of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

It is now on the "Murals that are now history..." list at the bottom.

#28: Along the top of the east wall of the Best Western Gold Rush Inn is a mural painted by John Russell in 1997 in celebration of the 1998 Centennial of the Klondike Gold Rush.

#29: Lech Podgorski painted can-can dancer "Lady Lydia" on the upper 4th Avenue facade of the T & M Hotel, at 401 Main Street.

#30: On the east side wall of the T.A. Firth & Son Insurance building at 310 Hanson Street is a mural by Colin Alexander that depicts company founder Thomas Andrew Firth and their original building in Dawson City in 1906.

#31: This wrap-around mural on the Many Rivers Counselling building at 4071 - 4th Avenue was painted by Heidi Hehn and the Youth of Today Society.

#32: A panoramic mural showing a large herd of elk covers the fence at the back of the parking lot at the Elks Lodge, 401 Hawkins Street. It was painted by Lance Burton and the Youth of Today Society.

#33: On the Hoge Street side of the former "Wharf on 4th" fish shop at 4042 - 4th Avenue, this mural of a First Nation fishing and hunting camp is by Linch Curry and Kathleen Thorpe.

#34: On the rear wall of the Yukon Convention Centre, 4051 - 4th Avenue, is "Packtrain Assisting Surveyor", a mural by Zina Eckdahl.

#35: On the western side of The Deli at 203 Hanson Street, overlooking their parking lot, is a sign by Bill Oster and Maurice "G" Gogin that features a European castle.

#36: In the alley behind Peacock Sales at 206 Hanson Street are a pair of murals by Bill Oster. The lower one illustrates the Canyon & Whitehorse Rapids Tramway Company that ran along Miles Canyon during the Klondike Gold Rush.

#37: The final piece in the walking tour handout is the massive stained glass mural (actually acrylic resins) by David Maclagan in the Yukon Government Administration Building. I've given this piece its own page so you can see it properly.

A panoramic mural of Yukon transportation history, with a focus on the construction of the Alaska Highway, is on the front of the Yukon Transportation Museum, facing the Alaska Highway.

A photograph of a famous Yukon bush plane, Fokker Super Universal CF-AAM, fills the north wall of the Yukon Transportation Museum.

The Riverdale pumphouse at the Yukon River bridge has 3 sides painted with murals, and the 4th side is plain black with a small painting.

In 2016, the Jamieson's Building at 4159 - 4th Avenue was brightened with murals painted by artists associated with a new tenant, the Splintered Craft art studio.

In October 2021 the building was perhaps even more colourful, but derelict, and demolition will no doubt be its fate in the not-too-distant future.

The front facade of the City of Whitehorse Parks Building at 9043 Quartz Road features a mural showing a canoe and steamboat on a wilderness river.

In October 2014, Colin Alexander painted this portrait of Louis Armstrong on a former freight door on Wood Street between Paddy's Pub and the 98 Hotel.

Colin Alexander added a portrait of Bob Marley to the side door of the Pickapeppa Caribbean Soul Food restaurant at 2074 - 2nd Avenue. It includes the Marley quote "Don't gain the world only to lose your soul."

A shed behind Riverside Grocery at 201 Lowe Street received a mural by Colin Alexander in 2015, and the process of painting it was captured by Christopher di Armani. The name of the city of Whitehorse came from the White Horse Rapids, whose foaming crests were said to make some people think of the manes of a herd of white horses.

These colourful salmon line the path that leads to the viewing platform above the entrance to the fish ladder.

The "Stream of Dreams" mural at the fish ladder was created "to inspire everyone to protect and conserve water to ensure a healthy future for our rivers, lakes, oceans, and communities. Each fish painter has learned about the local watershed and how to keep it healthy."

This 3-panel series at the old fish hatchery on the banks of the Yukon River above downtown Whitehorse tells the story of Norman Macauley's Canyon and White Horse Rapids Tramway Company that went around Miles Canyon during the Klondike Gold Rush, ending near the fish hatchery's location.

At Lumel Studios, a glass-blowing studio at 3T8, 1191 Front Street, this mural is under the overhang facing 4th Avenue.

Far off in the forest on the Whitehorse airport property is a long-abandoned incinerator from the days when the Royal Canadian Air Force had a base here. It's been used as a canvas by graffiti artists for many years, and the art on the incinerator changes fairly often - these photos were shot in 2011 and 2013.

In October 2021, a large mural by Nathalie Parenteau was installed on the Takhini Arena.

While some "murals" will be considered by some people to be "graffiti", the talent of the artists is obvious. The upper photo, of an oil tank behind the old Salvation Army building, shows a portrait by Colin Alexander. The lower one, the oil tank behind the historic Smith House at Lepage Park, has a mural by an unknown artist that has been tagged by a graffiti vandal.

Murals that are now history...

Walking tour #18: The Westmark Whitehorse hotel at 201 Wood Street was the home of the Frantic Follies vaudeville show, and their sign on the Steele Street facade of the building, painted by Bill Oster, is on the list of murals.

Walking tour #27: This mural painted by several artists was outside the headquarters of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It's a collage of historical scenes that the Mounties were part of. It was the background to a replica of a Northwest Mounted Police log cabin, but the cabin was later moved to a location beside the White Pass & Yukon Route railway at the US/Canada border.

In 2007 when this photo was shot, the entire east wall of the Lynn Building at 308 Steele Street was a mural featuring a person fishing on a mountain lake. It has been painted over in a solid colour.

The east wall of the H&R Block building at 211 Elliott Street hosted another of Colin Alexander's murals.

On the 3rd Avenue windows of the Hougen's Centre on Main Street was a mural depicting famous Yukoners, by Lance Burton. The windows now (2017) display clothing for the store in that space.