Consider those European squatters

Consider those European squatters Re Bush Cabins Under Fire, Lisa Hasselbring: Hans, Joseph, Dieter and Dennis came in on the Condor flight in June. They had planned their vacation in the Yukon for years. After checking through customs (who were not very

Re Bush Cabins Under Fire, Lisa Hasselbring:

Hans, Joseph, Dieter and Dennis came in on the Condor flight in June.

They had planned their vacation in the Yukon for years. After checking through customs (who were not very interested in all the equipment the travelers brought with them) they took a cab to the Robert Service Campground, where they spent the first night.

The next day, they visited Canadian Tire (ropes, plastic containers, gas cartridges), Home Hardware (swede saw, two axes, spikes and nails), and the Superstore (potatoes, oats, milk powder, rice, pepperoni, chocolate bars) for their supplies.

After a light lunch, they rented two canoes from Kanoe People or Up North É I forget which.

While Hans and Joseph looked after the boats and the gear, Dieter and Dennis got themselves a couple of licences, fishing and small game, a gun to keep the bears away (I believe it was a 30.06 with a scope; excellent for bear protection), and a substantial amount of rounds for said gun. (The gun permit had been acquired while still in Germany.)

Since there was a lot of daylight left on that June afternoon, they decided to push off and, hopefully, make it to Lake Laberge.

And they did.

For the next few days they paddled the lake and the river, eventually making it to Fort Selkirk.

Once they had reached this landmark, they began to actively scan the riverbanks.

A few miles upstream of Ballarat Creek, they spotted a site suitable for their undertaking.

They landed, pulled up the boats and pitched the tents for the night.

The next morning, after a hearty breakfast of canned German liverwurst (which they had smuggled into the country) and fluffy Canadian white bread (Which they had a lot to say about) they began exploring the area.

They soon decided on a site some hundred yards from the river, and began the summer’s project.

While Dennis and Dieter selected trees for felling, the other two cleared a building site from brush and small trees, using their shovels from Home Hardware.

Within a few days, they had cut down and limbed some 40 trees, average diameter 10 inches, and soon were ready to lay the first row of logs.

Besides building a log cabin they did some fishing in the river, and, on occasion, they went a little further into the woods and practised their shooting skills, sometimes even on live squirrels or other critters that happened to show up in the gun sights.

On account of these extra-curricular activities they were not quite able to complete the task in time and had to leave their cabin unfinished at the end of three weeks. Vacations were coming to an end.

Back in Germany, they met frequently with their buddies and told them about the Yukon, the wildlife, the splendor of the wilderness, the lack of enforcement agents in the Yukon wilderness and their cabin in the woods.

Since our original four were not able to repeat the experience in the coming year, they encouraged another quartet to make the trip and complete “their” cabin.

The guys did not need much encouragement; after all, they were totally enthusiastic about the prospect to own a cabin in the Yukon (The illegal cabin had, magically, in their minds, morphed into a legitimate piece of real estate).

To cut a long story short, for many years a bunch of young German guys and, sometimes, girls, considered this spot their vacation home in the Yukon.

It was not a great effort to get there, it was not expensive at all (canoe rental and supplies), and they could have the total “Yukon Experience” at a bargain, shooting and fishing included.

Now, there are many cabins like this in the Yukon, not just the one near Ballarat.

(In the last decade of the last century I had an opportunity to fly over the hills and valleys around Dawson City to look for just this kind of “tourist cabin.” In a few days we counted more than 20, some finished, some not).

They are, like the ones built by the old timers, “cabins in the bush.”

Except these ones were erected with complete disregard for any rules that pertain to proper tourist etiquette.

And they certainly have no historical value. As for “emergency shelters” they are mostly useless because they are not at all near the well-traveled trails.

Our German (Austrian, Czech É) friends simply use the Yukon wilderness to satisfy their yearning, utilizing the land as a backdrop, without injecting all that much cash into the Yukon’s tourism economy.

Over the years, I have read many accounts by visitors to the Yukon who, once back in their own country, boasted about “conquering” a whole valley, lake included, living “off the land” for a season or two, building their “dream cabin” in the woods.

This is a very poor use of our resources.

And while I appreciate visitors coming here to experience the Yukon, I have some issue with their way some of them are doing it.

I have no problem with the government burning down illegal residences in the Yukon wilderness.

Bernd Schmidt

Whitehorse

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