Stand at the corner of Whitehorse’s Second Avenue and Main Street and cast your mind’s eye back nearly 90 years.
Today you’ll see a modern bank, but that spot was once home to as extravagant a hotel as you were likely to find north of 60.
The Whitehorse Inn was built in 1927 and had perks you couldn’t find anywhere else. It was the first hotel to have hot and cold running water.
By the ‘50s it even had locks on the individual doors.
At one point someone even built bowling alleys in the basement.
“It was sort of the hub of town,” said Leighann Chalykoff, manager of museum services at the MacBride Museum.
“If you ask anyone who was around when the Whitehorse Inn was around, everything happened there: weddings, any sort of celebration that you were having.”
Though the hotel was torn down in the ’70s, the museum is channelling the inn’s hay day with a special dinner on July 27.
The night’s meal of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, veggies and red velvet cake is pulled right off the menu of the cafe that once operated at the inn.
“All the shipyard workers would walk down to the cafe en masse and you would hear their bootsteps walking down the street,” Chalykoff said.
Yukon music staples the Canucks will be playing as part of the event, adding extra authenticity to the evening.
In the 1960s the band moved north to become the house band at the inn’s Rainbow Room.
The Whitehorse Inn was built by Ken and Mack Yoshida. As the story goes, in 1937 the Yoshidas were playing a high stakes poker game with Whitehorse businessman T.C. Richards and other movers and shakers in town. They lost $20,000 to Richards in that game.
Richards turned around and used their cash as a down payment to buy the hotel.
Wear and tear eventually meant the hotel had to be torn down. All that remains is the neon sign that Richards hung in the ’50s. The sign now adorns the wall of the MacBride Museum, not far from where guests will be eating.
The MacBride Museum dinner is one of many food-related museum events happening around Whitehorse this summer.
Since early July, the Transportation Museum has been hosting dinners every Tuesday with food from the Hue Oasis Asian Fusion Restaurant and Bar. Each Tuesday until August 23 will feature a different theme alongside a meal.
This coming Tuesday will feature historical stories of love and lust along with a meal and a swing dance lesson.
Expanding museum hours past 6 p.m. on Tuesday gives more people a chance to visit, said Ben Fast, the Transportation Museum’s curatorial programming associate. So does including food.
“I definitely think that it’s an element that makes it possible,” he said.
“If we were running this program without food at the time that we’re running it a lot of people would be hungry and would not want to.”
Dinner on Aug. 2 has been dubbed Murder on the Yukon Express.
It’s a good old-fashioned murder mystery.
Guests coming for dinner will get to inhabit Yukon and northern characters from the 1930s. Since Yukoners love nothing more than an excuse to dress up, 1930s attire is more than welcome, Fast said.
By the end of the evening the dining crowd will be investigating a fictional murder, on a fictional train, based entirely on Yukon railroad history.
Think Murder on the Orient Express with a northern focus.
“It ties in pretty well with our focus on trains,” Fast said.
This particular event is for people 19 and older and will include a cash bar.
The event will start with a railroad-themed tour of the museum where guests can pick up clues about the murder. After dinner they’ll have to figure out both who died and who committed the murder.
Including food is a chance to give people a unique way to experience the territory’s museums, Chalykoff said.
“It’s about finding new and interesting ways to use the collection to get adults and families interested in re-exploring the museum.”
The Whitehorse Inn event starts at 5:30 p.m. on July 27 at the MacBride Museum. Tickets are $75 for non-members, and $65 for museum members.
Ticket holders will receive a copy of MacBride Museum’s newest book featuring recipes from Yukon’s historical cocktail menus.
For more information visit the museum’s website: macbridemuseum.com.
The murder mystery at the Yukon Transportation Museum starts at 6 p.m. on Aug. 2. Tickets are $20 for museum members and $25 for non-members.
For more information about all the different dinners happening Tuesdays at the museum visit: goytm.ca/dine-ytm.
Contact Ashley Joannou at firstname.lastname@example.org