Artist and innkeeper, Suzanne Picot is celebrating 30 years in Yukon.
Suzanne was only 19 when she left her hometown of Bathurst, New Brunswick. Her first husband brought her to Haines Junction on their honeymoon with the intention of settling down there. At the time, this small Yukon village had only 500 inhabitants, mostly members of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations. Inquisitive by nature, Suzanne took a keen interest in their culture and eventually found herself looking at life differently.
“I was making more and more life choices with my heart,” she says, admitting that, at times, her decisions might not have seemed reasonable to her husband who was more focused on building wealth.
“I wanted to study social work, travel, and find myself,” she explains. Then one day, when taking part in a sweat lodge – a spiritual aboriginal ceremony held in a sweat-inducing tent – she had an epiphany: “I knew that no matter how hard, I had to follow my instinct and leave,” she recalls.
Suzanne moved to Victoria, British Columbia. She was studying, working and travelling when she met the man with whom she shares her life today.
“Rob had left (slight pause) Yukon to study photojournalism. Like me, he wanted to see the world,” she says. Together, they spent several years in Ecuador and travelled to many other countries before returning to Yukon to put down roots. They unpacked their bags on the shores of Crag Lake, an hour and a half south of Whitehorse, and christened their new home Dunroamin’ Retreat, in reference to the culmination of their travels.
“It’s also an invitation to those who are on the road to come in for a bit of a respite,” she adds. Guests stay in a “rustic but elegant” log cabin. “There’s electricity, but no running water. That’s part of the experience, since this place is all about slowing down,” explains the cheerful innkeeper.
Suzanne Picot wants her inn to impart a sense of healing so that guests can find comfort when thinking back on their stay.
“Pleasant memories are stored in a part of the brain where we go to find solace,” she says.
Crag Lake is extraordinarily beautiful, and the surrounding area is home to several artists who specialize in working with wood, glass and paint. This makes a stay at Suzanne’s inn a truly unique artistic experience.
When not at her homestead, Suzanne assists people and their families coping with imminent death.
It’s a safe bet that the energy she draws from her guests at Dunroamin’ Retreat adds to her own fond memories, which she can revisit in order to get through the tougher moments of her day-to-day mission. See www.dunroaminretreat.com
This article is excerpted from the second edition of a tourism brochure created by RDEE Yukon, the economic development branch of the Association franco-yukonnaise (AFY). You can get a copy of the brochure (in French) at the Centre de la francophonie in Whitehorse or at the tourism information centre in your community.