Producers of the television show Canadian Pickers have selected the Yukon as a possible destination to film an episode this August.
However, the show, which sends hosts Scott Cozens and Sheldon Smithens on a “Canada-wide treasure hunt” to rummage through people’s belongings in search of antiques and collectables, first needs to line up some potential sellers.
“It’s a long way to fly a whole crew if there’s nothing to buy,” said Cozens. “The Yukon and the Northwest Territories are a little different than most of the places we go to. Most of the places we go to – if you can’t find something in Calgary, you can find something Nanton or High River or something like that.
“When you get to the Yukon you want to make sure you have one or two good picks before you go.”
This is not the first time the History Channel program has shown interest in coming to the Yukon. The show’s producers placed ads in local papers to recruit potential sellers a year ago but did not receive enough of a response.
With the show’s growing popularity, perhaps this time they will get more people to open their garages, crawlspaces and barns for Cozens and Smithens to search for treasures.
“We wanted to go up there last year, but, essentially, no one responded to the ad,” said Cozens. “I don’t get all the details, but apparently there was insufficient people to make it feasible for us to go up there.
“I’ve been pressuring them to go up there because I’ve been there many times, and I just think it’s important for us to go to the Yukon and show that part of the country.”
If the trip goes ahead, the Yukon will be the first Canadian territory to be featured on the program. So far, over the show’s two seasons, Canadian Pickers has travelled to every province with the exception of New Brunswick, which it will visit in July.
“We’ve been pushing hard for the Yukon for a couple years now,” said Smithens. “So when they put it on the schedule we were both screamin’ happy.”
So what are Cozens and Smithens looking for? The short answer: antiques and collectables.
The long answer: everything from guns, cars, motorcycles, toys, CP Rail items, old signs, furniture – the list goes on and on.
They would love to find some artifacts that are quintessentially Yukonesque, but they’re not picky – pardon the expression.
“Sheldon and I will buy anything that we can make a buck on,” said Cozens. “But what I hope to find up there would be old advertising – we’re always looking for old advertising.
“Because of the gold rush up there, lots of product was shipped up there… We’d love to find old store displays, old tins, old signs – that kind of thing.
“The other thing that we could conceivably get up there are native artifacts, whether they be Indian native or Inuit native…
“Maybe a narwhal tusk, if it has the right permits that we can get it out of the province.”
“Anything gold-mining related would be interesting, or anything RCMP related,” said Smithens.
“I know there are some type of limitations on what may or may not leave the Yukon. Scott and I are always interested in anything to do with hunting, fishing and trapping, those typically Canadian things. If people have some older interesting things, that’s exactly what we key-in on.”
Cozens once bought a mammoth tooth while in the Yukon in the years before government regulations prohibiting the transportation of such artifacts under the Historical Resources Act. So some artifacts, such as fossils, might impose too much red tape.
“Ten years ago, you could just take mammoth tooth or a piece of mammoth ivory out of there,” said Cozens. “Now you have to have a special permit to do it.
“So that’s a problem. If we found a nice mammoth tusk we wanted to buy, we’d have to go through the permitting process to get it out of there.”
Though Whitehorse is an obvious destination, both hosts would jump at the chance to go to Dawson City, ground zero of the Klondike Gold Rush.
“We’d love to go to Dawson City,” said Cozens. “One of the things Sheldon and I care about is the historical aspect of what we find. It’s not just about if you can buy a Coke sign and sell it for twice as much as you paid for it. We’re more interested in showing the country and the history of the country, and that’s a pretty historic place.
“But for us to get up there, there has to be the potential that we’ll be able to find something. If we don’t find something, oh well, life goes on. But we want to have the chance at meeting somebody and visit somebody’s place that has something we can try to buy.”
“Maybe somebody up there has something that is unbelievably interesting that may or may not be for sale, but from my point of view we don’t necessarily have to buy things. It’s the story that’s important,” added Smithens.
Both Cozens and Smithens have a personal connection to the Yukon.
Cozens’ brother Mike is a judge in Whitehorse. Scott has also run every leg of the Klondike Trail of ‘98 Road Relay.
“I’ve bought toys up there,” said Cozens. “I’ve antiqued every time I’ve been up there to do the road race and I’ve bought antique toys up there.”
Smithens visited Whitehorse about seven or eight years back. His grandfather travelled to the Yukon about 100 years ago to work as a watchmaker.
“I’m looking forward to coming back so much,” said Smithens.
If you have a crawlspace, barn, trailer or garage filled with old stuff, and wouldn’t mind making some cash and being on a nationwide television show, contact the show’s producers at (416) 531-2500 ext. 605 or email@example.com.
Cozens and Smithens hope to get to the Yukon at the start of August.
“Everything about the Yukon seems colourful and that’s exactly what Scott and I gravitate to,” said Smithens.
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org