the history of the winter carnival yukon sourdough rendezvous queens

Thank you to Sibell Hackney of Whitehorse, who was our Rendezvous queen in 1990, for writing this history of all our beautiful Rendezvous queens past.

Thank you to Sibell Hackney of Whitehorse, who was our Rendezvous queen in 1990, for writing this history of all our beautiful Rendezvous queens past.

Her letter follows:

From 1945 until 1950, the predecessor of the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous was known as Yukon Carnival Week. It ran approximately the same time of year as Rendezvous does now, and always had a queen contest.

Doris Lesanke was proclaimed the winner of the Queen of the Carnival in 1945. She was followed in 1946 by Frances Van Berkel. Mary Gunn won in 1947, Frances Straughan in 1948 and there was no carnival held in 1949 due to insurance costs. The carnival returned in 1950 (but the queen is unknown).

In the years 1951 until 1961 there was no winter carnival, but in 1962 the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous officially began and has been held every year since.

Each subsequent year there have been events added, but there was consistently a queen contest.

A queen contestant has a busy Rendezvous schedule, attending every event, though she has front-row seats to all. She sells tickets, is watched by secret judges who tally her abilities to represent the Yukon. She learns how to deal with the public and it is a great way to see every event.

The queen crowning and awards ceremony used to take place on an outdoor ice palace built each year from river ice especially for the occasion. It took a hardy northerner to stand and wait in the cold for the honours to be dispensed.

Mushers, flour packers, queens and their escorts, the hardy Midnight Sun Pipe Band and CBC announcers were among the many who participated in these ceremonies, often in extremely cold temperatures. Despite the cold, there was always good audience attendance, each attired in their bright northern parkas and mukluks.

In the ‘70s, the queen crowning was moved indoors, which added more glamour and glitter to the gala event, enabling the contestants to don elaborate gowns of the days of ‘98 period, while appreciative audiences watched from their comfortable warm seats.

In 1962, the ice palace was built by the drama club with Alice Martin of Dawson City being crowned Miss Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous. Following that, we’ve had about 48 Rendezvous queens throughout the years, all of them very beautiful.


In 1970, Sibell Hackney was named Miss Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous. The judging was changed that year to incorporate the Miss Canada rules. It was Norah Corbett’s (Queen Mother) dream to take “her” girl to the Miss Canada competition and, as it was Norah’s last year before retiring, in recognition of her good work, she was granted her dream.

Sibell, with Norah as her chaperone, travelled east to compete in the Miss Canada competition the following June.

We all look forward to this year’s festivities, and the results of the 2010 Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Queen contest.

Have a great time!

Anyone with information about this subject, please write Jim Robb: The Colourful Five Per Cent Scrapbook – Can You Identify? c/o the Yukon News, 211 Wood Street, Whitehorse, Yukon,

Y1A 2E4, or e-mail through the News website,