In a neighbourhood that has proven dangerous for the likes of concrete bunnies and garden gnomes, a Whitehorse woman is building monuments that will stand the test of time.
The Copper Ridge homeowner and her husband decided to forego the standard manicured lawn in favour of something with a little more flavour — candy-coloured rocks, and lots of ’em.
Adorning the front “lawn” of 3 Topaz Crescent are multi-coloured inukshuks anchored in $800 worth of cement.
Toss in the scores of painted stones arranged to look like fish, a bear, an eagle, a man and a woolly mammoth, and 3 Topaz represents quite an artistic collection.
It took three years to create and was inspired by a rock pile in Dease Lake, BC, a little over three years ago, said Sharon Doran, who owns 3 Topaz Crescent along with her husband Stu.
“We were living in Dease Lake and I looked out the window of this house we were renting — I looked at this pile of rocks and I said, ‘That looks like a bird.’
“So, I went and made one. I made an eagle. Then I thought I could do a bear, then a ram.
“So, when we moved to Whitehorse I saw all these rocks in the front yard and I thought, I could do an inukshuk.”
The first inukshuk she made was one that resembled her dog, Buddy, said Sharon.
With dump trucks full of stones being deposited on her property, she began making more of the Inuit markers.
Then she added a series of stones around her inukshuks to form a medicine wheel before finally topping off her yard with some stone animal mosaics.
“I’ve spent thousands of dollars making these silly things, but it’s been fun.
“The big inukshuk cost, like, $300 to paint, because it has all of this specialized paint.”
Sharon’s labour of love has largely been a solo effort, said Stu.
“I think she’s done a fantastic job on it. If she wants to move around 1,000 pounds of rock, that’s her bag, it’s not mine.
“We rented an air compressor to spray paint it, but she did all the work herself.
“When she was moving rocks I was downstairs finishing off the basement, putting walls up.
“I’m 100 per cent supportive of her emotionally, and that sort of stuff, but I don’t get out there and move rocks because it’s not my thing and I’ve got a bad back.”
But it hasn’t all been roses and bunnies.
The Dorans have been the victims of vandalism.
The couple has lost stone bunnies and other rocky animals they used to decorate their yard, they say.
“I put out 40 different kinds of animals, little ones and big ones, but they only lasted 24 hours.”
The inukshuks were toppled — pre-concrete — and the woolly mammoth was molested.
“We’ve come home and an inukshuk was pushed over and it took two of us to lift it up; so I’ve got it cemented in so you can’t push it over.
“I think it’s only one person.”
Cleaning up the yard and looking after her rocks are all just part of maintaining her home, a home that she may, or may not sell one day, said Sharon.
The couple doesn’t know, and doesn’t care if her art will affect the sale price of their property, she added.
“I never really thought about it, that stuff is cemented in there pretty good, it would be an awful job to move it.”
“How would you get rid of all of that? I don’t know, but I sure hope I don’t have to do it.”
But, for the time being she and Stu will stay in their Copper Ridge home because they like the area, the neighbours are nice and they have no complaints, she said.
And, other than a vandal or two, people really seem to be answering the call of the inukshuks — Topaz Crescent has become quite a tourist attraction, said Sharon.
“I’ve had people from England, Germany, France, Mexico and South Africa come here to look at my yard.
“I have dozens of people who go through the yard all the time. If they see me they ask questions, otherwise, they just take pictures and they walk all over.
“People are pretty amazed. I always get asked if I’m an artist and where my ideas come from and I say I don’t know.”
Some of the neighbours don’t know either, said Bob Chorney, who lives across the street from Stu and Sharon.
“Some of the neighbours like it, some aren’t too sure what to make of it. I think it looks pretty nice.
“She did a nice job, she’s done a lot of work. She’s hauled a lot of rocks in there.
“It’s different, eh?”