Yukon artist Jim Robb immortalizes Whitehorse’s Garbage Truck Santa

Crystal Schick/Yukon News
Garbage Truck Santa gives out a big wave near his truck in Whitehorse on Dec. 17. With COVID-19 precautions in place, Santa was able  to do his annual Whitehorse driving tour for the 29th year.
Art by Chris Caldwell serves as the centrepiece of the Garbage Truck Santa Christmas cards. (Chris Caldwell/Submitted)Art by Chris Caldwell serves as the centrepiece of the Garbage Truck Santa Christmas cards. (Chris Caldwell/Submitted)

Christmas may still be four months away, but the Yukon’s iconic Garbage Truck Santa has an exciting update for Yukoners: He has been immortalized in a painting by another celebrated Yukoner, artist Jim Robb.

Robb’s artistic rendition of Garbage Truck Santa follows a successful Christmas card campaign last year. Yukon artist Chris Caldwell created the image of the front of the card, which shows Santa handing out candy canes to children in front of his festively decorated truck, with the aurora borealis shimmering in the background.

The sale of the cards raised $5,000 for the Yukon Hospital Foundation.

Robb’s artwork is “not as colourful as Chris Caldwell’s,” according to Garbage Truck Santa, known outside the holiday season as Wayne Henderson. The painting features Henderson’s unique take on Kris Kringle alongside a titan of Yukon lore — Andy Hooper.

Hooper, who passed away over three decades ago, was known for moving just about anything using an old military truck he acquired after the Second World War.

Meanwhile, Henderson’s Garbage Truck Santa has been spreading Christmas cheer to Whitehorse residents almost continuously since 1991. During the holiday season, he drives around town in his waste disposal vehicle, adorned with colourful lights, to visit schools, daycares and seniors’ homes, handing out candy canes.

“There’s my truck on the bottom [of the painting], and then you’ve got Andy Hooper on the left and then you’ve got Whiskey Flats,” Henderson said.

“I appreciate it because he wanted to put me in the Colourful Five Percent. And he said, ‘You know what, I’m just going to do a painting of you and Andy Hooper and the two most famous trucks.’ I said, ‘Well, you go do that, Jim, because you’re the one to do it’.”

According to Henderson, Robb’s original painting of Garbage Truck Santa and Hooper took almost a year to complete and sold for more than $10,000. Prints are forthcoming, and like last year’s Christmas card project, print sales will involve a charity aspect.

“I told [Robb] let’s do one of 10 limited editions, see how they sell. And then, if they sell really good, we’ll continue on. We can go from 11 to 200,” Henderson said, noting that print size would be dictated by what tourists can fit in their suitcases.

Those interested in learning more about Robb’s Santa and Hooper prints should stay tuned to Garbage Truck Santa’s social media accounts. The Christmas cards featuring Caldwell’s art will also remain on sale this year.

Contact Matthew Bossons at matthew.bossons@yukon-news.com