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The Colourful Percentage of Yukon People Part One

Updated on September 23, 2013

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Welcome

Welcome again and if you have found your way here this evening you might as well get a comfy chair and a blanket cause we are in for another snowfall. Environment Canada have had warnings out all day about the weather, We are hopeful it may miss us. The temp has dropped the last hour so I would say we will be getting snow soon enough.

Maybe a good thing as we do need the moisture. I was playing out in the backyard with Quigley this afternoon and took a shovel and was able to drive it deep into the lawn so the moisture will be safe.

Many have written and asked about some of the people whom I encountered over the years and how they spoke into a life that was spiralling so quickly down with addictions. Some have asked if I would be willing to share something about these people. Who they were and what they did in helping direct me. So here we are, and I find it hard to consider whom to speak of first. The north is filled with many very interesting people.

I have entitled this series "The Colourful 5 %", some may ask why and yet for me I can say they were so very different than most. Very individual each in their own way. Get them all into a room and no doubt you would have a riot on your hands with some and a love in with others. Yet they were the people who stood by me thick and thin, and I can honestly say I love each from the bottom of my heart. So throughout this series I will share whom they were and what they spoke into me.

Gather around, all has been made ready, coffee, tea, diet coke, extra blankets and snacks. The cookies have been made unique, so I do hope you enjoy them. Quigley is a little on the crazy side tonight. Dad gave her a bath, and she is still a little angry with me but by the time you arrive she will be telling you the horrors of living in this house. Please know that you are all dearly loved and are more than welcome to stay as long as you like.

I so wish I had taken pictures of people back then. So I have used some pictures of my Quill Collection for you. You will just need to imagine.

Sam was as unique as barb wire

© Quill Collection
© Quill Collection

Whiskey” (Sam) Olefson

Winter days are short in the Yukon, daylight in January starts at 10 AM, and by 2 in the afternoon it is already near dark. This day was similar to many as I drove some of the bush trails far off the beaten track in the Tetchier Valley some 40 miles off the Alaska Highway and 60 miles from Whitehorse the capital city. People out this far are hard to find should you end up in trouble. Well trouble I found this particular day

I had found a good solid birch tree, a prize for firewood as they burn much longer that other native trees. I shut the van off and proceeded to cut it up. Once loaded I went to start the van and nothing, just a clicking sound. The solenoid had decided it was a good day to take a rest. All I needed was booster cables, well as luck would have it the last set I had I had given to a stranded tourist and here I was paying the price for not having due diligence.

I bundled up as best I could and started to walk back towards where I had seen a crude sign along the road a few miles back. Tannis my old faithful dog could care less if it was cold or getting dark. She was on another adventure. "Trespassers Will Be Shot." Off in the distance was a rough trail that ran a few hundred yards and just ahead a second sign that said "Can't you read... Private". Then I noticed an old Dodge truck that had seen its better day and the hood was up. Off in the distance stood an old log cabin with smoke coming out of the chimney. I had not even made it within a hundred yards of the cabin when a man stepped out and chambered a bullet into his rifle.

His build was beyond huge he had to duck down to get through the door. His hair was a mess and his beard had grown down to his mid chest. His rifle menacingly pointed in my direction. Even a fool, half frozen or not could figure out this man meant business. Thus, I would say he qualified to be a part of the colourful percent.

Tannis had never been known for her manners and stood growling and snarling at this man. In her eyes he was a threat to me and I had to stop her form lunging forward. After and explanation of my plight he seemed to soften a little and motioned for me to step inside. His next words were "I hate thieves so if you are thinking of anything I think I will keep this handy, he laid his rifle across the small table. "Help your self to some tea on the stove and get warm. The law of the land here is never turn a stranger away, do the same someday and the debt will be paid back."

When I slipped off my jacket, he spotted the tell tale can of Copenhagen chewing tobacco and changed immediately and asked if he could have a chew. Of course, I offered, and he proceeded to all but empty the tin into his bottom lip and spit on the floor. "Mighty kind of you," as he passed the tin back.

"Its yours if I can get a boost from you,? was the best I could muster looking at the rifle laying on the table within his reach.




© Quill Collection
© Quill Collection

Loneliness Hurts

It was apparent that Whiskey lived alone and a simple life. One thing I did notice was just how tidy the small cabin was kept. The only window in the place faced the direction I had come. An assortment of guns hung on the walls, and a number of pelts hung on the outside of the cabin. He was a trapper without doubt.

In front of the window sat a chair and a notebook that was closed and it had the year 1974 written on the outside cover. Several other notebooks lined a small shelf and were placed in order according to the year. "What are you looking at," came his deep voice.

"Nothing I see that you are keeping a journal?

"Might but what is there being personal so stop looking at my stuff. Let's get your vehicle started, and you can be on your way. Do you have cables to connect to my battery. I keep it inside, and you can carry it, not me as he slipped into his coat pulled on a fur hat and gloves. Let's go," and he opened the door again waving the gun in my direction.

An hour later the van was running again, and I offered him a ride back. "I come past here once in a while is there anything I can bring you from town. Rolly is my name and yours?

He gave me that look again and muttered "Whiskey as a name is good enough. Get me some chewing tobacco, powdered milk, flour and sugar. Just drop it at the end of the lane and we will call it square. The sign here still stands, and that means you so stay away. Man needs his privacy. Now get out of here before I shoot this rig up," he said in a gruff voice.


Ice Fishing

© Quill Collection
© Quill Collection

People Can Change

A few days later I left a box of supplies at the end of his drive and left a note that said Whiskey if you need anything leave me a note under rock inside the box and I will get it for you. I will make it a point to come around once every two weeks.

The next time I was through the wooden box sat empty except for a note and a rock. "Need tea and baking powder and more chew. Here is money." That was it and a few days later I brought it back. The next time I arrived there was a loaf of homemade bread, a small jar of jam and a note. "Thanks, coffee, more flour salt and pepper." along with a twenty dolar bill.

A few days later I drop the box off and left a note. "Ever in the country here is a map to my place. Be great to have you stop and have some tea. After all I owe you some hospitality in return. Thanks Rolly, here is your change."

Next time I was through the box, rock and note were left. "Kind of you but I like it here. I need nothing this time. Bring chew next time and a bill. No money till I sell my skins. Whiskey."

That was the way I come to know the man Whiskey (Sam) Olefson.

They Can

© Quill Collection
© Quill Collection

The Power Of Caring

It was the following summer when one day Whiskey pulled into my driveway. I had been busy finishing the living room, and the place was a mess. Tannis disliked him and gave her usual welcome. Whiskey probably never bathed so it was a sure sign he was close by.

He stood looking at an old rusty stove I had bought to place in the living room and shared with me a secret to keeping a stove black and shiny. "Get as much rust off as you can with a wire brush, sweep it clean after and apply a good layer of bear fat and rub it in good. Then start a fire. in no time it will turn black, and you will have a good stove for years. I have some in my truck in my camping box. Help yourself, fair trade for the last groceries you dropped off."

Whiskey spent a few hours that day and helped a little with some rock work I was doing. I noticed he had three fingers gone on his left hand. "Bet your wondering what happened to these. I guess you have proved yourself enough to me for you to know. Back five maybe six years ago I got lost in a blizzard only a few hundred yards from the cabin. Froze the hand bad and three days later I got gangrene, and they started to turn ugly and black. The roads were filled in, and I tried all I knew to try and keep them. I made a choice one morning got a good fire going and stuck a poker in the stove and with a sharp axe cut them clean off. The last thing I recall was searing the cut with the red hot poker and I passed out. When I come to again, I cleaned up the mess, and this is what I have left, holding up his hand. I get by you know but I am not much good on the guitar anymore."

His story was simple and to the point, there was no need to pry any further. Some things are best left alone, this was one of them.

Love and Laugh

© Quill Collection
© Quill Collection

Smoke and Laughter

It was a hard story to listen to, but a man needs to respect Whiskey for his strength and courage to do such a thing and to be able to share it.

I had finished all the rock work, moved the stove in place, cleaned it up and put a good dose of bear fat all over, and today would be the first fire day. I started a small fire inside and added several pieces of wood as Whiskey had instructed. In a few minutes, I had black smoke and the smell of burning fat filling the cabin. The smell was putrid, and I tossed in some water in my attempts to put out the fire. I opened all the doors and windows as the fire burned itself out. The smell was horrible.

Tannis gave her usual tough dog bark just as Whiskey pulled into the driveway with a box of moose meat and came running. "There is fire man here let me help," as he ran in and spotted the stove smoking and started to laugh. Whiskey laughed for the longest while, and I stood waiting to hear what was so funny. Through tear filled eyes, he managed to get out the words. "I meant light the fire while the stove was outside,"and again went in a rage of laughter.

There were several things I learned from Whiskey. The first would have been the fact that when a man is faced with adversity you will do what is needed to save your life.

The next would be the blackening of a stove and the best way to complete the task.

More importantly is never judge a book by its cover. Or in this case a man by his appearance or your first impression.

The most valuable lesson is to learn to love, show compassion even when it is not received. Continue to love and eventually the Whiskey's of the world will accept the love. Can we learn from a hardened heart... we certainly can.

Whiskey and I became fast and hard friends who would sit by the hour and discuss life. His had not been easy I much later learned. His trials had been many, it mainly centered around betrayal. He had chosen his lifestyle back in the wilderness. He had written about it and once offered me his diaries to keep, and I said no. "They are yours Whiskey, they should be with you."

Many winters later I was out his way and thought it strange not to see tracks going or coming from his road. I slipped on my snowshoes and headed in to find the cabin burned to the ground. We lost Whiskey that year along with the journals I regret never taking. Whiskey was a man whom I learned to love and respect and a man who taught me much the same.

Even as I write this I can hear his laughter the day I filled the cabin with smoke. Whiskey I regret not retrieving your journals. I dedicate this to you for the many lessons you taught this new dweller to the north. The world has lost a wealth of information the day it lost you. I know you had a story to tell. It was the reason you sat by the hour alone writing about it. May the little I have written here, shed some light on the real man you were in my eyes. Rest in peace my friend.

© All Rights Reserved and Monitored


A good friend Hank...

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    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 5 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      I have to say, I love your pictures as much as I do your stories. Thanks for sharing both with us around the Fireside.

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image
      Author

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Morning lifegate... thanks for the comment and the kind words... heading over to say hello

      Hugs from Canada

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 5 years ago from Neverland

      "The most valuable lesson is to learn to love, show compassion even when it is not received. Continue to love and eventually the Whiskey's of the world will accept the love"

      I love that line Rolly. We ALL need to love and share the love - even with people we may not at first find worthy of that love. I have seen it with my own eyes...the toughest and most rugged individuals are the best friends you will have if you give them the chance so many others may not have given them/

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image
      Author

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Ardie... when I look at people and look deeply at them you soo come to see the need they have to be heard and loved. We do live in a society today that has become hardened to the needs of others mainly because we are so caught up in our own needs. The key is to set our needs aside and simply love and in return we will be the ones who are loved in return. Good to see you have taken that step and have been witness to the results.

      Hugs from Canada

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      What a great story! The pictures complement it well, too.

      Thank you, I enjoyed reading it.

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image
      Author

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Blossom... Thanks for reading and hope you find the next entertaining...

      Hugs from Canada

    • DavePrice profile image

      DavePrice 5 years ago from Sugar Grove, Ill

      Wow, Wow, Wow

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 5 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up and awesome and believe me Whiskey knows you wrote this and that you care and he'll remain your friend forever. So if you ever hear booming laughter and don't know where it's coming from well you know.....

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image
      Author

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Morning Dave... well thank you...

      Hugs man

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image
      Author

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Gypsy... lol... As crusty as Whiskey was when I first met the man and as good as our friendship developed after a few years were like night and day. I can hear the laughter... generally mine when I think of the first encounter and the rancid smell of that bear fat smoke all throughout the cabin...

      Hugs from Canada

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Rolly, I guess we'll never know if the fire that burned Whiskey's cabin to the ground was accidental or a case of him making his exit HIS way.

      However, I prefer to think he set the fire himself AFTER putting the journals in a backpack and donning snowshoes to relocate, and the tracks were covered by new snow. Once resettled, he discovered computers and the internet, and published the journals as e-books under his real name. Maybe even became a hubber. :-}

      Voted up and awesome! ;D

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image
      Author

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi JamaGenee... Thank you for finding your way tote Fireside. Over the years there has been much speculation as to what took pace at Whiskeys that night. Some have searched and found nothing as to the cause of the fire. Only the speculation it was a chimney fire that caught the roof on fire. I guess one will never know for certain. There was a skeleton found in the burnt out cabin and all assumed it was Whiskey.

      Your theory opens the doors to all sorts of possibilities. I can tell you have a very creative and interesting mind. Do you really think Whiskey would have created this plot all on his own.

      Hugs from Canada

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Rolly, considering your creative and interesting mind, I won't be surprised if the skeleton turns out not to be Whiskey, but some poor soul who ignored both warning signs on the track to the cabin who weren't as lucky as you and got shot for doing so. ;D

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image
      Author

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Jama ... Whiskey was an intimidating man in size and stature with a voice that resembled a low growl of a bear. The signs were there to ward off strangers. Could he have followed through on his warnings... well I do wonder...????

      Hugs from Canada

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      I enjoyed reading the story of Whisky and the comments between you and Jama. I find it strange that he would be willing to give you his most precious possessions, his journals to you to keep before this happened. He was obviously a man who held his own council and did things HIS way.

      He taught you many things but he learned from you as well. The love and respect went both ways.

      Thank you for sharing the story of Whisky

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image
      Author

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Rosemay50... I thought the same strange when he offered them to me and yet out of respect I said no at the time. A choice I have regretted many times over the years. I suppose it could be summed up in say when another has placed enough trust in you with something so personal you should accept in a humble way. Maybe yet another thing I have discover along the way in life and just come to realize it was another of Whiskey's teachings.

      Smiles... to Jama... it has been an interesting exchange... could it be that Whiskey lives on.... a question still open for debate.

      Hugs from Canada

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, Its amazing how we can form a bond with someone who we would never believe could become a friend, he was certainly a character, and you did him justice here, loved your story, and the photos too, nell

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image
      Author

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Nell... Thanks for saying hello and meeting Whiskey... he was filled with stories of his adventures... very interesting man and you are so right,,, just never know.

      Hugs and all

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 5 years ago from Canada

      Rolly,

      You always light up my day and my heart. :)

      We all have our tales to tell, and Whiskey was fortunate that he found a friend in you (and likewise). As always, I walk away with a life lesson and a smile on my face.

      Thank you Rolly. You're the best!

      xox from the East :D

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image
      Author

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Beth... Over the years I have come to know we are all very different but we all have one common thread and tat is to loved and appreciated. Whiskey had closed the door to a broken past of much hurt.

      The greatest blessing I received from him was his trust and sincere friendship.

      Hugs for stopping in from the west

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Do you know the Canadian, thought Id bring you this since she is so interesting. In case you don't. Merry Christmas

      https://hubpages.com/literature/Growing-Up-Italian...

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image
      Author

      Rolly A Chabot 3 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Jackie... Certainly do know this writer, we have ben following each other for a few years. Very talented and gifted in many ways... she is a keeper... smiles.... Merry Christmas (Late) back at you and the best in the new year.

      Hugs and Blessings

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