Yukon singer Hank Karr to be celebrated in new book

Hank Karr has been singing and strumming songs about his beloved Yukon for more than 50 years. Now, one of his biggest fans is helping compile a book of photos and memories of Karr's career.

Book will collect photos, memories of local legend's 50-year career

Still going strong. Hank Karr performing at the MacBride Museum in Whitehorse last August. (Sue Gleason)

Maybe one day they'll be singing songs about Hank Karr. When they do, they'll have a great book for inspiration.

The Yukon singer has by now become almost as beloved an emblem of the Yukon as the things he's written and sung about over the decades — the paddlewheelers, the mountain vistas, the remnants of the Klondike gold rush.

That's why Yukoner Mike Craigen decided to collect stories and photos of Karr's 50-plus year career.

'We want to have it full of humourous stories, we want to have it full of photos,' said Mike Craigen about his book idea. (Mike Rudyk/CBC)

"He's made thousands of us here in Yukon happy," said Craigen. "I like to think of the thousands of people that follow Hank around the territory here as 'Hankheads'" — a reference to the so-called "Fredheads," die-hard fans of singer Fred Eaglesmith.

"I really want to encourage those 'Hankheads' out there to get on board, and really help us out with submitting as much material as they can get their hands on."

40 years of fandom

Craigen's own memories of Karr go back 40 years, to the very day Craigen moved to the Yukon. He checked in to the Whitehorse Inn, and that night watched Karr and his band play the bar downstairs.

A Hankhead was born.

Classic Karr. A well-played copy of Karr's 1967 LP, from the CBC Yukon record library. (CBC)

Since then, the two men have become friends and Craigen has enlisted Karr to help put his book together — "I said, 'Hank, let's get together and make it happen.'"

Karr was at first bemused by the whole idea. 

"I was kind of shocked, a little bit," he said. "When Mike explained what he wanted to do and what he thought, I thought, 'Well by golly, maybe there are some folks out there who want to know about Hank Karr's career.'"

The two are asking anybody with stories or pictures to share to get in touch with them, or to bring their material to the MacBride Museum in Whitehorse.

They hope to have the book ready by fall and there will likely be a concert to celebrate its release, Karr said.

"All you Hankheads out there — get busy," Craigen said. 

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