Shacks, tents or vans: Dawson City, Yukon, summer workers open to any kind of home
'You just have to come up there, and everything will fall into place'
It is notoriously hard to find a place to live for the summer in Dawson City, but that doesn't stop people from returning summer after summer. An influx of seasonal workers nearly doubles the population, and they are not picky about where they live.
"I'm quite willing to live in rustic accommodations, or sub-standard, to some people," said Alex Hallbom, who is returning to the Klondike this week for his second summer.
Hallbom is drawn to the off-grid living potential in West Dawson, which is across the Yukon River from the main part of town.
"I think it's as good a place to live as any you'll find in Canada," he said.
The allure of Dawson draws tourists, and those who serve them – most seasonal workers are employed by bars, restaurants and hotels. While it is easy to get a job, only the lucky ones get staff accommodation. Most find a shack, tent, van, or a spot on a friend's couch.
But not everyone wants to spend all summer camping. The Klondike Development Organization is working to provide more housing options for people wanting to move to Dawson City. It also wants to develop a community housing project that would provide affordable apartments to those considering moving to Dawson permanently.
Marina Osmond is returning for her fourth summer, even though she knows the housing reality.
"You just have to come up there, and everything will fall into place, which I sort of believe, if it's meant to happen it will happen."
This year, her strategy is to personalize her online plea for a place to stay, which is one of many on the town's buy-sell Facebook page. She posted a picture of herself in the Tombstone mountains and personalized her ad by writing that she wants to try to stay for the winter one year.
Having a strategy is a must. Osmond said she has a friend who moved nine times in one year. Another woman recently posted online about living in a place so run-down and mouldy that people thought it was abandoned. The woman came out of the shower to find them taking her things.
"Give this girl a room, she needs it more than me," Osmond said.
For her, it's less about security, and more about living in Dawson City.
"I'm going back mainly because I miss it. It's gorgeous and I feel like I can be my true self there."