Now hiring: A bartender at one of the most remote hotels in the North
Duties may include serving hot toddies to people in snow caves, traffic duty, and being a weather expert
What does it take to be the next bartender at the Eagle Plains Hotel — perhaps the most remote hotel in Canada's North with a core staff of about seven people?
Social skills are a given.
But the job description turns out to be a long one, unique to a bartender who will live and work on the Dempster Highway, some 400 kilometres north of Dawson, Yukon, and 180 kilometres south of Fort McPherson, N.W.T.
"You better like isolation," said Stan McNevin, laughing.
McNevin has owned the hotel since he built it in 1978 and recently put up a job posting looking for a bartender.
The Eagle Plains Hotel is a quaint, one-level, 32-room building. It has local, taxidermied animals — bear, caribou, wolverine, arctic fox, muskox — mounted throughout, on the walls and floors, as decor. The bar and restaurant are spacious, seating up to 60 people.
McNevin describes it as "probably the nicest bar in the Yukon, as far as we're concerned."
The bartender has to be "quite quick," he said.
McNevin explained that often, the bartender will be alone working at night.
We have our own resident ghost here, Albert Johnson, and he's kind of part of the family.- Stan McNevin
"They're our eyes and ears," said McNevin. "They're kind of our frontline."
From fire prevention, monitoring road traffic, to being well-versed in the weather, the new hire will have an unorthodox list of duties, according to McNevin.
"They also have to cover our fuel pumps at night."
Serving 'crazy Welshmen' and NASA engineer
The bartender will have to cater to a unique customer base from all over the world, said McNevin.
"We have some crazy Welshmen that come up every February," he said. "They run a foot race between Eagle Plains and Inuvik [N.W.T.]."
He said he even met a man who worked for NASA once.
"He worked for the Jet Propulsion Lab and he was actually on the team that designed the Mars Rover," said McNevin.
Then there are the regulars — truck drivers who've been on the Dempster for up to 30 years.
"They bring us our supplies. They become part of the family."
Blizzards and ghosts
The hotel is bustling during the summer and winter months.
And when a blizzard strikes, people can be stuck there for as long as six days.
"We used to throw a bonspiel here back in the day. And we had a blizzard," recalled McNevin. The visitors went on with the curling tournament, mid-storm.
"We built snow caves for the people so they could be outside and watch … And so then of course, the bartender would have to go out and serve hot drinks and hot toddies."
But the place becomes almost deserted for weeks at a time, when the Peel and Mackenzie Rivers freeze up or thaw in the fall and spring.
People have compared it to the Overlook Hotel in the thriller film based on Stephen King's book, The Shining, says McNevin.
"We have our own resident ghost here, Albert Johnson, and he's kind of part of the family, and he was of course the Mad Trapper," said McNevin.
McNevin said a clairvoyant staying at the hotel once told him that the ghost was "definitely here."
"So all the weird and strange things that do happen, we all just blame it on Albert."
To apply, contact McNevin at email@example.com
With files from Loren McGinnis, Peter Sheldon