North

Do you know who drew these maps? Yukon club hopes to solve mystery

The Yukon Canoe and Kayak club is sharing maps it received 40 years ago, with hopes of discovering who made them.

Deceased artist didn't sign his name on them, leaving his identity unknown

Bob Daffe is among a group of volunteers who got the decades-old maps printed and ready for purchase. (Karen McColl/CBC)

Just because most Yukon rivers are frozen solid right now doesn't mean it's too early to dream about paddling season.

The Yukon Canoe and Kayak Club has released 13 river maps for sale with the aim of raising awareness about Yukon rivers and interest in paddling them.

They also hope to solve a decades-old mystery: who made the maps?

The mapmaker gave the maps, hand drawn on draft paper, to the club about 40 years ago.

The topographical maps are of some of region's most popular recreational rivers including the Takhini, Wheaton and Tatshenshini.  They include notes and drawings of the history, flora and fauna.

The only thing missing is the artist's name. 

The artist did not sign his name on the maps. (Kiyoshi Maguire/CBC)

'Works of art'

Bob Daffe, founder and former owner of Tatshenshini Expediting, met the artist by the river years ago, but knows only that he had a drafting background. 

"It's all vague in my memory. I remember talking to the artist way back when, but don't remember his name and we heard he passed away in a car crash shortly after doing the maps."

For years, the maps moved between various peoples' attics and basements. At one point someone suggested throwing them out, but Daffe refused. He recognized them as "works of art."

"For somebody that loves rivers and loves wilderness ...  wow, these are nice," he explained. "This should be shown, this should be shared with Yukoners."

The maps include notes and drawings of flora, fauna and history. (Kiyoshi Maguire/CBC)

Daffe has paddled most of the 13 mapped rivers and says the locations and descriptions of rapids are accurate.

"They're very well done."

Daffe and a group of other volunteers spearheaded the project to share the maps publicly. The club is now selling them individually and as part of a book of all 13 maps. 

Daffe said they hope to discover the identify of the mapmaker.

"We're really crossing our fingers that something will come up because he deserves to have his name on them."

Insipiring the next generation

Lawrence Brennan with the Yukon Canoe and Kayak club hopes the maps get people excited about rivers in the Yukon. (Karen McColl/CBC)

Lawrence Brennan, a club board member and instructor of youth programs, grew up paddling in the territory. He hopes the maps pique the curiosity of of both paddlers and non-paddlers. 

"These maps are a great way to reach out to people and let them learn more about rivers in the Yukon ... The goal of this is ... to share these beautiful artworks with Yukoners because they're Yukon rivers."

Brennan said the more people know and care about Yukon rivers, the stronger their stewardship in them will be. 

His favourite river maps? The Takhini and Tutshi maps, because those rivers were formative to his own skill development in whitewater kayaking.  

Daffe's list of favourite maps is even longer, creating a conundrum. 

"I'm out of wall space, that's my issue. I might have to have a few of them and alternate them, I don't know."

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