Whitehorse artist draws historic houses for colouring book

Erin Dixon started her project — titled '30 Houses in 30 Days' — to celebrate some of the interesting buildings around Whitehorse, ones that she felt exuded character and life.

Erin Dixon wants to 'capture that feeling of older places around Whitehorse before they're gone'

Whitehorse artist Erin Dixon is working to create a colouring book featuring her drawings of 30 old, unique houses in the city. (Rachel Levy-McLaughlin/CBC)

Colouring books are all the rage these days, and there seems to be one for just about everything — except Whitehorse's old houses. 

Local artist Erin Dixon is looking to add to the growing niche market, with her own book featuring some of the unique and historic houses in and around the city.

She started her project — titled "30 Houses in 30 Days" — to celebrate some of the interesting buildings in Whitehorse, ones that she felt exuded character and life.

"When you drive down an older street in Whitehorse, like [in] Riverdale or downtown, all the houses are different," said Dixon, a mother of two.

She's drawing landmark historical buildings such as the Captain Martin House downtown, as well as old and unique private houses, such as the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) building on Steele Street, and the turquoise-coloured home on Ponderosa Drive in Porter Creek.

"The older places and the more unique places were built by families, and by hand. I think that's getting lost. I don't think you get that feeling from newer homes and buildings anymore."

The building that houses the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society in downtown Whitehorse will be featured in Dixon's colouring book. (Erin Dixon/Rachel Levy-McLaughlin/CBC)

'Before they're gone'

Dixon has been spending her evenings after work illustrating the houses that stand out to her, and ones that help commemorate some of what she says is Whitehorse's fading character.

"Whitehorse is changing and certain parts of town, they're tearing old things down, they're building new things," she said.

"So I wanted to capture things that maybe won't be there in 10 years. I'm just trying to capture that feeling of older places around Whitehorse before they're gone."

Some of the houses have required more work than others, and Dixon has at times taken some artistic licence.

For example, illustrating a particularly old house on Wood Street downtown, she fixed up the falling picket fence and the crumbling roof so the house looks almost new. But the drawing maintains that flare that only comes with houses tested against time.

Dixon has taken a bit of artistic licence with some of her drawings, such as this one of an older house on Wood Street. The real house had a fallen picket fence out front. (Erin Dixon)

The celebrated and the lesser known

Dixon is trying to get most of Whitehorse's recognized historical buildings into her colouring book, as well as some she thinks deserve more attention, such as the CPAWS building.

"I was drawn to the architecture and the detail in this house," said Dixon. "The chimney has this nice curve in it, and you can tell that someone took care when they built this house, and they took their time."

Dixon was careful to put the same amount of care into illustrating the building, even drawing out each carved wooden piece beneath the windows.

"I hope people see the beauty in things that are older and the eras that have passed," she said.

"I think that people being aware that we're losing a bit of history every time we tear down one of these old houses... maybe people will change their minds and fix them up."

Dixon is posting one illustration per day to her blog for the rest of the month, before putting them together in a colouring book.

She says she might even colour the illustrations herself once the project is finished, to add her own colours to her favourite Whitehorse houses.