Treasa Levasseur recalls her summer in Yukon by way of this 2016 mystery novel
This interview originally aired on May 9, 2020.
Treasa Levasseur is a musician and The Next Chapter columnist. Her column, Road Trip, highlights books that take the reader and Levasseur on a journey. A book can take you places you've never visited or, in Levasseur's case, lets you return to places she has visited in the past.
She recently read the mystery novel Strange Things Done by B.C.-based author Elle Wild. Strange Things Done, which won the 2017 Arthur Ellis Award for best first novel, is set in Yukon, a location Levasseur knows well.
Memories of Yukon
"Going to Yukon was my first time crossing the country. I decided that I needed to leave Toronto, so I looked for the furthest point on the map and it was Yukon. I headed in that direction and had a glorious road trip across the country — saw the Rockies for the first time, saw the Pacific for the first time.
Yukon is such a wild and powerful place, Dawson City in particular.
"Eventually we landed in Whitehorse and I lived there for a summer. During that summer I had a lot of different jobs, as many folks who move out there for the summer do. One of my jobs was working at the front desk at a downtown hotel. I met a lot of fascinating characters that summer, including a wonderful woman by the name of Alaska. She was around the same age as me. We were in our early 20s and she came into the hotel and she's looking for a room. But I think it was not quite at the price point for either of us at that time. One thing led to another and we had this great conversation. I invited her to come to our house and we struck up this great friendship.
"Later in the summer, when she moved up to Dawson City, she invited me to come and spend some time up there with her. I headed up the road and wound up going through the woods with her and hanging out at the mine she worked at. I had this magical journey to Dawson City. I remember walking in the woods and coming across this field full of mushrooms and feeling like I'd entered another zone. Yukon is such a wild and powerful place, Dawson City in particular."
"My mom is a huge mystery and a police procedural novel reader. She has instilled in me a love of a great crime thriller. I'm always on the hunt and I stumbled across Strange Things Done by Elle Wild. It is the story of a detective who leaves Vancouver under not ideal circumstances. She's looking for a fresh start far away and so she takes this job up in Dawson City at what she thinks is the daily newspaper.
My mom is a huge mystery and a police procedural novel reader. She has instilled in me a love of a great crime thriller.
"But when she arrives, she swiftly becomes embroiled in a murder mystery situation that involves local mining interests and a handsome rugged off-the-grid living fellow in a cabin.
"Strange Things Done is interesting, in the sense that part of me always wished that I had felt courageous enough to move all the way to Dawson City that summer and not stay in Whitehorse. The book won the 2017 Arthur Ellis Award and was nominated for a whole bunch of other awards. As a first novel, it's really strong."
Treasa Levasseur's comments have been edited for length and clarity.