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Under the Midnight Sun

(January 2006) posted on Mon Jan 09, 2006

The prospect of teaching Native American artists how to screen print led Andy MacDougall to Canada's Yupon Territory, a place known for its hidden treasures. Find out how the workshop he conducted helped these craftsmen strike gold of their own.

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By Andy MacDougall

There are strange things done

In the midnight sun

By the men who toil for gold;

The Arctic trails

Have their secret tales

That would make your blood run cold;

The Northern Lights Have seen queer sights,

But the queerest they ever did see

Was that night on the marge

Of Lake Laberge

I cremated Sam McGee.

(from "The Cremation of Sam McGee," by Robert Service)

The great Klondike gold-rush poet Robert Service wrote epic poems about the Canadian Yukon, a place put on the map in the late 1800s as it lured men and women from around the world into the northern wilderness of Canada with tales of gold and fabulous adventure. I don't know about you readers, but I was raised on stories of Sgt. Preston of the Yukon and his dog King, Jack London and White Fang, and the notorious Snake Hips Lulu, a dancehall gal with a heart of gold. I always wanted to see the Aurora Borealis, ride a dogsled across a frozen landscape, and experience 40-below weather. Okay, I lied about that last part.

Now what has all this to do with screen printing, the aforementioned Sam McGee, and Lake Laberge? Well gather 'round the campfire boys and girls, and I'll tell you a little tale about screen printing in the far north. It all started with an e-mail, as most things these days do, asking me if I'd be interested in coming to the Yukon to teach a group of people how to pull a squeegee.


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