Gifts of the North

Gifts of the North

Gifts of the North

This time last year we released a very special limited edition hat (or toque as we Canadians like to call it). It was the product of generous Yukon businesses who care about Yukon’s wildlife.  The 5 premium toques included a donation to the Preserve. They sold out in just a day and a half!

The partnerships have continued to grow and we’re really excited to release 2 different limited edition toque styles (4 available of each style) again this Christmas! These toques were made exclusively in the north, inspired by the north. The Yukon is home to incredible people who love to celebrate and honour the uniqueness of this land. This hat directly supports the diverse community that makes this place and its people so unique!

These limited edition hats go on sale at the Preserve on Friday, December 20th.

Hand-knitted in Whitehorse

Last year we were fortunate enough to connect with a very under-the-radar knitting talent, Liz Sutton of Treeline Knits located right here in Whitehorse. Liz, like the other featured small business owners, weaved from passionate hobby into notable entrepreneurs. She balances this passion with a full time job, a love of running and sharing time with friends and her fluffy companions in Yukon’s grand landscapes. Each of these 8 hats were hand knitted and fashioned by Liz Sutton, especially for the Yukon Wildlife Preserve.


Toque 1: Local Hand Dyed 100% Candian Merino Wool

For the first toque, Liz sourced her wool from a little northern yarn shop with a big heart called Itsy Bitsy Yarn Store, located in downtown Whitehorse. The owner, Heather Sealey pours her heart into her store, into sharing her love and knowledge of knitting to every customer she encounters, and into encouraging and inspiring the local and northern flare.

Heather prides herself on working with other local proprietors who produce yarns, locally made wood and antler buttons, other Yukon made accessories, and in the case of this hat, local hand-dyed yarns. Crux Fibres is a product of local Brittany Vogt whose little hobby quickly turned into a business, “Dyeing yarn became an avenue for my deep desire to master creative arts. Playing with professional dyes and quality yarn isn’t easy, it’s a real challenge, but once you get over that crux, that difficult part and start to see the complimentary dance in the water, a real beautiful thing happens. A tapestry of colour emerges”. Who doesn’t love when passion turns into profit and pride in a beautiful piece of art. The wool Brittany uses is 100% Canadian merino wool.


Toque 2: Canadian Muskox Qiviut Blend

For the second toque, Liz worked with Itsy Bitsy Yarn Store to source qiviut from Nunavut Qiviut.

Nunavut Qiviut in turn sources arctic fibres from the Kugluktuk area of the Yukon’s more eastern territorial neighbour, Nunavut. Here, and across the circumpolar north, wonderfully woolly, ice-age creatures roam the barren landscape. Muskox are formidable animals of the arctic whom managed to survive an era that most animals (including the woolly mammoth) did not. Muskox are both a majestic and extraordinary creature, not only because of its luxurious fibre but its remarkable place in history. Today, muskox continue to provide an incredible and valuable support system to the people and communities of this shared landscape.

The Inuit name for muskox is Umingmack, “the animal with skin like a beard.” The undercoat wool belonging to this animal gives it the ability to thrive in the extreme arctic environment but also is an animal harvested by Inuit’s for traditional purposes like winter sleeping mats, protein for elders and families.

Nunavut Qiviut works with these local harvesters and community members to purchase the qiviut wool for fibre production. This on the ground activity by Nunavut Qiviut supports food security, a wage economy, cultural continuity and traditional Inuit lifestyles in an ethical and fair manner.

Sustainably Trapped in the Yukon

A toque isn’t complete without a pom-pom. This year, Liz sourced furs through the Yukon Trappers Association and Yukon Wild Furs. Yukon Wild Furs donated locally and sustainably harvested lynx from Indigenous trapper and educators, George Bahm and Chris Hobbis’ trapline located in the South Canol Road area.

Owner of Yukon Wildlife Furs, Vanessa Aegirsdottir, might possibly have the smallest gift shop in the Yukon in square feet. But her mission is huge: “being an education beacon for Indigenous culture and worldviews”.

Bahm also sees great value in sharing fur harvesting practices with consumers and their relationship with the land. Wild fur trapping can be sustainable, ethically sourced and support traditional lifestyle when a fair price is offered for the fur as opposed to farmed furs.

To the people who buy them, Bahm said they’re deepening their connection to the Yukon and the people who’ve trapped for generations.

I tell people that when they’re wearing fur we ask them to be mindful of the fact that an animal has given its life so we can adorn ourselves with its feathers, with its fur and by wearing those items they’re forever in a relationship with an animal. It’s more than just a pair of earrings.

A Community That’s Wild at Heart

The Yukon Wildlife Preserve is a non-profit charitable organization. In the 1970’s Danny Nowlan started accepting and caring for injured and orphaned wildlife at the Yukon Game Farm. Nearly 50 years later the Preserve continues to care for Yukon’s most vulnerable animals. Today we are a living centre of Yukon’s species that connects more than 30,000 visitors to the natural world, each year.

Find out more about what the  donation with the purchase of the hat means for the Preserve at .

These toques represents so much more than fashion and warmth! It symbolizes the values and lifestyles of this unique territory and the people and animals that call it home. By purchasing this hat, you are supporting the people, their businesses and the land and animals of the north – Liz Sutton of Treeline Knits, Itsy-Bitsy Yarn Store, Yukon Wild Fur and local trappers, Brittany Vogt of Crux Fibres, Nunavut Qiviut, Yukon Wildlife Preserve – Wildlife Rehabilitation and a community that is wild at heart!

Lindsay Caskenette

Lindsay Caskenette

Manager of Visitor Services

Lindsay joined the Wildlife Preserve team March 2014. Originally from Ontario, she came to the Yukon in search of new adventures and new career challenges. Lindsay holds a degree in Environmental Studies with honours from Wilfrid Laurier University and brings with her a strong passion to share what nature, animals and the environment can teach us.


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Pouncing Fox

Pouncing Fox

Pouncing Fox

A red fox streaks by on a snowy November morning.  I stop my activity, pivot and watch through the window.  While I am inside and the fox is outside, it is so close to the window of my home that I know any movement on my part will translate to sound, making this wild animal aware of my presence:  potentially altering the behaviour I hope to witness.

The fox runs through the snow in a straight line across my yard and suddenly stops.  Its head rotates one way, then the other – placing the fox’s ears at slightly different distances and angles from the sound, helping pinpoint prey location.  Sounds like the scurrying rustles of small mammals underneath the snow – mammals such as voles living in the subnivean space. 

The fox stops moving completely.  Yet it is not still.  It vibrates, becoming a coiled bundle of energy as it readies itself and suddenly, in a giant leap it pounces!  Straight up and out and then down, landing buried face first in the snow – to the depth of its ears.

The fox comes up from the snow and twists around, looking behind it – did the prey escape?  I watch as the fox swivels and rotates its head, again, before quivering to the build up to leap in a POUNCE.  It continues to come up, quickly looking one way, and then the other, as its prey evades capture.

Trail cam photos from the author’s yard shows the red fox running through the property, intently listening and even approaching the entrance to its den. 

Small mammals living in the subnivean space – the layer between the snow cover and the ground, often have excellent hearing and a detailed knowledge of their extensive tunnel system under the snow, which allows fast escape reactions.  In order to successfully hunt this prey, a red fox needs to minimize the sound it makes so as to not alert its prey – even if that prey lives under the snow.  A fox can execute a silent, surprise attack by lunging from a still position, from some distance away.

These actions repeat for several minutes – each time the fox swivels its head to locate its prey, then stays extremely still while building its energy before leaping to POUNCE.  Until the time that the fox has a vole in its mouth.  Successful hunt!

Or is it?  Now, I watch the red fox throw the vole in its mouth in to a snow bank with a flick of its head.  I watch the fox hunt this vole again.  And again…..this scenario happens several times – perhaps the vole is fighting back or perhaps the fox is playing or perhaps it is simply ensuring its meal is unable to escape.

Finally, the red fox runs through my yard, with its meal in its mouth and I think I’ll watch it consume well-needed winter calories.  Yet, the red fox has one more surprise in store for me.  I watch it search several locations, before choosing one to its liking, and it buries the vole under the snow, using its muzzle to dig down, deposits its prey, and then covers the cache tidily with snow.  Satisfied with its caching, the red fox trots out of my yard, knowing it has secured food for the future. 

What a treasure to witness such unguarded and natural behaviour; although I confess I do wonder – are there many similar caches buried in my yard?

Julie Kerr

Julie Kerr

Visitor Services Coordinator

Julie is a Registered Veterinary Technologist, living and working in Whitehorse since 2012. She joined the team in May 2018. She is passionate about wildlife, nature and living in a conscious manner with both. Her free time is spent outdoors observing wild animals and ecosystems; her connection to the natural world around her brings great joy – joy she loves to share with anyone interested. Honestly? Work and life blend rather seamlessly.

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