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Pete with Albert (photo: by Darwin Wiggett).

I’ve always loved dogs and I’ve always enjoyed winter so I guess there was a certain inevitability to my becoming a dog musher. In the late 1980s a combination of a love of wilderness and a frustration with the increasingly warm and snow-less winters in Southern Ontario propelled me to the far north and into dog mushing.

The Alaskan husky is a mutt. Bred over generations for performance rather than appearance, the Alaskan husky came about by breeding the dogs of interior Alaskan villages with the ancestors of the Siberian husky. Over the years the Greyhound, Saluki, Border Collie and Pointer have been bred into the lines with the goal of improving performance.

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Inside TCE
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Encyclopedia editors have long been pegged as crusty, humourless academics, too busy researching facts and figures to enjoy the fun and quirky material world. This holiday season, The Canadian Encyclopedia staff is happy to dispel this notion with a very Canadian gift guide made up of their favourite things, from handcrafted pens to plush toys and potato vodka. Crusty and humourless? We think not!

vodka-1Schramm Organic Potato Vodka
Pemberton Distillery, $30–$62
Everyone knows where Bud the Spud is from—think of PEI, and one thinks of potatoes. But tucked away in an idyllic, isolated valley, in the Coast Mountains of BC, is a village also famous for its potatoes. Pemberton, just 20 minutes north of Whistler, has long been a key supplier of high grade seed potatoes—they are used all over North America. Pemberton is a controlled agricultural area to keep its seed stock free of viruses—no outside potatoes allowed! One enterprising company is using the pristine Pemberton potatoes for a different purpose—making vodka and other spirits. While the distillery has been producing its Schramm Organic Potato Vodka since just 2009, it has already won rave reviews and double-gold at the 2010 World Spirits Awards. Sheila Keenan, Copy Editor Read More

History
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Winter wind storm (photo: Thomas Kitchin)

The Canadian north has captivated storytellers for hundreds of years with its mystery and beauty. Man was first evident in the Yukon over 15,000 years ago when migration began over the Beringia land-bridge after the last ice age. Over thousands of years, the First Nations people settled in the Yukon and developed their own unique languages and cultures.

How Fox Point Got Its Name

The North’s oral storytelling tradition has passed on amazing and spooky legends. The Fox Point tale tells of a group of people moving from place to place to find food. The group was low on supplies and decided to go back to the Nisutlin Bay to find salmon. An old woman among them dreamt that something awful would happen if they returned to that spot. No one listened to her, and they continued on their journey. She warned them: “There will be signs, the first will be a lynx, the second a wolverine and then finally a fox. When we have seen all three signs, we will perish.”
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