We left Whitehorse and Emily’s welcoming home on Monday after we got new rear tires at Yukon Honda. The old tires were almost bald after 14 000 km. Lots of people told us about Atlin which is only accessible per gravel/chip sealed road one hundred km from the Alaska Highway south.
We went through some rain and cold but arrived with the sun shining over Atlin and Atlin Lake.
Not just the sky cleared, so did my mind. What a gorgeous place. I found a new favourite place.
Atlin is unincorporated and a little community of 400 year round residents. It is not a village, a town or a municipality, it does not have a mayor or a chief.
Much of Atlin is run by volunteers. When Atlin residents want something they muster their energy and resources and make it happen. These accomplishments are even more remarkable when you consider the landmarks that you see carefully preserved from Atlin’s early days. Many of the buildings including the M.V Tarahne, the Globe Theatre and the Atlin Schoolhouse Museum have been restored by volunteers. In short, Atlin is a little community kept alive by big hearts.
Never doubt that a small group of committed citizen can change the world. Margaret Mead
Atlin is surrounded by glacial lakes and impressive mountain peaks. Atlin Lake at over 780 square km is British Columbia’s biggest lake. It is six and a half km wide and 237 km long.
Birch Mountain (6153 feet) is the highest mountain on fresh water in North America and can be seen across Atlin Lake from the town.
Atlin grew as a result of the Klondike Gold Rush. Thousands of settlers flocked to the region in 1898 and helped establish a busy community of about 10 000 at its peak. The area remained popular as a tourist destination into the 1920s when it was known as the “Switzerland of the North”.
The great depression of the 1930s caused the decline of both tourism and mining and Atlin was abandoned. Residents were isolated until 1950 when the Atlin Road was completed.
We stayed three nights in Atlin at the Tarahne Park right in town to get a feel for the community. Camping is free at the site where the annual Atlin Arts and Music Festival is held every year on the second weekend of July. Thousands of people flock to Atlin for the biggest event of the year.
We sadly will miss this but we enjoyed the Canada parade on July 1st. And we got a chance to talk to a lot of local people in town. Everybody seems so involved in the community – it is amazing.
On Tuesday we went for a nice steep hike up Monarch Mountain and enjoyed dining out at Pine Tree Restaurant in Atlin which serves delicious Philippine Food.
Wednesday we went to pine creek waterfall and visited a warm spring 25 km down the “Warm Bay Road”
But other than that Atlin is really quiet and not too many tourists come down here. Hard to understand because it is so beautiful.
A good example of the diversity is Atlin Mountain Coffee Roasters which is run by Phillippe and Leandra Brient (www.atlinmountaincoffee.ca). They have a coffee wagon right beside the Art Gallery and Library and serve fresh roasted coffee that they roast from their off grid house in town. Coffee beans are sourced from organic fair trade farms around the world. The coffee is awesome and it was a pleasure to talk and get to know Leandra who is so positive and always has a smile on her face. Besides roasting coffee she is also a local firefighter and part of search and rescue team. Everybody seems to have several jobs.
I must say I fell in love with this place and who knows I might be back.