'Here comes the condos': Iconic Yukon artist depicts changing city

·2 min read
Yukon artist Jim Robb's iconic work often features ramshackle cabins and outhouses in rustic landscapes. His latest work, 'From Outhouses to Condos' features some newer architecture.
Yukon artist Jim Robb's iconic work often features ramshackle cabins and outhouses in rustic landscapes. His latest work, 'From Outhouses to Condos' features some newer architecture.

(Jim Robb - image credit)

Perhaps it was only a matter of time.

As condo buildings become more and more part of the Whitehorse skyline, they've also now sprung up in the iconic work of beloved local artist Jim Robb.

The celebrated illustrator and Order of Canada member is famous for his elaborate and colourful depictions of Yukon's frontier aesthetic, with many images featuring ramshackle log cabins and outhouses, often perched in snowy sylvan landscapes, aurora borealis overhead, and smoke drifting from the ever-present stovepipes.

Those log cabins feature again in his latest artwork, but now they've got company — a row of monochrome condo buildings, towering behind with a subtle hint of menace.

Robb calls his new work From Outhouses to Condos, and he's printed up a bunch to sell at Whitehorse's Well-Read Books.

"When I first got here in the Yukon in 1955, everybody in Whitehorse had outhouses. There was no sewer and water. And now here comes the condos," Robb said.

"I thought it would make a good print."

'Everybody loved the idea, because our world has changed up here,' Robb said.
'Everybody loved the idea, because our world has changed up here,' Robb said.

'Everybody loved the idea, because our world has changed up here,' Robb said.

Robb says his illustration was inspired by Whiskey Flats, the long-gone section of Whitehorse where people once erected tents and cabins (and outhouses) more or less willy-nilly. A lot of Robb's artwork over the years has been inspired by Whiskey Flats.

The additions in his new work were inspired by less-rustic buildings that now line Whitehorse's waterfront.

"So I put that soaring over the top of Whiskey Flats," Robb said. "Everybody loved the idea, because our world has changed up here."

The condos in Robb's illustration — though colourless — are still rendered in his distinctive style. In other words, they're don't stand straight.

"Yeah, like, I can't have them 100 per cent. They are leaning a bit," he said. "I mean, I just like the old Yukon, and I kind of like the slant and sway of the buildings, like in Dawson City.

"I hope our architects make a note of that, put a little lean to them!"