Advertisement

Garters are a Yukon Rendezvous tradition. Meet the woman who's made thousands

Michele Taylor, also known as the Garter Lady, creates special garters for each Rendezvous. This year's garters have a rainbow ribbon.   (George Maratos/CBC - image credit)
Michele Taylor, also known as the Garter Lady, creates special garters for each Rendezvous. This year's garters have a rainbow ribbon. (George Maratos/CBC - image credit)

Two thousand garters ago — or three years, give or take — sewing was just a regular hobby for Michele Taylor.

Now, she plays a major part in keeping a key part of the Yukon Rendezvous alive.

"It's something I never thought I would be doing, but I like to sew and create things," said Taylor, who took over as the festival's Garter Lady a few years ago. She learned how to make them from the previous Garter Lady, who told her she was looking for someone else to take it on.

"She really inspired me," she said.

"She explained to me how to do it, and I just kind of figured it out, with measurements and making the garters different from previous [ones]."

The garter, a decorative elastic circle that at one time was used to keep stockings up, is a necessity at Rendezvous. Women who don't wear them risk getting arrested by the Keystone Kops, recurring Rendezvous characters who lock up folks without a beard or garter.

The responsibility means Taylor sews a wealth of frilly, sparkly and colourful garters for each Rendezvous — making them even frillier or sparklier if the Rendezvous Society asks.

This year's specialty garter, for instance, features a rainbow ribbon.

George Maratos/CBC
George Maratos/CBC

But the sheer amount of garters she sews hasn't dimmed her enthusiasm for the event, which she's celebrated since she was a child.

"My grandmother and my aunt would make us clothes, and they would also dress up and go to work in their attire as well," she recalled.

"I feel proud of being able to keep the tradition going."

Rendezvous officially kicked off earlier this month, but gets underway in full force this weekend in Whitehorse. Friday, Saturday and Sunday have packed schedules — everything from burlesque and fiddle shows to chainsaw chucking and parades (one for pets, and one for people).

Tamara Fischer, the president of the Rendezvous board, said some of the events — axe throwing and chainsaw chucking, for instance — require people to sign waivers. But aside from that, Rendezvous is free this year and people can attend events without paying.

"I actually love seeing everybody out and about, just enjoying the festival overall," she said.

"It's what keeps me coming back year after year."