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Our History

Where we came from....

Think back to 1945… where were you? Most people reading this may not have even been alive. Now just think… that’s when this festival got its start. Yukon Carnival Week as it was known in 1945 was started by the All Union Committee backed by the entire International Trade Union Movement of North and South America. It was billed as “an elaborate program of winter sports in which professionals and amateur sports enthusiasts of the US, Alaska & Canada will participate”. It was planned as a full week of daily sports activities and nightly entertainment. Now see if you recognize any of the events that took place that year: Dog Team Derby, Ski & Snowshoe Races, Amateur Fancy Skaters, the International Hockey Game and the Snowshoe Ski Ball Game. Doris Lesanke was proclaimed the winner of the Queen of the Carnival in 1945 with other notable facts being that visitors were drawn from Alaska, British Columbia, Ontario, Idaho, Quebec, Alberta, and Texas!

Our first year...

In 1964, Rolf Hougen continued as chairperson of the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Society. The society and name were officially registered and this would be the date that is officially recognized by the society for future anniversaries. This was also the last festival for many members of the Canadian Army stationed in Yukon as the turnover of maintenance of the Alaska Highway was given to another government department. The festival drew about 1,500 visitors from outside Whitehorse and the hotels were jammed full. The winning flour packing weight was 500 pounds in a tie between Jim MacCormick and Danny Jackson. The Chilkat dancers came to the festivities with $15,000 worth of costumes and PWA flew into Ross River to bring out their dog musher entries and in the time it took to load the plane, one of the teams decided to make one more practice run and off they mushed. PWA returned the next day for the errant team. Diana McNeil was named as Miss Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous.

New to the Festival – Sourdough Pancake breakfast, Basketball tournament, Bowling tournament, barbecue, Poster contest, Fireworks. Categories for Beard contest – Bushiest, Best Trimmed, Queerest, Mutton Chops beards, in the mustache category Fullest and best trimmed.

1964 WEATHER STATS: LOW: -20c on March 1st, HIGH -0.6c on February 28th

The 25th Anniversary! 

In 1989, Myrna Kingscote continued as chair of the festival, Christine O’Connor was named Miss Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous, Wally and Mary McCullaugh are named as Mr. & Mrs. Yukon, and Art Monk (Captain Capital) was named as Sourdough Sam. New to the festival was the Speed Chess Tournament and the Snow Bowl Challenge Cup.

1989 WEATHER STATS: LOW: -27.1c on February 19th, HIGH +1.2c on February 22nd


2014 was themed “Blast from the Past”, since the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous was celebrating its 50th anniversary. The street party known as “Streetfest”  was just one of the ways this year’s event was celebrating five decades. The walk down memory lane also included a Rendezvous Queen reunion, a gathering of Sourdough Sam alumni, a Snow Castle reminiscent of the former Ice Palace and the reappearance of long-lost events, like the Ping Pong Ball Drop and Frozen Turkey Bowling. With over 10,500 persons in the park, and an estimated 25,000 attending different events the festival was a great success.


After 30 years with Rendezvous, Marj Eschak is stepping down from the board and Reba Paris Beckett (VP Development), is taking over the President position. Elizabeth Foubister was named Miss Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous, Dwayne and Nellie Backstrom are named Mr.  & Mrs. Yukon and Musha Love (Stefan Saunders) is named Sourdough Sam. The band Zipline is named the 2014 Superstar!


2014 WEATHER STATS: LOW: -28.2c on February 22nd, HIGH -12c on February 23rd

2019 - Under the Emerald Lights - Our 55th Anniversary

This year we are happily celebrating the festivals 55th annual festival and can't wait to welcome one and all to join us in celebrating Rendezvous, "Under the Emerald Lights".  While over the past 54 years many things have changed, the core of the festival has remained the same, a gathering of Yukoners together to beat the winter blues and celebrate together another winter passing!  We look forward to February 2019 when we will get to share all the wonderful performances, breathtaking events and exciting competitions that Rendezvous has to offer!

2019 Weather Stats: Low: -30.4c on Saturday February 23rd, High -10.9c on Sunday February 24th.

2021 - We Will Rendezvous!

2020 was a rollercoaster of a year for the whole world as Covid-19 has made it way around the globe and even into the furthest reaches of Canada's northern communities!  After almost a full year of lockdowns, social distancing and adjusting to the new normal, it's time for Yukoners to shake off some of those cabin fever blues and come together (carefully) to celebrate making it through another Yukon Winter!  With the introduction of virtual shows we can all still enjoy the entertainment Rendezvous offers every year as well as the safe and socially distanced outdoor events in the park, and the return of both Snow Carving and the Pyro Musical.

No matter what Rendezvous has always been the community's festival, and together online or in person, We Will Rendezvous!

2022 - The Great Outdoors!

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