The Alaska Highway Road Show–Become a Part of Highway Livin’
The Alaska Highway Road Show is a must-see event, taking place along the Alaska Highway this summer. Weaving oral story telling, music and photography, the show takes viewers through the Highway’s history with stories and anecdotes from the people who called the Highway their home.
“The Alaska Highway was our Main Street,” notes Kathy Jessup, creator of the show, “I wanted to blend the stories I grew up with, about the construction of the highway, the struggle and the marvel of it, with modern stories about the people who lived right next to it.” Jessup understands their lives intimately as she grew up along the route herself. Her mother was a pioneer of Fort Nelson when it was just a village, her father was one of the first commercial truckers when the highway was under American army control, and her uncle was a guide as a hunter and trapper.
Jessup’s keystone story about the building of the highway, mixes personal stories from her father and uncle with archival research. She also brings humor with personal reminisces, such as her family’s 70s road trip down the dusty, gravelly road with no air conditioning. The question, “Are we there yet?” repeated often.
Bill Nolan entertains throughout the performance with original songs like “The Trail of ’42”, about the Alaska Highway, and old favorites like “Moose Hunter Blues,” a trapper song about the north, the highway and Canadian life. A music contest in honor of the 75th anniversary of the highway was given earlier this year, and some of the winning songs will be performed as well.
Alison Tubman provides insight through her photographic slideshow that flickers throughout. Her First Nation great-grandfather, Charlie McDonald, was a renowned Alaska Highway guide. The lives of her ancestors, a resilient and self-sufficient people, are part of the presentation, showing how their lives drastically changed with the arrival of the bulldozers.
The 90-minute show debuts July 5th, 2017, at the Provincial Archives of Alberta as part of Edmonton’s Historic Festival and then travels to 11 other locations with the grand finale in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. Tickets are $10, and some performances are free.