exerpt from the book:
….on February 21st 1967, the day after my twenty-third birthday, I was divorced and living in the Yukon with my adorable ten-month-old daughter. And the day after that, I found myself standing on the tarmac of the Whitehorse airport in forty below zero weather. My facemask, parka, mukluks, sealskin mittens, and long underwear didn’t help much. It was bitterly cold. I was part of the ‘meet and greet’ committee of the Yukon Concert Association, in my newly elected position as Vice President, my latest keep busy project. I was waiting for the Canadian Opera Company to arrive for two days of performances in the high school auditorium. February in the north had to be the most ludicrous month for visiting artists – absurd, but oddly exciting.
You could never get lost at the airport, with only one or two flights a day. Luggage arrived fast and frozen, and it was easy to find visitors. The singers were obvious with their necks bandaged in scarves. There were orchestra musicians, clutching their instruments, some young guys in jeans who were probably stagehands, and some middle-aged folks who must have been dignitaries, all from Toronto. They looked tired, cold and miserable as they descended the stairs from the plane with that ‘what am I doing here?’ look on their faces. I found my specific charges and whisked them off to the Whitehorse Inn, the one hotel downtown that was almost presentable. The next night was the performance that we had all been anticipating. It was the event of the winter season. The opera was Don Pasquale, and I remember Jan Rubes, a bass with a booming voice, who was utterly at ease and commanding on the stage and a soprano Gwenlynn Little who was cute and vivacious. I was captivated by the evening and thought; I bet I could do that! I knew I could sing, but accompanying myself on the auto harp in the Whitehorse library and performing as a pregnant ‘Snow White’ were hardly the prerequisites for becoming an opera singer….