Miles across pages
One of the most iconic northern drives is the Alaska Highway, starting at Dawson Creek in Northeastern B.C., crossing through the Yukon, across the Canada/U.S. border and culminating 1,422 miles away in the small American town of Delta Junction, Alaska.
Author Lily Gontard and photographer Mark Kelly celebrate that journey and the release of their new book, Beyond Mile Zero: The Vanishing Alaska Highway Lodge Community. Both began life elsewhere in Canada, independently drove this highway in the ‘90s, and are now permanent Whitehorse residents.
Gontard and Kelly witnessed the highway and its connected community shortly after the area’s heyday in the ‘80s, and since then, during subsequent drives, the unique culture slowly diminishing.
While the read is informative—full of facts, maps and details—its draw is the human stories they’ve unearthed along the way. The people who ran, and the few who still operate, the lodges and gas stops chose to challenge isolation and convenience for adventure and the satisfaction of serving a wide-spread community. With demand dwindling, these businesses and the characters behind them are slowly disappearing and Beyond Mile Zero is a fantastic diary of experiencing this life firsthand.
While there are black and white archival images included, Kelly’s photography brings nearly every glossy page to life. From incredible landscapes to long-abandoned landmarks and families gathered around tables, the wildlife, the work and the collective spirit. It’s laid out as a testament to a vibrant, if often overlooked, community that may not be long to last.
If you’re thinking of making the trek north this summer, or have no interest the the days-long drive, but are still curious about life away from the masses, Beyond Mile Zero is a brilliant exposé this wild and unique road.
Tue., May 23 (7 pm)
Beyond Mile Zero book launch
By Lily Gontard and Mark Kelly