The Cremation of Sam McGee
by Robert W. Service
There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.
I'm quite familiar with Lake Leberge.
It is just a few miles north of Whitehorse.
I've been out on the lake and I've driven by it more times than I can count.
It always gave me a tingly feeling up and down my spine.
Maybe it was the coldness of the water.
Maybe it was the history - it was on the route thousands of prospectors took to Dawson City during the Gold Rush of 1898.
Maybe it was the way the roiling storm clouds gathered so quickly.
Maybe it was the souls of the indigenous people who live in nearby spirit houses ...
Whatever it was, it affected me deeply, (no pun intended).
Or I did until today.
Today I found out that by 1991 the lake had been poisoned by a pesticide called Toxaphene.
Toxaphene can damage the lungs, nervous system, kidneys and can cause death.
And all I can think about are the days when we were told to stay inside our houses because 'they' would be spraying mosquito larva.
And a plane would roar over Whitehorse and drench the town in a pesticide and being young and fearless,
I wouldn't always wait the prescribed amount of time before I went outside again.
Excuse me while I go and get my kidneys and lungs x-rayed.
Note: The ban on eating fish from lake Leberge has recently been lifted.