I live near Dawson City. So, for me, Whitehorse, with 26,000 is the Big City!
Whitehorse is crazy for accommodations right now. There is a lot of work there, and tourist jobs in the summer are all over. But, houses are very expensive, and there are not enough. It is worse for renting. There are people that accepted great, well paying jobs, but then who could not move after all, as they could not find a place to live. It is not impossible, but, it is pretty difficult.
While there are lots of jobs, tourist jobs are basically summer only; for 3 or 4 months. Same in Dawson; I am a tour guide, but only work May to the first few days in September. This pattern is common in Yukon. Dawson goes from 1800 in winter (or less), to about 6000 in summer. Whitehorse is similar, although to a lesser extent.
Whitehorse has 2 theatres, an Audiotronic, a Staples, and the Source for electronics, and no real mall. There is a big WalMart, and a big Canadian Tire beside it, and a couple of small strip malls, but, no real conventional mall. There is the Hougen Centre, right downtown, but, it really is only a couple stores. There is rather a good independent bookstore downtown (Maxmillian's), and a Coles. There are a number of camping type stores, and at least 4 places selling snowmobiles. There is also a place that specializes in canoes, and canoe camping. (Nice people there; very helpful.)
There are quite a number or restaurants, some of them really good. 3 Chinese ones (that I know of; 2 good, one horrible), an Indian one, 2 Japanese ones (been to 1: fabulous!), a 50's diner (good), and a few others in hotels. There is a McDonalds (and one in WalMart), an A&W, and 2 Tim Horton's. Dawsonites often go down to Whitehorse to shop, and we usually get our fast food fix as well, as there are none Dawson. There is a Pizza hut (bad), and a Boston Pizza (good). A Ricky's (good), and a few others here and there. The Chocolate Claim has awesome chocolate, cakes, goodies, and lunches, but is super expensive. Awesome food though. There is a new Vegan place that I have not been to. And, a cupcake bakery, which has all gluten free products, although they do not advertise that widely. They don't want people put off I think, which is fine, as their stuff is really good to. Oh, and a big BBQ place downtown that is really popular, although it is not open all year round. I found it pricey, but, it is always busy when it is open.
For grocery shopping, there is a large Super Store, which has good prices (especially for the North). In fact, it almost pays to take the 2 days to drive down and back, stay overnight, and shop. You need a big order to make it worthwhile, but, any chance people in the "communities" as we are known as get to make a trip to Whitehorse, will always include a trip to the Super Store. There is also a new, and large, discount store as well, if you are looking for bargains.
As for things to do, I really don't know much. There are several museums there, some really, really good. There is a ski hill, and several winter activities to keep people going. There is an awesome sports facility there, where the Canada Games where held some years ago.
Whitehorse is in a lovely location, with mountains all around. I don't find the city itself very appealing. It lacks much "charm." It, like much of the Yukon (and Alaska) tries to capitalize on the Klondike Gold Rush theme, but, it did not really even exist back then, and is still a long way (540km) from the place where the actual gold rush took place. However, mining is still big business in Yukon, especially with the White River gold rush that is on right now. Whitehorse is the service centre for all of the Yukon, so, there is a fair bit of industrial activity, fuel depots, trucking firms, exploration companies, and so on.
Yukon is a great place to live though. People are friendly, and more so outside of Whitehorse, but even there, there is a frontier mentality. You can live basically how you want to live, and people leave you alone. People do take care of each other though; in winter, that can mean the difference between life and death, e.g., if you break down on the highway. I've been up her a little short of 2 years. From what I've seen, you either love it, or hate it. But, I've talked to so many people that came up for a little holiday, and 30 years later, they are still here.
Answered By: capitalgentleman - 2/21/2011