Michal Kozlowski's Blog

Sam McGee's Cabin

Michał Kozłowski

Sam McGee's cabin is located at the MacBride Museum of Yukon History on First Avenue in Whitehorse, about five blocks from where it stood when Sam McGee lived there, just across from the Old Log Church. Its authenticity is validated by a hand-painted plaque, hung near the front door. It reads: SAM McGEE'S ORIGINAL CABIN, BUILT IN 1899.

But here is what the Yukon Historical and Museums Association has to say about McGee's cabin:

"There remains some doubt whether this building was actually built by Sam McGee, or whether it was conveniently appropriated. In any case, the McGee family at one point did reside in a house of similar construction, and this dwelling likely does date to the same period."

Like the sign, the write-up is a bit ambiguous, particularly the "similar construction" part: did Sam McGee build this cabin? or move into this cabin? or into a cabin just like it?

Such musings are the specialty of Umberto Eco, who, in his essay Travels in Hyper Reality, discusses the American obsession with fabricating historical artifacts, figures, and other old stuff, which in replication take on a "hyper reality".

Perhaps Sam McGee's cabin is an example of the Canadian version of "hyper reality". After all, the cabin was moved only a few blocks, and it very well may be the original thing.


Michał Kozłowski

Michał Kozłowski worked at Geist for 15 years. He was born in Krakow, Poland, and has lived in Ottawa, Winnipeg and now Vancouver.


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