Yukon Animator

Into the Beautiful North!

Peppermint Tea with the Caveman

I went to a party the Pit last Friday. It’s a bar (aka the Westminster) with an illegal mine shaft under it, dug by a former gold seeking owner. They held an auction to raise money for music scholarships and an item came up, “Tea with the Caveman”, that was purchased by writer-in-residence Tim and the local part time doctor. This evening I went with them to meet Caveman Bill.

This is Bill Donaldson, on his bed with his 16 year old dog. He has lived in this cozy cave for 16 or so years. They must have moved in together.

Tim and Bill Donaldson at the lovely new, turquoise front door to Bills’home.

The front door to the cave was replaced last October after a stove fire, when a friend visited the cave while Bill was out. The previous door was a piece of plywood. A solar panel above the door runs Bill’s laptop computer (you can become friends with Bill on Facebook) and his tiny television.

Bill finds or salvages most everything he needs. The kitchen windows in the front of the cave are glass that was pried from oven doors. Besides the main cave that contains the kitchen (shelves above), wood stove and bed, Bill has another cave for four chickens and a rooster and a third cave for his generator and storage.

The entrance to Bill’s home.


Bill is a local celebrity and is often interviewed and sought out by tourists. There is a recent article about him with a video interview in Eat Drink Travel. He is a very talented wood carver and carpenter. Bill made these lovely dovetailed boxes out of logs and he does all of the planing, jointing and carving by hand.

We had to hike along the frozen Yukon River to get to Bill’s place. It is tucked into the rocks just above the river and I never noticed it when photographing the ice bridge and the cars on the race track. In the summer, a paddle wheeler and tourist boats go right in front of his door. Bill has to paddle across the Yukon to get to town after the Spring thaw. He promised he would come into town for my show at the Dawson City International Short Film Festival on Sunday.



2 comments on “Peppermint Tea with the Caveman

  1. Dan Fiebiger
    April 5, 2012

    We can learn a lot about surviving in a cave with Bill Donaldson, cuz we’ll all be living in caves eventually when the banks and Republicans get done with us. And did you know that any medical facility can take your home if your insurance company suddenly decides to not pay for any medical procedure you thot was covered? Those papers everybody blindly signs when you go to any medical facility allows them to do that. My recently deceased friend, Jon Schmeer lost his home (even though the mortgage was fully paid) and everything in the house to a hospital (the Portland Legacy system) when Medicare wouldn’t cover his bills.

  2. cconifer
    April 6, 2012

    Whoa to above reply…. guess i’m stayin’ home when it’s time to go to hospital… my comment was similar about living in caves. earth made homes are precious & to be valued, how great you got to see one so well-used, there’s not much I’ve done for 16 years! And a great use of old oven doors, already insulated for keeping your next warm. Does he sleep all winter like a bear?

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This entry was posted on April 5, 2012 by in Dawson City and tagged , , , , , , , .
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