Have you done The Toe? Dawson’s City’s infamous drink contains a preserved human toe and is a Yukon tradition. What’s the quote from the Downtown Hotel‘s Sourdough Saloon?

“You can drink it fast. You can drink it slow. But the lips have to touch the toe.”

So, have you done the toe? We want to hear your stories! Best answer wins an amazing loot bag from Travel Yukon. Contest ends midnight June 24, 2012.

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  1. Billi Jean Miller commented:

    My (now) husband and I took an amazing trip from Alberta to Alaska 2 summers ago via the Yukon. Your amazing Territory blew us away!!!!!!! Little did I know we were going to become engaged on this trip of a lifetime!

    We were truly blown away by the Yukon – we wondered if we were even going to make it to Alaska! We spent time in Dawson City. Took in a show at Diamond Tooth Gerties and DID THE TOE!!! The whole trip was amazing and we haven’t looked back since! We are now married and have a 7 month old baby daughter.

    We have vowed to come back to the Yukon on a long camping trip one summer soon! (BEST CAMPING in the country) campgrounds were impeccably clean & breathtaking.

    Thank you for sharing this amazing place and experience with us – your territory has wonderful things to offer every Canadian.

    Love from Alberta!

    Billi, Dean & Madeline Miller

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  2. Paul Robitaille commented:

    As a past Sourtoe Capt. I have probably “done” the Toe 400+ times. This activity is totally Northern and totally awesome. Since the Gold Rush this is probably the thing most spoken about by journalists worldwide. Pierre Berton has done it, Jean Chretien has done it, but Stephen Harper wouldn’t do it. Figures, right?
    It is hillarious to see grown men cringe at the site of it, while frail 80 year old women don’t even blink.
    I had one gentlemen who claimed he didn’t drink do the Toe in 5 ounces of Vodka. I call bs.
    As captain, you get asked the same question over and over about the toe. I can tell you IT IS A REAL TOE. If you don’t believe me, put it in your mouth.
    I had one guy tell me that he was convinced it wasn’t real. So I told him: “you don’t believe me put it in your mouth”. Not only did he put it in his mouth, he chewed on it, and then tried to swallow it! Now I should tell you that we use the big toe when we serve it. This guy proceeded to choke a little on the toe and luckily he spit it up, but after that, nobody wanted to do it that night. I think he was convinced after that thorough inspection.

    The Toe is something that every Canadian should do, like kissing the Cod in Newfoundland, it’s something totally iconic that cannot be replicated.

    Dawson is truly a magical place to live and play. You should probably visit it if you haven’t already, because it is living history and totally awesome.

    Paul Robitaille
    Ex-Toe Capt.
    Dawson City, Yukon.

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  3. Denny Kobayashi commented:

    First, the disclaimer – I work for Tourism Yukon and lived and worked in Dawson City for nine years most of it in the tourism industry. That being said, I probably know more than I should about the Sourtoe Cocktail. I am in the book three times, but have encouraged and cheered on dozens of people to experience the Toe.

    Amongst the most memorable Toe stories:
    – The toe has been served up in some of the most prestigious venues in North America including the Waldorf Astoria Ballroom in New York City and the Ballroom at the Bevery Hills Hilton.
    – A brave tourism colleague from Windsor Ontario, who at first refused to even consider the Sourtoe Cocktail, now lays claim to having done the Sourfoot Cocktail – i.e. five toes! Not telling who it is but some might guess. Hint: not a man
    – there was a brief period in 2003 that the last Toe was inadvertently put in the garbage and no Toes were available for the toast to join the Club. CBC covered the story of no toes and it went national. Within a week, more than six toes were donated and they were back in business – not sure we want to know where they all came from
    – for those of you who can not take hard liquor or do not drink alcohol, the Captain will accomodate your participation in the club with some other beverage in the glass, but all other rules apply

    Join the Club!
    Denny Kobayashi
    Yukoner and former Dawsonite

    Reply

  4. Mark Edward Harris commented:

    The Canadian writer Robert Service had it right when he penned the opening line for “The Cremation of Sam McGee.”

    “There are strange things done under the midnight sun…”

    On the evening of June 1st, 2012, with the sun still high in the sky, I became a proud member of Dawson City’s infamous Sour Toe Cocktail Club at the Sourdough Saloon to the delight and disgust of the surrounding audience. In order to join this unique group one needs to take a shot of a high proof liquor – usually whisky – with a preserved human toe in it.

    The original toe that kicked off this unusual tradition was said to be from the frostbitten foot of a stampeder who traversed the Chilkoot Trail during the Klondike Gold Rush.

    Many need a good deal of liquid courage before attempting to do the “toe.” I wanted to take it on with a reasonably clear mind (only tempered by two glasses of an excellent Shiraz from the Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery in the Okanagan Valley I had over dinner at the Aurora Inn).

    I took my seat opposite Captain Dick who ceremoniously plopped what looked like the big toe of a foot into my drink. The crowd paused in a great hush then gasped as I lifted the drink to my mouth then took a full swig that only ended when I had caught the detached appendage between my teeth.

    With Captain Dick in on the prank, I followed with a slight of hand that would have made David Copperfield proud. I swapped the real toe with one made of chocolate which I then slowly devoured, channeling Hannibal Lector (remember Silence of the Lambs?) with every bite. (YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8zCmcw6e4Y)

    With the crowd in varying degrees of shock, I proudly received a certificate from Captain Dick for the achievement.

    The Sour Toe Cocktail experience kicked off an amazing journey which also included exploring the gold rush town of Dawson, the Top of the World and Dempster highways, a helicopter ride into Tombstone Territorial Park, flightseeing over Kluane. Along the way I saw grizzlies, black bear and moose in nature rather than in a zoo

    As a child I was fascinated by the history of the Yukon as portrayed in the books of Jack London. Now I feel like I have not only answered but experienced my call of the wild. And it is one I hope to answer many more times.

    Mark Edward Harris
    Los Angeles

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