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Jake’s Corner : a “must stop” on the Alaska Highway

Version française de ce texte.

Earlier today I had the pleasure of having coffee with master photographer Hans Blohm. Among other things, we talked about the Yukon, a territory Hans has visited repeatedly over the past 35 years. It is always a great pleasure to hear Hans talk about his northern adventures and I remembered he had a special story about a certain Jake, owner of Jake’s Corner, the “must-stop” gas station & restaurant located at the junction of the Alaska Highway and the Tagish Road.

Jake's Corner - a supply point at the junction of the Alaska Highway and the Tagish Road in southern Yukon

During my Yukon road trip last May, I stopped at Jake’s Corner at 3 occasions. Intrigued by who Jake was, I had an interesting chat with Terry, the gas station attendant. I learned from him that the site was initially established as a U.S. military base for the construction of the Alaska Highway. At that time, a colonel by the name of Jacobson was in charge of the base. Somewhat annoyed by the need to go through Carcross to get to Whitehorse, Colonel Jacobson decided to build a more direct route without waiting for the official authorizations. Today, when we drive on the portion of the Alaska Highway that runs along Lake Marsh, we’re driving on Colonel Jacobson’s road. Jake’s Corner would have been named after Colonel Jacobson.

A scene taken on the Alaska Highway near Marsh Lake heading towards Whitehorse

Terry’s explanation also mentionned that the site was later acquired by a man named Roy Chaykowsky. Under his “reign”, the place was known as the Crystal Palace. It is this singular character, an ukrainian immigrant who was also a gold digger, that Hans had the opportunity to meet at several occasions. The mystery has not yet been resolved about his real name, but we’ll call him Jake as this is how he was known to Hans.

They first met in 1976 during Hans’ first trip to the canadian North. He was then accompanied by his daughter Heike aged 17. Hans remembers being surprised by the luxurious decor of the Crystal Palace’s rooms and by the indoor swimming pool. Small log cabins were also built at the rear of the main building. Jake’s wife, also Ukrainian, was busy in the restaurant’s kitchen. Over the years, whenever the opportunity arose, Hans stopped by to say hello. A surprise awaited him a few years later when Jake unexpectedly rang his door bell in Ottawa. He wanted a picture of himself in front of the Parliament building and who better than his friend Hans to make his dream come true!

During the winter of 1979, while traveling on the Haines road, Hans stopped to take some pictures of a group of surveyors working along the road. One of the workers was a young woman who was hammering vigourouly on some poles. Hans approached her in order to introduce himself and to ask permission to photograph her. To his greatest surprise, she replied: “Oh, you’re Hans! I have heard of you! I am Jake’s daughter”. What a small world!

Jake and his wife have since passed away and the site is in the hands of its third owner. The building then known as the Crystal Palace is now a private residence and the restaurant operates under the name of Uncle Rob’s Cabins. Despite these changes, there are no intention of changing the site’s name or road signs. Jake’s Corner is a reference point too well known.

Jake's Corner sign on the Alaska Highway

Each time I stopped, I was treated to good homemade food with portions that were more than generous along with very friendly service. Both the waitress and the chef knew me as “the lady from the B&B”. If you’re ever in the neighbourghood, don’t hesitate to make a stop. If you’re craving for a burger or a club sandwich be warned that the height of these sandwiches is most impressive!

Bye for now!
France

P.S. If anyone has clarifications on the actual name of Rob alias Jake or the history of Jake’s corner, I’d be more than happy to hear from you and to rectify the information.

40 comments to Jake’s Corner : a “must stop” on the Alaska Highway

  • roy mcadams

    I had the good fortune in the mid ’70’s (maybe the spring of ’74 or ’75)to have a gig with my band at the Whitehorse Inn. Near the end of the “tour” we organized a party at Jake’s corner. Two (maybe more, i forget)charter busloads of people from Whitehorse made the trek on a saturday night and Roy and his wife (Helen) did a good job of serving up BBQ chicken and lots of good refreshments. The first one went so good that Roy and I tried one more. It was a flop, but no matter, it was good to be there and be engulfed by the sulphur odor coming from the heated swimming pool. as an aside, the bass player and lead vocalist in the band was named Helen. So, we had Roy and Helen and Roy and Helen. Lots of fond memories of the Yukon, Whitehorse and especially Jake’s corner. Thanks

  • Barbara Graves

    In my youth, a gentleman known to me only as “Roy” would arrive at our home in East Vancouver, with his two young daughters, having travelled non-stop in his old truck,from a place, which we understood was a very long way away. His daughter’s mother had braided the girls hair very tightly, and upon arriving at our home, my own mother would put them in a hot bath, brush their hair, feed them and put them to bed. Over the next couple of days, their father (Roy) would take my sister and I and his own two daughters and buy his girls anything they wanted, as the purpose of his trip was to “supply” the Crystal Palace with items not easily found in the Yukon. I remember that “Roy’s” last name contained a lot of constenants, and that my father indicated he owned a gold mine. Roy would arrive at our door every year or so and was always warmly welcomed by our family which is why he looms so largely in my mind. It was tonight’s Canadian Picker’s program shot in the Yukon which brought him to mind all these many years later. I’m 60 now, but Roy’s daughters must surely still be around. It would really be something if they too remembered us, as we remember them.

  • well would you look at that. Jake was my dad. He died in 1995. I am the youngest of 3 daughter and not one of the ones he too with him when he stayed at ur house.I think on those trips he was delivering cans for the Salvation army. Back in that day oil came in quart cans, he used a can opener to cut the top off, made wooden circular tops with slots in them for change . He and my two sisters dropped them off at cafe and gas stations along the Alaska Hiway to Edmonton and Alberta. These cans raised thousands upon thousands of dollars for the Salvation Army. My email is jojobean@live.ca

  • And a comment to the Band Helen. I remember ur band. I am Jakes youngest daughter and was 15 at the time ur talking about. I remember those partys well, I was one of the barmaids, being 15 was not a big deal in Yukon. lol . I went on tobecome an acomplished alcoholic . lol Im fine now and no longer drink but have to say that I come from humble beginnings

  • Beverly Wood

    And I met Joanne my bestest friend (-: right around her 15 yr old barmaiding. The pool, the intercoms at every table in the bar, and the crystal chandeliers that hung everywhere. Some magic in those chandeliers some how way back in “the day” Way up that dirt road to Jakes Corner where my friend lived. And when you pulled in for gas you had to not mind the goats on the car cause thats just how it was. Those humble beginnings where shared on and off that corner; Jakes Corner by “Jakes youngest daughter” and I. Richer because of it is all I know.

  • France

    Thank you Jo Ann for sharing your memories. Here is a reply I just received from the person who wrote the original comment:

    Thank you very much, although it was the Bass Player/Lead Singer that was named Helen.  The band’s name, I believe, was Canadian Current Sea.
     
    It is still one of my fondest memories of the time I spent in western/northwestern Canada.
     
    All the best to you and yours.
    Roy McAdams

  • France

    Thank you so much Mrs Wood for taking the time to share some of your memories of Jake’s Corner. This is so cool! With the different comments coming in, I better understand how unique and fascinating that place was. Wish I had been there in Jake’s days. I hope someone will eventually write the story of Jake’s corner and the people who made it so memorable.

    Thanks again!
    France

  • Ok so some interesting things are happening around this blog. Jake, as we all know was not ur average dude. and growing up with him was not ur average experience,so wut Im about to write doensnt surprise me.
    So Bev I dont know when you decided to google Jakes Corner. For me it was a few days ago,youngest daugter Lisa mentioned to me that she found information on Google about my dad. I became almost obseesively intrigued.I should mention here, that Lisa is her ” mothers daughter” and Im most definatly my “fathers daughter” We both are labled a bit excentric as my father was.

    So this morning around 3 am I had this vivid dream about my old friend Bev. The dream was about contacting Bev whom I have nt for months. I came on this blog to find that she was up at 2 am leaving a message on this blog.
    Yesterday I got an email from France telling me that Hans had found something, pertaining to Jake that he` d been looking to find for a long time. The interesting connection is that he found it the same day that I had inquired about some pictures he took.I have never contacted Hans before and dont really remember him. I was the girl he mentions on the contrution site tho.
    Im curious to follow through on this 4 way connection that is happening around Jake. I feel with my “labeled craziness” that Jake is speaking to all of us through this blog.

  • And Roy, I remember your band very well. I remember when my dad stole you from the Whitehose Inn.Imthinking that you played keyboard and used that big ole Hammond organ.
    My dad didnt like very many people but I got a sence that he liked you , mainly because he let you come back time after time. lol. I remember those wild ass parties well. I was a 15 year future crazy alcoholic, and felt in my wildest glory to be part of the coolest hot spot in the Yukon, that winter. I remeber that Dad cut the lits of of 45 gal. oil drums to making trays for sandwhiches. I remember naked people jumping or the dancefloor into the pool. I was that girl who jumped off on my fathers cue at midnite . This is how I learned to swim.My dad held a swimming hook out for me just in case.
    So Roy, do you remember Ray Davies and what happened to hin?

  • Jasmine Chaykowsky

    This is really great! Jake was my Grandfather, and the Ukranian woman you mentioned was my Grandmother, and Joey is my Aunt! I spent the first 3 years of my life at Jake’s Corner, which is where my mother and father met. Oh how I remember the bands and the crazy parties where people would dive into the pool from the mezzanine, and me sleeping in the liquor room so my mom could keep an eye on me while she was at work. I remember the cabin where we lived, which is now where Uncle Robin’s Cabin lies, where my parents would have to haul firewood to keep us warm in the -40 weather, and I remember all the antique cash registers as you entered the main building, which is also the site of where I fell down the stairs in my walker (probably admiring all the antiques!) But most of all I remember all people who would stop by to gas up, have a meal or have a rest after traveling down the Alaska Highway, many of whom are still part of the family today. I didn’t know my grandfather well, but I do remember my Grandmother who worked very hard to keep Jake’s Corner running for many years. She was a strong warm hearted Ukrainian women who loved her children and grandchildren. She also made the best perogies and cinnamon rolls, and until the day she died, she always called me Jasma because her accent was so thick even after living in the Yukon all those years! Thanks for writing this! Every time I come home for a visit, my Dad and I drive out to Jake’s for breakfast and sit so we can look at the breath taking scenery which is “Elephant Mountain”. I am so proud to be a Chaykowsky and that Jake’s Corner is a part of me!

  • France

    This is wonderful and fascinating!! Thank you so much Jo Ann & Jasmine for sharing your memories of Jake’s corner. How I wish I had taken more photos when I was there in 2011 now. There is so much history to that place and there must still be thousands of people who have stories to tell. I will see Hans Blohm tomorrow. He will be so thrilled to read your posts. Who knows how many photos we will find in his archives of Jake’s corner, Jake and your grand-mother. I will keep you posted. Thanks again! Looking forward to continuing the conversation.
    France

  • France

    Jo! Here’s the answer I just received from Roy:

    I did play the hammond organ and guitar.  The hammond belonged to Ray Davies.  I have no idea what happened to Ray, i remember he was a pretty good guy and he was kind enough to let me borrow it.  I just googled his name and found one hit – still in Whitehorse.  Was he the keyboard player with the band at the “Riverboat”?  That was the bar/restaurant just down the street from the INN.  I think i will call him in a little while to see if it is the same guy.
    I know it is all fuzzy in the past, but i think that we only played there twice. – once was a tremendous success and the second one was later in the spring and did not do so well.  The second attempt was attended by some RCMP detectives (with their wives) I think they wanted to se if there was anything untoward going on.
     
    At the first one, a guy named “Grizzly” jumped from the balcony and cut his head on one of the fan blades that were suspended over the pool.
     
    Your Dad let us stay in the cabins overnight.
     
    I see that the Whitehorse Inn is gone now. – so many stories and good times there (sigh)
     
    If i remember other things i will let you know.
     
    All  in all, i have GREAT memories of the Yukon, Whitehorse, the Inn, but especially the parties at the “Corner”.
     
    I am glad that you were there to share in such an auspicous event.

  • Doug Penny

    Hi, I just stumbled onto the website as I was planning a trip back to the Yukon. I was a surveyor in the mid 70’s working on the Alaska Hwy. I remember Jo Ann, her older sister and her brother. Of course I remember “Jake” and his wife. I almost got a picture of Jake in the Crystal Palace but Jake didn’t like anyone taking his picture and tried to break the camera. Jo Ann used to sit at the bar with her ear close to a speaker listening to our conversations. Later, one of the surveyors (Mark Scafford ?) took over the bar. We pretty much had the run of the place, we even helped clean the pool. That’s when we learned Jo Ann’s brother didn’t know how to swim. We always looked forward to dinner served by Jo Ann’s mom accompanied with a few bottles of baby duck. Every weekend we would drive back to Whitehorse after work friday and Jake would personally hand us a case of beer for the drive. The Alaska Hwy. was gravel and the beer cut the dust. That summer Jake offered free icecream with every fillup.

  • France

    Thank you so much Mr. Penny for taking the time to add your recollections of Jake’s Corner to the blog post. Tourists passing by to fill up a gas tank or grab a bite to eat just can’t suspect how much history there is in that little truck stop.

    Have a most enjoyable trip to the Yukon.
    France Rivet

  • cole

    When I was a boy in 1972 we traveled the alcan. Our trailer broke an axle about 2 miles from Jake’s Corner. My Uncle walked back to Jakes Corner to get help, It took him a long time. We later found that the gentelman working there was hanging doors on his new cabins and would not come and get us untill he was done, My uncle helped him hang the doors. 4 hours later, They finaly came and towed our trailer back. We had to drive to White Horse to get the part. We were not allowed access to anything in our camper, We stayed in his cabins, and ate at his restraunt. When ever you would walk up to see how work on the trailer was going the man would stop and walk off. It took him three days too fix our trailer.

  • Cliff Mattson

    What an exciting find here reading not just about the history of Jake’s Corner but from some of the folks who lived it. My wife and I will be in Skagway toward the end of July and are planing a day trip along the Klondike Hwy. in researching places to visit, I came across this blog. To say the least, we will definitely be stopping off at Jake’s Corner. I just wish there were some of you there to meet.

    Thanks for sharing your stories and memories.

  • Doug Beale

    I also worked at Jakes Corner for Ray in the early 80’s and enjoyed every minute of it, I also had the same affliction as Joanne and spent a lot of time partying in the Crystal Palace where one night I had to jump in to assist a gentleman that was drowning and hit the fans on the way in which opened up a gash on my nose but all ended well. I visited Jakes Corner a few years ago on a bike trip but it wasn’t the same as years gone by but brought back a lot of good memories, good to see the memories still live, hi to everyone and Jasmine was just a baby when I left say hi to your mom and dad, take care

  • Kate Fariday

    In 1986 my 13 year old daughter, our dog Cal Worthington, and I started from our home in Alaska on a road trip to Lake of the Woods in Ontario. In the Yukon we somehow took a wrong turn,and ended up at the Crystal Palace. Had to stop because the name intrigued us.

    I’ve never forgotten that place. We had something to eat, talked to the bartender, and found out that the pool was only heated up on weekends. We were there on a Wednesday. Couldn’t resist taking a short (VERY SHORT) swim, in the coldest water I’d ever swam in. My daughter, egged on by me, swam just once across the pool. Her lips turned blue, her teeth chattered, and I blamed myself for giving her hypothermia.

    There was a mural depicting the history of Alaska, starting with mountains and dinosaurs, that wrapped all around the walls of the restaurant. Does anyone know who the artist was? Someone there said he traded artwork for drinks.

    Why was it named the Crystal Palace?

    This was one of my favorite stops on that long trip, because it was such a unique place. When I tell this story to others, they roll their eyes and say I made the place up. I’ve never met anyone else who’s been there.

  • France Rivet

    Thank you so much, Kate, for posting your memories of that unique place. At last, you now have proof to convince your friends and family that this place did exist and left a big impression on many other people. Hopefully someone will have the answer to your question. I’ll be in touch if I find those answers. Thanks again!

  • Scott Snider

    My understanding is it was named after his daughter Crystal who was killed in an accident during construction of the place. Jake also built a small log cabin across the hwy and out a sign up calling it the Hippie Hotel. He sent hitchhikers there to overenight when they came calling for free lodgings or handouts.

  • France Rivet

    Thank you Scott for your comment. I was not aware of those facts. Such a fascinating place!

    Have a great day!
    France Rivet

  • treg forsyth

    In the early 80’s we used to run to jakes corner, and back to whitehorse just to go fast, 69 roadrunner, good times, great country.

  • France Rivet

    Boy oh boy! For a second I thought you were running the 75 km or so! That’s almost two marathons just one way! Glad that you were sitting in a 69 Plymouth Road Runner! Must have been fun indeed 😉 Thanks for dropping by and adding to the history of this awesome place!

  • David Zogas

    I remember the Crystal Palace well. We paved the road in 1978.

  • France Rivet

    Thank you David for taking the time to leave a note. Have a great day!

  • Joyce Holwerda

    Hi Everybody,
    We took the trip in ’74 and suggested a friend see if it still existed.
    Our radiator sprung a leak in front of the place “Jake” used to own. My husband and I hitchhiked to Whitehorse to arrange for repairs and were picked up by a man with crazy hair and a pile of money on the seat. “Hurry up and get in”, he said ” I just robbed a bank.” Sure enough we got in and he took us to Whitehorse, telling us he could fix the problem. Coincidentally he was person who picked us up on his way out of town! Like one of. The others we had to stay in his hotel while he fixed the van. I asked if I could work in the bar, something for me resume! It was splendid. The radios from each table to place orders, the big tips, the young daughter teaching me what to do, the swimming pool, the chandeliers, the take out booze! Amazing! During the day I washed Windows. George helped Jake and heard lots of stories about Jake collecting used oil from other gas station to heat the Palace and how he milked a goat because someone in the family couldn’t drink cow’s milk. He had only one postcard, many of the, of the sun never setting. He told us that “gold is where you find it”. Jake’s wife even made the buns for hamburgers. When we left she sent us off with food. It was such an outstanding experience for us! Eccentric for sure but that “Hippie Haven” was a sure sign of a soft heart.

  • France Rivet

    Hello Joyce,

    Thank you so much for sharing your recollections of Jake’s Corner. Fascinating! Never had I imagined that a blog post about what appeared to be an ordinary truck stop would generate so many comments, and that these comments would highlight such a wide variety of unique and unusual stories. Definitely, Jake’s Corner is all but an ordinary truck stop.

    Thanks again! All the best!
    France Rivet

  • Siegfried Baran

    Borkum Riff Tobacco, that’s what he smoked.

    In the Summer 1977 I hitchhiked down from Whitehorse to Vancouver after crossing the Chilkoot Trail. At Jake’s Corner we (I traveled together with my girlfriend and later wife) stopped over and I had the chance to talk with Jake. On the table he had a pouch of this famous Swedish tobacco named after a fire red lightship and well known as a swimming lighthouse, which was positioned near the island Borkum (Germany) until 1988. Quite surprising! I still remember this little highlight on my tour 1977: Jake’s Corner.

    Proud to have known Jake!

    Sigui

  • Amelia Fabbro

    Yes some very GOOD memories of that little hideaway. Also got thrown in the pool and later on in life ended up marring that guy. LIFE IS GREAT!!!!

  • Dianne Green

    I only knew Jake as “Jake” but I believe his legal name was Roman chaykowsky. He was a very creative, talented man and something of a genius when it came to creating structures. He described himself as an artist And wrote at least one book about his life but one could tell it was the product of a deranged mind. He told me his mind went when he witnessed the death of his daughter who was run over by a truck in the parking lot at his lodge. He said he was never the same after that. I met Jake in 1987 when He sold me some firewood. I believe he was 72 or thereabouts. Jake’s son, Raymond lives at Marsh Lake. My stepson and his wife are now running the restaurant at jake’s corner.

  • Dianne Green

    ALmost forgot to mention the ghost! My stepson felt its presence as agust of wind blowing through the building at night after closing time.

  • joe mac donald

    just wanted to say hello to jo-ann had lots of good times at jakes & knew all the family

  • Jo

    Oh, what a history.

    Thanks for sharing stories and memories.
    Also during my research I found something about the naming of the place:
    Jacobsen /jake´s corner

    http://www.93regimentalcan.com/jacobson-cleve-r-capt/

  • France Rivet

    Hello Jo! Thank you so much for your comment and for informing us of the real identity of Colonel Jacobson. He was actually Captain Cleve R. Jacobsen from Tennessee. How interesting! I’ll add a note in the blog post. Thanks again! All the best.

  • France Rivet

    Hello Joe! Thanks for taking the time to drop a note on the blog post. Glad that it brought back good memories.

  • Jack Reimer

    Back in 1978 I was driving from Toronto to Alaska on a summer road trip. I pulled into Jake’s Corner to grab a coffee. I parked and climbed the metal? stairs two flights to what I thought was the proper entrance. I opened the door and found myself totally alone in this incredible room. No staff…nobody.
    Huge bar,chandeliers, telephones on each table and a swimming pool in the lower level.Mind blowing!!!
    I couldn’t believe it. The building looked rather plain on the outside and here was this amazing place in the middle of the wilderness in the Yukon.
    I’ve told friends about this but I don’t think they realize how incredible this experience was.
    If anyone has any pictures of the inside I’d sure like to see them. Email me or look me up on Facebook. jackwreimer@gmail. com

  • Mary

    Is this the same Helen Chaykowsky and her husband who ran a restaurant etc in Whitehorse.. and before that they lived in Atlin BC… where he mined up the Spruce Creek Road for Nan Gold Mines around 1952??

  • Mary

    Oops… that should be “Nolan” Mines…

  • Mary

    And did they also have a restaurant that burned down at one time ???

  • Mary

    I am Helen “Hala” Chaykowsky’s goddaughter (Mary)… my dad worked with Roman “Roy” Chaykowsky in 1952 in the Nolan Mines in Spruce Creek… just out of Atlin, BC. I was born in a log cabin (Jan. 1952 -the winter of the worst snow storm in the history of the Yukon) a cabin that was supplied for the families of Nolan Gold Mining company. When Hala (Helen) and Roman moved to Whitehorse my parents moved into the Chsykowsky’s small house along Spruce Creek Road… in the middle of the bush. Hala is my godmother, and my parents moved to Edmonton a year after I was born . Helen Chaykowsky came on numerous visits to Edmonton to visit us over the years, and my parents loved her so much… she was kind and had a gentle and loving heart… My father has since passed away but my mother has endless stories of Hala (as we called her) and all their wonderful times together .. because the story really begins with the three of them (Helen Chaykowsky, My Mom and Dad) in North Bay and Kiosk, Ontario… where they all met for the first time !!! …….But that’s another story ?!!!

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