Whitehorse was very nearly Yellowknife.

Tourists (and many southern Canadians) often get the two confused, but the choice was an either/or for the band that went on to become Whitehorse.

At Folk on the Rocks 2018, the band’s members explained how they came close to picking Yellowknife before making the switch.

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Hear Whitehorse’s 2018 Folk on the Rocks main stage set in full at 9pm on Monday, July 30, repeated at 10pm on Sunday, August 5.


Melissa McClelland: We were gonna call ourselves Yellowknife. I’m not sh***ing you.

Luke Doucet: OK, we have to tell them more. So, here’s the thing. The whole story is probably not as interesting as… but anyway, we’re going to tell you, because now we have to. When we decided to put this band together, we had been playing music together for a long time. We were often considered part of the Americana community so we really wanted to choose a name that would represent, to our Canadian friends and fans, that we were a Canadian band. So we thought we need to choose a geographic location, but most Canadian names sound ridiculous – except some of the ones in the North, it turns out.

Melissa: Yellowknife was our first choice.

Luke: For months, we were going to be called Yellowknife.

Melissa: And then at the last minute…

Luke: We started imagining the merchandise, and it was like a cool, black, punk-rock T-shirt with Yellowknife on it. How hardcore and punk rock is that? Then we realized, our music at the time, we were just too sissy to pull that off. Whitehorse is a little softer, it’s gentler, it’s horsey – it represented our music at the time better. So we ended up switching at the last minute. We dumped Yellowknife and went for Whitehorse. I know there’s a rivalry and I’m not trying to pour gas on the fire, that’s the actual truth of the story.