Buckshot Betty: a living legend

Buckshot Betty: a living legend

betty.jpg

 A Summer 2015 Yukon Prospector Web Extra


At 7 p.m. on a Thursday in late June, Buckshot Betty’s is packed.  So packed that people are lining up at the door, waiting to grab a table.

  Betty’s is a bustling diaspora. Two men discover they were both in Viet-Nam together, and sit comparing tours.  An older couple tells a story about their trailer falling off the back of their RV to another older couple.  Fathers tell children they aren’t allowed any more soda. All around, road weary people clamour and chat.

  This level of activity isn’t something you expect to see this far north, but Beaver Creek is a main hub for the Yukon.  It sits on one of only two land-routes that lead into Alaska.

  And Buckshot Betty’s is in the process of quickly becoming the fare of local legends. If you squint real hard, you can almost see the ink hitting the pages.

  Betty isn’t really a Betty at all.  Her real name’s Carmen. She stand’s a little over 5’2. With black hair down past her shoulders, and a mischievous spark in her blue eyes.

  How exactly she got the name remains a mystery to all but those who know her well. A ballad written about her says it was by facing down a grizzly.  Betty herself says it was a clever way to get people to stop at her place.

  “People need a living legend,” she says.

  Either way, she’s earned such a fable-inducing handle.

  Betty/Carmen tells tales of almost smashing into a grizzly with her Harley, being chased by bears, seeing Jesus walk the highway and escapees run it.

  “I’m one of those colourful five per cent,” she says with a laugh. 

  She also works like a dog to bring delicious home-style food to the Alaska Highway, at surprisingly reasonable prices. A homemade cheeseburger with fries will cost you $11, almost unheard of in the region.

  Part of the reason for that is Betty’s work ethic. She can be found in her place 120 hours a week.  Baking her own bread, making her burgers from scratch, and doing whatever it takes to keep up with the demand.  She says it’s hard to get good help out there.

  “It takes a special sort of person to live up here.”

  In fact, after 30 years on the highway, Betty herself is getting ready to pack it in.  The establishment has been up for sale for the last little while.

  She says she wants to spend more time riding her Harley. But hopes that someone will carry on her tradition. 

  If not, you’ll have to find Buckshot Betty in the history books with the rest of the Yukon Legends.


Story and photos by

Jonathan Duncan

Prospector@HarperStreetPublishing.com

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  • commented 2015-07-28 23:29:32 -0700
    A wonderful, tireless spirit. The leg and that is Betty will live forever…enjoy your retirement when it comes Carmen!