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The Clyde and Patricia Risdon Collection: Tok, Alaska


It was decades ago, early in the 1970s, when my husband, Clyde, and I decided to view a sled dog race in Florence, Wisconsin. Neither of us had any expectation that a family excursion where we were merely spectators would soon develop into a lifetime career.

After arrival the next morning, as we followed the snow plow out, we were delighted and surprised that both the mushers and sled dogs were so friendly. One musher invited our children into the bed of his sled, and allowed them the joy of riding to the starting line. I believe that was when both of us were motivated into considering the possibility of a new adventure.

Just two years later, we owned seven sled dogs plus one beagle of our own. Beyond that Clyde was racing and building three-wheel cars in his spare moments.

Our family remained in Hermansville, Michigan until 1975 before moving to Iron River, Michigan. Clyde had already become acquainted with other mushers and learned what they disliked about their sleds. He soon decided there was a need to build a better sled. He did that in 1979.

This sled was sent to Alaska. Once it was used, Harris returned with orders for six more including a few suggestions for additional alterations.

In 1983 our children were students in high school and we knew it was time for them to learn more about the world beyond winter sports and dog racing. For that reason, we moved to Laingsburg, Michigan.

During a visit to Alaska in 1995, Clyde was asked if he would donate a sled to Tok, Alaska, for their annual auction. We had both seen how much effort this small town put into sponsoring their race, and Clyde willingly obliged and donated a sled.

In 1999, the wonderful people in the Town of Tok began sending us gifts, mostly beadwork made by Athabascans. Their generosity to our family continued throughout the years until 2018.

Clyde and I are delighted at this opportunity to share the spectacular display of beadwork made by the wonderful people of Tok.

- Pat Risdon