For the past 18 years, “Caveman Bill” Donaldson has lived in a cave above the Yukon River in Canada’s far north. The cave—equipped with battery-powered lights, a woodstove, cooking facilities, and a bed—is located across the river from Dawson City, which was once the epicenter of the Klondike Gold Rush.
“When I first got to Dawson City, I was looking at a bunch of different options,” Bill says. “I was living in a tent when a buddy of mine suggested some caves across the river. So I came over, checked ‘em out. Once the river broke, I paddled over and moved on in.”
Bill meets me at Bombay Peggy’s pub wearing dusty jeans, a t-shirt, and a fedora hat. His hair is neatly tucked into a ponytail, and he has laser-focused eyes. He strokes his shaggy beard and smiles as we chat; his teeth, amazingly for a caveman, are pearly white, just one part of Bill’s overall normalcy. He doesn’t preach a “cave dwelling lifestyle” or reject the modern world. He enjoys watching Dexter on his laptop, has 492 Facebook friends, and bikes into town to visit his buddies. He’s well-known around town as a skilled handyman and wood-worker, as well as a celebrated tourist attraction. He chose a troglodyte lifestyle for a fairly simple reason: “It was either a tent or a cave.”