A Love Letter to My Hometown—Ketchikan, Alaska

Peter Stanton
2 min readAug 27, 2018

Some people will never understand why I love my hometown so much. Ketchikan is, after all, a small and isolated town, once highlighted in an ADN article as the home of “rain-weary” houses “in need of paint.” I know many of my friends who grew up in Ketchikan grew to hate it, and they left as soon as they could, with no plans to return.

Not me. When I left Ketchikan for college, I only started to love my hometown more, and after I returned home to start my marriage and professional life, my love grew even stronger.

It’s often difficult to explain to others why I love Ketchikan so much: I can list off everything that makes this island town in the Alaska rainforest so unique. I can rationalize how the community fits into that perfect size where not everyone knows your name, but you always have connections to rely on. I can tell stories from my childhood and my adulthood. I can compare Ketchikan with any other city in the world and argue why it’s the best place to grow up, or grow old, or build a peaceful and fulfilling life.

two eagles seen from my bedroom window in Ketchikan

But I think I’m coming to realize something: There’s no need for me to do all that. We live in an age dominated by awards and “bests” and “top tens” and all sorts of competitions. We often face overwhelming pressure to justify all our personal choices—to friends, to family, and to strangers on the internet.

I don’t think I need to do that anymore, at least not when it comes to Ketchikan. I’ll encourage anyone to come visit this place, but I won’t try to convince them how wonderful it is if they don’t realize it for themselves.

Ixhsixhán, Kichxháan.

(I love you, Ketchikan.)

See also—My Story: Why I’m a Teacher in Ketchikan, Alaska

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Peter Stanton

I’m an Alaskan history teacher in Ketchikan writing a book on the Tlingit 19th century. I also write regularly about language, reading, travel, and politics.