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Yukon

 

A Whole New World of Landscapes

The great outdoors and the beauty of our landscapes mould the lifestyle here. It is formed by endless days of fishing, river rafting, hiking, camping and canoeing against a backdrop of pristine wilderness. Welcome to the Yukon - a vast, quiet, grand land of adventure waiting to be discovered.

 

Whitehorse

Klondyke Highway

Silver Trail

Dawson City

Alaska Highway

 

Lights that Dance in the Sky

The heavens hold more than their share of beauty in the Yukon. From fall to spring, after the sun goes down, visitors and residents alike spend hours staring upward at the explosion of red, blue and green shooting colours of the northern lights, or Aurora Borealis. The waves of light, which are 60 to 80 miles above the earth, occur when particles in the solar wind collide with our planet's magnetic field. But science does not come to mind when you're watching a shimmering palette of colours ripple across the stars. In the 24-hour daylight of high summer, you will not be able to see much of the lights, but you get wondrous carmine and magenta skyscapes that last for hours rather than minutes.

 

First Nations History

The story of the Yukon's people predates the arrival of the European traders and the Gold Rush by several thousand years. It traces the movements of the indigenous people and cultures of the Yukon area, from the first migrations over the land-bridge from Asia, to the emergence of a hunting and fishing economy regulated by the well-established trading system of the Tlingit Indians of the Pacific coast.

The majority of Yukon First Nations people belong to one of the Athapaskan and Tlingit language families: Gwitchin (Old Crow), Han (Dawson City), Northern Tutchone (Mayo, Carmacks, Fort Selkirk, Pelly Crossing), Southern Tutchone (Whitehorse, Haines Junction, Burwash Landing, Champagne), Kaska (Ross River, Watson Lake, Liard), Tagish (Tagish), Tlingit (Carcross, Teslin), and Upper Tanana (Beaver Creek).

 

Gold Rush History

Gold was first reported in the Yukon by Hudson's Bay Company explorer Robert Campbell at Fort Selkirk in 1850. In 1873 the first prospectors began to enter the Yukon area from the lower Mackenzie. George Holt became the first non-native trader to cross over the Chilkoot Pass in the late 1870's. In 1896, Skookum Jim, Dawson Charlie and George W. Carmack found gold on what was later called Bonanza Creek. Their find was more than partly due to the advice of Bob Henderson, a prospector who worked Gold Bottom Creek, stubbornly convinced he would soon hit pay dirt. Henderson did not hear of the major find until too late; it was Skookum Jim, Tagish Charlie and George Carmack who staked the first claims on August 17, 1896. The rush to the goldfields of the Klondike was set in motion. By the summer 1898, Dawson City, the new settlement at the mouth of the Klondike River, had a population of more than 40,000 people. Five hundred buildings crowded the site.

Jack McQuesten, often called the Father of the Yukon, stayed in the settlement of Circle City after the rush started. He eventually followed the last of the men to Dawson City. Too late to stake open ground, McQuesten acquired a share in an existing claim. He also supervised construction of a sheet iron warehouse for the Alaska Commercial Company. By the time the rush subsided and the settlement began to empty, McQuesten was a wealthy man.

The search for furs and gold began to unlock the secrets of Canada's extreme northwest. The traders, explorers and miners of the Yukon's past began a process that continues today with different methods and changing objectives. Whatever has been accomplished in the development of the Yukon since the days of the Gold Rush rests upon the foundation built by the early pioneers of the Klondike.

 

White Pass and Yukon Route Railway History

Born of the 1898 Klondike Gold Rush and built through some of the North's most rugged terrain, the construction of the White Pass & Yukon Route was the engineering marvel of its time. Completed in 1900 with British financing, Canadian contracting and American engineering, it hauled miners and supplies over the 3,000 foot pass between Skagway and the Yukon. Ironically, by the time the construction was completed, the Gold Rush was over. However, the new railway meant a connection with ocean transport and access to outside markets for import and export activities. The railway closed in 1982 because world metal prices plummeted and the major mines in the Yukon shut down. Six years later, in 1988, it partially reopened for the tourist trade. Today, visitors experience the White Pass on a fully narrated railway adventure.

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Copyright 2007, Hanspeter Hochuli, Ennetburgen, Switzerland
last updated:  15.04.2008