It began with a tipoff. It was August 1896. Prospector Robert Henderson pointed a crew of soon-to-be legends in the direction of Rabbit Creek, a few kilometres east of present-day Dawson City. Those who first followed up the lead included Shaaw Tláa (Kate Carmack), Keish (Skookum Jim Mason) and Káa Goox (Dawson Charlie) of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation, along with Kate’s husband, George Carmack.
Turning over one particularly glittering rock on what’s known today as Bonanza Creek, there it was. Gold. And not just a nugget. But great wedges of it, laying thick between the cracks of the creek rocks like golden sandwiches. They’d done it. They’d found the rich deposit of gold others had been seeking for over 20 years. They likely knew in that moment their fortunes were made. What they couldn’t have known was that their discovery would launch one of the greatest gold rushes in history.
This year, the Yukon is celebrating the 125th anniversary of the discovery of gold in the Yukon and the start of the notorious Klondike Gold Rush. The discovery of gold in 1896 began a stampede of more than 100,000 prospectors. However, it wasn’t just men that left their homes to start the treacherous journey through the Yukon to find their fortunes. There were lots of women who played pivotal roles in the Klondike Gold Rush too, and against all odds, they forged their own way to Dawson City, and made successful lives for themselves.
Product Ideas for Exploring the Yukon’s Gold Rush History
There’s still gold in the Yukon but today it’s the period’s captivating history that draws visitors to the territory.
The world-renowned Chilkoot Trail hike traces the prospectors’ path from Dyea, Alaska, through the Yukon to Bennett, BC. Across the ravine, the White Pass and Yukon Route railway chugs over the pass.
Visitors in Whitehorse can explore the beautifully preserved S.S. Klondike paddlewheeler with a Parks Canada guide. More adventurous travellers can canoe some, or all, of the Yukon river route the gold seekers took from Bennett Lake to the Klondike.
MacBride Museum in Whitehorse is home to over 40,000 artefacts which illustrate the stories of the Klondike Gold Rush as well as the Yukon’s First Nations. The Yukon’s stories live here and are told through engaging programs, storytelling and events.
At the heart of the Klondike is Dawson City. There are touches of the gold rush in everything here, from jewellery to coffee beans to outdoor art. Your clients can explore the goldfields on a tour with Klondike Experience. In town, they can join a Parks Canada tour of heritage buildings, stroll boardwalks and get to know larger-than-life gold rush characters as they share their gripping stories about the momentous event that changed the Yukon forever.
And if you’ve ever wondered how to pan for gold, or want to get some insider tips and tricks, here is a quick primer: Gold Panning Made Easy.
If you’d like to learn more, or need some help with developing a Klondike Gold Rush itinerary, please get in touch! We can help with itinerary ideas, put you in touch with local operators and also provide promotional images and logos.
To get you started we’ve put together these suggested itineraries which you can download: