Saturday, July 28, 2012

Alaska-Canada trip -- A little more from Dawson City

It was the Gold Rush of 1898 and the subsequent years of intense goldmining that made the town.

Miners memorial How a miner might have lived

A memorial to the miners, and a diorama of a typical miner's cabin

Inside this museum

Exterior of Dawson City Museum was a wealth of artifacts, displays, and information about the First Nations people, the early explorers and prospectors, the Gold Strike, the Gold Rush days, and remarkable people of early times.

Here are two views of Dawson City's famous mudslide, Moosehide Slide, a landmark which can be seen for miles away on the river:

Land slide seen from downtown Land slide

Many different stories have been told to explain its origin. "Is that a big mining scar on the hill above Dawson? The scar in the hillside above Dawson, called Moosehide Slide is actually the result of an ancient landslide, not mining activity. The slide has historically been used as a navigational tool for river travellers. On a side note, no person can stake a new placer mining claim within the city limits. Rumour has it thought, that gold fever led a local man to sink a shaft below his restaurant! In another story, a mining company wanted to pay to relocate the Dawson town site so they could mine it!" http://www.dawsoncity.ca/faqs/

""Cannibals were harassing people in this area. The people asked the shaman to get rid of these people. So he went up to the top of the mountain, caused a tree to fall, and that caused a landslide, which carried the cannibals away." http://www.yukonweb.com/community/dawson/klondike_sun/aug17-01.htmld/ (scroll down to "River of Culture Tours"

At last, it was time to leave Dawson City and continue our tour. But, before leaving, we took a little trip down the Yukon River on a riverboat decorated like an early 19th century paddlewheeler. Even the staff were dressed for the part!

Coffee and tea served aboard the riverboat The Klondike Spirit P1060329

Then, we boarded a ferry across the same river, bus and all! The ferry didn't look big enough to hold the bus, but it was. We had no problem.

Waiting for the Yukon River ferry On the tour bus, boarding the ferry! Riverboat, The Klondike Spirit

Across the river and on up to the Top of the World Highway

Top of the World Highway

View of Dawson City from above

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Alaska-Canada trip -- Dawson City history, Gold!

There were early prospectors before the big strike was discovered, and of course there were interactions between them and the native First Nations people, business, social, and familial. Some, if not many, of the prospectors married or lived with First Nations women. This was the case with George Carmack. He partnered with a man known as Skookum Jim, whose real name was Keish ("Wolf"). Keish/Skookum Jim and his nephew, Charlie were packers on the Chilkoot Trail before they partnered with George in prospecting for gold. George married Jim's sister, Kate.

George Carmack Keish, or Skookum Jim

"Skookum Jim Mason was born into the Tagish Dakl'aweidi clan in the 1850s and given the clan name Keish (wolf). His father, Kaachanawaa, was a Tagish Deisheetaan chief. His mother, Gus'duteen, had many relatives in the Telegraph Creek area. Keish's extended family had a trade alliance reinforced by marriage. The coastal-interior trade route over the Chilkoot Pass was a carefully guarded clan domain Prospectors were only allowed through the pass after they promised not to engage in trade. In 1887, Keish was packing prospectors' supplies over the pass and earned the nickname "Skookum" (strong) after carrying 70 kilogram packs.

There might have been four in that party who discovered the strike, but for one man's bigotry and rudeness.

Robert Henderson met George Carmack at a fish camp and invited him to visit his (Robert's) gold camp. George, Skookum Jim, and Dawson Charlie (Jim's nephew) made their way to Robert's camp a few days later, having found some gold flakes on the way.

"Henderson welcomed Carmack at his mine on Bottom Creek but refused to give or sell tobacco to his (native) companions so they stayed only a short time. Short on food on the way back to the Klondike River, Skookum Jim shot a moose and went to the creek for a drink. He found gold. the three Carmacks staked claims at the richest spot they found. George went to Forty Mile to record them. No one in the party felt the need to tell Henderson and by the time he found out, all the ground was staked." "The Big Strike" "The Big Strike"

Two views of The Big Strike on Discovery Creek

"Listen to a voice from the past"

First hand account of the gold strike, from the Dawson City Museum

Tommy on the bridge at Discovery Creek

Discovery Creek as it appears today, with my husband Tommy on the bridge. You can see how cold it was that day; Tommy is a hot-natured guy, and even he was bundled up in jacket and knit cap!

(Click on any photo to see it larger in Flickr.)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Alaska-Canada trip -- Dawson City history, First Nations

It's been awhile, sorry for the long lapse. We were busy with doctor appointments, lawyer and accountant appointments to progress with the settlement of my mother's estate, and then after the tragedy in Colorado, I didn't feel like posting right away.

Dawson City and the area around it has a lot of history, pertaining to the First Nations people (Canadian Indians) and to the Gold Rush of 1898.

(Click on any photo to make it larger on the Flickr page. From there, you can choose more sizes.)

Before the stampede of gold-hungry Americans, Europeans, and other people from many parts of the world, there were already people here, hunting and fishing, trying to make a living following the seasonal migrations of fish and wildlife. We visited the First Nations museum in Dawson City

First Nations Cultural Center First Nations Cultural Center

Culture and history were passed from generation to generation by story-telling First Nations Cultural Center - Stories First Nations Cultural Center Doll-making was another way of passing on traditions. Young girls learned from their mothers about sewing, preparing the fabric or fur, and making thread and needles.

Doll exhibit at First Nations Cultural Center Doll exhibit at First Nations Cultural Center Doll exhibit at First Nations Cultural Center Doll exhibit at First Nations Cultural Center Doll exhibit at First Nations Cultural Center Doll exhibit at First Nations Cultural Center

At the site of gold discovery, there are some signs with information about the First Nations people who were already here:

First Nations "Ch'ehozhu Ndek"

Text and photo portraying the people who lived at Ch'echozhu Ndek (Bonanza Creek)

"Tr'ondek Hwech'in" "Tr'ondek Hwech'in"

Text and photo portraying the Klondike settlement

The Dawson City Museum also had some exhibits featuring the lives of the First Nations people before the gold strike:

"Athapaskan Winter"

The sign says, "The Tr'ondek Hwechin travelled from place to place in the winter following the migrating caribou and snaring small game such as rabbits or hunting high in the mountains for Dall sheep. Hunters from the small family groups would gather during the caribou migrations to build caribou fences for snaring or coralling the animals. Products from the hunt were used in all aspects of everyday life. Caribou skin made warm clothing for the winter, was durable as a toboggan, and two layers of hide made a warm and windproof winter tent. Rawhide was used for making cooking bags and snares. Babiche or semi-tanned hide was used for snowshoe webbing. Antler and bone were useful for making awls and spear and arrow points."

Sunsnare or Rainbow

The sign: "Loucheux headman named Sunsnare or Rainbow, drawn by Alexander Murray, late 1840s" (I thought that this person was a woman, but apparently not!)

"Chilkat Trade"

Chilkat Trade

Sign: "The Tlingit speaking Chilkat traded articles from the Pacific coast to the interior Athapaskans. They walked long miles to the Yukon River and rafted down to established meeting places like the one at the mouth of the Pelly River. The Athapaskans would watch for the coastal traders, lighting signal fires on high hills to attract their nearby trading partners. The Chilkat would bring dried clams, spruce-root baskets, cedar boxes, medicinal roots, grease, seaweed, fungus, obsidian, abalone and dentalia shells. They traded these goods for tanned caribou and moose hides, small animal furs, deerskin, sinew, copper, goat wool, and lichen dyes."

Housing development for First Nations people today, just outside downtown Dawson City

Subdivion for First Nations people

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Alaska-Canada trip -- Dawson City!

After arriving in Dawson City, Yukon, Canada, we said good-bye to our bus driver, "Mickey" and settled in our room, where we had TWO nights to stay in one place!

"Mickey", Bus driver Bedroom, Westmark Inn, Dawson City

Here are all the "Alabama Gang" having dinner in the Westmark Inn's restaurant All of "The Alabama Gang" in the restaurant, Westmark Inn, Dawson City

After dinner, we headed out to Diamond Tooth Gertie's to enjoy the show. I planned to do our laundry instead, but I changed my mind and did the laundry the next day.

Exterior of Diamond Tooth Gertie's Diamond Tooth Gertie's interior

First, though, we took a bus tour around the city

Masonic Temple (formerly a Carnegie Library)

Masonic Temple, formerly the Carnegie library

El Dorado Hotel

El Dorado Hotel

St. Andrew's Episcopal Church

St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, an example of what permafrost does to buildings (I apologize for the bus window reflections.)

Home in Dawson City

All the structures in Dawson City, new and restored, must comply to a strict building code, to maintain the quaint, old-fashioned appearance of the town.

Inside Red Feather Saloon

We entered the Red Feather Saloon for a presentation on the life and poems of "The Bard of the Yukon," Robert Service.

From the town, we went up to the gold fields. Yes, gold is still being mined around Dawson City, although the days of the Gold Rush are long gone.

Gold claim Gold claim placer tag

A present-day gold claim with placer tag

Sign for Dredge No. 4 Dredge No. 4

Dredge No. 4 - for historical information, see Parks Canada

This was where the Yukon Gold Rush of 1898 was centered. In my next blog post, I'll show the pictures of the historical posters. This entry is already long enough!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Alaska-Canada trip -- En route to Dawson City

It was a long and winding, and interesting road from Whitehorse to Dawson City, Yukon, Canada!

Lake and mountain Lake and trees Bridge

Pretty scenery (Bright spot in top photo was a reflection in the bus window)

Braeburn Lodge - home of GIANT cinnamon rolls!

Braeburn Lodge, home of GIANT cinnamon rolls!

Lunchtime Picnic site at lunch stop

Lunch stop with a perfect picnic spot out back

Moose Creek Lodge Yard Art at Moose Creek Lodge

One of the MOST interesting places to stop and look around, Moose Creek Lodge

Westmark Inn, Dawson City

At last we arrived in Dawson City. This is the Westmark Inn, our "home" for two nights, made to look like a cluster of brightly colored old-timey houses.