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The Klondike

Date of Submission: 01/10/2004
Criteria: (iv)(v)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Parks Canada Agency
State, Province or Region:
YUKON and BRITISH COLUMBIA
Coordinates: N64 W139
Ref.: 1941
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Description

The transboundary serial cultural landscapes in First Nations traditional territories, including the Tr’ochëk fishing camp, and the Chilkoot Trail, the Klondike gold fields and the historic district of Dawson, illustrate life before, during and after the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896-1898, the last and most renowned of the world’s great 19th century gold rushes. First Nations story cycles and languages articulate this environment, which reflects centuries of continuing indigenous use as well as the physical and cultural transformations wrought by a half-century of corporate mining. The 53-km Chilkoot Trail, from Taiya Inlet in Alaska over the Coast Mountains to the headwaters of the Yukon River in British Columbia, links the Pacific coast to the Yukon interior. An Aboriginal trade and travel route for centuries, the trail brought thousands of Stampeders to the Klondike gold fields from 1896 to 1898. Downriver from this commemorative trail, at the confluence of the Klondike and Yukon rivers, is the Tr’ochëk fishing camp, the centre of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in traditional territory. Dawson sits opposite. Its hastily constructed, false-fronted wooden buildings, with some relicts and open spaces amid them, illustrate life during the gold rush and after. More opulent administrative and institutional buildings speak to the one-time prosperity of this former territorial capital. Beyond lie the Klondike gold fields centred on Rabbit (later Bonanza) Creek, site of the 1896 discovery of gold by James “Skookum Jim” Mason (Keish), sites of the labour-intensive individual miner society, the gigantic Dredge No. 4, and massive tailing piles left by corporate mechanized mining. Nearby are the relict mining camp headquarters at Bear Creek. Small-scale mining operations continue in the gold fields today. First Nations and newcomers continue an ongoing cultural accommodation, including negotiated land settlement agreements. The American components of this proposal, including the historic district of Skagway, Alaska, are not yet on the American Tentative List.