S.S. Klondike Fitted to Run Luxury Cruises, 1954
The sternwheel steamboat S.S. Klondike was built in Whitehorse in 1936-37 as a freight boat, primarily to haul ore from mines downriver. In 1950, with boats unable to keep up with ore shipments, a road was built to Mayo, and then on to Dawson in 1955. The Klondike was turned into a tourist boat in 1953-1954 by White Pass and Canadian Pacific Airlines, at a cost of $100,000. Although it ran at full capacity in 1954 and 1955, costs were too high, and she was put on the ways in the fall of 1955. Below are some newspaper articles about her luxury cruise days. For much more information about the ship, and many photos, see our S.S. Klondike page. Note that when she was restored by Parks Canada in 1981, it was to her 1937 freight-boat appearance, and all of the luxury-cruise features described below are gone.
Whitehorse Star (Whitehorse, Yukon Territory), Friday, June 4, 1954
The B.Y.N. launched their Steamer Klondike last Monday afternoon under the supervision of Shipyard Superintendent Alex McIntosh and Assistsant Foreman Howard Perchie. The steamer, built in 1936 to carry freight on the river, has been converted to a luxury river liner. The steamer carried up to 200 tons of freight in fast shallow water on the Yukon between Whitehorse and Dawson.
New luxury passenger accommodations has been added. Twenty-five staterooms accommodating 50 passengers, all modern with new ultra-modern fixtures has been added.
The main innovation is an elaborate lounge 72 feet by 26 feet, luxuriately furnished and decorated with murals of the days of '98. A cocktail bar in mahogany , soft lighting, etc., all blend to make the atmosphere of elegance.
June 12 is scheduled as the first voyage with the boat leaving here at 5 p.m. It arrives in Dawson on June 14 and returns on June 20.
A new type of program for the passengers has been planned. Keeping in mind that the tourists will have gold mining in mind, the company has planned a stop on Lake LeBarge where each passenger will have a chance to dig gold. At other point, fishing will be run as a sort of contest with a prize for the largest fish caught. Picnics and hikes are also planned to offer tourists a complete, entertaining trip, filled with Yukon sport.
At Dawson, one of the old hotels has been remodelled to represent the Days of '98 and a real Dawson welcome is planned for the tourists in the Gold City.
Whitehorse Star (Whitehorse, Yukon Territory), Friday, June 11, 1954
The Steamer Klondike has been a beehive of activity this past week as workmen rushed to complete the installation of fixtures and last-minute painting to complete the ship for its first luxury tour under charter to Canadian Pacific Airlines.
The airline company has chartered the river steamer for the summer and plan to run ten tourist cruises to Dawson and return. The plan has been promoted by the company throughout Canada and the United States to attract tourists to the North. Special flights will bring tourists to Whitehorse Saturday to leave on the boat.
The BYN have completely renovated the ship. Staterooms have been modernized and running water facilities added. A new lounge, known as the Eldorado Lounge and measuring 72 by 26 feet, has been added and luxuriously furnished. A large mahogany bar at the stern and an equally large mural depicting dancers in Dawson in the Days of '98, is at the 'fore end. The mural is illuminated with indirect lighting. A shiny brown plastic tile covers the centre portion of the lounge with deep-pile red carpeting surrounding the four sides. Modern tapestry covered lounge chairs, serviced with natural finish low-boy tables add to the elegance of the atmosphere and assure the passengers the utmost in comfort.
Large windows circle the lounge and in conjunction with the new ornamental lighting, the room has a bright, airy atmosphere. New carpeting and fixtures have also been installed in the large dining room in the forward lounge.
According to the plans outlined, the tourists should have an enjoyable time, for many forms of entertainment and adventure have been planned. Besides dancing, shows, etc., on board, the passengers will dig and pan for gold pokes worth $25. Fishing in Lake LeBarge for the biggest fish. The winner will receive a button acclaiming the man "Kingfish" and the lady "Queenfish" during the tour.
At Dawson, further entertainment has been planned to be presented in one of the hotels and depicting the Days of '98.
These article are reproduced in their entirety, with no changes to spelling or grammar, with the titles scanned from photocopies taken from microfilms of the newspapers.
Judging by the crowds on the decks, the postcard below showing the Klondike at Whitehorse, is from 1954 or '55.