Communities of northern British Columbia
Sitting at the south-west end of the Taku Arm of Tagish Lake, at the mouth of the Swanson River, Ben-My-Chree is a Northern legend. Otto and Kate Partridge had come north during the Klondike Gold Rush, but never made it to Dawson. Otto got involved in shipbuilding, cutting lumber and then mining in the Southern Lakes region, and in 1911, they started developing property near their gold mine as a home. Otto named it "Ben-My-Chree," Manx for "Girl of My Heart."
A combination of Otto's story-telling, Kate's hospitality and musical ability, and a spectacular garden in a remote glacial valley prompted tourists to start arriving, and during the 1920s it became a must-see for visitors to the Yukon. Most visitors prior to 1917 had arrived on the sternwheeler Gleaner, which sailed the down the lake system from Carcross. Otto died in 1930 at the age of 73, and Kate the following year at 77, but the property was purchased from their estate by the White Pass & Yukon Route (WP&YR). Ben-My-Chree tours continued to be offered by the WP&YR into the 1950s, using the sternwheeler Tutshi (seen in the postcard above), which was launched in 1917. Click here to see a lengthy review of a film about such a tour.
Today, Ben-My-Chree, located at 59°24'50" N, 134°27'10" W, is still accessible only by water. It has been privately owned since being sold by the WP&YR in the 1960s. It was purchased in the 1970s by Cy Porter, who had been a steward on the Tutshi, and the owner now seems to be Richard Houghlin of Sacramento, California.
The Story of Ben-My-Chree
This lengthy story was published by the White Pass & Yukon Route in about 1939, in a 15-page, 5 x 8.25 inch booklet.
West Taku Arm excursion on the sternwheeler Tutshi
In March 1938, the White Pass & Yukon Route published a brochure for passengers on the West Taku Arm excursion from Carcross to Ben-My-Chree, describing the points of particular interest along the route.
Lovers' home was must-see tourist stop of the 1920s
The story of Otto and Kate Partridge, written by the MacBride Museum and published in the Yukon News.
Kate Partridge, A Lady in the Wilderness
This story, which appeared in Canadian Home Journal in 1938, describes a trip to Ben-My-Chree in the summer of 1930.
Ben-My-Chree, An Outpost in the North
This illustrated article by J. Lanning, about the remote mining camp in northern BC, was published in 1913.
Last Journey to Wilderness Paradise
This film currently (2016) being developed by Werner Walcher documents the journey of Cy Porter, who at 87 years of age, journeys North one more time to visit Ben-My-Chree, which he owned in the 1970s (pdf, 800KB).
An Alaska-Yukon-BC Journey, 1940s
This is a fairly low quality home movie of a trip in the 1940s, from Skagway to Ben-My-Chree, back to Skagway and then sailing south down the Inside Passage (14:24).
Atlin excursionists at Ben-my-Chree
A photo at the BC Archives, dated 31 Aug 1923.
The photo below was shot from the ridge above the homestead in the 1930s.
I bought this 8x10 print many years ago on eBay, where it was captioned as "Dawson City".
A regional look at the location of Ben-My-Chree, from a Google Earth image.
Click on it to open an interactive map in a new window.