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The Yukon Territory in 1947: Towns and Settlements

Explorer's Guides to Northern Communities

    In 1947, the federal Bureau of Northwest Territories and Yukon Affairs published the 56-page booklet Yukon Territory: A Brief Description of its History, Administration, Resources, and Development, by W.F. Lothian (pdf, 3.6MB). The information that follows is the complete "Towns and Settlements" chapter (pages 12-15).

    Dawson, the capital, with a population of about 800, and Whitehorse, population approximately 3,500, are the largest settlements in Yukon Territory. Other centres of population include small settlements adjacent to mining properties, trading posts situated along the main rivers, Indian villages, and groups of buildings connected with airports and other facilities for transportation. Following will be found brief descriptions of the more important places in the Territory.

    Aishihik, an intermediate aerodrome, is situated in southwestern Yukon at the northwest end of Aishihik Lake. It is equipped with a radio range and meteorological station, and is accessible by road from the Alaska Highway.

    Burwash Landing is situated near the north end of Kluane Lake about 186 miles west of Whitehorse. It is served by the Alaska Highway and is also on the route of air lines operating from Whitehorse to Fairbanks. The settlement contains a trading post and an emergency landing field, and is an outfitting centre for big game hunting parties. Kluane Lake, situated in southwestern Yukon, is one of the largest and most beautiful bodies of water in the Territory. The lake lies northeast of the St. Elias Mountains, whose snowy summits and glistening glaciers may be seen from points along the Alaska Highway. Discoveries of gold on a number of streams entering the lake caused a small gold rush in 1903-04. There are small Indian settlements at Kluane, situated at the southeastern end of the lake, and at Burwash Landing.

    Carcross, at the northern end of Lake Bennett, is the first town reached on entering Yukon Territory by the White Pass and Yukon Railway. It has a landing field, suitable water area for a seaplane base, Church of England and Roman Catholic churches, a post office, a day school, and an Indian residential school. Connection may be made at Carcross during the summer months with a steamer that operates on Tagish Lake and Taku Arm. "Carcross" is a contraction of the name "Caribou Crossing," so called on account of the great number of caribou that once crossed the narrows between Lakes Bennett and Nares. Carcross is connected with Whitehorse and the Alaska Highway by motor road. Lake Bennett lies astride the British Columbia-Yukon Boundary and also is one of the beautiful lakes in the Territory. The eastern shore is skirted by the White Pass and Yukon Railway line, from which may be observed the remarkable colouring of the mountains which, capped with snow, rise along each side. Lake Bennett and its companion body of water to the south, Lake Lindeman, were points of embarkation for thousands of gold-seekers who crossed the Chilcoot Pass and launched rough boats for their perilous voyage down the Lewes and Yukon Rivers to the gold-fields in 1897-98.

    Carmacks, on the west bank of the Lewes River about 110 miles north of Whitehorse, is an Indian settlement containing a post office, a trading post, and an emergency landing field. It is also the first junction of the water and overland route north from Whitehorse. In the vicinity are large deposits of coal which were worked for a number of years. A few miles down-stream on the Lewes River are the famous Five Finger Rapids, which provide a thrilling experience for river steamer passengers.

    Champagne, situated about 56 miles west of Whitehorse on the Alaska Highway, is an Indian village and contains a trading post. About 42 miles west is the junction of the road from Haines, Alaska.

    Dawson, administrative centre of Yukon Territory, is situated on the east bank of the Yukon River, north of its confluence with the Klondike River. It is named after Dr. G. M. Dawson, a geologist who explored the region in 1887. Dawson is a base of supply and distributing point for the Klondike gold-fields, and has a population of about 800. In addition to the Dominion Government administrative buildings, Dawson contains a Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment, two banks, a telegraph office, a Government radio station (Department of National Defence), a weather station, a post office, high, public, and-separate schools, a public library, a hospital, Church of England and Roman Catholic churches, a motion picture theatre, stores, hotels, and substantial private residences. The town has electric light, telephone, and water services. A system of roads radiates from Dawson to the placer mining areas of the Klondike district where large gold dredges operating in the creeks and valleys are of great interest to tourists. A ferry provides a means of crossing the Yukon River to West Dawson, and a truck and tractor road extends westward to the Alaskan boundary and beyond to dredge camps situated on upper Fortymile River in Alaska. A landing field for aircraft is located in Klondike River Valley, 12 miles from Dawson.

    Fort Selkirk, an Indian village and trading centre, is situated near the confluence of the Pelly and Yukon Rivers about 178 miles from Dawson. It has a post office, an emergency aeroplane landing field, Church of England and Roman Catholic churches, and a detachment of Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Fort Selkirk is the site of a Hudson's Bay Company fort constructed in 1848 and destroyed by Indians in 1852. Traces of the fort still remain. The Hudson's Bay Company re-established a trading post at Fort Selkirk in 1938. Fort Selkirk is the commercial centre for the fur trade of the Pelly River district, and a starting point for big game hunting parties.

    Frances Lake is a trading post situated on the eastern shore of Frances Lake in southeastern Yukon. It has a private commercial radio station.

    Fortymile is a small placer mining settlement situated on the west bank of the Yukon River about 47 miles below Dawson at the mouth of Fortymile River. It has a post office.

    Keno Hill is situated in the Mayo mining district and is served by a good road from Mayo Landing, about 35 miles distant. The settlement has a post office and a Territorial assay office.

    Mayo Landing, situated on the north bank of Stewart River about 180 miles from Yukon River, is the commercial headquarters of the Mayo mining district. It has a mining recorder's office, a detachment of Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a public school, Church of England and Roman Catholic churches, a post office, a Government radio station (Department of National Defence), a weather station, hospital, and several stores. A landing field is located near the town. Roads extend from Mayo Landing to the silver mines on Galena and Keno Hills, and to placer gold mines on Highet, Haggart, and Dublin Creeks.

    Old Crow is a fur-trading centre and Indian village on the north bank of Porcupine River at its junction with Old Crow River. It has a Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment, a trading post, and a Church of England mission, and has two-way radio communication..

    Ross River is an Indian village with a trading post, situated at the confluence of the Ross and Pelly Rivers about 200 miles upstream from the confluence of the Pelly and Yukon Rivers.

    Snag is a trading post and intermediate aerodrome in western Yukon. The aerodrome is equipped with a radio range and meteorological station and is accessible from the Alaska Highway. The record low temperature for Yukon Territory (-81°F.) was recorded at Snag in February, 1947.

    Stewart River, a trading centre and post office, is situated on the Yukon River at the mouth of the Stewart River. Connection is made here with steamers operating on the Stewart River and serving points in the Mayo mining district.

    Teslin, an Indian village with a fur-trading post and a post office, is located on the east side of Teslin Lake, about 114 miles southeast of Whitehorse on the Alaska Highway. It contains a Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment, and Church of England and Roman Catholic churches. An intermediate aerodrome equipped with a weather station is situated near the settlement.

    Watson Lake, situated in the southeastern part of Yukon Territory, possesses a post office, a good airport, and a weather station, and is served by Canadian Pacific Air Lines Limited. It is also accessible by a spur road from the Alaska Highway. There is a Roman Catholic church at the road junction. A Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment is stationed in the settlement.

    Whitehorse, situated on the Alaska Highway about 42 miles north of Carcross, is the terminus of the White Pass and Yukon Railway and the head of navigation on the Yukon River. It has a first class airport, equipped with radio range and meteorological stations, served by air lines from Seattle, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Fairbanks, as well as hotels, bank, hospital, stores, weekly newspaper, Church of England and Roman Catholic churches, and public and high schools. The headquarters of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for southern Yukon and the office of the Mining Recorder for the Whitehorse district are also located in the town. Whitehorse is an important outfitting centre for big game hunting parties. From Whitehorse a motor road provides access to the famous Whitehorse Rapids and Miles Canyon on the Lewes River, which were navigated by many of the gold-seekers in the rush of 1897-98. A foot-bridge across the canyon is a fine vantage point from which to view the rushing waters.