Michael Gates

Letters to home from the Alaska Highway

Bill LaBar was working 2,500 kilometres away from his wife Helen and their three sons. He had signed a contract to work for The Okes Construction Company of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Okes was upgrading 400 kilometres of the crude tote road known as the Alcan, or Alaska Highway.

The jury is still out on Victor Jory

In March of 2007, John Steins, who was mayor of Dawson City at the time, made a trip to Hollywood sponsored by the Yukon Film Commission.

Mystery album portrays family life in early days

Last week I wrote about a family photograph album and its connection to the Cascade Steam Laundry in Dawson.

A mystery photo album and the dirt on Dawson City’s laundry business

My wife Kathy gave me a fascinating Christmas gift, something befitting a history hunter. It is a photograph album covered in leather with a fringe more than 40 centimetres long along the lower edge.

Celebrating Christmas on the Creeks

When the 20th century began, the Yukon had a population that rivalled that of today. More than a third of the population was scattered along the creeks surrounding Dawson City.

Tex Rickard: From Dawson City to Madison Square Garden

There are many rags-to-riches stories during the early days of the Klondike Gold Rush, often ending with an unceremonious return to poverty. One of them is about a young man from Texas who arrived in the Yukon basin before the gold rush even began, stone broke and who four years left the same. But this story has a good ending.

Early Yukon automobiles were a novelty

How could the Yukon ever live without the automobile? The answer is that we did quite well a century or more ago, but time and technology have shifted our frame of reference.

Passchendaele: Remembering Yukon’s brave and fallen soldiers

Ninety nine years ago, the Battle for Passchendaele (also known as the Third Battle of Ypres) lasted from July 31 to November 10, 1917.

The Peace River trail to the Yukon

In 1898, Inspector Moodie of the North West Mounted Police had proven that a route to the Klondike overland from Edmonton was possible, if not realistic or practical.

The overland trail from Edmonton to the Klondike

On August 27, 1897, Commissioner L.W. Herchmer, the head of the North West Mounted Police, issued written orders to Inspector J.D. Moodie.

New documentary links Dawson City to Hollywood

The story of film, the Klondike Gold Rush and Hollywood are intimately intertwined by director Bill Morrison in the film Dawson City: Frozen Time, which is, at once, both a documentary and an art film.

Slaughter on the Klondike Trail

I have just returned from a trip to Bennett City, British Columbia, at the terminus of the Chilkoot Trail, where I went to investigate a century-old abattoir site.

The great cattle drives to the Klondike

Before the Klondike gold rush, a Juneau butcher named Willis Thorp got the bright idea that there might be a market for beef in the tiny gold camps of Forty Mile and Circle City.

Cattle drive to Slaughterhouse Slough

Some years ago, I uncovered an intriguing collection of photographs at the Bancroft Library in Berkeley, California.

Sam Steele: the man behind the “Lion of the North”

In the pantheon of gold rush luminaries, Sam Steele stands tall and imposing: an incorruptible man of unquestioned integrity, who ruled with an iron hand, but one wearing a velvet glove.

Frances Muncaster: From socialite to wilderness woman

She was an American woman who gave up the life of high society, comfort and privilege to live the tough life of a miner in the wilds of the Yukon and northern British Columbia.

The towns where silver was king

Much Yukon history has been hidden by the immense shadow of the Klondike Gold Rush. Such was the case with the silver mines of the Keno district.

Pioneer banner a reminder of community spirit

When you visit the Binet House Museum in Mayo, you will see some interesting artifacts. There is an iron lung, a relic from the era when the scourge of polio was much feared.

Mike Mancini: Keeper of the Keno City flame

Kathy and I recently visited the Keno City Museum in search of the quintessential artifact — something from the collection that defines the essence of the community.