Michael Gates

People help put a human face on the past

Never underestimate how important a personal contact is when hunting for a story from the past.

The story of the notorious Vaglio murders

The morning calm of July 4, 1912 was disturbed at 9:05 a.m. by what at first sounded like firecrackers, coming from the second floor of the Central Hotel in Dawson City.

A Dawson girl in the war zone

It is well known that Martha Black took an active role in the Yukon's overseas wartime activities. She helped attend to the wounded, sick and homesick Yukon boys.

The Shooting of Robert Service (almost)

One hundred and one years ago, the writing career of Robert Service almost came to the same end as dangerous Dan McGrew.

New book reveals early Skagway

Captain William Moore was tough as nails. He had to be. At age 71, the Canadian old-timer was still mushing dog teams into the Yukon.

Today’s Millennium Trail was once a gold rush thoroughfare

The Millennium Trail along the Yukon River, which is one of the finest urban walking trails I have had the pleasure to use, is also a walk through Whitehorse history.

A tale of four travellers

My wife Kathy and I came across an obscure travel narrative that provides a new perspective on the time around the gold discovery that put Dawson City on the map. 

Chief Jim Boss is remembered as a great leader

In early 1902, Chief Jim Boss of the Southern Tutchone people living around Lake Laberge approached Whitehorse lawyer T.W. Jackson to write a letter to the government.

Finding the story within a story: logging on the Yukon Ditch

It was an interview that I conducted 29 years ago. I was reminded of it when my wife Kathy and I met recently met former Dawson residents for coffee and conversation.

Chief Isaac: The gentle diplomat

He greeted visitors who arrived in Dawson on the riverboats in the early days. He met royalty and represented his people on many special occasions throughout the territory. 

Breaden family had deep roots in the Yukon

Earlier this month, former students of F.H. Collins High School flocked to Whitehorse for a reunion before the old school is demolished after more than 50 years of service.

Taylor House dedicated to its new role

More than 100 people, including six former commissioners, attended the ceremony this past Monday, dedicating the Taylor House to its new role as office of the commissioner of the Yukon.

How not to teach Yukon history to a six year old

My wife Kathy planned an action-packed itinerary filled with uniquely northern events for the much-anticipated visit by her cousin Nigel, his wife Maya and their six year-old daughter Nina from England.

The Black family returns to the Klondike

A hundred years after the Yukon's commissioner, George Black and his wife Martha entertained in the Yukon's most elegant mansion, their presence was again felt at the Commissioner's Tea.

Early Yukon politics was a rowdy affair

The mob found him a few minutes before 4 p.m. hiding in the Fourth Avenue cabin of Montreal Marie, at the north end of Dawson City.

Four are honoured by Yukon Transportation Hall of Fame

Four Yukoners were inducted to the Yukon Transportation Hall of Fame on Tuesday evening at the Yukon Transportation Museum. Ronald Frederick Connelly sold the family horse in order to purchase a surplus World War II trainer - and then learned to fly it.

Students reveal history at heritage fair

Did you ever wonder what games the Vuntut Gwich'in played before there was hockey? Did you want to learn who Martha Black was and why she is famous? How about the history of an ancestor, or routes to the Klondike? 

Saloons, Prostitutes and Temperance in Alaska: a book review

In my years as curator of collections for Klondike National Historic Sites in Dawson City, I learned one thing: that gold rush stereotypes are difficult to overcome. Take the frontier brothel, for example.

Two Yukoners were awarded the Victoria Cross

The Yukon is getting the short end of the stick in the narrative of World War I. There are plenty of books on the Great War, but many of them don't mention Canada's involvement in the conflict.