Michael Gates

Celebrating Jim Robb’s Yukon

Take a little poetry and some prose; add some music and a video, artist Jim Robb, a dash of Yukon history and stir well. What do you get? A fine afternoon of entertainment. 

The History Hunter goes into seclusion

Last spring, Jeff Brady made me an offer that I couldn't refuse. Jeff is the proprietor of the Skaguay News Depot, the editor and publisher of the Skagway News.

The Yukon machine gun battery in the fields of France

When war was declared in August of 1914, many men stepped forward to volunteer. Thirty five of them joined the Boyle Machine Gun Battery and left Dawson City together.

The Boyle Machine Gun Battery was filled with heroes

When war was declared August 4, 1914, the communities of Dawson City and Whitehorse were quick to swing into gear in support of the patriotic cause.

Inside the Gold Room at Bear Creek

Father William Judge, who became known as the saint of Dawson, once lamented: "You would be astonished to see the amount of hard work that men do here in the hope of finding gold...

War is declared in the Yukon

"We all had read skimpy reports of European troubles in the Dawson Daily News, but Europe, really, seemed a planet or so away.

It all came down to the ‘clean up’

The "clean-up" represents the culmination of months, and even years, of work to extract gold from the frozen Yukon muck. The most highly organized of them all were those aboard the dredges of the Yukon Consolidated Gold Corporation, or YCGC.

Time for summer history reading

Summer is here. Whether you plan to relax at your cabin, your favourite lake or just on your back porch, it's an opportunity to curl up with a good Yukon history book and immerse yourself. Here are some you might enjoy.

T.W. O’Brien: The Klondike’s great industrialist

Thomas W. O'Brien was laid to rest in the pioneer cemetery on the hillside overlooking Dawson City on the morning of August 28, 1916.

Three inducted into Transportation Hall of Fame

In early days of the Yukon's recorded history, the territory was isolated from the outside world.

“Never lose your sense of wonder”

That history doesn't have to be dull is a point made by Simon Winchester, featured guest author at the fifth annual North Words Writers Symposium, which was held in Skagway last week.

It was the beer that made the Klondike famous

In its heyday, Dawson City was a wide open town. Liquor, gambling and prostitution all flourished during and shortly after the gold rush. At its peak, Dawson had 80 saloons operating day and night.

Fort Selkirk, part 2: a treasure bypassed by time

Fort Selkirk is the most perfect historic site in the Yukon. Located at the junction of the Pelly and Yukon River, and inaccessible by automobile, it remains an historical gem, passed over by time.

Dawson film find yields more secrets

The silent movie films recovered from the Dawson City permafrost in 1978 have yielded another cinematic gem. Found among the 532 reels are four and a half minutes of footage covering the scandalous baseball World Series of 1919.

The long history of Fort Selkirk, part 1

I first visited Fort Selkirk in 1976 while employed by the National Museums of Canada in Ottawa. I came on holiday to record construction details of buildings at the site for another government agency, the Canadian Inventory of Historic Building.

The fertile history of Pelly River Ranch

When I met Dick Bradley for the first time this week, I asked him if he felt like a real pioneer and he said humbly that he didn't think so, but in fact, he is.

Yukon history fact of fiction?

I recently shared a book about pioneer Yukon women with my wife, Kathy.

Yukoners recognized for heritage work

Art and Ione Christensen received the 2013 Annual Heritage Award on Thursday April 17 at a ceremony in Whitehorse. The award acknowledges an outstanding contribution to Yukon heritage.

Revealing the wicked side of Dawson

Much has been written about the life of a dance hall girl during the days of the gold rush. Nothing can be as poignant or revealing as the words of one of the ladies who lived the life.

Diamond Tooth Gertie: from dance hall to prayer hall

Diamond Tooth Gertie's: Canada's first legalized gambling establishment; named in honour of the famous dance hall queen.