Michael Gates

Robert Service, Country Joe and the Great War

When Robert Service arrived in the Yukon in 1905, he was a lowly bank clerk. When he left in 1912 on the last boat of the season, he was a celebrated author. In between, he penned three books of verse and a best-selling novel.

The story of the riverboat Brainstorm

The most notable of the riverboats that plied the waters of the Yukon after the age of sternwheel steamboats ended was the Brainstorm, which regularly hauled supplies from Dawson City down the Yukon River.

Some Yukon history books for Christmas

This Christmas we have a good selection of new northern history books to choose from. I have already reported on the new history of sports in the Yukon. Here are three more that you might be interested in.

New book chronicles Yukon Sports

Did you know that the first documented competitive sport in the Yukon took place the winter of 1882-83? It was at Fort Reliance, Jack McQuesten's trading post on the Yukon River. It consisted of a snow shovelling contest and a foot race.

WWI letters detail lives of Yukon recruits

During my recent visit to Vancouver, I was introduced to a man who has a collection of World War I letters. They were written by Norton Townsend of Dawson City.

Yukon’s World War I soldiers are not forgotten

Many people asked me for a copy of the speech I gave at the Remembrance Day service on Tuesday at the Canada Games Centre. What follows is that speech in its entirety. 

Remembering the CANOL at the MacBride Museum

Michael Gates Special for the News Whitehorse residents crammed into the MacBride Museum last Thursday night to discuss CANOL, the secret pipeline and refinery project undertaken in Whitehorse during World War II.

The sinking of the Sophia marked the end of an era

The end of 1918 was approaching when a disaster struck the North a blow from which it took a generation to recover. The sinking of the Princess Sophia in the Lynn Canal south of Skagway, which resulted in the loss of 343 lives, is almost forgotten today.

Pearl Keenan remembers the Alaska Highway

In a recent column, I asked if any readers had memories to share regarding the Alaska Highway. I am told that the Alaska Highway Heritage Society Yukon received an excellent response.

How I spent my vacation

While most people dream about a holiday with palm trees, sandy beaches and surf, my wife Kathy and I think of musty old books and faded photographs. We spent the Thanksgiving Day in Langley, B.C.

The amazing story of ‘Grizzly Bear’ Christie

Accounts of the First World War often evoke images of the horrid conditions in the trenches along the Western Front in France, or the gas attacks and needless slaughter.

Wanted: memories of the Alaska Highway

I came to the Yukon on an impulse while working my way through university. I had a good-paying but unsatisfying job working at the Calgary Brewery when graduate student Jim Bennett telephoned me.

The story behind the tramlines of Windy Arm

Michael Gates As you travel the Skagway Road south of Carcross along Windy Arm toward British Columbia, you will pass by an old tramway tower standing on the hill beside the road.

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.