Remebering the squatters of Whitehorse

In the years following the Gold Rush, the White Pass and Yukon Route railway was a major landowner in Whitehorse.

In the years following the Gold Rush, the White Pass and Yukon Route railway was a major landowner in Whitehorse.

This led to a shortage of saleable lots and during the wartime boom, housing became a problem. Squatting on WP and Crown land became an acceptable lifestyle for many of us. By 1959, squatters accounted for one-third of the population downtown.

I would like to see the city install some more interpretive signs along its trails, which circle most of the lower town, which was once home to hundreds of squatters. I can visualize a welded sculpture made of bits of old trucks, honey buckets and US Army oil drums as a feature of this pioneer trail. Whitehorse should be proud of its unique and humble beginning.

Lot 19, a huge piece of property owned by White Pass, which contained 80 lots bounded by Rogers Street, 4th Avenue and the river, was a big topic back in the 50s. Thanks to pressure from the Squatters Association, White Pass finally agreed to sell to the city and offer squatters legal lots to buy.

This important era will be remembered and celebrated Aug. 31 at the Squatter’s Ball, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the MacBride Museum. The event will feature slides, music and a barbecue. Eveyone, especially former squatters, is welcome.

Pat Ellis, Whitehorse

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