An Inspiring Book, Found in a Unique Bookstore

MacLeod’s Books in Vancouver is a book lover’s dream. Books are piled up from floor to ceiling. Fortunately, the friendly staff helps you to navigate through the wide selection of books – some of them quite old and rare.

When my partner and I visited this unique store last year, I found a book in the Yukon section that caught my attention: Rivers of Gold, written by Gwen and Don Lee and published in 1999. I bought it and I didn’t find out until later that it is a limited copy, which is autographed and contains an original gold nugget from Barker Creek.

I was hooked by the story and so I had finished reading it before we arrived back in Whitehorse. The book is about the endeavours and adventures the Lee family experienced when they mined for gold in the Yukon in the 1970s and 1980s.

Gwen and Don Lee, a couple from Langley, BC were into the jade and opal business already when they decided to take up a new challenge and staked two claims on Scroggie Creek and Barker Creek in the Dawson mining district.

The Yukon was not unknown to them – Don had worked at the Mayo dam construction site in the 1950s – but they had to learn from the scratch what it meant to work a gold claim in the remote Yukon wilderness.

The book is fascinating in two ways. First, it gives a well understandable insight into a modern-day, family-operated mining site. Second, it reminds you to live your dreams. In the year 1978 when Gwen and Don Lee started into the gold mining adventure they were 48 and 52 years old, respectively. It’s never too late to start something totally new.

When I got in touch with Gwen and Don recently they said, “The mining was hard, lots of problems and worries but what an experience!”

They are glad they did it – but they are also glad that is behind them and not in front of them on any bucket list they have.

My husband Pascal and I are now wearing wedding rings made of gold from Scroggie Creek – always reminding us to live our dreams.

I won’t say much more about the book, just this: after bone-chilling winter supply trips and intense summers of breaking ground, the efforts of the Lee family were rewarded with a producing gold mine. But then there was a twist of fate…

Want to know more? The book will be reprinted later this year, but in the meantime, you can borrow a copy from the Whitehorse Public Library or other libraries throughout the territory.

Or, you can get a copy at the Northern Beaver Post Gift Shop near Watson Lake, which is operated by Gwen and Don’s daughter Linda.

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