The event that led to the formation of the Yukon occurred on August 16, 1896: it was the discovery of gold on what was then called Rabbit Creek. However, it took the government of the Dominion of Canada a bit of time to realize that it needed to stake its own claim to this slice of the Northwest Territories, before the largely American influx of gold seekers pulled the same sort of annexation stunt that had already been worked in Texas, New Mexico and California.
So the Yukon Territory was born as a separate political entity on June 13, 1898.
This is why we get to celebrate two natal days every summer.
On the second weekend in June the Commissioner of the Yukon sallies forth from the current capital city to hold two events in the Yukon’s original capital.
The Commissioner’s Tea is jointly hosted by the IODE and Parks Canada on the lawn and spacious veranda of the original Commissioner’s Residence, which Parks now owns and has restored.
The Commissioner presides over the fun, free, and well-attended event. It features speeches about the wonders of the territory, musical performances, and the presentation of various special service awards. It is a success even when it rains.
It is intended to hearken back to the garden parties that Martha Black used to hold when she was the chatelaine of the mansion, so the servers and some of the guests dress in informal period costumes.
This year’s event will be the 38th in an unbroken string since 1975.
In the evening the Palace Grand Theatre gets to shine in its former glory at the Commissioner’s Ball.
The ball is fairly pricey to attend because the Commissioner’s Office doesn’t have a lavish budget. Typically a high percentage of both the party in power and the opposition parties make a good showing at this event.
This is a costume ball, and most people attend in period formal wear. If you think the tickets for the evening are expensive, add on the cost of renting or purchasing an outfit.
What’s most spectacular about this event is the sight of all those suits and dresses posing for pictures outside the grand façade of the theatre. That’s the show we put on for all the locals and tourists, who come out in quite large numbers to capture the old fashioned memory on modern flash cards.