2021 marks 125 years since the discovery of gold in the Yukon, the event that kickstarted what is arguably the most famous period of the territory’s history. In 1896, three prospectors (George Carmack, Skookum Jim and Dawson Charlie) originally spotted gold on Bonanza Creek. Only two years later, the Klondike Gold Rush was at its peak, with thousands of prospectors journeying up north in hopes of finding riches.
To celebrate 125 years since the initial discovery, Commissioner of Yukon, Angélique Bernard, is presenting a series of commemorative activities, including a Commissioner’s Picnic and a new exhibit at the Taylor House. The Taylor House, located at 412 Main St., unveiled its exhibit on June 1, displaying photos and articles about the discovery of gold. Members of the public are welcome to visit the exhibit on weekdays from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Masks are mandatory when inside.
One interesting component of the exhibit is a letter from 1926 explaining Skookum Jim and Dawson Charlie’s involvement in the original gold discovery, for which only George Carmack, a white American man and Skookum Jim’s brother-in-law, was credited.
“We had never seen this before,” said Kerri Scholz, Private Secretary to the Commissioner of Yukon, about the letter. “We were quite surprised.”
At the Taylor House, patrons are able to take a colouring book made specially for the 125th anniversary of the discovery of gold as well. It was made locally and features artwork by Andrew Sharp. In addition to being available at the Taylor House, it can also be found at all Visitor Information Centres and select campgrounds around the Yukon.
To coincide with Discovery Days in Dawson City, The Commissioner of Yukon will be hosting a Commissioner’s Picnic on Aug. 14, in place of the annual Commissioner’s Ball. The free, outdoor, family-friendly event at the Commissioner’s place of residence will also follow local public health guidelines and be able to accommodate social distancing. Members of the public are invited to play bocce and croquet and enjoy refreshments.
Also new for this year is the Daisy Mason Wellness Fund, named for Skookum Jim’s daughter and launched by the Commissioner of Yukon, the Bishop of the Anglican Church and The Skookum Jim Trust Fund. The fund will provide financial assistance to First Nation residents of the Yukon who wish to take or offer workshops in wellness, health and personal growth.
Every year, the Commissioner appears at and hosts lots of events, but this year’s events surrounding this milestone anniversary for the territory are special, and can be used as an opportunity to educate people about the history of the Yukon and the important figures from the past century.
“The Commissioner basically ran the Yukon before we had a premier,” said Scholz. “Now, the Commissioner is more of a figurehead.”
For more information on the Commissioner of Yukon’s events, visit the Office of the Commissioner of Yukon’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/OfficeOfTheCommissionerOfYukon/. To learn more about the Daisy Mason Wellness Fund, head over to https://yukon.ca/en/news/commissioner-launches-daisy-mason-wellness-fund.