Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Birthday Road Trip Day 4

October 25, 2011
Whitehorse, Yukon

A day off from the clues and to explore Whitehorse.  We stayed with some friends (Thank you guys for all your hospitality), but as they had work during the day we went downtown on our own to learn about this corner of the world.  

Ducky and the Yukon River
   Whitehorse - what an interesting and rich city.  It was named for a nearby set of rapids on the Yukon River that looked like the manes of white horses running. The rapids no longer exist due to dams.  Being the biggest town in the territory (and home to over 2/3 of the population), it has all the amenities of a big southern city.  

Ducky riding a 'dog-sled'


 Whitehorse has always been a transportation hub for people, including those heading to the Klondike during the gold rush.  In the 20th century steamboats ran up and down the river between Whitehorse and Dawson City.  This is SS. Klondike II, now a National Historic Site in Whitehorse.  She was a copy of the SS. Klondike, a ship that transported ore on the Yukon River, but sank in 1936.  The SS. Klondike II also transported ore and in the 1950's was a cruise ship on the river.

Continuing our exploration of Whitehorse, we came across this friendship totem.  It was erected to wish unity and friendship among all Yukoners.
 The top figure is a Thunderbird symbolizing good luck and happiness to all.  Next is a Wolf representing one of the native clans.  He holds Skookum Jim, one of the native prospectors that 'started' the gold rush. Next is Crow, the other major clan.  Under crow is Beaver representing the fur industry and perseverance, energy and intelligence.  At the bottom is Bear representing good hunting and holding everyone up.

 Housing is expensive in Whitehorse, so people are sleeping in tents outside the government building.

 Follow your dreams!

We decided to spend the afternoon learning more about Yukon history at the McBride museum.

First we toured the animal display where Ducky had to get his photo with all his new friends.

 Then we explored the other displays and learned about the gold rush which started in 1896.  It was August 16 when George Carmack, Kate (his wife), Skookum Jim (her brother) and Dawson Charlie (nephew) found gold on Bonanza Creek.  Word spread of the find and over the next few years around 100 000 people started the journey to the Klondike, although only about a third actually made it.

It was a tough go.  Food was scarce and potential prospectors had to bring a year's worth of supplies with them.  Apparently eggs were going for a dollar a piece... in 1898!  There were so many people coming to the Yukon that the Northwest Mounted Police had to call in extra troops.  People were getting there in the dead of winter and building boats so that as soon as the ice melted on the Yukon River they could float downstream to Dawson City and the gold.  But the rapids were treacherous and many people died.  The police soon enforced that only trained pilots could take the boats through the rapids.  Everyone else had to go around.    What a time that would have been.  And today the mining for gold and other ores continues. 

 The log cabin sky-scraper.  Interesting....

And the CBC building, for our listening pleasure.

Ro - this one's for you

After exploring the city during the daylight, we went to visit a friend of Mark's from his undergrad days for the night. 


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