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Yukon
Yukon Intro

Yukon

 

Originally a district of the Northwest Territories, the Yukon was a fur trading region of the Hudson’s Bay Company during the mid-1800s. The discovery of gold on Bonanza Creek outside Dawson City in 1896 caused a stampede of fortune seekers, bringing wealth to many, but for others just grim disappointment.


Known for its vast forests, stupendous mountain ranges and powerful rivers, the Yukon (from the Gwich’in word Yuchoo, meaning “great river”) is bordered by the Arctic Ocean, Alaska, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories. The territory’s principal river system is the Yukon, one of the longest on the North American continent. Beginning at a group of headwater lakes on the BC/Yukon border, it stretches 1,120 kilometers across Yukon’s southern and western section before crossing Alaska and emptying into the Bering Sea.

 

Reaching the Yukon
By Land - Two main routes lead from British Columbia: the Alaska Highway begins at Dawson Creek, BC and stretches for 2,233 kilometres (1,388 miles) before reaching Delta Junction, Alaska. It’s asphalt-surfaced and you’ll find gas, food and lodging every 32-80 km (20-50 miles). The Stewart-Cassiar Highway winds through BC’s interior, meeting the Alaska Highway 22 km (14 miles) west of Watson Lake, Yukon. It has been upgraded to all-weather status but is a remote road: plan ahead for gas, food and lodging as services are limited along the route.


While the Yukon is landlocked except for a short section along the Arctic’s Beaufort Sea, many travelers enjoy the regularly scheduled ferry service from Bellingham, WA, Vancouver and Prince Rupert, BC up to Alaska’s Inside Passage. From Haines, Alaska, one can then drive Highway 3 through a portion of BC and into Haines Junction, Yukon and meet up with the Alaska Highway Similarly, Highway 2 runs north from Sitka, Alaska to just outside Whitehorse and then to points beyond. All along the Inside Passage, the scenery is breathtaking and the route is teeming with eagles, whales and other wildlife. Reservations are required; call 1-800-642-0066 for Alaska Ferry information, or 1-250-386-3431 for BC Ferry schedules.


Scheduled motor coach service to the Yukon is available from Anchorage and Fairbanks, Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta and Vancouver.


By Air - The Yukon is less than a day’s flight from any North American city. Daily flights run from Vancouver to Whitehorse; scheduled air service is also available from Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau, Alaska.

 

Yukon Museums
The following museums are just a few of the many historical sites that preserve the rich heritage and distinct culture of the Yukon.


The Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre in Whitehorse offers a unique and exciting look back to an ancient time of mammoth beasts and North America’s first people. Founded in 1997, the Centre provides visitors the opportunity to step back in time to learn and understand the significance of this era. Located just off the Alaska Highway south of the International Airport, the Centre is a multimedia exposition featuring life-sized exhibits of animals of the last Ice Age, interactive computer kiosks and dioramas depicting the unique landscape, flora and fauna of Beringia.


MacBride Museum, situated next to the Yukon River in Whitehorse is an interactive facility showcasing the natural and cultural history of the Yukon Territory. Visitors will find a diverse range of northern exhibit themes from the ancient people of Beringia to the Klondike gold fields. The museum displays two important historic buildings: Sam McGee’s cabin and the Government Telegraph Office.


The Yukon Transportation Museum in Whitehorse has everything from First Nations skin boats, snowshoes and dog sleds to a full-size replica of the Queen of the Yukon airplane.


Also in Whitgehorse, the Old Log Church Museum is an original log cathedral and an excellent example of pioneer architecture. Displays include early Anglican missionary work in the Yukon. Come learn the legend of the “Bishop Who Ate His Boots”


George Johnston Museum in Teslin is home to the largest Tlingit artifact collection in the Yukon. George Johnston was a famous Tlingit leader, trapper, trading post operator and photographer, whose camera captured First Nations life in the Yukon from the 1920s to 1940s. Also on display is a rare Tlingit gambling mat and Johnston’s 1928 Chevrolet car, the first of its kind in the area.


The Teslin Tlingit Heritage Centre showcases their art through a collections of carved masks, bentwood boxes, beadwork, snowshoes, hide and cloth garments, paintings, gaming pieces,and ceremonial regalia.


Keno City Mining Museum in Keno City features memorabilia dating from the town’s heyday as the largest silver producer in North America.
Kluane Museum of Natural History, in Burwash Landing displays some of the finest mounted wildlife exhibits in the Yukon.


Northern Lights Centre in Watson Lake features a 50-foot tilted dome to experience the northern lights inside a special multi-media planetarium theater and a star projection system capable of projecting 2,354 stars onto the dome.

 

Yukon Arts and Festivals
The Kluane Mountain Bluegrass Festival welcomes the warm weather of early June in Haines Junction. Yukon musicians and an enthusiastic audience sing, play and dance in one of the world’s most beautiful settings.


Each July, in the heart of the Klondike, the Dawson City Music Festival stretches for three wonderful days under the Midnight Sun. The festival is famous for the talented musicians it has been attracting for over 40 years. It is known nationally as “Canada’s tiny, perfect festival” and among Yukoners as the party not to be missed.


In Teslin, Inland Tlingit and Coastal Tlingit people come together every second summer in odd years to share their culture through the Ha Kus Teyea Celebration, with events such as canoeing, storytelling, cultural demonstrations and traditional dance performances.

 

Yukon First Nations
The Yukon’s First Nations people share a special understanding of life in the North. They have been at home with the land for thousands of years, making their living by hunting, trapping and fishing. In years past, many First Nations groups dispersed into small family bands during the winter and spring but came together in summer to catch spawning salmon, and in fall to hunt migrating caribou. The majority of Yukon First Nations peoples belong to one of the Athabaskan or Tlingit language families: Gwich’in (Old Crow), Han (Dawson City), Northern Tutchone (Mayo, Carmacks, Pelly Crossing), Southern Tutchone (Whitehorse, Haines Junction, Burwash Landing, Champagne), Kaska (Ross River, Watson Lake, Upper Liard), Tagish (Tagish), Tlingit (Carcross, Teslin) and Upper Tanana (Beaver Creek).
 

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