In the summer of 1998 I canoed down The Yukon River from Whitehorse to Dawson City, in my Triton Folding Canoe from Mother Russia, then rode my mountain bike from Dawson City, Yukon Territory to Anchorage, Alaska.
This page is dedicated to my time spent on the Yukon.
For those of you who thought canoeing down The Yukon consisted of aimlessly drifting down the river are you in for a surprise. Your trip will be a veritable Canadian history tour with stops at old woodcamps, turn of the century N.W.M.P outposts, abandoned mining settlements, trapper's cabins and more.
This site will explore just a few of the many historic places you will run into on your trip, starting with the crossing of Lake Labarge in Robert Service Country.
The Cremation Of Sam McGee
There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By Robert Wm. Service (1874-1958)
Lake Lebarge - 52 mile mark
Lake Lebarge is noted for it's strong and sudden storms lasting anywhere from several hours to all day. Because of the possibility of a sudden change in the weather and the size of the lake, 30 miles long and 2 to 3 miles wide, whichever side of the lake you start on plan on staying on during your crossing. Most people choose the east shore which offers many sheltered bays, protected coves and pebbled beaches. Whichever side you chose for your crossing if the water gets rough or you see white horses get off the lake.
Livingstone Trail - Located at the 55 mile mark on the east side of of the lake is the Livingstone Trail. The trail which is visible from the shore goes over to the Teslin River which at the turn of the century had a supply outpost for the Livingstone Creek gold diggings.
If you hike the trail for a short distance you run into a small perfectly circular pond. The pond was dry last year except for a small puddle in its center. You could see the bear tracks in the mud going out to the middle of the pond for water.
Because of the strong current of the Yukon if you know something is coming up you want to see make sure your on the right side of the river close to shore and ready to land. If you miss your location you won't be able to go back. At the end of Lake Laberge and the beginning of Canada's 30 mile heritage river is Joe Creek Village. Here you will find a abandoned cabin and the remains of several old trucks. If you walk around the back of the cabin the wild roses may be in bloom. You can either camp at Joe Creek Village or there is a potential campsite on the other side of the river shortly downstream.
At one time there were 100 -150 woodcamps along the Yukon each producing 200-300 cord of wood to supply the riverboats with boiler fuel. It was necessary to have woodyards spaced throughout their route so when out of fuel the paddleboats could just stop at the next woodyard and resupply. Here, at Old Camp 17 you can view the remains of one 2 roomed cabin and the remnants of others. There's also a latrine and firepit. There's and indescribable exhilaration and sense of history that comes from camping at some of these historic sites. You get a real feeling for what the lives of the people who lived and worked in these settlements might have been like.
On an island in the middle of nowhere there she stands majestically and proud, the remains of the steamer "Evelyn". I met one fellow there who was in tears because of the way she deteriorated in recent years. The last time he was there was 10 years ago. A point to ponder that the remains of these woodcamps, trappers cabins, the Evelyn and Yukon Crossing are all deterioating a little more each year and if you want to see them you have to do it soon.
In the spring of 1940 Cyr and Boyd Gordon of Whitehorse built a gold dredge out of parts made from a 1930 Catepillar tractor. Despite the fact that they found 70 ounces of flower gold they didn't return the next year. The price of gold at the time was $32 an ounce amounting to $2,240 for 70 ounces. The dredge cost an estimated $10,000 to build. Here you can view the remains of their dredge
Located at approximately the halfway mark between Whitehorse and Dawson is the town of Carmacks, a community of 500 named after George Washington Carmacks, one of the co-discoverer"s of Klondike gold. The town has hotels, restaurants, campgrounds, a general store, bank, post office and a laudromat and nursing station. Almost 1/4 of the canoers end their trip here at Carmacks. Whitehorse to Carmacks is a nice 5 to 6 day trip and is the only place you can resupply until reaching Dawson City.
In 1897, geologist G.M. Dawson found seams of coal here, part of a large deposit extending to Carmacks. C.J. Miller started the area's first mine at this location. The original workings, located under the river have filled with water and collapsed. However you can still view the entranceways to the mine here. Five Finger Coal Mine makes an excellent campsite. As you paddle along the rivers edge you can see the seams of coal extending about a foot above the river.
Winter travel from Dawson to Whitehorse initally followed the Yukon River ice. Increased traffic led to the replacement of the traditional dogsled with horses: Then the building of The Overland Trail in 1902 shortened the trip by 160 km. Here, at Mckay's Roadhouse, the road crossed the river using either horse-drawn sleighs or ferries. "Mckay's Crossing" eventually became known as Yukon Crossing. Here you can see the remains of 3 of the roadhouses. If you walk back into the woods the stagecoach trail is still visible. Yukon crossing has a latrine and makes a nice campsite.
The Yukon Field Force was established in 1898 and based her at Fort Selkirk. The Yukon Field Force had three objectives. To enforce the gold and liquor tax, to keep peace among the miners and to enforce the sovereignty of the Yukon for Canada which at the time was inhabited mainly by foreigners. Unlike the U.S. Canada tries to preserve it's history where economically possibly. The settlement is in the process of being restored by work crews from Selkirk 1st Nations as a reminder of the historic communities which once thrived along the Yukon. Here you can view the Hudson's Bay Trading Co. store, Protestant and Catholic churches, the town schoolhouse, officer and enlisted mens quarters and Fort Selkirk cemetary. Fort Selkirk has potable water, latrines, firepits and free campsites
No trip down the Yukon is complete without stopping at Coffee John's Bodnarek's
on Coffee Creek. Located at the 360 mile make on the S.W. side of the Yukon.
Coffee John's is easily identifiable by his raised flag which reads "Welcome
to Coffee Creek".
John allows camping there for a $4.00 fee per tent which includes bear protection
courtesy of his 2 dogs which will sleep by your tents at night.
There is a short referance to Coffee John and his lifestyle on page 100 of the
July 98' issue of National Geographic.
John also sells little hand carved bears he carves during the winter as souvenirs
to the canoeists.
(2000 update) There is no more camping at Coffee Creek. John passed away January 30, 1999. If you stop there is a craving of a bear with his memorial on it.
There are approximately and in the Yukon. Almost everywhere you camp along the Yukon there is evidence of bears, ranging from tracks in the soft ground along the river to bear scat, to markings on the trees. As long as you triangulate your campsite and keep it clean you should be fine. However, if you sight some bears close to your camp you may want to move several miles downstream.
Yes, if you plan on fishing you will need a Yukon Fishing License cost 35.00 C.D.
The two main types of fish are artic grayling and pike. However, fishing on the
Yukon can be tricky. One good technique is to troll a black streamer behind your
canoe. (Make sure the streamer is black another color will not work.) This should
be good for 2 or 3 fish a day just by trolling your streamer behind your canoe as
you paddle down the river. For pike try casting plugs in the slower water behind the islands.
For grayling try fishing where the smaller streams and tributaries merge with
(2000 update) Because of the Salmon conservation Project you must use a single-pointed barbless hook, with a distance of 2 cm (3/4 in.) or less between the point and the shank, while angling in the following waters from June 1 to October 15: Yukon River, Teslin River, Takhini River, Klondike River, Smart River, Morley River, Lapie River, Blind Creek.
Water will have to be treated to make it safe for drinking. Some people bring along a 1 quart steam kettle and boil the water for ten minutes. Others prefer to use any of the number of commercially available water filters. Where the White River merges with the Yukon at the 391 mile mark and after you will need a bucket to let the glacial silt in the water settle before filtering so you won't clog your water filter.
The trip from Whitehorse to Dawson can be made in 10 to 14 days with most outfitters allowing 16 days for the trip which leaves plenty of time for fishing, hiking, layovers on Lake Labarge due to bad weather etc. The length of the trip is 430 miles and there are no portages or rapids. The rapids were dynamited years ago by the Canadian Government to accommodate the sternwheelers and paddleboats which went down the Yukon from Whitehorse to Dawson City.
So dat's de reason I drink tonight
To de men of de Grand Nor' Wes',
For hees heart was young, an' hees heart was light
So long as he's leevin' dere-
I'm proud of de sam' blood in my vein,
I'm a son of de Nort' Win wance again-
So we'll fill her up till de bottle's drain,
An' drink to de Voyageur
By William Henry Drummond (1854-1907) The bard of the fur trade.
The Ministers Permit permit allows multiple entries into Canada at any port for a period of one or two years for vacation or business travel. It can take between three weeks and three months to process and must be produced upon making entry into the country.
Rehabilitation is proof to the Canadian government that you have led a stable lifestyle with little indication that there will ever be any involvement in further criminal activity. You qualify for rehabilitation 5 years upon completion of the sentence (excluding probation) A rehabilitation pass is permanent approval of admissability to Canada and never needs to be renewed. It is valid for multiple entries at any port. Rehabilitation may take up to one year to process. Due to the lengthy waiting period, it is advisable to apply for a Ministers Permit first.
Galactic Highway Signs
Yukon Territory information
Call out the Dogs at www. dogears.com
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA)
Follow the migration of the Caribou Herd in the Yukon and Alaska