In the summer of 1896, the upper Yukon River drainage was populated by four linguistically separate First Nation populations and about 200 white prospectors, traders and North-West Mounted Police. For the most part, the two cultures lived separately, with Anglican missionaries and traders in common. All of the traders and some of the prospectors were married to First Nation women.
A Tagish woman, Kate (Shaaw Tláa), and her non-native husband, George Carmack, had been apart from her family for a few years when her eldest brother and head of the family, “Skookum” James Mason (Keish), came to visit in 1896 bringing his two nephews Charlie (Káa Goox) and Patsy (Kùlsìn).
Skookum Jim, George Carmack and Dawson Charlie were hunting when Skookum Jim discovered gold here on Bonanza Creek in August 1896. George Carmack recorded discovery claim at the first Yukon gold rush town of Forty Mile and gold fever spread from there to create the great Klondike stampede of 1898.
News of the 1896 Klondike gold strike was picked up by the major newspapers of the day. A trickle of experienced miners and prospectors turned into a flood of newcomers from every segment of North American society. Tlingit and Tagish packers tried to maintain their control of the Chilkoot Trail but sheer numbers overwhelmed their efforts and changed the Yukon forever.
During a global depression and the associated widespread unemployment in the 1890s, thousands of men and a few hundred women joined the Klondike Gold Rush. Most had no mining experience but their professional knowledge, career skills and entrepreneurial spirit contributed significantly to short-lived economic development in the Yukon.
Discovery Claim Trail
The Discovery Trail is a little over one kilometre long. Nodes one to four, along Bonanza Creek, interpret the nature of the cultural contact that took place at Discovery Claim. Nodes five to eleven explain placer mining history and techniques.