Louis Bouvette arrived in the Yukon in 1901 and joined the Duncan Creek stampede. He was not lucky there, but stayed in the area to prospect for gold. In 1918, Bouvette found silver-rich galena during a hunting trip on Sheep Mountain. The following summer he prospected further and staked a claim called Roulette. An assay of the ore from Roulette indicated a very rich 200-300 ounces of silver per ton.
Several of Bouvette's friends staked claims on the newly named Keno Hill and most were successful in selling their claims to a bigger mining company. The Yukon Gold Co. established Keno Hill Ltd. to manage their properties in 1920. Keno Hill Ltd. shipped the first ore that winter and the silver mine was called the richest in Canada.
Jack Pickering and James Greenfield, early stakers on Keno Hill, formed a company to haul the ore 40 miles to Mayo Landing, where it was loaded onto the steamers. John Kinman's cabin, on the trail above Lightning Creek, was a stopping point on the haul road. It became Keno City, with three hotels, a liquor store and a post office. Keno City's population declined after 1923, when cat trains took over from horses and it was no longer necessary to stop along the route.
Gold Before Silver
Prospectors exploring the Stewart River drainage found gold on tributaries of the McQuesten River in 1892 and 1894. During and after the Gold Rush, gold seekers spread out over the Yukon searching for another rich strike. The Stewart River was a prime target. The Gustaveson family, a father and two sons, were the first to discover gold on what would be called Duncan Creek in 1898. They mined for two years and recovered a rumoured $30,000 worth of gold, but never staked a claim.
In 1901 Duncan Patterson and three companions: Colin Hamilton, Allen McIntosh and Jake Davidson, saw the Gustavesons on their way to Dawson City and, finding the mine, staked claims on Duncan Creek and a fork called Lightning Creek. News of the rich strike spread, and Duncan Creek was staked from the headwaters to the mouth by 1902. Duncan Patterson's party took out gold worth approximately $45,000 in 1902, $30,000 in 1903, and $15,000 in 1904. One of the four, Jake Davidson, also staked the first silver claim in the Duncan Creek area, although he immediately let it lapse and went to prospect in the Beaver River area.