- Oct 2021
The reality of the history of Canada’s mining industry makes #SquidGame look like child’s play.
“The truth is that all of the gold that was mined out of the Klondike was under Indigenous land. There was no treaty with any of the Indigenous peoples in the Yukon.”
“That land was stolen by the Canadian state and that gold was whisked away by private interests. The Federal Government only signed land claims with Indigenous peoples in the Yukon in the 1990s, but by that point, almost all the gold had been mined out of the ground.”
“The Klondike gold rush was a rolling disaster that captured tens of thousands of people. When the first European explorers came to the Americas, they came here looking for gold. In the 1890s, that lust for precious metals eventually led men to the farthest reaches of this continent.”
“Today, instead of 100,000 people descending on a small patch of land, you have large corporations digging treasures out of the ground. But the legacies these mining operations leave behind are just like what happened in the Klondike: workers with broken bodies, environmental destruction, the dispossession of Indigenous land, sexual violence. The gold rushes never stopped. They just morphed into something different.”
- May 2017
Yukon Gold Company
The Yukon Gold Company was a gold mining company during the late 19th century, extending into the 20th century. The Yukon Gold Company was a major player in the Klondike, or Yukon, Gold Rush. When the Klondike Gold Rush began, most of the mining was performed by hand. In order to create dredges, placer gold mining machines that extract gold from sand or dirt using water and mechanical methods, miners had to find financial support (Gates). The major mining companies during the early 1900s were the Yukon Gold Company and the Canadian Klondike Mining Company. These companies merged into the Yukon Consolidated Gold Corporation (YCGC), or “The Company,” in 1923. By 1934, The Company was operating five dredges (Bostock). As the YCGC expanded, individuals created smaller mini gold rushes along the Indian and Stewart Rivers. During the 1930s, the general manager of the YCGC planned to expand the company by adding three additional dredges and new support facilities (Yukon Consolidated Gold Company Limited). The YCGC was largely successful in the 1930s due to the prevalence of cheap labor and materials, but the beginning of World War II quickly stunted this growth. The price of gold dropped significantly and the YCGC only briefly recovered to their pre-war prices in the late 1940s. The price of labor and materials increased until the YCGC stopped operation in 1966. Images of the gold dregs can be found below.
References: Bostock, H. S. "The Mining Industry of Yukon, 1934." Canada Department of Mines Geological Survey, 2387th ser. (1935). Accessed May 03, 2017. http://yukondigitallibrary.ca/Publications/MiningIndustryYukon1934/Mining%20Industry%20of%20Yukon%201934.pdf
"Fonds yuk-971 - The Yukon Consolidated Gold Corporation Limited fonds." The Yukon Consolidated Gold Corporation Limited fonds - Alberta On Record. Accessed May 03, 2017. https://albertaonrecord.ca/yukon-consolidated-gold-corporation-limited-fonds.
Gates, Michael. Yukon News. September 02, 2011. Accessed May 03, 2017. http://www.yukon-news.com/letters-opinions/when-the-monster-machines-ruled-the-creeks
- Apr 2017
Klondike gold rush of 1898
The Klondike gold rush is characterized by the vast movement of white prospectors through the Mackenzie Valley in pursuit of Yukon gold fields. This mass of white prospectors were primarily American. Prospectors primarily entered the valley through the Chilkoot Pass, which was a lower area of mountains that allowed prospectors to haul equipment into the valley. This movement elicited issues of land and border disputes that involved indigenous peoples and the United States and Canadian governments. Indigenous people lived on lands that were being entered by prospectors and the Canadian government wished to keep the northern territories peaceful for the use of extracting the valuable resource of gold. So, with the signing of Treaty 8 by Queen Victoria, First Nations from the Lesser Slave Lake area were displaced to an area roughly 840,000 square kilometers. With these actions of the Klondike Gold Rush and the signing of Treaty 8, “Americans and Britons successfully sought gold, displaced native groups, and lived together peaceably” (Arenson, 375-376).
The second major issue that arose during the 1898 Klondike Gold Rush was the dispute between Canadian and American lands. The disagreement occurred along the Alaskan Panhandle where the small towns of Dyea and Skagway were located. These vital port towns allowed access into the Yukon Territory (Petrakos, 366). The port towns were so valuable because they allowed people and supplies to pour into and out of the Yukon Territory. This being said, they were highly profitable, which increased tensions on the dispute over these towns. Canada feared that their land claims on the panhandle would be disregarded as the large migration of Americans to the panhandle area began to overrun the existing Canadian population present on the panhandle. This fear of disputed land spread into the Yukon gold fields as an excessive amount of Americans began to seek their Manifest Destiny. With this anxiety of American migration to the Klondike, the Canadian Government began to advocate for the movement of Canadian miners and the creation of Canadian infrastructure in the Yukon gold fields. This action came in hopes to increase the Canadian presence in the region and to bolster Canadians position in the Yukon Territory.
As a second measure to solidify Canadian territory and the border between Alaska and the Yukon Territory, the Canadian Government dispatched, “the North-West Mounted Police into the territory to establish Canadian sovereignty. These mounted police not only brought law and order to the territory, they also successfully created a border point at the Chilkoot Pass. Chilkoot Pass was the main trail for those who came to the area through the port city of Dyea (Wharton, 1972). The deployment of Mounties was highly important because at the same time the United States had flooded the disputed territory with American troops to protect American claim on the territory. Overall, the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898 was an important instance of Canadian-American border defining and the continued expulsion of aboriginal tribes for the extraction of natural resources.<br> Caption: The Chilkoot Pass in the midst of the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898. Prospectors hike up the frigid pass often making multiple trips to haul all of their gear through the pass.<br> Source: Archives Canada
Arenson, Adam. 2007. "Anglo-Saxonism in the Yukon: The Klondike Nugget and American-British Relations in the “Two Wests”; 1898-1901." Pacific Historical Review 76 (3): 373-404.
Petrakos, Christopher. 2016. "William Ogilvie, the Klondike Borderlands and the Making of the Canadian West." The American Review of Canadian Studies 46 (3): 362-379.
Wharton, David. 1972. The Alaska Gold Rush. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.