On July 15th, 1897, the steamship “Portland” and her crew of 68 returned from their journey into Canada’s Yukon Territory and arrived in the American city of Seattle with today’s equivalent of thirty million dollars in gold on board. It turned out to be the richest gold strike in North American mining history.1 What would soon follow would be one of the most hectic, dangerous, and exciting gold rushes of all time: The Klondike Gold Rush of 1897. Not only would it be the cause of a giant migration of individuals from the United States into Canada’s Yukon Territory, but it would also attract an abundance of media attention in North America, and abroad.
The Klondike Gold Rush was instrumental to the popularization and romanticizing of the Yukon in the late 1800’s. Just as well, through the power of the media and literary works that the gold rush inspired, the Yukon had a newfound culture, and the myth of Canada’s Yukon Territory being a barren wasteland was replaced with the idea that the Yukon was a place of wonder and adventure.
Without the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897, there would have been no media attention directed at the Yukon. Just as well, the Yukon would not have been popularized or romanticized by literature without the gold rush. Finally, a large population in the form of Dawson City would not have been able to be sustained without the hope of riches that the gold rush provided. In short, the public image of Canada’s Northwest region may never have been solidified as more than a barren wasteland without the Klondike Gold Rush.
In the year 1897, when the Klondike Gold Rush began, Canada was in a harsh economic climate. A situation some blamed on the failure of union or government railway policy. However, it is more likely that the economic weakening Canada endured was due to the “Long Depression”, a worldwide price recession that lasted just over two decades.
Essentially, because the protectionist policies of…