Heritage, Arts & Culture
Take a historic journey through the Klondike
Discover a cultural history richer than gold
If you’re heading north from Whitehorse, don’t wait to reach the Klondike to begin exploring the region’s history. Pull in at Carmacks for a guided tour of the Tagé Cho Hudän Interpretive Centre, complete with a giant mammoth snare—the only of its kind. You’ll be enriched by the Northern Tutchone culture and history on full display here. Once in Dawson, you can’t miss the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre, a striking presence on the banks of the Yukon River and your opportunity to discover the heritage and homeland of the first people of the Klondike, the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in.
Relive Dawson’s larger-than-life legacy
Once in Dawson, you don’t have to look far to find historic sites—you’re standing in one! The core of Dawson City’s downtown is designated an official National Historic Site, with boardwalks that lead past restored heritage buildings brimming with stories. Kick off your Klondike tour at the elegant Commissioner’s Residence, built in 1901 and staffed by guides in period dress. Stroll back in time at the Dawson City Museum, home to Yukon’s largest historical collection. Then stop by the very cool Canadian Bank of Commerce where Klondikers’ gold was bought and melted into bricks for shipping, minus a few nuggets for going out on the town.
Get an insider’s look at the rustic cabin life that inspired the literary legends Jack London and “bard of the Yukon” Robert Service. Enjoy the added charm of a dramatic reading from Parks Canada guides decked out in Klondike style. From there, strike out to the goldfields to tour another Klondike must-see at Dredge No. 4 National Historic Site. Marvel at how the search for gold evolved from rustic gold pans to giant mechanical dredges and back again.
Now that's entertainment
All work and no play would make for a dull town. But no one ever accused Dawson City of that! Cue the Palace Grand Theatre on King Street, an impressively accurate replica of Dawson’s original 1899 theatre. Looking out from the balcony, it’s easy to imagine the wild west shows and sophisticated operas that graced the old wood-paneled stage. Catch a live show here. Or, for another slice of Dawson “after hours,” spend an evening at Canada’s first (and friendliest) gambling hall, Diamond Tooth Gerties. This lasting legacy from the olden days is still going strong. You don’t want to miss it.
Follow the bends in the river
Before there were roads, there were rivers. Climb aboard the docked S.S. Keno National Historic Site, a sternwheeler that a century ago still traversed the Yukon River, hauling silver, lead and zinc from Mayo to Stewart City. If you’re here in the summer, take to the water to visit historic sites accessible only by boat. Closest to town is Moosehide Village, alive with Tr’ondek Hwech’in culture and tradition. Plan your visit to coincide with the biennial Moosehide Gathering and join the cultural jam session, with live drumming, singing and amazing traditional food. A unique cultural event that will stay with you long after the drums fade.
Journey north or “downstream” to the Yukon’s oldest townsite, Forty Mile—a former trading post and trapping spot for the Han and Tanana people. Prospectors first took to these shores on their hunt for gold, but when news from the goldfields spread, the miners quickly fled. The settlement became a ghost town of the Klondike, charmingly preserved in time.
Discover the lost city
If you’re into hard-to-reach historical destinations, don’t miss the forgotten fortress of Fort Selkirk. The only way to reach the site is to book a boat tour, hire a charter flight or paddle your trusty canoe. Embark on an exciting adventure to this remote former trading post with more than 40 restored buildings on site. Take the time to re-discover and re-imagine this colourful chapter in Canadian history, and witness the past come to life. After all, isn’t that what historic sites are all about?