Southern lakes museums & cultural centres
There’s a long story behind this beautiful landscape
Get closer to the Yukon’s culture and traditions in the Southern Lakes region. Go gold panning with Klondike Mike, hear about Skookum Jim’s world-famous discovery and the early days of the gold rush, learn about the Teslin Tlingit people, and experience the impressive work of local carvers, beaders, and craftspeople—some of which you can take home with you.
With its wide array of exhibits and activities, Caribou Crossing Trading Post is the perfect place to get acquainted with the Southern Lakes region’s fascinating past. First, take a deep dive into some natural history at the Wildlife Museum. Their taxidermy displays let you see the Yukon’s favourite critters up close, which is an experience you can’t get in the wild. Next, make friends with some present-day animals at the petting zoo, take a dog cart ride, and if you really can’t get enough of the pups, hang out with the husky puppies for a while. Yes, you read that right. And once you’ve had your fair share of cuddle time, find your way to the Klondike gold panning exhibit. You’ll get to brush up on your gold rush history, get some hands-on panning experience, and the guide, Klondike Mike, will even show you some real gold.
Once you’ve perfected your panning technique, you can search the area for even more gold rush knowledge. Over at Skookum Jim House, you’ll learn more about Skookum Jim’s world-famous discovery and the early days of the gold rush. The house is located at the edge of the Chilkoot Trail, which used to be a transportation route during the gold rush. And the displays inside the house give some pretty cool insight into the trail’s role in the region’s rich history. You can even start learning about the local First Nations culture by taking a tour with the museum’s guides. What’s better than a captivating history lesson? A lively photographic lesson led by local Carcross Tagish staff members, of course.
On your way out of town, stop by the Carcross/Tagish First Nation Learning Centre. Known as the “crossing point,” the learning centre sits at the midpoint between Skagway and Whitehorse. So, when you pull up, you can officially say you’re halfway to Alaska. The building is also a gathering space where two cultures meet and share their history with visitors. Bright totem poles and walls make the exterior of the building feel totally inviting. Plus, the centre’s floor-to-ceiling windows let light pour in, which provides a pretty epic view of the landscape. And, honestly, learning about art and culture is just more fun with a view.
Carcross/Taglish First Nation Learning Centre
After Carcross, head over to the Teslin Tlingit Heritage Centre. The centre is as much a gathering place for the Teslin Tlingit people as it is an exhibition space, which makes the experience feel especially authentic. Your creative side will appreciate the interpretive exhibits and impressive work of local carvers, beaders, and craftspeople. And in the summer, we’d recommend attending one of the centre’s live demonstrations. Watching artists in action is sort of like watching the northern lights. You don’t know what in the world is happening, but it’s beautiful to watch.
Speaking of incredibly talented people, the George Johnston Museum is also in Teslin. Johnston was a trapper, a fur trader, a successful storekeeper, and an extremely gifted photographer. And just like the multi-talented man himself, the museum doesn’t like to stick to one medium. The displays feature dioramas, photographs, films, and artifacts which highlight the experiences of Johnston, the Inland Tlingits, and other Teslin Lake residents. And the gift shop is just as interesting and varied as the museum. Don’t worry, you won’t find any gimmicky items in this shop. But you will find unique Tlingit art and other mementos that will remind you of the area’s local charm.