Discover Treasures

Regions: Klondike Communities: Carmacks, Dawson City
Themes: Heritage & Culture Categories: Heritage & Culture

The adventure starts at Carmacks, named after George Carmack, an American prospector and one of the co-discoverers (along with Skookum Jim and his two nephews, Dawson Charlie and Patsy Henderson) of Klondike gold.

Carmacks and the surrounding region are the Traditional Territory of the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation. Long ago, the Northern Tutchone established fish camps here and traded with Tagish, Tlingit and Southern Tutchone people. The Tagé Cho Hudän Interpretive Centre features Northern Tutchone culture, including one-of-a-kind items made by past and present local Elders.

The North Klondike Highway curves north into the Pelly River Valley. First built as a construction camp for the highway, Pelly Crossing later became home to the Selkirk First Nation people who left their riverside settlement at Fort Selkirk. Big Jonathan House, Selkirk First Nation’s cultural centre, is a replica of the original building at Fort Selkirk. Exhibits feature a model of a fish camp. Look for locally-made birch bark baskets and beaded moose hide slippers and admire the carvings, especially masks made in birch, alder and cedar.

From here, head to Dawson, the heart of the Klondike Gold Rush, and the first city in Western Canada to have electric street lights and an opera house. The spirit of ’98 brought gold seekers, entrepreneurs, dance hall girls, poets and schemers to the Klondike. Check with the Visitor Information Centre for walking tours that reveal amazing tales.

During the Gold Rush, the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in (Hän) moved to a nearby camp called Moosehide, located five kilometres downriver from Dawson on the Yukon River. This became home for decades to come. The Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre shares the historical and contemporary culture of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in. The gift shop has delicate beadwork, local books, art and gifts. Visitors can enjoy hands-on activities including beading and wildcrafting with local plants.

A century into Dawson's evolution, the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture (KIAC) was formed. Part art venue and part community hub, find contemporary art exhibitions in the ODD Gallery and events in the KIAC Ballroom. Its residencies attract artists from all over the world, adding an international flavour to the creative flow.

Gold Rush tenacity continues today. Dawson is home to goldsmiths, painters, photographers, milliners and more. Jewellers work with gold nuggets and mammoth ivory, prized local materials unearthed by current mining activities. Peruse downtown galleries and jewelry stores, and weekly artists’ and farmers’ markets. Find woodcut prints, mosaics and nature photography in the gift shop at the Dawson City Museum.

For more about the artists and places to see art see Arts Listings.

Dawson City