1899 Yukon Nuggets
In those heady days of 1898-99, the Klondike kings had money - or gold - to burn. They were also starved for entertainment and they wanted the best. Saloon owners were prepared to oblige.
There were many Klondike entertainers, most of them skilled in the art of separating a prospector from his poke, often legally. Perhaps the best of the bunch was Cad Wilson. She was brought to Dawson by the Tivolo and Orpheum theatres at the highest salary ever paid a Pacific coast entertainer.
She was a small redhead who, the Klondike Nugget reported, was no raving beauty and who couldn't sing all that well either. But she quickly became the miners' choice with her salty brand of humour and relatively risqué songs. The miners lapped it up and often showered her with gold nuggets as she performed.
When a bunch of Eldorado miners were arguing about who had the largest nugget, they decided to put their biggest and best in a belt and give it to Cad Wilson. The belt was so stunning that a local store put it on display for a week.
The Nugget, reviewing a benefit concert which was billed as family entertainment, said Cad made no new friends for herself with her risqué performance. "Her audacity", it said, "caused applause from the back of the room, but the ladies in front hung their heads and their escorts wished they had never brought them".
Cad Wilson didn't seem to mind. The review merely solidified her status with the miners with the money. One miner was so smitten by Cad that he ordered a bath tub of wine at twenty dollars a bottle for her to bathe in. Cad took the bath, but the miner who paid for the wine wasn't allowed to scrub her back.
Her theme song was 'Such a Nice Girl Too'. It became a catch phrase which was often heard on the streets and in the saloons of Dawson.
When Cad Wilson left the Yukon, it was estimated she took with her over $30,000 and the gaudy, but very expensive Gold Nugget belt.
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin.