1965 Yukon Nuggets
Dick North has always quietly gone about his business of research and writing. And now, quietly, he has joined elite company, including Wayne Gretzky’s dad and a former Supreme Court judge, as the newest members of the Order of Canada.
Dick made the exclusive list "for his ongoing commitment to the preservation and promotion of the history of the Yukon Territory as an author, journalist and historian," reads the citation.
Through the years, the 78-year-old Dawson resident has written four books on important historical subjects. They are "Arctic Exodus", "The Mad Trapper of Rat River", "Trackdown" and "The Lost Patrol".
During his work, Dick became an expert on Jack London, the author who spent a winter in the Yukon during the Gold Rush, and who gathered enough information to become one of North America ’s most treasured writers.
In the early sixties, Dick re-discovered the cabin where London spent the winter. London had arrived in the Yukon in September of 1897 as a 21-year-old prospector. The discovery of the cabin is quite a saga. It was built just before the Gold Rush, on the North Fork of Henderson Creek, in the Stewart River area.
The cabin was abandoned after the Gold Rush and discovered by trappers in 1936 who noted Jack London’s signature on the back wall. That was conclusive proof that London had lived in the cabin, but little attention was paid back then.
In 1965, North organized a new search for the cabin. Since the dwelling was of historical interest to both Canada and the United States, two identical cabins were reconstructed. One is now in Dawson City, while the other was assembled at Jack London Square in Oakland, California, London’s hometown.
Each cabin has half the original logs. Dick also worked hard to establish the Jack London interpretive centre in Dawson. The site contains photos, documents, newspaper articles and other artifacts.
Today, life is a little less adventurous for North, who is cataloguing his life’s work which, Dick says, is enough to keep him very busy.
Dick North is the 27th Yukoner to be awarded the Order of Canada.
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin.