Yukon Nuggets

  • Interior view of a telephone office. Date: 1901. Yukon Archives. Adam & Larkin fonds, #9148.

  • View of the exterior of the general merchandise store on Second Avenue in Dawson. The two glass windows display tins of fruit and a wide variety of clothing. Date: 1900. Yukon Archives. H.C. Barley fonds, #4717.

1899 Yukon Nuggets

Hardship introduction


Klondike characters are often depicted as rugged individuals who could withstand every kind of hardship. Indeed, tales of the klondike trails are filled with misery brought on by cold, isolation, failure and greed. Well, some of it is true, but not all.

Dawson City newspapers at the turn of the century paint a picture quite different from what we've come to believe were the hardships of the Klondike. For example, Dawson had its own telephone and telegraph service in 1899. The value of real estate in this city of gold was 20 million dollars and fully five million was spent on development in 1899.

The first brick building was built using bricks from a yard five miles down river from the town. Weekly mail service was guaranteed summer and winter. There is more, and the facts don't lie.

In 1899, there were 25 doctors and 10 dentists operating in the city. If you didn't like the service at the two public hospitals, you could try your luck and spend your money at any of three private facilities. Five dairies provided fresh milk daily. You could take dirty clothes to any one of 12 laundries.

165 kids went to school, some of them to one of the two private schools in the city. Trouble with the law? There were 25 lawyers ready to get you off the hook. Want to see a picture show? Choose any of three theatres. There lots of hotels, 12 of which were described at "first class". Restaurants and cafes in this city of 5000 permanent residents...40. And they got their fresh vegetables from 12 market gardens in the area.

The government took in over two hundred thousand dollars from the sale of liquour, licenses and booze-related court fines. And if you wanted to repent, four churches were there to hear your confessions.

Hardships? Yes, there were many. But the endless list of amenities shows that most of them were probably self-inflicted by the great characters of the Klondike.


A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin.

Les McLaughlin

Les McLaughlin

As storyteller, radio man, and music producer, Les proved a passionate preserver of Yukon heritage throughout his life — nowhere more evident than as the author and voice of CKRW’s “Yukon Nuggets,” from its inception until his passing in 2011.