1894 Yukon Nuggets
Inspector Charles Constantine
The first mountie to serve in the Yukon district was born in England. He joined the Northwest Mounted Police in Manitoba in 1885. His trip to the Yukon in 1894, insured that the Klondike gold rush would be much more peaceful than most.
In 1894, Inspector Charles Constantine along with Staff Sergeant Charles Brown were ordered by the Canadian government to inspect the Yukon gold fields. Even before the great Klondike strike, Constantine saw first hand how American miners were controlling Canadian territory. The laws of Canada simply did not apply. In the fall of 1894, Constantine returned to Ottawa and recommended a substantial force of Mounted Police was needed in the Yukon. He returned in 1895, with a party of only 20 mounties. Here at Forty Mile, they built Fort Constantine, the most northerly police post of its day.
Now Constantine was the all powerful Canadian official in the Yukon. He was magistrate, judge and jury. He was also the land agent, the gold commissioner and the customs officer. Then in 1896, the big strike was made. Constantine knew his busy duties were about to get busier. He asked Ottawa for additional men and 20 more Mounties joined the force in the Yukon. All were armed with machine guns and Lee Metford rifles. This was the first show of Canadian sovereignty in the Yukon. And Constantine ruled with an iron fist. He initiated the blue ticket policy. Offenders were given a one way ticket out and warned not to return.
It was Constantine in his role as gold commissioner who decided that the name for a soon to become world famous river, would be Klondike. It was a word the miners used after an Indian name meaning salmon river. Constantine's days an all powerful government official ended in 1898 when Canada declared the Yukon a separate territory and appointed a former mountie W A Walsh to be the first Commissioner of the Yukon.
Walsh and Constantine disagreed on just about everything and in June of that Year, Charles Constantine was transferred out of the territory. But he had left a legacy of law and order and had insured that Canadian's not American's, set the rules in the Klondike.
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin.