Yukon Nuggets

  • Gold Hill on Bonanza. Date: ca. 1903. Yukon Archives. H.C. Barley fonds, #4846.

  • Partial panorama of Grand Forks, showing at a distance the Bonanza Hotel, Vendome Hotel, and Eldorado Hotel. Date: July 1903. Yukon Archives. H.C. Barley fonds, #4754.

1899 Yukon Nuggets

Klondike Creeks


It's easy to think of Dawson City as the focal point of the Klondike Gold Rush. But in 1899, Dawson wasn't the biggest community in the Klondike.

In the days before people commuted to work, they lived where the jobs were. So it was in the Klondike. Towns sprang up like wild fire. When the Mounties took the census in 1899, Granville on Dominion Creek registered 4,917 people. Dawson City could claim only four thousand 236 residents.

There were other substantial communities on the creeks...all complete with hotels, stores, restaurants and schools. Grand Forks on Bonanza Creek had three thousand 540 residents. It was called Grand Forks because it was situated at the meeting point of Bonanza and Eldorado Creeks...the richest in the Klondike.

But the year of dredging for gold was fast approaching. The littly guy with his little claim wouldn't last much longer. Bear Creek was headquarters of the Canadian Klondike Mining company, later to become the Yukon Consolidated Gold Corporation. When Joe Boyle built the first Klondike dredge and began buying up concessions, the communities in the Klondike began to disappear. But none with the flourish of Grand Forks.

In March of 1921, YCGC made known its plan for the summer dredging season. Grand Forks, located just 13 miles from Dawson, would be buried beneath tons of rock and gravel when work would begin on Gold Hill. And so it was, as the dredges turned the Klondike Valley upside down.

Bear Creek became the company town, and YCGC workers who didn't live there commuted from Dawson City. Times had changed from the early days when townsites bloomed at Hunker, Sulphur, Dominion, Quartz and other rich streams in 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.