Yukon Nuggets

  • Pattullo Bridge from New Westminster to Surrey.

1937 Yukon Nuggets

Pattullo annexes the Yukon


In my search for Yukon Nuggets, stories from our fabled past, I have often come across strange - sometimes bizarre - tales.

Most recently, a story surfaced for which I have no explanation, nor could I find anything to prove the event actually occurred except to tell you that it was a feature article in that most trustworthy of publications, Time Magazine.

Here as Robert Service would say, are the simple facts of the case - as written on May 10th, 1937. I leave it to you to judge the truth of the tale.

We have heard in previous Nugget broadcasts how Duff Pattullo, once Premier of British Columbia, got his start in politics during his eight-year stay in Dawson City at the turn of the 19th century. He was in Dawson during the gold rush and beyond, became a Member of the Yukon Territorial council and speaker of the Legislature. When he left the Yukon in 1908, he was elected to the BC legislature and subsequently became Premier in 1933. That job lasted ten years. Pattullo always had an interest in the Yukon. As it turns out that interest was more than nostalgia for his earlier political days in the Territory.

Pattullo wanted to take the Yukon with him when he left and, according to the Time Magazine story of May 10th, 1937, he did just that. In that issue, Time reported that "BC Premier Duff Pattullo announced last week that British Columbia had closed a deal with the Government of Canada to take over Yukon Territory."

Time Magazine went on to say that "As soon as British Columbia's Legislature signs on the dotted line, that province will become, next to Quebec, the largest in Canada. From maps of Canada, said Time, "will disappear the colorful Yukon Territory, made famous by the discovery of gold in 1896 and the hairy-chested poems of Robert William Service."

"Yukon's sole representative in the Dominion Parliament since October 1935 has been Mrs. George Black, a dashing woman who left Chicago to join the gold rush of 1898."


Time reported that Mrs. Black exploded angrily last week when Premier Pattullo announced his acquisition and expressed "surprise" that no statement had been made "either in Parliament or by the Prime Minister."


Time continued: "By no means reluctant was the Dominion to surrender control of the Yukon, which has cost it nearly eleven million dollars for its development with almost no direct return to Ottawa. Cheerfully, said Time, the federal Government consented to make an annual grant to British Columbia of $125,000 for five years to help meet the expense of taking over.

So what to make of this story. We know that the Yukon did not join BC back in 1937. What we don't know is where they got the information of how close the federal government came to handing the Yukon over to British Columbia in 1937.


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.

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