Yukon Nuggets

  • Pelly River Farm. Yukon Archives. Richard Harrington fonds, #7661.

1901 Yukon Nuggets

Pelly River Ranch


It's a stunning oasis, looking more like something you'd find in Wyoming or Colorado. Yet not far south of the arctic circle lies the most northerly mixed farm in Canada. When I first visited the Pelly River ranch in the mid 70s, it was like traveling in a time capsule, going to a place which really shouldn't exist in the rugged, untamed Yukon. It's almost four hundred acres of rich farmland on the flat plain banks of the Pelly River. A narrow, winding dirt road running 35 miles from Pelly Crossing is one access to the farm. The other is up the Pelly river six miles by boat from Fort Selkirk. The laneway which enters the farm is covered with a colourful canopy of poplar trees.

The farm was first worked back in 1901 by Edward Menard who was a telegraph operator at Fort Selkirk. When I visited, it was owned by Hugh and Dick Bradley, who had bought the place from J.C. Wilkensen in 1954. An amazing site to see, this flat rich land which is back-dropped by rolling tree-covered hills. Here the Bradleys raised Hereford cattle - as many as 50 at a time. More than 200 chickens roamed at large and provided eggs which were sold all along the Klondike highway. The waving wheat fields made me want to sing the title song from the Broadway play Oklahoma, "where the waving wheat can sure smell sweet as the wind rolls gently on the plain." Oats and barley are also part of the grain mix. Cows and horses couldn't go hungry here.

And the gardens. Nothing like them anywhere in the north land. Literally tons of potatoes grow along side other root vegetables like turnips, carrots and beets. The original cabin, built in 1901 by Menard, is still there, as are other buildings typical of a farm anywhere in southern Canada.


And the Bradleys were friendly folk, even to an unannounced visitor who was probably interrupting the many daily chores. Majorie Bradley estimated they might get about a thousand visitors a year down that old dirt road. Imagine if there were a sign on the Klondike Highway pointing the way. Probably, nothing would ever get done.


The Pelly River ranch. Nothing quite like it anywhere in this country.

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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