Yukon Nuggets

  • A portrait of Percy DeWolfe, taken at Fortymile, in fur parka and moccasins. DeWolfe was the mail-carrier between Dawson and Eagle, Alaska, for 35 years. Date: 1938. Yukon Archives. Claude & Mary Tidd fonds, #7098.

  • Percy DeWolfe handing a sack of mail to RCMP Constable Joe Kessler at Fortymile. Date: ca. 1930. Yukon Archives. Claude & Mary Tidd fonds, #8370.

  • Portrait of Percy DeWolfe. Date: 1932. Yukon Archives. Claude & Mary Tidd fonds, #7124.

1976 Yukon Nuggets

Percy De Wolfe


It's hard to imagine a life filled with more adventure than that of Percy De Wolfe. Like many young men from eastern Canada, when he heard about the Klondike Gold Rush he and his partner, Peter Anderson, headed for the Klondike.

They arrived in Dawson City in June, 1898, but, as it was for other late comers, the pair could not find any ground worth staking.

Both had done some fishing on the east coast, and decided to try their luck with a fishing business on the Yukon River. With a net bought on credit, they set up camp ten miles down the river from Dawson and brought back the first fresh salmon to the booming town.

The fishing business in the summer time was good. In the winter, the pair did freighting to the Fortymile mining camp. During this time, they built the 16-mile Road House and Halfway House on the Yukon river.

In 1920, De Wolfe and Anderson ended their partnership and Percy got a contract to carry the mail from Dawson to Eagle, Alaska. It was the beginnning of a remarkable career, at times risking his life to get the mail through.

On one trip, his horses broke through the river ice. Percy was able to throw the twenty bags of mail off the sleigh before the three horses and sleigh went under the ice.

In 1935, Percy De Wolfe received a silver medal from King George, in recognition of his public service.

Percy De Wolfe carried the mail between Dawson-Fortymile and Eagle, Alaska, from 1910 to 1949, when they finally ended the mail contract to Eagle. His last contract was to Fortymile.

The post office at Fortymile was closed in 1951. Percy De Wolfe died in St. Mary's hospital in February, 1951, after several months of illness. He had carried the mail for forty years in all kinds of weather and conditions, travelling more than 100,000 miles by dog team.

In 1976, to commemorate the contributions of Percy De Wolfe, the KVA sponsored the Percy De Wolfe Memorial Mail Dog Sled Race.

Still going strong, the route follows the Yukon River trail, from Dawson City to Eagle, Alaska, and returns on the same trail to finish.


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.