Yukon Nuggets

1897 Yukon Nuggets

Streets of Whitehorse - 3


South of Main Street, some of the streets reveal the presence of the White Pass and Yukon Route.

When the Close Brothers, a London based financial house, dispatched a survey party to study the feasibility of a railroad from Skagway to Whitehorse in 1897, the news was not encouraging. The four man team, headed by Sir Thomas Tancread, said "forget it". Then fate intervened. While preparing to leave Skagway, Tancread met a Canadian Railway contractor Michael Heney, who had just completed an independent survey. Heney argued long and loud that the railway could - indeed must - be built. Tancread was finally convinced and the rest is history.

And that brings us to the streets of Whitehorse south of Main. A small cabin sat on Elliott Street in the '40s and '50s. Today, that cabin sits at the MacBride Museum, a cabin said to be the home of Sam McGee. Elliott Street is named for Frank Elliott, who was lawyer for the White Pass in their Chicago office in 1899. Later he became president of the company.

One street south, sat a school - Lambert Street School - where as a youngster I clearly heard the huge outdoor bell call us primary students to class. Lambert is named for Cowley Lambert, who was a director of the White Pass company in England.

Next, Hanson Street, where the old Whitehorse hospital was located at the corner of Second Avenue. Hanson is also a White Pass street, named for Edwin Hanson, another company director in England in the early days.

E.C. Hawkins was an engineer who, with Thomas Tancread in 1897, decided the railway could not be built. After being convinced otherwise by Michael Heney, Hawkins became the chief engineer in charge of the entire construction project. He was also general manager of the White Pass company when it began service in 1900. Hawkins Street is named for the man who, luckily, listened to Heney.

One day in the early '70s, I had a pleasant interview with an oldtimer who worked with the White Pass as a boy in 1900. He must have been some boy because he became the company's president and held the job from 1940 to 1957. Rogers Street is named for Clifford J. Rogers.

There is one more White Pass street in downtown Whitehorse, the only one located north of Main. Wheeler Street was named for Herbert Wheeler, the third company president, who kept the rails rolling in spite of the great depression of the dirty '30s.

Next, as we continue our tour of the streets of Whitehorse, a collection of famous streets with nothing really to connect them except for the famous names they bear.

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.