Yukon Nuggets

  • Bonnet Plume and Pinquit Lake. Yukon Archives. Ernie Barz fonds, #6.

1992 Yukon Nuggets

The Bonnet Plume River


The Bonnet Plume is a beautiful Yukon river named for a Gwitchin Indian Chief, who all of his life, helped white trappers, traders and gold seekers, teaching them the ways of the land and, in some cases, saving their lives.

The Loucheaux or Gwitchin people called this river the Black Sands River because of the extensive deposits of magnetite-rich sand found on its bed. Andrew Flett, whose native name translated by French explorers as Bonnet Plume, was a chief of the band which used this region as traditional hunting and trapping grounds. He worked for the Hudson Bay Company when they began setting up posts in this remote region, the streams of which feed into the mighty Peel River.

Bonnet Plume also assisted Klondike gold-seekers who made their way over the so-called easy interior route to the Klondike. It was anything but easy, and many would-be prospectors had the good fortune to stumble upon his hunting camps. Otherwise, death was assured in this unforgiving land.

The Bonnet Plume is home to large, healthy populations of grizzly bears, wolves, moose, gyrfalcons and woodland caribou. It was also the site of the largest Peregrine Falcon study undertaken in the Territory. The falcon is the fastest bird in the world, reaching diving speeds of nearly 300 kilometers an hour. A stable population lives in the region.

The entire Bonnet Plume watershed was nominated as a Canadian Heritage River in 1992. It covers 12,000 square kilometers and extends almost 350 kilometers, from the river's headwaters along the Yukon - Northwest Territories border, to a point where it enters the Peel River.


The Canadian Heritage River System was established in 1984, as a cooperative program between federal, provincial and territorial governments. The objectives are to give national recognition to Canada's outstanding rivers and to ensure long-term management and conservation of their natural, cultural, historical, and recreational values. Three of the 28 designated rivers are in the Yukon - the Bonnet Plume, the Alsek, and the "Thirty Mile" section of the Yukon River.



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.