1966 Yukon Nuggets
The Klondike Defense Force
It wasn't the first time the Yukon had established a defense force, but it was the first time such a force would be used against another Canadian city.
In 1966, the Yukon formed a defense force. Its goal was to do battle with the city of Edmonton. In trying to counteract the tremendous tourist attraction of the Calgary Stampede, Edmonton would stage its own summer festival. They called it Klondike Days. Yukoners called it outright theft of the territory's birthright.
The first volley fired in the battle came in the form of a gala Yukon folk festival ro raise funds for the defense force. Songs and poems were written about Yukon heritage and of the war with Edmonton. Victory bonds were sold at two dollars a piece. On that warm June evening back in '66, the Elks hall was so full the fire marshall had to turn a blind eye to the proceedings. Nearly 300 people gathered outside the hall to listen to the songs and speeches over loudspeakers.
Speakers like Yukon Bud Fisher, Erik Nielsen, Roy Minter, and Jim Light spoke in glowing terms about the Yukon's heritage and the damage Edmonton was doing to its history. Entertainers included Hank Karr, Al Oster, Judy Parkin, the Hackney family, and many others.
There was little in Yukon history that united Yukoners more than the battle with Edmonton back in 1966. And the outcome. Well Edmonton still stages Klondike Days, but the Yukon had realized the value of the Klondike theme and began to promote it with renewed vigour. The many folk festivals now held in the Yukon had their beginnings in the Elks Hall in Whitehorse back in the summer of '66. Oh yes, if you still have a victory bond, a dealer would surely be interested.
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin.