1894 Yukon Nuggets
Yukon Order of Pioneers
It has always been an honour to become a member of the Yukon Order of Pioneers, an organization with quite a Yukon history. It was created on December 1st, 1894 at Forty Mile when a group of men got together in George Snow’s opera house to form a Fraternal Organization. Leroy McQueston, often called the father of the Yukon, was the first President.
To become a member back then, you had to be living in the Yukon Territory since 1888. The first group picture of the order shows twenty-four members, but there were 68 present who signed the charter.
Since there was no regular police force in the Territory, the pioneers adopted laws. The first law became their motto: "Do unto others as you would be done by". The Forty Mile lodge didn’t last long. When Klondike gold was discovered in 1896, the townsite at Forty Mile was abandoned and a new lodge, called the Klondike Lodge, was formed in Dawson on July 24, 1897.
Twenty members were present from the Forty Mile lodge, and Thomas O’Brien, of brewery fame, was the first president.
At one time, there were lodges throughout the Yukon. Today only two remain, Lodge #1 in Dawson City and Lodge #2 in Whitehorse, which was formed in 1914. For a short time in 1912, a charter was given to a group of sourdoughs who had moved on to Seattle. The Vancouver Yukoners Association was started mainly by former Yukon Lodge members.
The Arctic Brotherhood was the Alaskan equivalent of the Yukon Order of Pioneers. Today, the Arctic Brotherhood Hall still stands in Skagway with 20,000 pieces of driftwood tacked to the front of it.
The Mayo Lodge was active for many years. In 1921, members built a large log building where they met until the early 1950's. The Order of Pioneers is still active in the Yukon. For example, the Whitehorse Lodge gives two $ 1,000.00 bursaries to two graduate students for further studies, and sponsors Mr. and Mrs. Yukon during the Sourdough Rendezvous. The Order has always been a men’s-only organization, and even faced a Supreme Court challenge over the right to stay that way. They won!
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin.