|Town of the City of Dawson|
Aerial view of Dawson City with the Yukon River
|Nickname(s): Paris of the North|
|• Mayor||Wayne Potoroka|
|• Total||32.45 km2 (12.53 sq mi)|
|Elevation||370 m (1,214 ft)|
|• Density||40.7/km2 (105/sq mi)|
|Time zone||Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)|
|• Summer (DST)||PDT (UTC-7)|
|Canadian Postal code||Y0B 1G0|
The townsite was founded by Joseph Ladue and named in January 1897 after noted Canadian geologist George M. Dawson, who had explored and mapped the region in 1887. It served as Yukon's capital from the territory's founding in 1898 until 1952, when the seat was moved to Whitehorse.
Dawson has a much longer history, however, as an important harvest area used for millennia by the Hän-speaking people of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and their forebears. The heart of their homeland was Tr'ochëk, a fishing camp at the confluence of the Klondike River and Yukon River, now a National Historic Site of Canada. This site was also an important summer gathering spot and a base for moose-hunting on the Klondike Valley.
Dawson City was the centre of the Klondike Gold Rush. It began in 1896 and changed the First Nations camp into a thriving city of 40,000 by 1898. By 1899, the gold rush had ended and the town's population plummeted as all but 8,000 people left. When Dawson was incorporated as a city in 1902, the population was under 5,000. St. Paul's Anglican Church built that same year is a National Historic Site.
The population dropped after World War II when the Alaska Highway bypassed it 300 miles (480 km) to the south. The economic damage to Dawson City was such that Whitehorse, the highway's hub, replaced it as territorial capital in 1953. Dawson City's population languished around the 600-900 mark through the 1960s and 1970s, but has risen and held stable since then. The high price of gold has made modern mining operations profitable, and the growth of the tourism industry has encouraged development of facilities. In the early 1950s, Dawson was linked by road to Alaska, and in fall 1955, with Whitehorse along a road that now forms part of the Klondike Highway.
In 1978, another kind of buried treasure was discovered when a construction excavation inadvertently found a forgotten collection of more than 500 discarded films of fragile nitrate filmstock from the early 20th century that were buried in and preserved in the permafrost. This historical find was moved to Library and Archives Canada and the US Library of Congress for both transfer to safety filmstock and storage.
The City of Dawson and the nearby ghost town of Forty Mile are featured prominently in the novels and short stories of American author Jack London, including The Call of the Wild. London lived in the Dawson area from October 1897 to June 1898. Other notable writers who lived in and wrote of Dawson City include Robert Service and Pierre Burton. The childhood home of the latter is now used as a retreat for professional writers.
Dawson City lies at the western end of the Tintina Fault. This fault line has created the Tintina Trench and continues eastward for several hundred kilometres. Erosional remnants of lava flows form outcrops immediately north and west of Dawson City.
Like most of Yukon, Dawson City has a subarctic climate (Köppen Dfc). The average temperature in July is 15.7 °C (60.3 °F) and in January is −26.0 °C (−14.8 °F). The highest temperature ever recorded is 34.7 °C (94.5 °F) on May 31, 1983 and the lowest temperature ever recorded is −55.8 °C (−68.4 °F) on February 11, 1979. It experiences a wide range of temperatures surpassing 30 °C (86 °F) in most summers and dropping below −40 °C (−40 °F) in winter.
The community is at an elevation of 320 m (1,050 ft) and the average rainfall in July is 49.0 mm (1.93 in) and the average snowfall in January is 27.6 cm (10.87 in). Dawson has an average total annual snowfall of 166.5 cm (65.55 in) and averages 70 frost free days per year. The town is built on a layer of frozen earth, which may pose a threat to the town's infrastructure in the future if the permafrost melts.
|Climate data for Dawson City Airport|
|Record high Humidex||9.7||8.8||10.7||22.4||34.9||35.0||39.4||37.9||24.9||19.5||10.0||5.0||39.4|
|Record high °C (°F)||9.7
|Average high °C (°F)||−21.8
|Daily mean °C (°F)||−26.0
|Average low °C (°F)||−30.1
|Record low °C (°F)||−53.8
|Precipitation mm (inches)||19.4
|Rainfall mm (inches)||0.1
|Snowfall cm (inches)||27.6
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm)||11.7||8.7||6.3||4.5||10.9||12.0||14.4||13.7||11.0||12.7||12.7||11.5||130.2|
|Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm)||0.2||0.0||0.2||2.0||10.6||12.0||14.4||13.6||10.0||3.8||0.3||0.1||67.1|
|Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm)||12.3||9.8||6.5||3.2||1.0||0.0||0.0||0.1||1.5||9.9||13.5||12.2||69.8|
|Source: Environment Canada Canadian Climate Normals 1981–2010|
City or town
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (January 2014)|
Dawson was incorporated as a city in 1902 when it met the criteria for "city" status under the municipal act of that time. It retained the incorporation even as the population plummeted. When a new municipal act was adopted in the 1980s, Dawson met the criteria of "town", and was incorporated as such, although with a special provision to allow it to continue to use the word "City", partially for historic reasons, partially to distinguish it from Dawson Creek, a small city in northeastern British Columbia. Dawson Creek is also named in honour of George M. Dawson. This led the territorial government to post the following signs at the boundaries of the town: "Welcome to the Town of the City of Dawson".
Law and government
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (January 2014)|
In 2004, the Yukon government removed the mayor and the town council, as a result of the town going bankrupt. The territorial government accepted a large portion of the responsibility for this situation in March 2006, writing off $3.43 million of the debt and leaving the town with $1.5 million still to pay off. Elections were set for June 15, 2006. John Steins, a local artist and one of the leaders of the movement to restore democracy to Dawson, was acclaimed as mayor, while 13 residents ran for the 4 council seats. Steins was succeeded in office by former mayor Peter Jenkins, who in turn was succeeded by the current mayor, Wayne Potoroka.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (January 2014)|
Electricity is provided by Yukon Energy Corporation (YEC). Most of the grid power is hydroelectric power through the north-south grid from dams near Mayo, Whitehorse and Aishihik Lake. After the local hydroelectric power plant for the gold dredges was shut down in 1966, YEC provided electrical power from local diesel generators. In 2004 YEC connected Dawson to its grid system. Since then the diesel generators function as a backup to the grid.
Gold mining started in 1896 with the Bonanza (Rabbit) Creek discovery by George Carmack, Dawson Charlie and Skookum Jim Mason (Keish). The area's creeks were quickly staked and most of the thousands who arrived in the spring of 1898 for the Klondike Gold Rush found that there was very little opportunity to benefit directly from gold mining. Many instead became entrepreneurs to provide services to miners.
Starting approximately 10 years later, large gold dredges began an industrial mining operation, scooping huge amounts of gold out of the creeks, and completely reworking the landscape, altering the locations of rivers and creeks and leaving tailing piles in their wake. A network of canals and dams were built to the north to produce hydroelectric power for the dredges. The dredges shut down for the winter, but one built for "Klondike Joe Boyle" was designed to operate year-round, and Boyle had it operate all through one winter. That dredge (Dredge No. 4) is open as a National Historic Site of Canada on Bonanza Creek.
The last dredge shut down in 1966, and the hydroelectric facility, at North Fork, was closed when the City of Dawson declined an offer to purchase it. Since then, placer miners have returned to the status of being the primary mining operators in the region.
Bonanza Creek has two National Historic Sites; the Discovery Claim and the No. 4 Dredge.
Tr'ochëk is the site of a traditional Han fishing camp on the flats at the confluence of the Klondike River and Yukon River. The site is owned and managed by the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation. In addition to the fishing camp remains, the site includes traditional plant harvesting areas and lookout points
Every February, Dawson City acts as the halfway mark for the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race. Mushers entered in the event have a mandatory 36-hour layover in Dawson City while getting their rest and preparing for the second half of the world’s toughest sled dog race.
Dawson City also hosts a softball tournament which brings teams from Inuvik in late summer. Furthermore, a volleyball tournament is held annually at the end of October and is attended by various high schools across Yukon.
The city was home to the Dawson City Nuggets hockey team, which in 1905 challenged the Ottawa Silver Seven for the Stanley Cup. Travelling to Ottawa by dog sled, ship, and train, the team lost the most lopsided series in Stanley Cup history, losing two games by the combined score of 32 to 4.
According to the 2011 Census:
- Population in 2011: 1,319
- Population in 2006: 1,327
- Change 2006 to 2011 population change (%): -0.6
- Total private dwellings: 727
- Population density per square kilometre: 40.7
- Land area (square km): 32.45
|Canada 2006 Census||Population||% of Total Population|
|Visible minority group
|Other visible minority||0||0%|
|Mixed visible minority||0||0%|
|Total visible minority population||15||1.1%|
|Total Aboriginal population||390||29.4%|
Transport and communications
- Airports: Dawson City Airport, located 8 nautical miles (15 km; 9.2 mi) east of the town, has a 5,000 ft (1,524 m) gravel runway. Dawson City Water Aerodrome is located next to the community on the Yukon River. Both are classified as an airport of entry and, as such, can handle aircraft with up to 30 passengers. The water aerodrome is one of only two in Canada that that is able to handle aircraft with more than 15 passengers.
- Road: Klondike Highway (Yukon route 2) from Whitehorse-open year-round; Top of the World Highway (Yukon route 9) and Taylor Highway (Alaska route 5) from Tok, Alaska.
- Winter transportation: During the winter, Dawson City is accessible via snowmachine or dog sled. The Yukon Quest sled dog race uses Dawson as the midway point of its competition in February.
- Rail: none
- Boat: none except for the Highway 9 ferry at the north end of town, although the Yukon River is navigable (when not frozen solid) and historically was travelled by commercial riverboats to Whitehorse and downstream into Alaska and the Bering Sea.
- Television: local transmitter for Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (CH4261 channel 9)
- Radio: CFYT-FM 106.9 (local community station, rebroadcasts CKRW Whitehorse when not originating local broadcasts); local transmitters for CBC Radio One (CBDN AM 560, rebroadcasting CFWH-FM), CBC Radio Two (CBDN FM 104.9, rebroadcasting CBU-FM) and CHON-FM (VF2049 90.5FM)
- Newspaper: no daily newspapers locally, Klondike Sun published every two weeks, Yukon News is available two days per week
- Cable television: municipal government-owned system with several channels via satellite
- Telephone/Internet: Northwestel telephone exchange, with ADSL Internet; also dial-up internet from Yknet; cellular service is available through Northwestel, with 3G service having been made available in December 2012.
- Robert W. Service known as The Bard of the Yukon for his famous poems "The Shooting of Dan McGrew", "The Cremation of Sam McGee" and many others which depicted the Gold Rush and the culture of the Klondike. Robert Service was transferred to the Dawson branch of the Canadian Bank of Commerce in Dawson City in 1908. Then, he dwelt in a log cabin where he would pursue his writings with The Trail of 98.
- Dawson City is home of the Berton House Writers' Retreat program, housing established Canadian writers for four three-month get-away-from-it-all subsidized residencies each year. Berton House was the childhood home of popular-history writer Pierre Berton. The program is now administered by the Writers' Trust of Canada. Pierre Berton narrated the 1957 film City of Gold which describes the excitement of Dawson City during the gold rush. Pierre Berton also wrote the book Klondike, a historical account of the gold rush to the Klondike 1896-1899.
- The cabin that housed writer Jack London during his time in the town is now just up the street. The London cabin was originally on Henderson Creek, a tributary of the Stewart River where Mr. London spent part of the winter 1897-1898.
Dawson City was the starting place of impresario Alexander Pantages. He opened a small theatre to serve the city. Soon, however, his activities expanded and the thrifty Greek went on and became one of America's greatest theatre and movie tycoons.
Martha Black, the second woman elected to the Canadian House of Commons, as a single mother in Dawson earned a living by staking gold mining claims and running a sawmill and a gold ore-crushing plant. She later married George Black, Commissioner of Yukon, and in 1935 was elected to the House of Commons for the riding of Yukon as an Independent Conservative taking the place of her ill husband.
William Judge, a Jesuit priest who during the 1897 Klondike Gold Rush established a facility in Dawson which provided shelter, food and any available medicine to the many hard-at-luck gold miners who filled the town and its environs.
Victor Jory, actor of stage, film, and television, was born in Dawson in 1902 to American parents.
Black Mike Winage, a Serbian-Canadian miner, pioneer, and adventurer, who lived to be 107 years old, lived in Dawson City.
In fiction, Scrooge McDuck came to Dawson in his quest for gold. He became known as the "King of Klondike" in the city.
- "Paris of the North". City of Dawson. Retrieved 2015.
- Canada 2011 Census
- Elevation of the Dawson City Water Aerodrome from the NAV CANADA's Water Aerodrome Supplement. Effective 0901Z 7 March 2013 to 0901Z 3 April 2014
- Coates, K.; Morrison, W. R. (1991). "The American Rampant: Reflections on the Impact of United States Troops in Allied Countries during World War II". Journal of World History 2 (2): 201–221. JSTOR 20078500.
- "Dawson A" (CSV (2874 KB)). Canadian Climate Normals 1981–2010. Environment Canada. Climate ID: 2100402. Retrieved 2014-02-20.
- Yukon's Dawson City treading on thin ice
- Melting permafrost plagues Dawson City
- "Dawson". Directory of Federal Heritage Designations. Parks Canada. Retrieved 6 September 2013.
- Dawson Historical Complex National Historic Site of Canada. Canadian Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 6 September 2013.
- Andrew Hempstead (10 June 2014). Moon British Columbia: Including the Alaska Highway. Avalon Travel Publishing. p. 941. ISBN 978-1-61238-744-4.
- AnneLise Sorensen; Christian Williams (7 June 2010). The Rough Guide to Canada. Rough Guides. p. 915. ISBN 978-1-84836-956-6.
- D. Larraine Andrews (12 May 2014). Great Walks of the World. Rocky Mountain Books. p. 259. ISBN 978-1-77160-001-9.
- Sled Dog Veterinary Care in Dawson City
- McKinley, Michael (2000). Putting a roof on winter. Greystone Books. ISBN 1-55054-798-4.
- , E-STAT Table
- , 1996 Census of Canada: Electronic Area Profiles
- , Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, and census subdivisions (municipalities), 2006 and 2001 censuses - 100% data
- , Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, and census subdivisions (municipalities), 2011 and 2006 censuses
- , Community Profiles from the 2006 Census, Statistics Canada - Census Subdivision
- , Aboriginal Peoples - Data table
- Canada Flight Supplement. Effective 0901Z 24 July 2014 to 0901Z 18 September 2014
- Martha Louise Black, National Historic Person at Parks Canada
- Father William Judge, S. J. National Historic Person
- William Ogilvie National Historic Person
Reference: Novel, Black Sands and Gold. by Ella Lung Martinsen, Binford & Mort, Publishers, 4th edition, 1974 A true story of the author's father who participated in the Klondike gold rush written from his diary notes. Very detailed accounts of life, deprivation and wealth and her father's trip over Chilicoot Pass and the rivers to Dawson then his search for gold in the Klondike. Many prominent people of that time are mentioned in the novel.
- Official town website
- Klondike Visitors Association
- Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in
- Yukon Communities. Dawson Community Profile
- University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections – Eric A. Hegg Photographs 736 photographs from 1897-1901 documenting the Klondike and Alaska gold rushes, including depictions of frontier life in Skagway and Nome, Alaska and Dawson, Yukon Territory.
- William E. Meed Photograph Collection, an amateur photographer who lived in Dawson from 1898 to 1907. - University of Washington Digital Collection
- KIAC School of Visual Arts: university level accredited art program.
Tourism Related Links
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dawson City.|
- Cultural & Arts Centre
- Accredited Art School
- Local Art
- Dawson City International Short Film Festival
- Dawson City Music Festival
- Dawson National Historic Site
- CFYT 106.9fm - The Spirit of Dawson
- Dawson Web site Source of info about Dawson today
- Dawson City Attraction & Service Guide
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