Yukon Field Force

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The Yukon Field Force was a unit of 203 officers and men from the Permanent Force of the Canadian Militia in formation from 1898 to 1900. The men of the unit comprised infantry, artillery, and cavalry and were based at Fort Selkirk with a detachment at Dawson City to support the Canadian government and the North-West Mounted Police in maintaining law and order during the Klondike Gold Rush. With eight out of ten people in the heart of the Yukon being American, this posed a real threat to the security and sovereignty of Canada.[1]

History[edit]

With the discovery of gold in the Klondike in 1896, the Canadian Government reinforced the North-West Mounted Police who were first sent into the Yukon in 1894. Authorized on 21 March 1898 and commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Dixon Byron Evans of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, the force consisted of 5 Staff, 16 Royal Canadian Dragoons, 49 men of the Royal Canadian Artillery and 133 men of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Infantry armed with Lee-Enfield .303 rifles, two Maxim guns and two bronze seven-pounder cannons.

The YFF travelled by rail across Canada to Vancouver, B.C., then by steamer ship along the coast north to Wrangell, Alaska. Once there they transferred to a river ship to Glenora and then on to Telegraph Creek, B.C., where the trek started. It was a long march but supplies were hauled overland by mule, packers and the soldiers themselves until they reached the south end of Teslin Lake. There they built scows and small boats and navigated the river to their destination of Fort Selkirk, Yukon.

The entire unit was stationed in at Fort Selkirk for the duration along the Yukon River. A detachment of two officers and 50 other ranks with a Maxim gun were sent to Dawson City in October 1898. Most of the duties were guarding gold shipments, ceremonial duties and some patrolling. The unit was recalled and dispersed in mid-June 1900 for there was a need for troops to serve in South Africa, for the Boer War was not yet over. Most of the arms and stores of the YFF, less the two Maxim machine guns, had been turned over to the NWMP upon their departure. The unit was replaced with the Non-Permanent Militia unit, the Dawson Rifles of Canada. This unit continued with similar duties from 1900 to 1905 when it was disbanded. Some YFF members took their release in 1900 staying in the Yukon to seek a mining career and served with the Dawson Rifles. At least half of the soldiers served again with the army during the Boer War and First World War. One soldier served during the Second World War reaching the rank of lieutenant-colonel but retired in 1943.[2]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The Canadian Encyclopedia
  2. ^ The Yukon Field Force

References[edit]

Lester, Edward; Greenhous, Brereton; Constable, William R., Guarding the Goldfields: The Story of the Yukon Field Force 1987 Dundurn Press Ltd