Early travel in the Yukon 1890s to 1940s
The White Pass and Yukon Route Railway, connecting with coastal boats at Skagway and river boats at Whitehorse, provided an essential transportation link to the "outside". (view more details)
The White Pass and Yukon Route Railway
Before 1900 overland travel into the Yukon Territory was difficult. Speed was determined by how fast a person could move on foot, with dogs or horses, while carrying supplies, trade goods and shelter. Some trails existed, used mainly by trappers and traders, but to reach the territory from the middle of the North American continent meant encountering mountainous terrain, muskeg and treacherous rivers.
Bill Hare (with face protector) and Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman Tom Coleman with biplane "Northern Light", a Yukon Airways & Exploration Co. Ltd. Alexander Eaglerock, G-CAUZ in the Mayo area. (view more details)
Bill Hare and Tom Coleman
The wing of "Northern Light", a Yukon Airways & Exploration Co. Ltd. Alexander Eaglerock, G-CAUZ. (view more details)
"Northern Light"
The Klondike Gold Rush brought an unprecedented number of people to the interior of the territory within the space of three years (1897 – 1900), creating the need for more efficient transportation. During this age of steam, the White Pass and Yukon Route railway was built and riverboat navigation on the upper Yukon River developed to link with the existing riverboat system on the lower Yukon. These systems, however, limited access to the interior through the Alaskan ports of Skagway, Dyea and St. Michael. Concern over Canadian sovereignty in the Yukon led the Canadian government to try to establish overland routes from the east and south, but these "back door" trails, especially the ones from Edmonton, proved to be utterly impractical.
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"Edmonton’s Back Door Route was terrible every step of the way. No trail existed, no timber cleared, no bogs had been marked, no dead ends had been mapped. One single mile of progress could mean 14 straight hours of axing, climbing, and crawling."
Joan Weir.
Back Door to the Klondike
...After preliminary curing by smoking, the meat was likely being transported to another location to be cured for winter. (view more details)
Curing meat for winter
These impossible conditions were further complicated by the lack of supply depots along the route, forcing the "overlanders" to carry everything they needed for the return trip. Understandably, the route was not popular and even as late as 1942 no roads, other than a rough winter trail, had been established from central Canada northwest from Fort Nelson, British Columbia.