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Early days on the Yukon & the story of its gold finds Ogilvie, William, 1846-1912 1913

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D.L.S., F.R.G.S.
AFTER many years of service in the Yukon
Territory, Mr. Ogilvie acquired an
intimate knowledge of its peoples, its
geography, and its resources.
Accuracy was one of his salient characteristics,
and by close observation, careful weighing of conflicting reports, and a retentive memory, he has
endeavoured to bequeath to the public an authentic history of this Arctic region.
Much of the information contained in the
Klondike Official Guide, published by Mr. Ogilvie
in 1898, is embodied in this book, illumined by
incidents and stories of camp life.
The Yukon Territory and Alaska are so bound
together by a common interest that Canadians
and Americans have joined hands in a combined
effort toward the best development of the country.
While the International Boundary is a broad
line through the wilderness, men in this land of
the midnight sun are prone to forget nationality
in remembering the tie of Arctic Brotherhood.
A pathfinder and explorer, undaunted by hardships and forgetful of self-interest, Mr. Ogilvie m
devoted the best years of his life to the Yukon
Territory, and I commend to the kindly reading
public, British and American, his history of the
Early Days on the Yukon.
I gratefully acknowledge the courtesies extended to me in connection with this publication
by Mr. Ogilvie's old friends and colleagues in the
Dominion Government, Dr. E. Deville, Surveyor-
General of Canada, Dr. W. F. King, Chief Astronomer, and Dr. Otto Klotz, Assistant Chief
I.    Comparative Statement of Geographical  and  Political  Distinctions   of
American Territory of Alaska and
the Yukon Territory of Canada
II.    Boundary Matters
III.    Story  of  Attempted  Crime and the
Swift Justice which Followed It
IV.    Remarks on Mr. Ogilvie's Survey
V.    Trading  and  Trading  Posts  on  the
VI.    Gold Discoveries and Mining
VII.    First Gold Sent Out   .
VIII.    Discovery of the Klondike
IX.    Mr. Ogilvie's Visit to the Country in
1887-8 and Observations made then    137
X.    Winter Work in 1895-6       .        .        .156
XI.   Work  done  on ,the  Creeks   by Mr.
Ogilvie 177
William Ogilvir        . . . . .    2
un alaska, 1897 ......
Dawson City, 1897     .....
141ST Meridian. Author's Location 1887, and corrected
line in 1907 .....
Looking up Dyea Pass from Trail at First Bridge, 1887
Beginning of Circle City, Alaska, 1894 .
Fortymile, 1895 ......
Chief Charley .....
Indian Camp at Fort Selkirk, 1887
Alaska Commercial Co.'s Steamer " Susie "
Arthur Harper, Pioneer Miner    .
Fred Hart      .......
Alaska Commercial Co.'s Wharf, St. Michael, Alaska
Joe Ladue's House at Ogilvie, 1895
Robert Henderson    .....
Near the Boundary.    One-half the Previous Day'*
Bag . ......
Ogilvie's  Party  on   the  Yukon,   Carrying   in  Two
Years' Provisions, 1887 ....
Col. S. B. Steele, Chief Factor for Law and Order
IN THE YtfKON .....
Sluicing on Bonanza Creek, No. 2 below
166 Dump on Claims 5 and 6, Eldorado
Northern Dog-Team ..'... 192
Klondikers Mushing over Dyea Pass, 1898        . . 210
Bonanza Valley shortly after a Strike, 1896 . . 226
Wind-driven Sleds on Taku River, 1895-6        . . 240
Tagish Lake Police and Custom Station, Hon. Clifford
Sifton, Major Walsh, and Inspector Strickland
standing together, 1897 .... 246
Alaska Commercial Co.'s Warehouse, Dawson, 1897    . 254
Ice Jam  at  Ogilvie   Bridge,   showing  Guggenheim
Dredge at Work ..... 260
Dawson, 1901    ....... 266
Breaking Up the Ice on the Yukon River      . . 272
Looking South from Point on the 141ST Meridian, 1896 280
Looking up Taku Pass near Summit, 1895 . . 288
Interior of Author's Camp near Boundary, 1895        . 298   EARLY DAYS
THE United States territory of Alaska
and the Yukon Territory of Canada are
so intimately associated in the public
mind that few except scholars or students think
of them as separate polities, yet they are so
different geographically and politically that we
will, by way of introduction, make a short comparison.
Alaska is a peninsula at the extreme north-west
angle of the North American Continent, and has
a main coast-line of not less than six thousand
miles, and that of the archipelago of islands
along its western coast and the Aleutian Islands
will aggregate fully half as much more.   When 4 EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
the survey of the whole coast-line is completed it
is not unlikely that a total coast-line of about
twelve thousand miles will be found. About
one-third of this is open to navigation the year
round, the rest is closed more than half the time.
Yukon Territory has a coast-line on the Arctic
Ocean of less than two hundred miles, which is
closed nearly three-fourths of the year. The
area of Alaska is about five hundred and ninety-
one thousand square miles, that of Yukon about
two hundred and seven thousand square miles;
so Alaska has only about fifty square miles of
territory to every mile of coast-line, while Yukon
has over a thousand. The potentialities for development, therefore, are apparently vastly in
favour of Alaska, but the mighty river which
flows longitudinally through both, in such a way
as to give each the best possible service, reduces
the disproportion of coast-line against Yukon, and
at present gives each nearly an equal chance.
This Yukon River is unique among rivers, in
that it rises within fifteen miles of tidal waters
in the Dyea Inlet on the Pacific coast, whence it
flows in a north-westerly direction nearly one
thousand miles, just crossing the Arctic Circle,
where it turns south-west through the middle of
Alaska, and then flows more than twelve hundred
miles until it reaches the ocean within sight of
which it rose; for we may properly call Bering
Sea a part of the Pacific Ocean. This grand stream COMPARATIVE STATEMENT 5
is also surprising in the length of navigation way
it gives in proportion to its length, for less than
fifteen miles north from where its tiniest streamlets trickle from the summit of Dyea Pass lies
beautiful Lake Bennet, whose head is the beginning of steamboat navigation on this noble
stream. From the starting-point of those same
streamlets one can look down on other streamlets
beginning their steep descent of the Dyea Pass
to the waters of the wide Pacific, only as far away
on the south as beautiful Bennet is on the north.
From the head of Bennet to Bering Sea is about
twenty-five hundred miles by the course of the
river, and all this length, with the exception of
three and a half miles at the Canon and Rapids, is
navigable, thus all its length, except the first
fifteen steep miles down the slope of its source
and the three and a half at the Canon, is navigable.
Can this be said of any other river in the world ?
From the head of Lake Bennet to the Canon,
ninety-five miles, of which sixty-four is lake and
thirty-one river, steamboats ran in the first years
of the Klondike excitement. The Canon and
Rapids include a fall of about thirty-five feet, but
are not so dangerous as to prohibit the passage
of small steamers down them, as was done with
those plying above them when the railroad was
completed from the head of Bennet to White
Horse, just below them, which made their service
no longer profitable, but it would,be practically F
impossible to get those steamers up again. That
a river so long, and flowing as it does for more
than two-thirds of its length through a veritable
sea of mountains, has only this slight break in
continuous steamboat navigation from within a
look from its head to its mouth, is indeed worthy
of remark, and it may with truth be said it is a
strange river in a strange land.
About one-third of the total length is in Yukon
Territory, and this with its affluent streams, the
Takhina, the Teslin (better known as the Hoota-
linqua), the Pelly, the Stewart, all navigable for
greater or less distances, and all of them hundreds
of miles in length, together with other streams not
navigable, go to make up in Yukon nearly as much
length of stream as there is in Alaska, where the
affluents, though not so numerous, are, like the
Tanana and Koyukuk, navigable for long distances.
Altogether, this river with its tributaries gives
about three thousand five hundred miles of
ordinary flat-bottomed steamboat navigation,
through a country so strange and magnificent
that it is well worth a journey from Seattle or
Vancouver to see it; a journey which takes us
through the most wonderful run of inland ocean
navigation in the world, where we travel for a
thousand miles on oceans blue, where at only
three points for a few hours at a time are we subjected to any of the discomfort of sea travel,
sailing for days through inland passages whose
shores are mountains with green slopes fading
into everlasting whiteness, often lost in the indefinable haze of the heavens above. From Skag-
way one hundred and ten miles of railway through
a scenic route seldom surpassed lands us at the
little town of White Horse just below the rapids.
From here, in the summer season, comfortable
steamers take us to the world-wide known Dawson,
the port for the Golden Klondike, where over a
hundred millions in treasure have been unearthed,
and where hundreds of millions more await the
man with the machine to bring them forth. In
winter a stage line carries the passenger between
these points in comparative comfort, travelling
only in daylight and stopping over-night at comfortable road-houses, as they are termed. The
journey is made in about five days. The steamboat takes about forty-eight hours on the down,
and twice that on the up, run.
From Dawson to St. Michael, the entry port
for the Yukon Basin, situated on an island of the
same name in Bering Sea, about seventy miles
north of the mouth of the Yukon River, is about
seventeen hundred miles. It is a beautiful run,
at one point, Fort Yukon, just crossing the
Arctic Circle, and if the passage is made early
enough in the season the midnight sun may be
seen. The journey is usually made in five days,
but contrary or high winds at the mouth of the
river may prolong it considerably more.
1 f
A comfortable run of nine hundred miles across
Bering Sea brings us to the first, and generally the
only, call port on the way home, Dutch Harbour,
or Unalaska, within sight of each other, both
on Unalaska Island, one of the Aleutian group.
To the student of natural and historic subjects
the stay cannot fail to be interesting. From this
point a straight run of about seventeen hundred
miles brings us to Seattle or Vancouver, and about
two thousand and forty to San Francisco. To one
with a taste for the original, the primeval, on this
route he can enjoy it as nowhere else, and with
all the comfort of modern travel, at moderate
cost. To one who has seen the lands of legend,
of medievalism, and of history, this journey will
round out his education, enliven his satisfaction
with all, and develop his powers of comparison.
It is a journey unique, interesting, and instructive
beyond description, and is well worth undertaking
by any one who can afford the cost, which is quite
as reasonable as that of ordinary ocean voyages.
Politically they are both territories, that is they
are not yet endowed with statehood, or provincial
autonomy, though Yukon is practically so. Each
territory has a Governor, or as the style in Yukon
is, a Commissioner, who is appointed by the
Federal Government and represents the terri-   1\
torial needs to the central government. In
Alaska the Governor is assisted in this service by
an elected delegate to the United States House of
Representatives, who may discuss but cannot vote.
The Public Works of the territory are carried on
by Federal officers who report direct to Washington, and look after the appropriations for their
respective services.
In Yukon the Commissioner-Governor has a
complete staff of officials which attends to all the
public service of the territory under his direction.
Though the Commissioner has no direct control
over the mining regulations, they being the subject of legislation by the Federal Parliament, and
adjustment and application by " Orders in
Council" of the Federal Cabinet, his advice is
a matter of very serious interest to the Minister
of the Interior, and through him to the Government. In order that all the territory may receive
its share of attention in the distribution of public
expenditure, a local council of ten members is
elected by the people of the territorial districts
to represent them in the Council meetings, which
are held once a year, in the summer. This Council
elects its own speaker, and its proceedings are
conducted according to the rules of parliamentary
procedure; it regulates the imposition of taxes
within the territory, and the machinery for their
collection. The distribution of those taxes, and
the appropriation from the Federal Government, io EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
is controlled by the Council, it providing its own
staff of officials for that purpose, which acts under
the general supervision of the Commissioner.
Thus, though the territory has not a fully fledged
legislature, it has what is practically the same
thing. Then, too, at every Dominion General
Election it elects a member of Parliament to represent it in the Federal House of Commons, who is
not restricted in any of the powers or privileges
of membership in that body, and this notwithstanding that the population so represented is less
than one-half the quota entitling other parts of
Canada to representation.
The territory of Alaska is attached to the Ninth
Circuit Court of the United States, the judges
of which constitute a Court of Appeal for the
district. Two of them live in California, one in
Oregon. The district, or circuit, includes Alaska,
Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada,
Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii. It therefore
extends from north latitude 31 degrees to 71
degrees, and from west longitude 109-I- degrees
to, in the case of Hawaii, 157-i- degrees, and in the
case of the most westerly of the Aleutian Islands
of Alaska, which, however, are hardly worth considering in this respect, to 187 degrees west or
173 east.   In area it covers 1,375,910 square miles, COMPARATIVE STATEMENT n
or more than forty-five per cent of the area of the
United States without Alaska, and thirty-eight
per cent of it with it. Its total population by the
last census was 3,204,652, a little more than four
per cent of the population of the country;
whereas the average for the nine circuits would be
eleven per cent.
Yukon Territory has three resident judges at a
salary of ten thousand dollars per year each, and
a police magistrate at a salary of six thousand
seven hundred. The three judges attend to all
the Superior Court business of the territory. The
three shall sit in banc at appointed times and
places, when they may hear and dispose of motions for hew trials, appeals, and motions in the
nature of appeals. Appeals from the judgments
of the Territorial Court shall be made to the
Supreme Court of Canada under certain restrictions it is needless to cite here, and from the
Supreme Court of Canada appeal lies to the
Judicial Committee of the House of Lords, the
highest tribunal in the British Empire, also under
certain restrictions. The sittings of this tribunal
are attended by a representative of the Supreme
Court of Canada to assist in Canadian cases. The
area of the territory, as we have seen, is a little
over two hundred thousand square miles, or only
a little more than a seventh of that of the Ninth
Circuit Court District of the United States, and
the  population,   principally  located   along   the
Yukon River, is not more than ten thousand, or
less than the thirty-second hundredth part of that
of the Ninth District.
In addition to these judicial facilities the
Canadian Government keeps on duty an adequate
number of its " Royal North-West Mounted
Police." This force is semi-civil and semi-military
in character. It is drilled as an unit of an army,
but its duty is always on the frontier, and the
enforcement of law and order is its especial province. Every officer is a magistrate, and every
private or " constable " a policeman, so law and
order march hand in hand with the force where-
ever it may be, and it is always where it is needed.
In case of necessity it can, and does, act as a trained
band of soldiers, notably so in the North-West
Rebellion of 1885.
Perhaps the reason for the confusion regarding
the identity of these two territories is the fact
that many of the earliest gold discoveries were
made in the vicinity of the International Boundary
Line, and their accompanying settlements and
camps being largely made by citizens of the
United States, there was a disposition to call all
the region so occupied " Alaska," until the
boundary line was marked, but the habit was
formed then, though it was only two or three COMPARATIVE STATEMENT
years after the earliest diggings. In those days,
as most of the miners had to go out in the fall,
and while out always referred to the region of
their labours as Alaska, it came to be all so called,
and the habit being thus formed, it is generally
yet referred to by that title.
IN the year 1741 a Danish navigator named
Vitus Bering, who at an early age entered the
service of Russia under Peter the Great, and
continued in it during the reign of some of his
successors, with his lieutenant, Alexis Chirikoff,
each in command of a ship, fell on the islands off
the west coast of the continent at two widely
different points within a day of each other.
They sailed from Okhotsk on the sea of that name,
and all that part of the water they crossed north
of the Aleutian Islands is now known as § Bering
Sea." This discovery gave Russia a claim to the
islands so found, and the mainland behind them.
It is outside the scope of this history to deal
further with Bering's work, and it is only referred
to as the origin of boundary matters in this
region.   The sequence will appear later on.
Three-quarters of a century before this, to be
exact, May, 1670, the " Hudson's Bay Company "
had been chartered by Charles II of England to
trade in the interior of the continent along the
waters emptying into the bay from which the
company took its name. Soon after the Russians
fell on the west coast they began occupying points
for fur-trading bases. About this time the Hudson's Bay Company, and its rival the North-West
Fur Trading Company, originated in Montreal
in 1783, had advanced far beyond the watershed
of Hudson's Bay, the latter company having
planted a post at far-away Lake Athabasca in
1786, and three years later that company's intrepid lieutenant, Alexander Mackenzie, having
learned of the great river now named after him,
with four Canadians and one German, in his own
canoe, and two crews of natives, descended the
river marked on our maps as Great Slave River,
but locally known as the Peace, to Great Slave
Lake, and after many discouraging delays in it,
got into the river he was looking for, which he
descended to the Arctic Ocean. He was at first
doubtful as to what body of water he had fallen
on, but the consistent rise and fall of the tide,
though only about two feet, and the sight of
whalej convinced him he Was on the ocean. He
had to fight his way back by paddle more than a
thousand miles from the sea to the lake, and across
it one hundred and forty to Great Slave River,
and up it nearly two hundred and seventy to
Lake Athabasca, thence twenty or so home. The
round trip is three thousand miles, and as nearly
three hundred of it,-back and forth, is in Great
Slave Lake, which has a total length of more than
three hundred miles, with a width upwards of
forty in places, it is, in the stretch he crossed,
most tempestuous at times; indeed, the whole
stretch of the Mackenzie is so wide and straight
that an up or down wind makes it rough for small
boats, and to those who have had experience in
such voyages, his appears wonderful, under the
circumstances. His base of supplies was the
country along the river, and with the fire-arms
of those days much time had to be set apart for
foraging. Game no doubt was plentiful, but a
straight meat diet requires a lot of it; incredible
to the uninitiated is the amount a healthy specimen
of the genus homo will consume in a day. The
ordinary ration for one person in fresh moose
meat used to be eight pounds, but sometimes in
lieu of meat or other ration, where game was
plentiful and readily accessible, a charge of powder
and shot, or a bullet was substituted, if the
rationee agreed. It has been said that the ammunition ration was often accepted, because it proved
a source of profit, as with one such ration enough
provisions for a week or more could be secured,
and the saved charges could be sold at what was
considered good profit, though not many now
would consider it of much account. It is hardly
necessary to say that bread and vegetables, the
staff of life, as we in civilization know it, had practically no place in the larder there, at that time. BOUNDARY MATTERS 17
While at the mouth of the river, Mackenzie
learned from an Indian, who had come from a
tribe farther west, of another large river flowing
through the region he came from, and a trading-
post on a long point running far out into a great
lake which he called the " White Man's Lake."
The trading-post, Mackenzie conjectured, was
Unalaska, and the river he thought must be Cook's
River ; so little was known of the geography of
the region. With his usual intrepidity he tried
to persuade this Indian to guide him and his party
to the new stream, but nothing would induce the
Indian to go. Had Mackenzie succeeded how
differently might the history of this river, which
we now know as the Yukon, have been written.
That it would have been so, we may rest assured,
for Mackenzie let no moss grow under his feet in
those northern ranges when there was anything
to be gained for his company in the fur line.
Three years after the discovery and exploration
of his great river, Mackenzie started—October
10th, 1792—from his inland post at Athabasca to
ascend the Peace and essay a journey to the Pacific
coast. Before ice began running he had reached
a point about five hundred and fifty miles above
the lake, about opposite to the mouth of Smoky
River, where he built winter quarters and remained till spring, hunting, trapping, and trading
with the natives, preparing food and clothing,
and building a special canoe for use on his journey
to the Pacific in the following summer. When I
first visited the Peace valley in 1883, the remains
of his buildings could in part be seen. Three or
four years after that date the Rev. John Gough
Brick, an Anglican missionary who had been
stationed at Dunvegan, some fifty miles farther
up the river, moved down to this spot, where he
established a mission, and a farm, on which he
raised magnificent wheat and vegetables. In conjunction with the farm he attempted an industrial school for the Indians. Soon after his
removal the Roman Catholic Mission at
Dunvegan, in charge of the Rev. F. A. Husson,
also established a mission, school, and farm near
Mr. Brick's. This laid the foundation for a
flourishing settlement, where wheat of the finest
quality; and vegetables equally good, have been
grown for a generation. Mackenzie was not a
prophet nor the son of one, and had no visions
except those connected with the fur trade, but
could he have looked ahead and seen but a glimpse
of the possibilities of the country he was leading
the way to, in another, vaster, and more permanent field, what a different impression he might
have conveyed to the world of the region of his
arduous labour.
His journey to the coast was continued in the
spring of 1793, after dispatching six canoes loaded
with the furs he had collected during the winter
to Chippewyan. BOUNDARY MATTERS 19
The journey to the ocean was continued in
spite of hardship, difficulty, and danger of more
than the ordinary grade even in that day and
region. On the 22nd of July the goal was reached,
and he painted on a rock the simple announcement : " Alexander Mackenzie from Canada by
land the 22nd of July, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-three." This journey could not
be less than twelve hundred miles each way, and
to accomplish such a feat at the date he did, and
in the time and place he did, eclipses many of the
much-vaunted journeys of more recent date.
His motive in part appears to have been to discover the river he had learned of near the mouth
of the Mackenzie, but as we now know, he was
far south of any of its tributaries. His assumption was natural enough, seeing that the tributaries of the Mackenzie headed, some of them,
much farther south than he was.
In 1821 these rival companies were merged,
retaining the name of the old company, in the
" Hudson's Bay Company." This tended to
arrest the vigour with which trading-posts were
pushed into the wilderness, for competition
ceased. This, while not connected with the
boundary question, may have indirectly affected
it, for if the North-West Company had kept on
advancing as energetically after that date as it did
before, assuming it still in existence, it would
likely  have   had   posts   on   the Porcupine and 20 EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
Yukon in a very few years, and the boundary
negotiators between England and Russia might
have had to consider posts in the interior, and
provide for them in the determination of the
position of the boundary line across the peninsula
from the Pacific to the Arctic. As it proved, if
the British did nothing in the way of exploring
and exploiting the Porcupine and Yukon region
in the first three decades of the last century,
neither did the Russians. It was not till 1830
that a Russian armed brig, under the command
of Midshipman Etolin, was directed to examine
Norton Sound and report on its facilities for
trade. The following year Baron Wrangell dispatched Lieutenant Tebenkof to establish a
station and settlement on St. Michael Island.
In 1832-3 a Russian half-breed explored the
delta of the Yukon, and the Anvik River tributary
to it, and in 1838 an employee of the Russian-
American Company named Malakof ascended the
Yukon in the native skin boats (bidarras) as far
as Nulato, about five hundred and seventy-five
miles from the sea. He built a post here, but as
he had only two men with him, and the natives
were not too friendly, he returned in the fall.
Nothing more was done till 1842, when Lieutenant Zagoskin, of the Russian Navy, went up
and rebuilt the post, which has been maintained
since. This appears to be as far up-stream as the
Russians ventured with settlement, though they
made regular boat trips farther up in quest of
furs. The fur trade was the only question with
these pioneers: geography, meteorology, history,
and all other matters of importance and interest
to the student were practically ignored, and we
can learn little or nothing from such records as
were kept, except what concerned the fur trade.
Before leaving this post we may refer to a
tragedy that occurred in 1851, which being associated with another great tragedy is of interest.
Some time previous to this date rumours had
reached the British Government that some white
men were seen by Indians wandering in a destitute
state, near a lake north of this point. Ever on
the alert for tidings of the ill-fated Sir John
Franklin Expedition, whose end had not yet been
settled, the British Admiralty sent Lieutenant
Barnard, of the warship Enterprise, to learn what
he could about this rumour. He was compelled
to winter there. The Russian agent in charge of
the post was, for reasons sufficient to the natives
in the district, not popular, and during the stay
of Barnard some of the more aggressive of them
decided to kill the agent. The stranger they
knew nothing about, but as he was there, and
white, he had to go too. They were attacked,
the Indians afterwards reported, in the early
hours of the morning. The agent, it was said
by them, hid his head in the bedding, but the
Lieutenant jumped up and seized a musket he
i r-
had, with which he kept them at bay till he was
disembowelled by one who came in on him,
crawling along the floor. The remains of both
were afterwards buried on a knoll by the river
bank a short distance below the post. On my
way down the stream in 1897 I visited the graves,
and saw at the head of Barnard's a neat board
painted white, on which, in black letters, was a
succinct account of the tragedy in Latin, the
whole being the work of the Rev. Father Barnum,
a Jesuit missionary. He is a nephew of the celebrated P. T. Barnum, the great showman.
A few years after the amalgamation of the
two companies, George Simpson (afterward Sir
George) made a canoe voyage across the continent from Montreal in the east to the Pacific
coast, following pretty closely the routes already
traversed by his predecessors in the region. The
report of his journey, and account of the resources
and facilities he learned of, largely shaped adventure in the Wild West; for though business was the
main factor in every progressive step, adventure,
under the circumstances, was unavoidable.
A decade or so after the Simpson journey, outposts began to be pushed farther and farther west
and north, and about the time Zagoskin was
re-establishing Nulato, we find a clerk in the BOUNDARY MATTERS
service of the company, named Robert Campbell,
making his way from the head-waters of the
Liard, a tributary of the Mackenzie, to the headwaters of the Yukon on a stream which he called
the Pelly, after the then Governor, or President,
of his company. In the year 1843, accompanied
by two French-Canadians, a half-breed interpreter, and three Indians, he essayed descent of the
new-found stream, and finding nothing too formidable for the safe passage of their birch bark
canoe, he continued to the junction with another
stream, which he called the Lewes, after a fellow
employee. The Indians he met so far were civil, but
as he had journeyed more than five hundred miles
from his base in a fragile canoe, and his source of
supplies was the forest, and his weapons the slow
flintlocks of the time, he did not think it advisable to continue farther, so returned, in which
movement he was hurried by the very suspicious
actions of the Indians, as related by him in a
brochure on the expedition some time afterwards.
From the junction of the streams he then discovered, he called the united waters the Pelly.
It is hardly necessary to say that the river he
named the Lewes, and the part of the Pelly below
the confluence, is all now known as the Yukon,
being on the steamboat route from White Horse
to Dawson, and it would be inconvenient to call
parts of tjie same stream by different names. Four
years after, this clerk had so rushed matters that f
he was able to establish a trading-post at the point
of confluence he had discovered. Four years after
may sound to the ordinary reader like sarcasm, but
it is not. When we reflect that in those days railroads were hardly known on the continent, and
that the outfits for these distant posts were two
and three years en route, and the returns as long
getting back, we can, even at this distant day,
form some idea of the enterprise necessary to
originate the idea, organize the transport, and
establish the post in a hitherto unknown place
nearly five thousand miles from Montreal, the
entry port, from where every pound of material
had to be paddled in canoes on the lakes and rivers,
conveyed on very primitive carts over the wide
prairies, and carried on the backs of the boat's crew
over the transfers from one stream or lake to
another, or from one stretch of navigable water
to another.
In the same year another clerk in the same
company established another trading-post on the
same river at a point four hundred and eighty
miles farther down, where the Porcupine joins the
Yukon. The builder of this post was A. H.
Murray. In 1852 the coast Indians at Chilcat
and Chilcoot, who found their profits from the
fur trade with the interior, or " Stick Indian " as
he was known, because he came from the land of
forest, or " sticks," diminishing in an unaccountable way,.undertook a journey to the interior to   BOUNDARY MATTERS 25
investigate, and learn, if they could, who was disturbing the monopoly they had hitherto enjoyed,
for they largely took from the poor Stick whatever
he had, and gave him whatever they saw fit.
They found Campbell the disturber of business
equilibrium in his post at Selkirk and understood
how the balance of trade was disturbed. To re-'
store the balance, as they were ignorant of modern
business methods, and knew only
*' The good old rule
SufEceth them, the simple plan,
That they shall take who have the power
And they shall keep who can,"
they took possession of the post, and its
appurtenances, contents, hereditaments, and all
other things thereto appertaining, for their sole
and only use for ever, and sent Campbell and his
help down-river. Campbell had gone downstream two years before to decide whether or not
a post he had heard of from the Indians was the
company's post at Porcupine, or Fort Yukon as
it was called, and it was only then it was certainly
known what the course of the great river from the
mouth of the Pelly down, was. He left Selkirk
this last time about the middle of August, and
reached Fort Simpson on the Mackenzie by the
close of navigation—about the end of September.
The distance travelled is seventeen hundred miles,
all of it covered by foot and small boat. He left
Simpson in November by dog-team and snow- 26 EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
shoe for St. Paul, Minnesota, twenty-five hundred
miles away, and was in London, England, in
March trying to induce his directorate to reestablish his post at Selkirk. In this he failed.
Fort Yukon was occupied till the company was
notified by Capt. C. W. Raymond of the United
States Corps of Engineers in August, 1869, that
the post was in American territory. As soon as
practicable after this notice the post was moved
up tjie Porcupine River far enough, it was thought,
to pjiace it in British territory, but owing to some
mistake somewhere it was not moved far enough,
and when the position of the International Boundary Line was approximately determined on the
Porcupine in 1889, it was found to be still in
American territory; following which it was
abandoned, and the Hudson's Bay Company
withdrew altogether from the Yukon valley.
The boundary negotiations between Britain
and Russia in 1823-4-5 were the direct outcome
of an Imperial order by the Emperor of Russia,
which assumed control of Bering Sea. It took direction of all shipping in that sea, and imposed regulations for its government, as much as it could if the
shipping had been in a Russian port, and applied
it to the shipping of all nations.    The United BOUNDARY MATTERS 27
States and Britain promptly protested against the
closing of such a large body of water, ocean it
might be termed, against their shipping. As the
United States was interested only in the assumed
sovereignty by Russia over what had been used
as an open sea by its sailors and ships, the question
between these powers was soon settled by the
withdrawal of the Russian claim of exclusive control of that body of water. The adjustment with
Britain, however, was not so simple, for the question of territory was pertinent, and in order to
lessen to Russia the mortification of receding on
the main question, the discussion of limits was
associated with the maritime dispute. Through
lack of exact knowledge, and more through conflicting views as to territorial rights, the negotiations dragged over two years and were once or
twice on the point of being broken off altogether.
In the end, however, the friendship then subsisting between the two Governments prevailed,
and a treaty covering the dispute regarding the
sovereignty of Bering Sea, which Russia relinquished, and delimiting the boundary line between the territories of the High Contracting
Parties, as they are styled in the treaty, was ratified.
In addition to relinquishing the sovereignty of
Bering Sea, Russia agreed that for the term of
ten years the ships of Britain would have the
same rights to " frequent without any hindrance
whatever, all the inland Seas, the Gulfs, Havens, 28 EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
and Creeks on the Coast mentioned in Article III,
for the purpose of fishing, and trading with the
Natives." Article III will be quoted in full
further on. If any other power secured from
Russia the same privilege for a longer term,
Britain was to enjoy it for the same time. It was
also provided that British subjects | from whatever quarter they may arrive, whether from the
ocean, or the interior of the Continent," shall
have the right for ever to navigate without hindrance of any kind all the streams and rivers which
in their course to the Pacific Ocean may cross the
line of demarcation upon the line of coast described in Article III of the treaty. In the
negotiations between Britain and the United
States in 1871, leading to the treaty of that year,
the United States contended for the free navigation of the lower St. Lawrence River, on the
ground that as it had its origin in American territory, its whole length should be free to the navigation of the country giving it birth. This was
agreed to, and at the instigation of Donald A.
Smith, now Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal,
Canada, through her representative in the negotiations, Sir John A. Macdonald, successfully stipulated for the same rights for Canada on the
Stikine, the Porcupine, and the Yukon rivers,
though the right to navigate the Stikine was provided for, as we have seen, in the treaty with
Russia.   The concession by the United States on BOUNDARY MATTERS 29
the other two was unavoidable in view of their
contention regarding the St. Lawrence, for the
cases are identical in principle.
The wording of Article III of the treaty,
which defines the boundary line, is in part so
vague that though Britain and Russia never had
any contention over it, it was because it never
came pertinently before either Government. One
can be pardoned for regretting that no concrete
case of dispute as to the meaning of Article III,
in the minds of the negotiators, ever came up while
the territory was in the possession of Russia and
the parties who framed the treaty were still alive.
There was ample time for this, as Russia held it
forty-two years after the treaty was signed. It
would have relieved us of a rather unpleasant
situation, for there was not the importance
attached to the region before the cession to the
United States that has been since, and doubtless
a settlement would have been arrived at then,
sooner than since, more especially if the question
had come up before the Crimean War.
The best way to show the lack of definiteness
in the wording of Article III is to quote the
English translation. The original treaty was
written in French, the language of diplomacy of
the time, and as none of the parties to it were
French, I have heard it remarked by a Frenchman,
who knew something of boundary matters, that
it was not very good French for the purpose ;  in 30 EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
that, however, I do not pose as a judge, and as
this is not intended as a history of, nor a discussion
of, the boundary question, I will simply quote
Article III, in English, leaving it to those further
interested to secure the French version as they may.
" III. The line of demarcation between the
Possessions of the High Contracting Parties, upon
the Coast of the Continent, and the Islands of
America to the North-West, shall be drawn in
the following manner :—Commencing from the
Southernmost point of the Island called Prince
of Wales Island, which point lies in the parallel
of 54 degrees 40 minutes North Latitude, and
between the 131st and 133rd degree of West
Longitude (Meridian of Greenwich), the said line
shall ascend to the North along the Channel
called Portland Channel, as far as the point of
the Continent where it strikes the 56th degree
of North Latitude ; from this last-mentioned
point the line of demarcation shall follow the
summit of the mountains situated parallel to the
Coast, as far as the point of intersection of the
141st degree of West Longitude (of the same
Meridian) ; and finally, from the said point of
intersection, the said Meridian Line of the 141st
degree, in its prolongation as far as the Frozen
Ocean, shall form the limit between the Russian
and British Possessions on the Continent of
America to the North-West."
The reader will notice the lack of perspicuity *W    y  BOUNDARY MATTERS 31
in this Article both with regard to the term,
" parallel to the Coast," and the term, | Frozen
Ocean"; Arctic Ocean would have been quite as
euphonic, and more specific, unless the intention
was to carry the line beyond the land as far as the
perpetual ice, which, in view of Britain's protest
against the sovereignty of Bering Sea, is hardly
probable, and it could not be expected to carry
the line as far as any possible islands to be discovered in the far north. Parallel to the coast,
in the case of a mountain range, if the word
parallel is to be taken in its literal sense, might be
said to be an impossibility, for nowhere on the
surface of the globe can be found a mountain
range along a coast-line parallel to it in the strict,
or geometrical, sense of the word, and if it was
not intended in that sense, there is room for confusion and disagreement, just as was found in
this case. It seems to one from the to-day point
of view that it might have, even then, been made
more specific.
Though the summit of the mountains was made
the boundary of the coast strip, there appeared
to have been some uncertainty about it, either as
to continuity, or position, or both, and it was
provided in Article IV as follows:—" With reference to the line of demarcation laid down in the
preceding Article it is understood I
P 1st. That the island called Prince of Wales
Island shall belong wholly to Russia. 32 EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
" 2nd. That whenever the summit of the
mountains which extend in a direction parallel to
the Coast, from the 56th degree of North Latitude to the point of intersection of the 141st
degree of West Longitude shall prove to be at a
distance of more than ten marine leagues from the
Ocean, the limit between the British Possessions
and the line of Coast which is to belong to Russia,
as above mentioned, shall be formed by a line
parallel to the windings of the Coast, and which
shall never exceed the distance of ten marine
leagues therefrom."
Ten marine leagues are equivalent, practically,
to thirty-four and a half English miles.
In the recent settlement of the boundary question between Canada and the United States, the
difference of view arose from these separate provisions for the location of the line. The United
States contended that Article III contemplated
a well-defined, continuous mountain range parallel
to the coast, as was erroneously laid down on some
of the earlier charts, and as no such range was
found, that the provisions of Article IV should
govern. Canada contended that the idea in the
mind of the framers of the treaty was the summit
of the peaks as seen from the ocean, which would
seem to have support from the fact that before
the delimitation, such as it was, was arrived at,
it was proposed by Britain that the base of the
mountains parallel to the coast should form the
boundary line, to which Russia objected because
the base of the mountains might in parts come
down to tidal water, and she would have no territory at all at such places, so to allow Russia her
strip of coast, the summit was substituted. Canada
also contended that under the provisions of International Law, inlets of less than six miles in width
should be considered territorial waters, and the
International Boundary should cross such from
peak to peak. On a chart issued by the United
States in 1895 this principle was apparently recognized, but it was disclaimed as unofficial. Had
the Canadian contention been accepted Canada
would have secured about seventy miles of the
length of Lynn Canal, and the ocean port at its
head, Skagway. With a joint Commission of
six members, three of them British and three
American, holding such divergent views, it could
not be expected that either side would have
entirely its own way, to hold out for it would
create a deadlock, and no result at all would be
attained. It is not necessary to refer to the result
here, it is so well known, as it was not received by
Canada with too much satisfaction, yet it was
more of a compromise than many who understood the situation expected. Canada did not
secure a seaport, but on the other hand the United
States did not secure the ten-marine-league limit
all along the coast strip, though perhaps the strip
it did get would average that on the whole.   There
jppsfi :«
are points where such a width would have been
of advantage to it, yet it was not pressed, such,
for instance, as on the Stikine River, where it is
only about twenty miles from the coast in an air
line, and about twenty-five by the river. Other
points might be specified, but without a map of
fair scale the information would have little meaning. On the whole it is doubtless better that it
was settled when it was, in the way it was; delay
could hardly avoid friction, and to think of war
between the two branches of the English-speaking
race is, all good men hope, long out of date.
The first attempt to define the boundary line
at any point, directly or indirectly, since the
United States purchased Alaska, and assumed it
with all the obligations of the Anglo-Russian
Treaty of 1825, and there does not appear to
have been any made before, was made by Capt.
C. W. Raymond of the United States Corps of
Engineers, who notified, as we have stated, the
Hudson's Bay employees at Fort Yukon that they
were in American territory. He reached the post
in August, 1869, and spent some time there taking
observations, astronomical, and scientific generally. He does not appear to have gone any farther
up the river, and as he came up-stream on the BOUNDARY MATTERS
small steamer then plying on it he returned by
the same means. His work cannot properly be
called an attempt to fix the boundary, as he was
notsnear that line, but as he gave the Hudson's
Bay Company people the distance they would
have to go up the Porcupine to reach it, indirectly
it may be called fixing the boundary.
Next in order of time, in 1877, Mr. Joseph
Hunter, a civil engineer of Victoria, B.C., was
delegated by the Canadian Government to make
a partial survey of the Stikine River, and mark
on it the boundary line. The line fixed by the
Joint Commissioners, October 20th, 1903, is not
far from his determination, and the difference is
in favour of Canada.
Six years later Lieutenant Schwatka of the
United States cavalry went over the Dyea (then
spelt Taiya) Pass, and descended the Yukon from
its head to its mouth. He built a large raft on the
upper end of Lake Bennet, on which he and his
party went down-stream as far as Tanana, thirteen
hundred miles, where he procured one of the
large skin boats of the country in which to continue to St. Michael. The object of his expedition was to make a census of the Indians along the
river for military information. He named every
feature of interest as he went along, and except
where places and things had been named before,
and the names well fixed, his are now generally used.
He kept notes of the courses of the river, the 36
rate of current, and the time taken to sail or float
over them as he went along to determine roughly
the position of the 141st Meridian—the International Boundary Line—but his location was a
good deal out, as we might reasonably expect from
the character of his survey. His line was placed
a little below where the United States Military
Post, Fort Egbert, now is, which is twelve miles
below the true boundary.
Next was the expedition headed by the writer
in 1887 for the purpose of making as definite a
location as possible of the 141st Meridian on the
Yukon River. This was the first direct attempt
to fix with any degree of precision the boundary
line, and an extended reference to it, and detailed account of the methods pursued, will, I
know, be pardoned. At that time the only reliable
knowledge of the upper reaches of the Yukon
available were the reports and maps by Schwatka
of his expedition, but as that was four years past,
it was hardly reliable concerning the sentiments
of the Indians along the coast towards white men
entering their country, and as some unfavourable
reports on their attitude had reached us from
later sources, it was not altogether with feelings
of pleasure the expedition left Victoria, British
Columbia, May 13th of that year. Only one
thing seemed to be certain, which was that there
appeared to be no certainty about anything up
there, and about as much reliability could be
placed on any one report as on any other. There
was a good deal of interest shown in the expedition, and every one had his, or her, own story of
the risks about to be incurred, and how to avoid
them. Under these conditions it is easy to get
information. The voyage was made on the side-
wheel steamer Ancon, with vertical cylinder, and
walking beam engine to drive the wheels, Capt.
Hunter in command. At that time only monthly
voyages were made, and as a consequence the boat
was loaded to the gunwales with mining and fishing appliances and needs. This steamer never
was fast, and loaded as she was, she excelled herself in slowness on this voyage. Through conditions for which the ship was in no way responsible, it was May 24th when we reached Haines
Mission, at the head of Chilkoot Inlet, where now
stands the United States Military Post, " Fort
William Henry Seward." At 11 a.m. of that day
the boat left us on the threshold of our exile, for
it proved that for fourteen months from that
date we heard no news from any person or place,
except the news of the district around us. As the
steamer blew us a farewell, and dipped her flag to
us, there was a lump in my throat I could not
swallow, and a moisture in my eye that would not
dry as long as she was in sight. Not the least of
my unpleasant reflections were caused by a very
disturbing report spread by a man who had passed
the Mission the afternoon before.   He averred he 38 EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
had just come from the mining camp on Stewart
River, the only one then in the country, fleeing
for his life, with which he wonderfully escaped.
Put shortly, his startling account was that the
Indians had risen against the whites and stormed
the mining settlement at the mouth of the river,
where was stationed for the winter nearly all the
white men in the territory. A few small camps
were scattered along the river, and after the
storming of the post at the mouth, these were
taken in detail and wiped out. He could not, or
did not, tell if all except himself were killed, but
his story was startling enough without that. To
make it more alarming still, he told his listeners
that a large band of the natives had come up the
Yukon to the Canon, where they were ambushed,
awaiting the coming of the whites, whom they
would exterminate as they had done those on
Stewart River. If this were true, there was small
chance of any escaping, for the Canon is an ideal
place for such a purpose. This part of his narrative was the most alarming to me, for if true,
judging from the descriptions of the place I had
heard and read, our escape, if we escaped at
all, would be miraculous. To say that I heard
this report, detailed as it was, and looked calmly
on carrying out the programme entrusted to
me is to deny my humanity, but to have
turned back because of such an unconfirmed
rumour   would   have   subscribed   me   faithless BOUNDARY MATTERS 39
to my trust. After considering the report
and analysing it in the light of my experience
with, and knowledge of, the Indian nature, I
could not help feeling that there was considerable
doubt about the story ; for several reasons, the
principal one was that Indians seldom, if ever,
charged against defended positions, as was alleged
in this case. Unless the Indians in that region
were vastly different from others, and I had no
reason to think they were, they would not storm
a village of houses, the occupants armed with
modern weapons while they mostly had only old-
fashioned arms; anyway, storming is not their style
of warfare. Then, too, it was most unlikely they
would march up the river on the ice hundreds of
miles from their families to ambush strangers at
the Canon, of which, probably, most of them had
never heard. However, there was only one way
to solve the question, go and see, and we set about
getting our seven tons of impedimenta from Haines
Mission to the head of Dyea Inlet, sixteen miles,
and from there to the head of Lake Bennet.
There were 138 souls all told of the Indian population at Dyea, two white men, and one white
woman. Of the whites two were Mr. and Mrs.
J. J. Healy. Mr. Healy, or, as he was better known,
Capt. Healy, died at Los Angeles in the winter of
1909; his wife is still living in Southern California.
The other white man was George Dickson. Both
he and Healy were engaged in the Indian trade, 40 EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
and supplying miners entering the country. They
had a good deal of influence with the coast natives,
and both were helpful to me in making my
arrangements for carrying our outfit to Lake
Lyndeman, twenty-three miles.
The United States gunboat Pinta came up a
few days after I did, and her presence, and the
support of her commander, Capt. Newell, helped
me in coming to terms with the Indians, nearly
all of whom were required to get my one hundred
and twenty packs over the pass.
Owing to very unfavourable weather and other
adverse conditions, it was the end of June before
all my stuff was laid on the beach at Bennet Lake,
and the I ith of July before we found, whip-sawed
lumber enough for and finished our large boat, in
which all my outfit had to be taken down-river to
the boundary line. Every spring the miners entering the country had to find suitable and sufficient
lumber for their boats, and at that latitude and
elevation the supply originally was limited, and
nearly exhausted now. At first they often used
rafts, but all the suitable lumber was long gone.
"While at Juneau I heard reports of a low pass from
the head of Chilkoot Inlet to the head-waters of Lewes
River. During the time I was at the head of Dyea
Inlet I made inquiries regarding it, and found that there
was such a pass, but could learn nothing definite about it
from either whites or Indians. As Capt. Moore, who
accompanied me, was very anxious to go through it, and
as the reports of the Dyea Pass indicated that no wagon J  BOUNDARY MATTERS 41
road or railroad could ever be built through it, while the
new pass appeared, from what little knowledge I could
get of it, to be much lower and possibly feasible for a
wagon road, I determined to send the Captain by that
way, if I could get an Indian to accompany him. This, I
found, would be difficult to do. None of the Chilkoots
appeared to know anything of the pass, and I concluded
that they wished to keep its existence and condition a
secret. The Tagish, or Stick Indians, as the interior
Indians are locally called, are afraid to do anything in
opposition to the wishes of the Chilkoots, so it was difficult to get any of them to join Capt. Moore j but after
much talk and encouragement from the whites around,
one of them named * Jim' was induced to go. He had
been through this pass before, and proved reliable and
useful. The information obtained from Capt. Moore's
exploration I have incorporated in my plan of the survey
from Dyea Inlet, but it is not as complete as I would
have liked. I have named this pass * White Pass,' in
honour of the late Hon. Thos. White, Minister of the
Interior, under whose authority the expedition was organised. Commencing at Dyea Inlet, about two miles south
of its north end, it follows up the valley of the Skaguay
River to its source, and thence down the valley of
another river, which Capt. Moore reported to empty into
the Takone or Windy Arm of Tagish Lake. Dr. Dawson
says this stream empties into the eastern arm of the Tagish
Lake, and in that event Capt. Moore is mistaken. Capt.
Moore did not go all the way through to the lake, but
assumed from reports he heard from the miners and
others that the stream flowed into Windy Arm, and this
also was the idea of the Indian * Jim • from what I could
gather from his remarks in broken English and Chinook.
Capt. Moore estimates the distance from tide water to the
summit at about 18 miles, and from the summit to the
lake at about 22 to 23 miles. He reports the pass as
thickly timbered all the way through."*
* From Ogilvie's Klondike Official Guide, i8g8.
— "'"""• umiiiii' __^=_ ■■"^■■-■■*■•'■ ■
IT will fit as well here as elsewhere in this narrative to clear away the mystery associated with
the story of the Indian rising at Stewart River.
It is worth its space, as it shows us something of
the sentiments and methods of frontier life and
justice. It is also a sample of the " lost mine
story," of which there are so many told.
A person whom we will designate " the Discoverer" had been in Seattle for some months
during the winter of 1885-6, where he met
many sojourners, for the idle months, from the
Yukon ; now whether by putting together parts
of separate accounts by different miners or
whether, as he alleged, he got the story from
one man, will never be known, but he had a
story of a wonderfully rich mine, the description of which and the adjacent country he knew.,
and told very glibly to all who would listen. It
is often difficult to catch old miners with such
bait, but some will bite.   By telling his story to STORY OF ATTEMPTED CRIME
individuals, not crowds, and giving very detailed
descriptions of the river and mountains adjacent
to it, he finally convinced four men, with means
enough to outfit a party, that there was something substantial in what he said, and it was
arranged to start for the north as soon as the
season would permit, and work the wonderfully
rich mine of which the Discoverer alone knew the
ultimate secret. The four were to provide all the
necessary outfit, and all five were to share and
share alike in the clean-up. The little party left
Seattle in high hopes of speedy and great wealth,
toiled over the weary Dyea Pass carrying all
their outfit on their backs, by relaying the distance, built their own boats at the head of Lake
Bennet, and in due time reached the Stewart, up
which they went in search of the hidden treasure.
Arrived at the distance it was thought to be up
that stream, the bends in the river, shape and size
of the islands, the configuration of the mountains,
and every other indication stated or hinted at by
Discoverer, were observed, and examination made
in the vicinity of any feature found resembling
the description furnished ; but no gold rewarded
the search, at least not in the quantity looked for.
Other groups of miners were found working on
the bars and in the banks taking out good pay, but
our party was not after pay, it was after a find, a
fortune such as falls to the lot of but few, but it
was careful to keep   the prospect to itself and —
allay the curiosity of the old-timers by saying it
would take a good look around before settling
down to work, and it did. The season was almost
passed when it occurred to the party that something would have to be done to supplement the
supplies it brought with it, or it would run short
before the next importation the following summer,
everything then coming up the river, and the
season being too far gone to think of going out.
The party was perforce, therefore, compelled to
select a place, settle down, and go to work to get
out the all-requisite grub stake of the country,
about four hundred and fifty dollars per man.
In this it satisfactorily succeeded, when running
ice put a stop to further mining operations.
Winter quarters had now to be prepared, and
when that was done, and the winter quiet of the
region at that time took possession of them, the
mischief latent in idleness began to show itself.
In a party of only five there are just as likely to be
five different characters as with any other number, and so it proved in this instance. Of the five
only one had ever sought for gold, and their disappointment went harder with them than it would
have with seasoned miners. One of the party
was a very large man, and him we shall know as
" the Giant." He was of a querulous disposition,
and resented the trick he thought was played on
them by Discoverer. Being away from all restraint, as he thought from law, Giant talked STORY OF ATTEMPTED CRIME 45
freely of what he considered ought to be done to
Discoverer, for the crime he had committed in
deceiving them as he had, for though they were
hopeful of finding what he described to them so
circumstantially, and laboured hard in search of
it, it was now only too apparent to them that
either Discoverer himself had been hoaxed, or
he had deliberately hoaxed them, for nowhere on
the river, as far as they went up, was anything at
all resembling what he described found, and they
went much farther up than the distance he gave
them in Seattle. All the four contributors were
dissatisfied with the result of their expedition.
What Discoverer thought he kept to himself, and
it certainly could not have been any gratification
to him to hear himself and his motives discussed
as they were by the others in the party; but in the
case of Giant it went beyond discussion, and as
the winter ennui wore on them, it became threatening, from degree to degree, till lynching was
talked of. All did not approve of this, but as
they never dreamed of any ill consequences from
it they said nothing in objection, considering
Giant only a big dissatisfied boy who must do a
certain amount of blowing off, and that Discoverer deserved a scaring at least. Discoverer,
however, was of a highly nervous, imaginative
temperament, and as the dreary winter nights
wore on him, he began to see an untimely death
awaiting him in the not distant future.    The
frequent allusions made to his conduct, and the
highly condemnatory terms used regarding it, together with the threats made by Giant, so worked
on Discoverer that he decided in self-defence to
kill all the others: there was no middle course as
it presented itself to him. A rule of the camp
was that each member should take turns of a week
in cooking. Now one of the items in their outfit
was a quantity of arsenic, taken along for the
purpose of poisoning wild animals. This was kept
in a small bottle, which was buried in the snow
outside the cabin so that no risk might be run of
mistaking it for something else. The week of
Discoverer's turn to cook came, and ill-fortune
favoured his scheme one day when all the others
went out to try and secure some fresh meat. He
was expected to have a hearty supper for them
when they returned, and he had more than they
wanted, very nearly all they ever would want. A
staple article of food in those northern climes, and
a very necessary one, is beans, and plenty of them.
They are generally boiled till soft and then fried
in bacon grease, and thus cooked they are both
palatable, nourishing and invigorating, as the
miners say, " they stick to you." Discoverer had
a plentiful portion of beans for the four tired,
hungry men on their return, apparently nicely
done, " done to a turn," as they say there, but
instead of using salt to season them with he dug
up the arsenic and seasoned them with that.   He STORY OF ATTEMPTED CRIME
had no idea of the size of a fatal dose of the poison,
and to be sure about it, used plenty. The men
noticed a very unpleasant taste to the beans, and
asked how it came. He replied that he had forgotten to mention that while cooking he had
spilt nearly all the salt they had on top of the red-
hot stove, and before he could save any of it, it
was badly burned, and as he thought its strength
would be reduced by the burning he had used a
lot of it in the beans, and that he did not taste it
so much while it was warm as now when the mess
was cool. In that region in the winter, after a
brisk outdoor walk, one's appetite is almost equal
even to arsenic, and while they condemned the
taste in auroral language, they partook of it
heartily, which was their salvation, for it acted as
an emetic, and their stomachs rejected the mess
shortly after dining. Discoverer pleaded illness,
and told them he had eaten all he wanted shortly
before they came in, but for company's sake took
a bite or two with them. He, too, feigned to be
very sick when they were, and vomited as they
did. That night all in camp were apparently
near death, and their pains were excruciating. In
the morning they felt somewhat better, still not
well enough to take any interest in speculating on
the cause of their sickness. Their sufferings were
lessened a good deal by evening, when one of them
became suspicious of the actions of Discoverer.
It appeared to him that Discoverer's sickness was r
simulated, and he determined to watch him
closely. As the night wore on, their pains lessened
so much that all apparently fell into a sound
slumber, and the watcher's efforts to keep from
sleeping were heroic. As midnight approached he
thought he noticed signs of attention by Discoverer, certainly he noticed that his moans
lessened. At last, when apparently all were in
a deep sleep, the watcher simulating his, he saw
in the feeble light from the open fireplace, now
flickering low, Discoverer sit up in his bunk, which
was in the opposite corner of the cabin, and listen.
Being at last satisfied that all were in a deep slumber he stealthily arose, tiptoed to the corner where
a loaded Winchester rifle was standing, took it
up, and was in the act of cocking and presenting
it at one of the sleepers, when the watcher, with a
shout and a spring, was on him. The trigger was
pulled, but the aim was wild, and before another
shot could be fired he was overpowered by the
surprised slumberers and watcher. He was bound
up, and after hearing the watcher's story of his
suspicions and actions, they were convinced that
the burned salt story was an invention. In the
morning search was made for the bottle of
arsenic; it was found, but the contents were
materially reduced in bulk. After discussion it
was decided that they would not punish him
themselves, but leave it to the whole camp at the
mouth of the river, so as soon as they were well STORY OF ATTEMPTED CRIME 49
enough all started for the main camp, about sixty
miles away. Arrived there, in accordance with the
unwritten law of mining camps, a meeting of the
whole camp was convened to hear the statements
of the parties to the action, and decide what
punishment should be meted to the culprit. The
miners told the story of the pretended secret
knowledge of the lost mine, how they had
organized to search for it, how they had come
into the country, hunted up and down the river,
under the direction of Discoverer, and found
nothing resembling his description. Then how
they had camped and arranged their domestic
economy for the winter, concluding with the
account of the almost terrible tragedy. Discoverer
then told his side of it, how he had acted in good
faith throughout, having got his story from one
who assured him of its truth and accuracy, and he
could not know that it was otherwise, till after he
had learned as the others had. That instead of
accepting his explanations, they were scouted with
scorn and derision; he told of the threats of
lynching, which were repeated so often and so
earnestly, without protest from any member of
the party, that he was convinced it was his life or
theirs, and in that firm belief he had only done
what any of them would have done—tried to save
his own life. His excited, earnest manner convinced his hearers that he had only acted according to natural law.    Some of his party acknow-
I v4
ledged the truthfulness of his evidence, and admitted he had cause, from the threats that were
made, for apprehension at least, and that they
themselves in his position would have felt
alarmed; further, they admitted that they regretted Giant was not called down in time to
prevent any uneasiness, but they never dreamed
that as long as there was no concerted action that
Discoverer would pay any attention to threats.
It appeared to the majority that Discoverer acted
in self-defence only, nevertheless, he was considered an undesirable citizen, and after much
discussion it was decided to banish him, so he was
furnished with a sled, provisions enough to get
out if he could, and was ordered to move up-river
at least one hundred and fifty miles from that
camp, and assured that if ever he was seen within
that distance of it, any one then present would be
justified in shooting him on sight. He left to
make his way unaided up the Yukon, to and over
the Dyea Pass, more than five hundred miles, in
the inclement winter and spring months, and he
succeeded so well that he reached Haines Mission
when I did, and told the story of the Indian
rising which caused so much apprehensive anxiety
for many miles of my journey down-river. I
heard the story from some of the miners and had
the satisfaction, as well, of meeting two of the
men who were poisoned. They told me the story
as I have related it.    They then thought that STORY OF ATTEMPTED CRIME
Discoverer only did what probably they, under
all the circumstances, would have done themselves. It was thought he richly deserved punishment, but as they had no prison in which to confine him, nor any way to detain him for any length
of time, all they could do was hang him or banish
him. His death they did not wish to be directly
responsible for, though many of them felt they
were condemning him to death in agreeing to the
sentence imposed.
Later on, when dealing with the miners'
methods of dispensing justice, we will see how
another man for a much smaller offence received
a precisely similar sentence. CHAPTER IV
A FEW remarks on my survey from Pyramid Island in the head of Chilcat Inlet
will not be out of place. As there was
no certainty that I woulcfijbe able to reach the
International Boundary Line on the Yukon, it
was necessary that as far as I went I should approximately, at least, be able to locate my positions.
To do this I must begin my survey at a point
whose latitude and longitude were pretty well
established by reliable authority. In 1867 tne
now venerable Prof. George Davidson, then in
the service of the United States Coast and
Geodetic Survey, made a reconnaissance survey
of the coast-line wherever practicable along the
Alaska front. In 1869 the same gentleman observed the total solar eclipse of that year, August
7th, at a place up the Chilcat River, and while
there determined the latitude and longitude of a
point in that vicinity. I assumed the position of
the island referred to as fixed by him and began
my survey there, carrying it over the peninsula
to Chilcoot Inlet at Haines Mission, from there REMARKS ON MR. OGILVIE'S SURVEY   53
across Chilcoot Inlet to the mouth of Dyea Inlet,
up it and through the pass at its head to the summit, locating as I went the notable peaks around,
and inferring their heights above sea-level from
their angles of elevation, and distances from my
stations as determined by the method of triangu-
lation. The summit of this pass I found in this
way to be 3500 feet above sea, and Lake Lynde-
man being 1350 feet below it, is 2150 feet above
sea-level. As my measurements were not of a
very precise order these heights may not quite
agree with the absolute determinations made very
recently. My determinations, however, will not
prove very far from the absolute truth. My
altitude for White Horse was about 2054 feet, and
the White Pass Engineering Survey makes it
The survey was carried from the summit down
to where we built our boat, and when that was
finished, loaded, and sent on, the work was resumed, and carried without interruption to the
International Boundary Line. We resumed work
at Lake Bennet July nth, and reached the boundary line September 14th. The distance is 640
miles. The method of survey was as follows :
Two canoes were employed, one of which went
ahead picking out good sites for stations. At each
station they would land, set up a base rod they
carried with them, and wait till the direction or
bearing of it in degrees, minutes, and seconds of 54 EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
arc from the preceding station was read by me or
my assistant. Also till the small angle subtended
by two discs attached to it, which were exactly
twenty links of Gunter's chain, or thirteen feet
and one-fifth, a part was measured as exactly as
possible by a small heliometer micrometer. Then
the base men were signalled to go on and select
another station, and so on to the end. From the
angle subtending the twenty-link base the distance was inferred by the principles of trigonometry. Gunter's links were used because this
standard simplified very much the reduction of
the distances to chains, and from that to miles.
It is hardly necessary to say that with such a short
base the distances found were not accurate, but
with a good heliometer, such as was used, and
carefully repeating the angular measurements, results were obtained that for distances not exceeding a mile at a sight came within a few feet of the
accurately measured length. In practice the
system was found seldom to exceed an error of
one part in a hundred. In this case it was found
that the total error between Pyramid Island and
the crossing of the Yukon by the boundary line
was only three miles in a distance of nearly seven
hundred. The system, while not accurate enough
to think of determining the position of the boundary line by, was accurate enough to put in the
topography along the river and give its length
from point to point.   The vicinity of the boun-
dary reached, we set about getting up our observatories and winter quarters. This done the
men settled down to trying to pass the dreary
winter nights as cheerfully as they could, and
taking as much exercise as the weather would permit. I settled to my winter's task of getting all the
astronomical observations I could to determine as
closely as possible the position of the 141st Meridian
west of Greenwich. The most accurate determinations of longitude by astronomical methods
require the existence of a telegraph line between
two points, of one of which the position is required, and that of the other well known. By
this method differences of longitude to within
ten or twelve feet can easily be determined. The
procedure is: At each station an astronomical
transit is set up with which to observe with the
utmost precision the transits of stars over the
meridian of the place, at one, or it may be both,
of the stations a standard time-keeper, clock or
chronometer, is set up, and nursed so as to give
the best possible performance. A list of stars is
selected, the transit of which over the meridian
of both places is observed, the time of each transit
recorded with the utmost accuracy by a chronograph. From the interval of time elapsed between
the transits of the stars at the two places the difference of longitude is inferred, for difference of time
is difference of longitude, and vice versa. Next
to actual measurement of the distance between the 56 EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
two points this is the most accurate method of
determining the difference of longitude. As there
was no telegraph line to any point on or near the
Yukon, and no practicable way of measuring
accurately enough from any convenient point to
the vicinity of the boundary, the only way open
to me was observations on the moon. It affords
two methods of determining longitudes, one by
getting the exact local time when the moon occults
a star, or in other words eclipses it, the other to
get the exact local time when the moon transits
the meridian of the place. In the first case, if the
time of disappearance of the star can be determined within a small fraction of a second, the
moon's place can be determined closely enough to
give by comparing this place at the exact local
time with the place of the moon at their base
observatory, as shown in the standard ephemeris
of the moon, published annually by the naval
service of all the leading countries. As the moon
encircles the earth about every twenty-nine days,
it, of course, is continually changing its place
among the stars, and, at any time if we measure
accurately its position with reference to the well-
placed stars around it, we know from their place
the place of the moon, and by comparing that
place with the place given for it in the ephemeris
of the nearest standard observatory, in my case
Washington, at certain stated hours, we have a
measure of the motion of the moon since that REMARKS ON MR. OGILVIE'S SURVEY   57
time at Washington, and as the moon completes
about one twenty-ninth of a circuit in a day, we
infer from the noted change of place the difference of time between the place of observation and
the standard observatory, wherever it may be.
These methods are only about one twenty-ninth
as accurate as the method of telegraph and star
transit above referred to, and when we consider
the natural difficulties of very fine work in the
extremely low temperatures in the winter months
of those high latitudes, the disproportion is much
more, probably sixty to one. When I say that
some of my observations were taken when the
temperature was lower than fifty below zero, and
often when it was lower than forty, and seldom
higher than thirty below, one can appreciate the
difficulty of getting the most accurate work from
even such limited appliances as the transportation
facilities at that time afforded. Not only did the
temperature add to the personal discomfort, and
interfere with bodily freedom through excessive
clothing, for one must be very warmly clothed
indeed to remain standing still in an open-roofed
observatory for two hours in such temperatures,
but it also seriously interfered with the instruments used and impaired their delicacy. More
especially was this the case with the chronometer.
Chronometers are adjusted for temperatures within limits, but the temperatures here were much
outside the limits generally accepted by makers. 58 EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
The one I had was a remarkably good one, but
the temperatures it was subjected to in this work
was a strain for which it was never intended. If
I had had the good fortune to take two with me,
one to be kept in the house in as uniform a temperature as possible, the other to be used in taking
the observations with, and compared very accurately with the house one before and after observing, I could have reduced the high probable
error of my observations very much.
It was arranged before I left Ottawa with Mr.
W. F. King, now Chief Astronomer for Canada,
that we would observe a series of star occultations,
he at Kamloops, British Columbia, and I in the
vicinity of the International Boundary Line on
the Yukon River, or as near as I could get to it.
These occultations extended over the lunations
of September-October and October-November,
and as the number was large, it was hoped that we
would secure enough in common to give a pretty
close, for the method, approximation to the
exact place. But unfortunately the weather was
so cloudy and stormy through those two lunations
that I could only observe one of the lot, and that
one under such unfavourable circumstances that it
was of little value. I had to resort to the method
of moon culminations, or moon transits over the
meridian of the place referred to. I was fortunate
enough to get twenty-two of these in the November-December, December-January, and January- REMARKS ON MR. OGILVIE'S SURVEY     59
February lunations. That number, if taken in an
up-to-date observatory, equipped with the most
refined instruments, would be expected to give
an average result within a few hundred feet of the
truth, but with a small portable astronomical
transit, of which I had only the telescope, mounted
on a stump instead of the usual stand, I could not
look for a very exact result. The stand weighed
four hundred pounds, a serious item of transport
where everything had to be carried for miles over
the pass on men's backs, serious enough to set me
planning to dispense with it, which I did by devising a set of brasses to be fastened on a stump of
suitable size, and on these the telescope could be
mounted in the same way as on the stand. These
reduced the weight from over four hundred to
less than eighty pounds. Trusting to the reports
I read of the size of the trees along the river I did
not expect any trouble in finding my tree, a
diameter of only twenty-two inches being required. When the time to mount the instrument
came a three days' hunt in the vicinity of the
boundary line found only one tree approaching
the necessary diameter at the requisite height,
about five feet, and that one being only eighteen
inches I had to reinforce it with blocks on the
sides to get the proper support for my brasses.
The position of this tree determined the site of
our winter quarters, for we had to be near the
observatory.   It stood on the side of a steep hill, 60 EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
which occasioned both inconvenience and inaccuracy, for it was found that the stump swayed
up or down the hill with a change of temperature,
and seldom was absolutely stationary. Result, the
transit had to be levelled every evening just before
beginning work, but it continued to swing during
work. At the close of the observations and their
reduction, the resultant position was marked by
cutting the line through the woods north and
south of the river for a distance. Then a survey
was made up the Fortymile river and the boundary line marked on it.
In 1889 the United States determined to test
the position I had given the boundary line on
the Yukon and Fortymile, also to locate it on the
Porcupine, so two parties were sent in, one under
Mr. McGrath to observe on the Yukon and Forty-
mile, and the other under Mr. Turner to observe
on the Porcupine. I was requested by the Minister of the Interior of Canada to prepare a report
of my operations for the information of those
men, and to furnish such advice as I thought
would be useful to them, which I did. Both
parties made their way by the Alaska Commercial
Company's boat from San Francisco to St.
Michael, and from there on the same company's
new river steamer Arctic to the seat of their
operations. Both those gentlemen had to use the
same' methods of getting the longitude ^ts I did,
and Mr. McGrath made use of my winter quarters REMARKS ON MR. OGILVIE'S SURVEY   61
and observatory on the Yukon. He remained two
winters in the country, getting some thirteen
observations in that time, the result of which was
that the line as I had marked it was accepted until
such time as better methods of observing could
be utilized in the vicinity. This was done four
years ago by the star transit and electric telegraph method, by both American and Canadian
parties, and the old line that stood as the boundary
for nearly twenty years, and that is a long time as
the world moves now, was found to be only a
few score yards from where it ought to be.
Its exact intersection with the Yukon River was
found, and from that point a Joint Commission
of American and Canadian surveyors is carrying
it south to the Pacific Ocean, marking it by permanent monuments on the hill-tops, and cutting
a wide swath through the woods between. When
the line to the Pacific is finished in this way it
will then be carried north to the Arctic in the
same way.
The distance from ocean to ocean on this line
is about seven hundred miles, and the Yukon crossing is very nearly the middle point in the distance.
When finished it will be a well-defined white
ribbon during the winter, and as the growth of
trees and shrubs is remarkably slow in the latitudes it traverses, it will be many years, it might
be said generations, before it will require reopening.    At the present rate of advance with the
work it will likely be seven or eight years more
before it is completed.
I have previously stated that the determination
of the boundary line on the Porcupine found the
Hudson's Bay Company post, which had been
moved up that river from the mouth, still in
American territory, and it was abandoned. CHAPTER V
BEFORE reviewing the trading posts, and
posts generally on the river after the transfer of the territory to the United States
by Russia, we will glance at the attempt of the
Western Union Telegraph Company to establish a
line to, and across, Bering Straits, and from there
to the west of Europe. This company's exploring
parties were in the Yukon valley 1866-7 looking
for a route for the globe-circling wire, as it was
intended to be. The failure of the Atlantic cable
of 1858 was responsible for this attempt, and the
successful laying by the Great Eastern of the
cable in 1866 rendered it useless; but it was a
year after before the news reached the explorers.
Of those explorers one, Dall, left his name on the
page of history, through his writings. Another,
Michael Labarge, of Montreal, Canada, will be
remembered by the beautiful lake called after
him on the upper Yukon, though he never saw it,
but hearing of it, he described it to some parties
who, afterwards reaching it, called it after him.
He remained in the country trading for some time
after this.
In 1868, closely following the transfer from
Russia, the San Francisco firm of Hutchinson,
Kohl & Co. bought out the Russian-American
Company trading in Alaska, in its entirety, and
took possession of all its posts and effects. The
firm, however, soon changed its name, and became
incorporated as the Alaska Commercial Company.
It retained this name till 1901, when it merged
with a company of very recent origin, the Alaska
Exploration Company, and the name of the joint
concern became the Northern Commercial Company. It is to-day probably the strongest trading
company in all the North-West. The Alaska
Commercial Company established posts along the
river as suited the convenience of trade, and for
a time occupied the Hudson's Bay abandoned
post at the mouth of the Porcupine in charge
of Moses Mercier, of Montreal, whose brother
Francois was in general charge at St. Michael.
The Hudson's Bay style of dealing with the
Indians, however, had encouraged them in habits
the new people thought slow, too slow for modern
business methods. The Indian did not then, nor
does he yet, care to do business in the rush method;
he likes to come to the post, and first have a solemn
shake hands all round, then after a short talk he
likes to take a friendly smoke (the trader furnishing
the tobacco), then as much to eat as he can get, TRADING POSTS ON THE RIVER        65
and the more tea to drink with it the better; after
a day or two, or as much of this as your patience
will stand, he is ready to trade, but you must be
very diplomatic in concealing your feelings of
annoyance, or you may ruin business. The agent
at Fort Yukon could not get accustomed to the
Indian style, for it was that and nothing more
which the Hudson's Bay people had fallen into,
and so thinking it easier to break in a new crowd,
moved his post about one hundred and ninety
miles up the Yukon, where he established himself ; and being French-Canadian called the post
Belle Isle, or Beautiful Island. The United States
military post Fort Egbert (Eagle) is on the site
of this historic trading post. In 1871 Napoleon
Leroy—better known as Jack—McQuesten established for the company Fort Reliance, about six
miles below where Dawson now is. He came into
the territory in 1873, and entered the service of
the company the following summer. In the fall
of that year Arthur Harper joined McQuesten
in the trading business, and in 1875 Harper and
Alfred H. Mayo, who was also trading with them,
were in charge of Fort Reliance. They had some
trouble with the Indians, who were not as amenable to reason then as since the white brother has
become so numerous, and they had to leave.
Before going they concealed (" cached " the local
term is), as well as they could, all the supplies
in the place, among other things a mixture of
arsenic and grease, which they used as rat poison.
After they left the Indians looted the post, and
finding this compound proceeded to mix it with
some flour and make bread. The result was, two
old women and one blind girl died. In the fall
McQuesten came up with an outfit for the store,
and of course had to make terms with the Indians.
After a pow-wow it was agreed that the Indians
would pay for what they took out of the store if
McQuesten would pay for the women poisoned—
a very one-sided settlement we would think when
we consider the Suffragette movement of the
present day.
After McQuesten had billed them to the limit
for the goods appropriated, he asked, almost in
terror, we may suppose, how much they thought
the women worth. A short calculation at current
rates fixed the prices as follows : the two old
women were not valued at all, being a nuisance,
and for the young one, ten skins, the current terms
of the country, about six dollars, was demanded.
This amount was cheerfully paid, and some
presents given besides, and the prompt payment
and kindliness established the very best of
In 1886 Harper, McQuesten, and Mayo established a post at the mouth of the Stewart to
accommodate the miners who were gathering on
that stream, and following the discovery of coarse
gold on the Fortymile River, they erected at the   TRADING POSTS ON THE RIVER      67
mouth of that river in September, 1887, another
In 1889 Harper left the firm. It had been
trading on commission for the Alaska Commercial
Company, and the parties continued with this
company on the same terms, but independently
of each other.
In 1893 McQuesten outfitted some men and
sent them down to prospect on Birch Creek in
American territory. The venture was successful,
and the following spring McQuesten took all the
supplies that could be spared from the camp at
Fortymile, and at the point on the Yukon most
convenient to the new mining ground founded
Circle City, because it was in the vicinity of the
Arctic Circle. It is hardly near enough it, however, to deserve the distinction, being about
eighty-eight miles up the Yukon from the
Circle, and nearly a degree in latitude south
of it.
While McQuesten was founding Circle City,
Harper opened business at Selkirk on the site of
Robert Campbell's old post; he also built a new
post opposite to the mouth of Sixtymile Creek,
which he named Ogilvie, after the writer. This
was done in pursuance of a resolution made by
him and McQuesten after my first visit to the
country, to name any future posts they might
establish in Canadian territory after Canadian
officials,   notably   those   who   had   visited   the EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
country, and as I was the first they met, they
began with myself. Dawson followed, being
called after Dr. Dawson, late Director of the
Canadian Geological Survey.
In 1892 Capt. J. J. Healy, to whom we have
referred, organized in Chicago a company to
trade on the Yukon, and in Alaska generally,
which was named the j North American Transportation and Trading Company." In the summer of that year he had built for the company its
first river steamer, the Porteous B. Weare, after
its first President. It was intended that this
steamer with an outfit of supplies would reach
Fortymile that fall, but ice was encountered at
Nulato, and the boat and party had to winter
there, reaching Fortymile in 1893. Just below
the mouth of that river, Healy proceeded to erect
large storehouses and trading shops, also living
quarters. This post Healy named Cudahy, after
a prominent member of the company. In 1895
both this company and the Alaska Commercial
Company put up the buildings at Circle City
necessary for their business. As soon as Dawson
was founded both companies erected very large
storehouses and shops there. As those big companies have to store in a month, or two at most,
all they require for a year, their storehouses have
to be much larger than the same amount of
business would require where year-round transport facilities exist.   TRADING POSTS ON THE RIVER
We will refer in brief to the history of steamboat navigation on this river. The first steamer
to furrow its waters was fittingly named Yukon,
In 1869 John Parrott and other merchants of San
Francisco sent a brig to St. Michael with a trading outfit, and the material to make a small river
steamer. The boat was built that season and made
a trip up to and past Fort Yukon. One of her
passengers was Capt. C. W. Raymond, already
mentioned. Soon after the Alaska Commercial
Company bought out this firm, and the boat
became the property of that company. The
steamer St. Michael was the second boat on the
river, and in 1871 she went up as far, it is said, as
Selkirk, trading as she went, and returned with a
valuable cargo of furs. In the fall of 1882, Ed.
Schieffelin, the discoverer of the " Tombstone
Mine " in Arizona, arrived at St. Michael with a
party of five men, of whom one was Professor
Jacobson of the Royal Berlin Museum, another
was Henry de Wolfe who kindly furnished me
with a lot of information about the early days on
the lower river through an article he wrote for
the San Francisco Bulletin of September 18th,
1887, a copy of which he sent me, and from which
I quote in this record. I may add that Mr. de
Wolfe got many of his facts from the people of
the Alaska  Commercial Company,  at its  head 70 EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
office in San Francisco. I also have in my possession quite a lengthy article written specially
for me by Jack McQuesten, as the old timers
loved to call him, in which he gives me his recollections of the beginning of things on the river,
of which he is sometimes called the " Father," so
intimately associated was he with the mining development there. In both articles the Schieffelin
party is referred to with some difference of detail,
but not enough to call in question the main facts.
As this is not intended to be more than a concise
statement of the most prominent features, it
would be a waste of time to attempt an analysis
of the records; it is sufficient for our purpose now
to say that Schieffelin brought with him the
lumber and machinery for a small stern-wheel
steamer which he called the New Racket, and with
which he and party in 1883 ascended the river,
neither record says how far. The party, with the
exception of one, went out in the fall. The boat
was sold to Harper, McQuesten & Co., in other
words the Alaska Commercial Company, and for
several years did them good service.
In the fall of 1887, when my party was busy
putting up our winter quarters, to be precise,
September 22nd, we heard just around a bend
two miles below us the exhaust puff of a stern-
wheel steamer. We had learned at Fortymile
that the New Racket would, barring accident, be
up before long, so concluded it was she, but some- TRADING POSTS ON THE RIVER        71
how she did not seem to materialize, and we began
to wonder if the river was haunted, for we could
see no sign of her smoke over the woods, and we
expected to see clouds of smoke and steam, judging from the rapidity and force of her exhaust,
which, strange to say, continued for only a
minute or two at a time, with much longer intervals
between. We had first noticed the noise early in
the morning, and about nine were on the point
of starting down to learn what the mystery was,
when her nose appeared over the point of the
bend, and though it was less than two miles away
she took more than two hours to reach our camp,
where the captain (Al. Mayo) tied up for awhile,
and told us of his difficulty—leaking tubes, plenty
of them, and leaking badly too. The result of
which was they could not keep up steam, and the
programme Was reduced to going ashore for a
few minutes, bottling up steam as high as the
danger mark, slipping out, and letting her go till
steam was exhausted, then to the bank again for
more steam, and so on all day. They had no
expander to close the leaks, nor any other appliance that would help, and though only some
thirty-seven miles from Fortymile it looked like
a ten to twelve days' voyage. Of course we were
consulted about the difficulty, and as I had once
or twice before seen others in the same predicament, I suggested a remedy I had seen tried with
a measure of success, namely, to get dry wood, EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
make tight-fitting plugs, and drive them into the
worst leaking tubes. The escaping water soon
expanded the wood to such an extent that the
leak closed. The heating surface of the tube was
lost, but it did not leak, and if the leak had been
greater than the steam-making power of the tube
there was a gain. This was tried with the worst
tubes, with such success that after dinner with us
the boat went merrily on her way, not stopping
as far as we could hear her, though the steam
necessarily went down through loss of heating
surface. Arrived at Fortymile she found a number of miners anxiously waiting her to essay a trip
to Stewart River, and up it as far as the season
would permit. When coarse gold was discovered
on the Fortymile River in 1886 the rush was to it,
but the prospecting done in 1887 showed that
though the gold was coarse it was not so uniformly spread over the surface as on Stewart
River, and very much more difficult to get, so a
number who had not struck it rich on the Forty-
mile were compelled to look for a grubstake,
and knowing they could make the stake, if they
reached it in time, determined to spend the fall
and winter on the Stewart. Arrangements had
been made with the owners before the boat's
arrival to have the trial of reaching the river made,
taking as many prospectors and their outfits as
could find room on board. It is hardly necessary
to say the number was not large, eighteen or 1 . TRADING POSTS ON THE RIVER        73
twenty, yet the small steamer was so crowded that
they had to sleep in relays. Among them was a
well-known character nicknamed " Long John,"
few knowing him by any other title. " Long John "
was an Irish Canadian whom I had met at home
many years before and well remembered his innate
Irish humour, which he delivered in a rich Irish
brogue of a not too j broguey " style, that made
most things he said inexpressibly comical. He was
famed all over the Territory for his fun-making
qualities, which being absolutely unstudied were
all the more amusing. You could depend on
John for a laugh any time, under any conditions,
and the yarns I have heard of him and the things
I have heard him say would make an entertaining
book in themselves. Now, the boat's leaking
boiler tubes had been fixed as well as possible
at Fortymile, and she sailed under Capt. Mayo,
whom the boys admired for his fondness for a
joke, especially practical ones. For a day or so the
boat made good time, loaded as she was, and
against the current, and high hopes of reaching
the Stewart and taking out the needed grubstake
were entertained. The distance to the Stewart
from Fortymile is about one hundred and thirty
miles, and half the course had been covered when
the trouble with the tubes began again, and the
high hopes leaked away with the leaking tubes.
Try as they would, they made but little progress;
still the miners urged Mayo to get them to the 74 EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
mouth of the Stewart if possible. He was as willing
to go as they were to ask, and continued until it
became evident to the most sanguine that the
task was impossible. While " Long John " and his
relay were slumbering, Capt. Mayo called a
council of all awake, and frankly told them that
they were making such poor progress that even
if they continued it would be so late when the
mouth of the Stewart was reached that he had
little hopes they would accomplish anything, and
to attempt going up the latter river with the
steamer as she was would be folly. It was unanimously agreed that the steamer be turned and the
best speed possible be made back to Fortymile.
When the time for a change of sleepers came all
except " Long John " were quietly awakened, beckoned to come out, and the change in direction
explained to them, then John was called. As soon
as he came outside he noticed that the boat was
making great speed, and he remarked on it in
language as picturesque as the scenery around, and
highly amusing to his auditors. There was no
hurry to get to sleep, all were admiring with John
the new-found speed, and explaining to him in
original detail just how the trick was accomplished,
and laughing volcanically at his animadversions
on the executive of the boat for not having found
the way sooner to ensure their arrival at their
destination. After easing his mind he got out his
pipe and proceeded to take a smoke on it, occa- TRADING POSTS ON THE RIVER        y$
sionally removing the pipe to remark that they were
"goin'likeh—1" now, or some kindred ejaculation, and then bestowing a left-handed blessing
on the captain and the crew for not" thryin' that
way before," this would be followed by some
grave calculations as to "whin" they would reach
the Stewart, and how far they would get up. All
this provoked more laughter than those who do
not know John and his kind would think possible.
After quite a long smoke John looked at the trees
flying swiftly past, then at the water, then would
look indescribably serious for awhile, which would
be followed by another keen look at the trees and
water. At last he had mastered the problem, and
taking his pipe out of his mouth, jumping to his
feet and flinging his arms aloft, he shouted in a
tone that rang throughout the boat, " Julius
Caesar's ghost, boys! it's down we'r goin'! What the
h—1 has happened ? " and so on in the most lurid
language imaginable, while every soul on board
was in convulsions of laughter. After the joke
was explained to John, he enjoyed it as much as
any one, and concurred heartily in the judgment
that turned the boat.
It is hardly necessary to say that those three
boats, Yukon, St. Michael, and New Racket, were
not large. They could not be, under the conditions. Seventy to eighty feet in length, and
fourteen to twenty wide, with a depth of hull
from three to four feet was about the average. 76 EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
As a rule, however, they were fitted with powerful
machinery for their size. With the crew, a fair
supply of wood, and a few passengers they were
crowded. As a transport motor they shoved
small barges, each capable of carrying about ten
tons. With four or five of these in tow the Yukon
could make a round trip from St. Michael to any
point in the vicinity of the boundary line in about
a month, the up-stream time being twenty days.
When these boats first plied on the river they
were a great surprise and curiosity to the natives.
When the surprise ceased the curiosity became
an annoyance to the people on board, for the
Indian is only a child in such matters, and the
less he understands anything the more curious he
is about it, and getting in a man's way to see what
he is doing is as natural to him as to live. Whenever a boat would call at a new camp, there was
always a crowd to get on board as soon as she
touched shore, and swarm all over her regardless
of the convenience or comfort of any one. Capt.
Mayo told me of what a nuisance this often was
to him, and how difficult it was to get the natives
to do anything till after they had glutted their
eyes looking at things, and if he or one of the crew
touched anything, or adjusted any part of the
machinery, that thing or part must be looked at
all over before they would leave it, unless pushed
away, and if he pushed one out of the way
another immediately stepped into the place if he K=  TRADING POSTS ON THE RIVER
could, giving the evicted one a grin of contempt
as he did so. Mayo was fond of playing practical
jokes, and he retained a keen enjoyment of them
for years after. I remember his once telling me,
and laughing as heartily about it as if it had just
happened, of a trick he played on a lot of natives
to get them out of his way on the New Racket the
first year he was running her. Coming up on the
lower river he was hailed one day by a large encampment of Indians who wanted to get some
supplies, they alleged, but most of all they wanted
to see the white man's big boat. Between the
water edge and the bank was a broad strip of
quicksand, over which lay a stratum of half-dried
mud, upon which sticks had been laid to support
water-carriers on their way to the river. Mayo
ran the boat's nose into this, and as soon as the
gang-plank was laid on the quagmire the Indians,
man and boy, literally swarmed on board in such
numbers that there was danger of keeling the
steamer so much that she would take water and
sink. Say what he could, do what he might, Mayo
could not make the Indians understand that there
was any danger. They had come aboard to see,
and see they would ! They were determined once
and for all time to learn the secret of the mighty
power which pushed so many boats against the
strong waters where they had so much trouble to
take one small one. Mayo saw that something
must be done, and done at once, or a catastrophe EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
might, probably would, overwhelm them. Pushing his way to the boiler room, followed by as
many natives as could make headway, he groped
for the safety valve beam, the old lever and weight
kind, which he raised as high as he could. The
result exceeded his expectations. It was magical.
The blast of the pent-up steam through the safety
scape-pipe seemed literally to sweep over the entire
vessel, blowing every native from where he was,
in the direction he was facing, into the water, or
wherever else he could get away from the monster
on which he stood. The entire encampment on
shore, children, women, and old men, fled for their
very lives, and those in the river and on the quagmire followed as fast as they could, terror-driven
at a speed nothing else could provoke. Mayo said
he never laughed so in his life before, and thought
he never would again, which must have been
" laughing some." He told me one old man was
standing on the upper deck when the valve let go.
He was facing the shore, and sprang with such
force from the deck that he landed on the quagmire, the crust of which he went through, and
sank almost to his armpits. In the first uproar
and rush they did not hear him, but when the
crowd vanished, and they could hear him, his
calls for help and yells of terror seemed to come
from the most profound depths of his soul. As
soon as the first paroxysm of laughter was over,
Mayo and the crew fished the old man out, who TRADING POSTS ON THE RIVER        79
at once put as much distance between himself and
the roaring monster as he possibly could, and
Mayo told me he did it in a style and at a rate that
would have won a Marathon. The boat was untied and proceeded on her way, we may suppose
much to the satisfaction of the natives. I have
several times been told of this trick being resorted to, to clear a mill, or other factory on the
frontiers, of unwelcome natives, with a result just
as gratifying and amusing to the operator as in
this case.
In 1888 it was evident that the business on the
river required more capacious steamers to keep
pace with it, and accordingly the Alaska Commercial Company had the steamer Arctic built at
St. Michael's in 1889. She was finished in time to
make her maiden trip that season, and took as two
of her passengers Mr. McGrath and Mr. Turner,
who were, as we have mentioned, going to observe for the position of the International Boundary Line on the Yukon and Porcupine rivers.
The Arctic was not a large steamer as such craft
go now, yet she was a great advance on the Yukon.
Her length was about one hundred and forty feet,
by about twenty-eight feet beam, and six feet
depth. She made good time on the river, and, as
far as I know to the contrary, still holds the record
for voyages during one season on the Yukon
River. In 1895, piloted by Capt. Wm. Moore, of
Victoria, B.C., she made one run from Anvik, EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
about four hundred miles from St. Michael, to
Fortymile, and four runs from St. Michael to
Fortymile and return. This has never, as far as I
have learned, been repeated. It means more than
fourteen thousand miles in a little more than two
months, over a course then but little known,
where the pilot's memory was his only chart, and
that chart included more than fifteen hundred
miles of tortuous channel—a channel varying
with each shower of rain, and but few showers
affecting more than a fraction of its length at one
time. The next steamer on the run was the
North American Transportation and Trading
Company's steamer already mentioned, the Por-
teous B. Weare, put on in 1892. This boat was
slightly larger than the Arctic, but not quite so
fast. In 1895 the Alaska Commercial Company
put on the Alice, and a sister boat, the Bella, not
quite so large, was built and launched, but did not
make the run that year. The Alice was a respectable boat as they go to-day, her length being one
hundred and sixty-five feet, beam thirty-two feet,
and depth eight feet. These latter boats were
intended to push large barges carrying as much
freight as the steamer, and were fitted with
powerful engines for their size. The North
American Company about the same time put on a
sister ship to the Weare, the John J. Healy. All
those boats ran on the lower river, the Arctic
going only once as high as Selkirk, the Alice to TRADING POSTS ON THE RIVER        81
Ogilvie, and the Bella to the mouth of White
Following the discovery of the Klondike, and
the founding of Dawson, many other steamers and
some much larger were put on. Several small
boats were put on from Dawson up, some of which
plied between the head of Lake Bennet and the
head of the Canon and White Horse Rapids, past
which there were two lines of tramway of the
most primitive construction, made of the material
found to hand, ties laid at intervals of from three
or four to eight or ten feet, as they were convenient ; rails of wood were hewed from the poles
found beside the roadway and spiked at long
intervals to the ties. Occasionally the outside
rail was faced with iron plates in very sharp curves.
The tramcars were mounted on cast-iron wheels
of the simplest construction, and harmonized in
primeval simplicity with the roadway. The
systems, or any part of them, could hardly be
called " a thing of beauty," and were not destined
" to be a. joy for ever," yet there was a quiet charm
about the lines as they wound through ravines,
around gravel ridges, to the sides of which they
clung but feebly, and braved the terrors of the
rapids below at many points by jutting over the
bank. The charm of distant and more sublime
scenery was not wanting, for at the most unexpected places wondrously pleasing vistas of
distant snow-clad peaks would rise out of  the
G i
woods and shrubbery as if by magic. The run of
four miles over these lines on cars that might have
been made in the Stone Age, three or four of
which were drawn by a horse, was a glimpse of
the legendary, and it is almost a pity that modern
rush brushed them aside. Most of both lines
exist to-day almost as they were built, and if ever
necessity drove us to use them a few hours' time
would put them in working order.
The Canadian Development Company put on
the run from Dawson to the foot of the White
Horse Rapids three steamers of good size and
power, the Canadian, Columbian, and Victorian.
They were rather heavily built, and too bluff in
the model for the run, but they did wonderfully
good service nevertheless, and running them
taught every pilot on the upper river how to
navigate it.
The White Pass Company, which practically
controls the traffic above Dawson, has four very
comfortable steamers, good freighters, and comfortable passenger boats. They are swift and
graceful. The dimensions are about one hundred
and sixty feet long, thirty-two feet beam, and six
feet deep. This company has freight boats
Before leaving this subject it may be of interest
to give the dimensions of the largest boats on the
run from Dawson down. We cite the three
largest of the Northern Commercial Company's
boats, the Hannah, Sarah, and Susie. Length two
hundred and twenty-two feet eight inches, beam
forty-two feet, depth six feet two inches, net
•register tonnage six hundred and thirty-nine, indicated horse-power one thousand, which drives
them about seventeen miles an hour in still water.
The North American Company has several
boats almost as large, and as comfortable for
There are several small boats owned by private
individuals on both the upper and lower runs, but
as steamers they are not worth specializing. rf
rE now come to the feature that has
made this region famed, and but
for which it might have lain dormant till the crush of humanity had pushed the
race into the outlying parts of the earth: Gold!
Gold ! ! Robert Campbell knew sixty years ago
that there was gold in the gravel at his trading-
post on the Pelly and Yukon ; but he was not a
miner, and indeed there were few in the world
who could then have extracted successfully the
gold from the gravel. The " rocker " and | sluice
box" were not so familiar as now, and the gold
would have been plentiful indeed that would
have diverted those grim pioneers from the chase
for furs, to which they devoted life and limb.
Nearly two generations ago a missionary took up
his abode in that far-away region. He died
recently at Fort McPherson near the mouth of
Mackenzie River. In the middle years of the past
century he lived and laboured among the Indians
on the Porcupine and the Yukon in that vicinity.
His work called him as far up the Yukon as the GOLD DISCOVERIES AND MINING
river afterwards called the Fortymile, and from
it over to the head of the Tanana. In his journey-
ings he crossed the sources of the since famous
Birch Creek, the Circle City field, and on one of
its branches he found gold. As he had his headquarters at Fort Yukon the knowledge was common there, but fur traders do not understand
gold mining. The methods are to them a sealed
book, and as the trading seasons are strenuous,
though short, they had not much time to devote
to mining even if they would. Even the early
miners on the Yukon, men whose life business it
was, and learned in all the lore of the craft, did
not think it possible to mine in the winter, until
forced to that conclusion by long experience in
the country. In the year 1859 a young man of
the city of Toronto, Canada, entered the service
of the Hudson's Bay Company and was sent to the
other end of the world, as it was considered then,
to the Company's most distant post, Fort Yukon.
In the fall of the year soon after his arrival he
wrote a long letter home giving a minute account
of his journey of nearly five thousand miles. On
October 2nd, 1864,ne wrote again, and told of the
fur trade and its dog expeditions in the winter,
and boat voyages in the summer after furs. He
dwelt with feeling on the fear of meeting some
of the Russian parties on the river below the fort
where he often went, and though he was not
afraid of an encounter he was anxious about it. 86
The idea appeared to be that there would be a
collision, and the strongest party would take all
the furs.
I have copies of both these letters, and though
all the contents are interesting the following
paragraph is extremely so as foreshadowing the
future of the Yukon : "I had some thoughts of
digging the gold here, but am not sure about it.
I do not think it is in paying quantities at the fort,
but if I could only get time to make an expedition
up the Yukon, I expect we should find it in abundance, but I am always on the voyage or busy at
the fort during the summer, and in the winter
nothing can be done in the way of gold-hunting.
I think that next fall, after arriving from my
trip down the Yukon, I shall be able to go
up the river. There is a small river not far
from here that the minister, the Rev. McDonald,
saw so much gold on a year or two ago that he
could have gathered it with a spoon. I have
often wished to go, but can never find the time.
Should I find gold in paying quantities I may turn
gold - digger, but this is merely a last resort
when I can do no better" A last resort! how
it sounds now, and it was not sarcasm, nor moralizing on the vanity of riches either. A last resort
to a young man on a yearly stipend of not more
than two hundred dollars and such board and
lodging as the country afforded. To the miners
of the Yukon it, well!   they have a last resort
by which they may relieve themselves about it,
but it is doubtful if they can express themselves
completely. A last resort where you could gather
gold with a spoon ! The small river referred to
is quite evidently Birch Creek, and the time of
the discovery by the missionary must have been
in 1862 or '63, or fourteen or fifteen years after
Campbell knew that there was gold at Selkirk,
but it could not be gathered with a spoon.
The first man who thought of trying the Yukon
as a mining field, so far as we know, was Arthur
Harper. Born in the county of Antrim, Ireland,
in 1835, he left it while yet a boy to try his luck
in America. He spent some time on the Atlantic
seaboard of the United States, but being of an
adventurous nature he drifted westward to the
Pacific slope goldfields, and in the latter years of
the sixth decade of the past century was in British
Columbia. Fortune did not favour him overmuch, and he looked about him for new fields,
untried, to renew his quest. He had possessed
himself of a copy of Arrowsmith's—London—
map of British North America, which gave a
pretty thorough representation of the topography
of the country covered by the Hudson's Bay Company, from whom Arrowsmith got much of his
informati6n.   A study of this map led Harper to EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
believe that there was a much more extensive
gold-bearing field in the north than any one suspected. He saw the head-waters of the two most
important branches of the Mackenzie, the Liard
and Peace, flowing from well-defined auriferous
areas in British Columbia ; he saw the Yukon,
through its affluents, rising in the same field, and
he convinced himself that if gold were plentiful
on the sources of the Mackenzie, it was just as
plentiful on the Yukon. Not only did he convince himself, but he convinced four others sufficiently to test the theory with him—Frederick
Hart, a fellow-countryman from the same county,
and of about the same age; George Finch, a
Canadian from the city of Kingston; Andrew
Kansellar, a German, and Samuel Wilkinson, an
Englishman. These men, in September, 1872,
equipped themselves for a long journey and a
protracted stay in the wilderness to the north of
them, and started from Manson Creek, on the
head-waters of the Peace, for the, to them, unknown. There was no literature then they could
conveniently get to enlighten them. The Hudson's Bay Company records and publications,
such as they were, were not much known outside
of the service, and besides dealt almost exclusively
with the fur trade. In a large boat of their own
building they went down the Peace and over the
Mountain Portage, twelve difficult, soul-trying
miles, and continued on the now placid Peace  m GOLD DISCOVERIES AND MINING      89
from there to Half-way River. On the way they
met a party of engineers exploring for the Canadian Pacific Railway Survey, then just begun, and
to assist them exchanged boats with them, the
engineers having ponderous dug-out cottonwood
canoes, which were awkward, unsafe, and difficult
to drive. Now why Harper and his party did not
go down the Peace instead of the way they went
is difficult to understand. By following it down
they would have had much less trouble than they
had, and reached their destination on the Mackenzie much sooner. At that time mining in the
winter was not thought of, and their route could
not benefit them in that way. Half-way River is
about midway between the Mountain Rapids and
Fort St. John, hence its name. Mountain Rapids
are constituted by the passage of the Peace
through the Rocky Mountains, and to pass them
there is a twelve-mile portage, very trying and
difficult, and what path there had been cut through
the woods was then grown over again with underbrush, and made as impassable as the native woods;
indeed, more so in parts. Harper and party supposed that Half-way River came from the watershed common to the Peace and Liard rivers, and
so went up it as far as the dug-out canoes would
permit, not very far at that late time of the year,
and there waited till winter set in, when they
rigged sleds and hauled their stuff over to, and
down, another stream which they could only guess in
joined the Liard. They sleighed so far down that
they felt sure of safe canoe navigation, and there
camped till spring, building a large elevated cache
in which to store their provisions, and spending
their time getting as much fresh meat as possible. In the spring they made as many dug-out
canoes as were necessary to carry the party and
provisions down-stream. The canoes were made
of cottonwood poplar trees, which grow to a very
large size on the Liard River and its tributaries.
The word Liard is French for that species of
cottonwood, and as there are extensive groves of
it along the banks of that stream, and also on its
tributaries, the river took its name from the
timber, being so called by the French-Canadian
voyageurs of the Hudson's Bay Company. I have
seen trees of that variety on the bank of the river
not less than five feet in diameter at the ground,
and quite one hundred and fifty feet high. At
one point I saw a specimen so tall, straight, and
clear of limbs, though not among the largest I had
seen, that I had it cut down to measure it, and
found it four feet four inches across the stump,
three feet from the ground, and ninety-two feet
to the first limb, where it was eighteen inches in
diameter, the top part being over forty feet in
length. In 1891 I passed over the route followed
by Harper and party, but in the contrary direction, and though this was nineteen years afterwards, I  found the cache they built  and the GOLD DISCOVERIES AND MINING
frames for their tents in a good state of preservation.
The river they fell on is now marked on our
maps " Sikanni Chief River," a leading tributary
of the Nelson, which is one of the main branches
of the Liard.
At the mouth of the Nelson, Harper and party
met another party of three who were also thinking
of going to the Yukon. The members of this
party were Leroy Napoleon McQuesten, previously known as " Jack," Alfred H. Mayo, and
James McKnipp. It is well to state here that I
had a number of long interviews with Harper
about this journey, which I put in writing, read
over to him, reviewing and correcting until I got
a version that satisfied him. I afterwards read
this to Fred Hart, and he, while agreeing
with it so far as the salient features were concerned, made a few objections in detail, but only
such as would be due to difference of character
in looking at things. Substantially, he agreed
with Harper. As I have already said, McQuesten
also favoured me with a memorandum written by
himself, but in his case I had not the opportunity
of talking the matter over with him and comparing his statements with others I had heard
and read. As might naturally be expected,
McQuesten differs from Harper in some respects,
and at this point there is a difference. McQuesten says he and his associates had wintered
there to go to the Yukon in the spring, and
" they (Harper and the others) concluded to
come along," which would imply that Harper and
friends were his followers, instead of, as Harper
stated it to me, being the leaders, in the movement. Both Harper and Hart were quite clear
on this point; they left the upper Peace in
British Columbia to try both the Mackenzie and
the Yukon for gold, and their subsequent course
bears out this idea ; then, too, Harper and Hart
gave me their memoranda about fifteen years
before McQuesten did. I do not imply any intentional inaccuracy on Mr. McQuesten's part,
for I believe he is incapable of wilful misrepresentation, yet it would seem from the nature of the
two memoranda that the chances are in favour of
Harper and Hart. I must say, in justice to Mr.
McQuesten, that I asked him for a record of
things in the Yukon at the same time that I interviewed Harper and Hart, and he told me that he
had regularly chronicled events of note for many
years, but had loaned his records to a would-be
author of a history of the region. He had tried
often to have his manuscript back, but had not
succeeded. He would, however, try again, and
if successful lend it to me to copy. He never got
it, but years after when I wrote to him asking for
a statement, he sent me what he recollected.
McQuesten was born in Maine, whence his
parents moved to Illinois when he was a child. GOLD DISCOVERIES AND MINING      93
In his boyhood he went north and west, finally
landing in the Hudson's Bay country, where he
was employed by it for awhile. The work did not
suit his tastes, so he took up the fur trade on his
own account. Nearly all the supplies for the
Athabasca and Peace River regions came in by
British Columbia, and in that way McQuesten
became acquainted with the traffic routes in that
province, and occasionally traded with the mining
camps he passed, and when he met Harper at the
mouth of the Nelson they recalled earlier meetings.
Whatever may have been McQuesten's plans as
to making his way to Yukon, he appears to have
changed them here, for he gave Harper his large
boat in exchange for the dug-outs. One of the
Harper party at this point, Wilkinson, left the
rest to make his way up the Liard in search of
gold, believing he would find it sooner and easier
on the Liard than by going to the Yukon. One
of the items of Harper's outfit was a five-gallon
keg of strong black rum, and at every Hudson's
Bay post visited this was tapped and a drink passed
round. His recollections of some of the results
were amusing, and he used to repeat them in
humorous style. At one place a large Highland
Scotchman who was handed the keg to take it to
the house did not wait for that, but drawing the
bung cork put it to his mouth, and before any one
could interfere had taken a veritable drink, not a 94 EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
glass. The result was somewhat amusing, if not a
little brutal. In a short time he was wildly intoxicated, and turned berserker, defying all creation to come on and have it out with him. Being
a giant in strength, there was a well-manifested
inclination shown to let him have it all as he
wished, and as no one came near him, he seized a
large train dog that was looking on, and taking
the front legs in one hand and the hind ones in
the other he flung the brute around his neck, the
dog howling the while as only those wild wolfish
dogs can howl. The human brute seemed to find
enjoyment in this, for he marched around the fort
square, howling in unison with the dog. No one
was anxious to interfere, and the performance
was kept up till exhaustion and sleep overtook the
man, and he slept the sleep of the unrighteous till
Harper and his party left. Harper thought this
the most unique display he had ever witnessed,
and often recalled it with mingled feelings. On
the way down the Mackenzie, which passed without incident of note, the party prospected for gold
frequently, but found no colours till they reached
the Peel. This large stream drains the country
between the Mackenzie and Yukon, and there is
no doubt that its head-waters come from the gold-
bearing area adjacent to the Klondike, and other
streams flowing into the Yukon. It joins the
Mackenzie in its delta, which is common to both
rivers, and in this Harper told me he found fair GOLD DISCOVERIES AND MINING      95
prospects. In giving me the results of his prospecting on this journey he always summed it about
as follows. On the Peace everywhere colours were
found more or less, on the Liard colours, on the
Mackenzie nothing, on the Peel fair prospects, on
the Porcupine some colours, and on the Yukon
prospects everywhere. From Fort McPherson, at
the junction of the Peel with the Mackenzie, they
made their way over to the Porcupine by going
up a small river tributary to the former stream,
now marked on our maps "Rat River," about forty-
five miles. The first twenty from the mouth is of
moderate current, but the next twenty-four or
five is a continuous rapid—the fall in the distance
being more than twelve hundred feet. In low
water in the summer the stream is so shallow in
the rapids that the only way to get a boat of even
the lightest draught up is to walk beside it, and
pull it around rocks and over them. The boat
may be hard on a rock while the men around
it are in three or four feet of water. In 1888 I
went down it in very light draught canoes in the
spring freshet and still found it difficult enough to
get along safely. A portage of eight miles leads
from this stream to Bells River, which is a branch of
the Porcupine, and once on this, all trouble is over,
there being nothing worse than a quickening of
the current here and there. Following this route,
which, by the way, was known as the Edmonton
Route during the Klondike rush, because Edmon- EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
ton was the jumping-off place on it, that is the
last touch with modern means of transport, the
party arrived at Fort Yukon July 15th, 1873.
They found the Alaska Commercial Company's
agent Moses Mercier there, and he extended them
every consideration and assistance in his power.
On the 21st, to the surprise of Harper and party,
as he told me, Jack McQuesten and his friends,
together with a pick-up they had made, one Nicholson, who had been in the Hudson's Bay employment, but left it and stayed with the Indians
till he found McQuesten and party on the Peel,
joined them. McQuesten tells me in his paper
that Moses Mercier was in charge at Fort Yukon,
and quaintly says, " He let us have fifty pounds of
flour. It was all that he could spare. That was
quite a treat to us, as that was the first we had
had for two years."
At Yukon Harper met an Indian who had quite
a chunk of native copper. Anxious inquiry
elicited the information that it came from White
River, more than four hundred miles up the
Yukon. He decided to go in search of it, and two
of his companions cast their lot with him, but
Kansellar severed his connection with the party,
and went down-river with McQuesten and associates. McQuesten's party went down about
fifty miles and wintered in the vicinity of Goat
Mountain. They killed five moose and two bears
in the fall, and in the winter set their nets under GOLD DISCOVERIES AND MINING
the ice in a near-by lake and caught all the white
fish they could use. In the spring they returned
to Fort Yukon by dog-team, having brought
four with them from the Mackenzie. On May
ioth the ice broke up and ran thickly for three
days ; on the 20th Harper and party joined them
from up-river, and on June 4th Mercier, McQuesten and party, and Harper and party all
started for St. Michael in Mercier's barge, arriving
June 20th. Francois Mercier, Moses's brother,
was in charge there, and he took McQuesten, Mayo,
and Hart into the employ of the company.
Harper and the others got provisions and returned
on the steamer to the Tanana River, where they
spent the season prospecting. The boat reached
Yukon August 20th, and as good reports of furs
had come from the region of the then "Tron
Deg " (now the Klondike), McQuesten continued
with the boat and established Fort Reliance, as has
been detailed.
We will now return to Harper and his two
associates at Yukon. After recuperating, and
fixing their sorely mishandled boat, they started
for White River. We may state here that this
river was thus named by Robert Campbell because
of the colour of the water. There are immense
deposits of volcanic ash up it; which is in the form
of an impalpable white powder, which is simply
pulverized pumice-stone. In rainy weather this
washes into the river in such quantities that the EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
water is actually thick with it and has a creamy
white colour.
At the mouth of the stream they afterwards
named Fortymile they found such good prospects
that they were about to ascend it and test further,
but some Indians camped there made them believe
that there was a terribly dangerous canon some
distance up ; a canon impassable to them, and so
dangerous they would likely all lose their lives
if they attempted it. They could not afford to
run any risk, so continued to the White. We
may pause here and ask, If they had only known
then, what they became well acquainted with not
long after, that the Indian description was a gross
exaggeration, and had gone up the Fortymile,
what would the result have been ? and how
differently might the story of the Yukon have
been written ? In the nature of things it is certain that they would have anticipated the discovery of coarse gold by Franklin and Madison by
thirteen years, and, as we will see later, the discovery of coarse gold led to a very marked change
in the methods of mining, with vastly better
results. Then, too, such a discovery at that time
would have precipitated international questions
at a time when neither side had very much interest
in the frozen north, and the final adjustment
might have been different from what it is. They
continued to White River, which they reached in
September, and after making their way up it as far GOLD DISCOVERIES AND MINING
as the falling water and swift current would let
them, they prepared to winter. Their stock of
flour had run down to three hundred pounds, one
hundred per man, but they killed five moose in a
few days, and looked with complacency on the
approaching winter. McQuesten's narrative says
that the party returned to the mouth of the river
and built winter quarters, from which, when the
rivers were covered with ice, they made a trip up
the Stewart, about fifty miles, prospecting; but
Harper's story was that they remained on the
White River looking for the copper, which they
did not find. This was small wonder, for copper
found there was native copper lying in the drift
of the creek and river bottoms, and being drift
itself its parent lode might be leagues away. In
the winter it would be all ice-covered, and the
search fruitless for one ignorant of the conditions.
It has since been found in abundance on the head
of both the White and Tanana rivers, also on
Copper River, flowing into the Pacific Ocean, all
heading in the same plateau. It is highly improbable that they could have gathered the information they did about the river and its topography in a stay of only a few weeks. Harper told
me they prospected at the mouth of the Stewart
as they passed it, but the shortness of supplies
prevented them thinking of aught else than getting to some place where they could renew their
stores.   Meat they could get in abundance, but ioo        EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
a straight meat diet is very trying except for a
short time. Then, too, they had been without
information from the world and its doings for
two years, and they yearned to learn what old
mother earth had been worrying about while they
were absent, so determined to get to some base of
news supplies, and St. Michael being the easiest
of approach, they struck for it.
While prospecting in the vicinity of the mouth
of the Tanana an Indian showed Harper some
small nuggets of gold, which he told him had been
found on the side of a mountain visible from
where they were. Harper sought assiduously for
more at the place pointed out, but did not find
any. Afterwards he learned that they had been
brought from the upper Koyukuk River. Had he
known this in time he no doubt would have gone
in search of the field. In 1875 he made a trip
down the Yukon from Reliance to where Eagle
now is, and from there crossed to the north fork
of the Fortymile, and followed it down to the
main river, from where he crossed the divide
between Fortymile and Sixtymile rivers. On the
latter he found such good pay that he determined
to try it the following summer, and sent out for
a tank of quicksilver, but before it arrived, he
had the trouble with the Indians we have referred
to, which McQuesten settled by paying for the
women. When the trouble was over, and the
quicksilver came, he could not afford to give up GOLD DISCOVERIES AND MINING     101
his employment with the company. Some time
after this he made an exploratory trip to the head
of the Tanana, going up Fortymile to reach it.
He found good prospects, but never could afford
to give up his business with the company and take
to mining exclusively. At that time also the
supplies brought to the country by the company
were intended to meet the requirements of the
fur trade, and mining being so desultory was never
thought of, as requiring its own peculiar articles.
In this way Harper, though well aware of a good
deal of the country's potential worth, could not
afford to begin the development of it himself, but
his letters to friends on the outside helped to
arouse curiosity and create interest. Thus this
man who first thought of trying it as a mining
field was compelled by circumstances to devote
himself to something else. He lived in the region
for twenty-four years, and after testing nearly
every mining field that has since been found
except the golden Klondike, over which he hunted
while stationed at Reliance, gathering abundant
stores of meat, but never dreaming of the richer
stores beneath his feet, had to leave Dawson, in
August, 1897, almost exhausted with tuberculosis,
and died from it at Yuma, Arizona, in the following
November, just as the Klondike was opening its
golden gate to him. His confidence in the future
of the country never flagged, and we cannot help
feeling that fate was unkind to one who had come EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
so near the achievement of wealth through hard
toil, yet died when just past his prime, sixty-two,
at a time when everything seemed most favourable
for the realization of the hopes he had entertained throughout all the trying years of his
waiting, watching, and struggling. His life friend
and associate Fred Hart died about the same time,
and their ashes lie far apart—at San Francisco
and Dawson.
McQuesten, though never so actively connected
with mining as Harper, was nevertheless in sympathy with it, and aided the craft all he could, by
helping them with supplies and material, as much
as lay in his power. Many a story is told in the
Yukon, and by the old-timers wherever they are,
of Jack's goodness of heart, and leniency in collecting accounts, and we cannot let the occasion
pass without recalling one at least, typical of all
the rest. A miner who had got an outfit on credit,
to be paid for at next clean-up, came in to see
Jack, intending no doubt to do the "square
thing"; saw him, and after the usual "howdys" and
" ho's," asked Jack how much he owed. Examination showed the balance against him to be
slightly over seven hundred dollars. The information surprised the debtor into the exclamation—
" Seven hundred ! H—1, Jack, I've only got
five hundred, how'm I goin' to pay seven hundred
with five ? "
" Oh, that's all right, give us your five hundred,  . GOLD DISCOVERIES AND MINING     103
and we'll credit you and let the rest stand till
next clean-up."
"But, Jack, I want some more stuff. How'm I
goin' to get that ? "
" Why, we'll let you have it as we did before."
" But, d—n it, Jack, I haven't had a spree yet."
" Well, go and have your little spree, come back
with what is left, and we'll credit you with it
and go on as before."
Alas for human frailty, when he came from
his spree there was nothing left, and kindly Jack
let him have another outfit, increasing the indebtedness to about twelve hundred, to be paid
for next clean-up, and so ad infinitum.
These recipients are to-day not the most appreciative of Jack. One resident of the northland,
after the experience of several years had taught him
that a disinclination to work does not generally
conduce to the accumulation of this world's
goods, reasoned, if the word can be applied
to the kind, that the world owed him a living anyway, and as the only tangible representative of
the world he could find in that region was the
Alaska Commercial Company, it, of course, was
responsible to him, and to it he would go. This
he did, through kindly Jack, with such success that
he owed it some four thousand dollars after four
or five years of his distinguished patronage. At
that time there was no way to compel him to pay,
even if he had the means, and as he wanted to stand EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
well with the community he put it publicly, that
there must be justice somewhere, that the company had been swindling the United States in
particular, and the public generally, in possessing
such a monopoly in the seal fisheries of the Pribilof
Islands. Justice must work in somewhere, and he
decided that this was the place, in one instance at
least. " Justice we must have, gentlemen, and I
stand for it if no one else does," and strange to say
some thought he was right. There is occasion for
regret in the fact that this individual was one of
the lucky ones in the Klondike strike, and also
occasion for gratification that when the proper
authority was inaugurated in the country he was
compelled, being then able, to pay his debt. So
the United States and the public are still unavenged ! CHAPTER VII
THE first gold known to have come
from any part of the Yukon basin
to the outside world was sent to St.
Michael in 1880 by George Holt, an employee
of the Alaska Commercial Company. It consisted of two small nuggets, and he stated
they were given to him by a Tanana River
Indian, but just where they were found does
not appear. Mr. Holt is also credited with
having led the first party over the Dyea Pass
and down the Yukon in 1875. Five years later
another party, led by a Mr. Edward Bean,
crossed the summit, but how far he went beyond
is not known. Between 1882 and '83 it is said
that a small number of nuggets were brought
from the upper Yukon to San Francisco, but this
appears to me doubtful, as no coarse gold was
found there again till quite recently, and if such
a discovery were once made it would hardly be
allowed to lapse. EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
According to de Wolfe, before quoted, in 1882
a party of Arizona prospectors entered the upper
Yukon and went down as far as the Stewart, up
which three of them went, they said, two hundred
miles, prospecting. If they attained this distance
they would have reached the falls. At one or two
places on this stream I saw where prospecting
holes had been sunk in the gravel on the bank,
which the age of the brushwood grown in them
showed must have been dug about that time.
They reported to Edward Schieffelin of Tombstone, Arizona, to whom we have already referred.
The report mentioned the existence of gold,
silver, nickel, copper, and coal, which showed
that those gentlemen must have been exaggerating,
as no nickel is known now, and as for coal, they
might have noticed it at Fivefinger Rapids, but
not likely anywhere else. Copper is found
near White Horse, but miles away from the
This statement is quoted from de Wolfe's
paper, but his date must be wrong, for both he
and McQuesten agree that Schieffelin came up
the river from St. Michael in 1883. Now as
conditions then were, Schieffelin would have to
sail from the Pacific coast of the United States in
August of 1882 to reach St. Michael that fall, as
McQuesten says he did.   He might possibly leave
a  11
a month later, but it is very unlikely. Then, too,
it is not probable that any party would try to
traverse Dyea Pass until June, as Lake Labarge
seldom opens to navigation till the eighth or tenth
of that month; from that date till August 1st
would give the party a very short time in which
to make such an extensive exploration, and they
would have to start on the return trip at that date
if they expected to report to Schieffelin in time
to let him get away to St. Michael. There are
other hindrances to mention that would put the
question beyond a doubt, but I think I am safe in
saying that the prospectors made their exploration
in 1881 if they made it at all. Silver has been
found up the Windy Arm part of Tagish Lake, at
a place so far out of the direct line of travel that
they were not likely to have gone there.
McQuesten says Schieffelin and party went up
the Yukon from St. Michael in the fall of 1882
to Tanana Station, where they wintered. The
next spring they prospected in the vicinity, and
found coarse gold in a gulch called Maybeso
Gulch, but it did not pay, and in the fall the party
all left the country, except a man named Phillip
Fancio. De Wolfe says Schieffelin was in search
of quartz lodes, and was not interested in placer-
In the summer of 1883 four men—Richard
Poplin, Charles McConkey, Benjamin Beach, and
C. Marks—went over the Dyea Pass and down the m
Yukon, prospecting as they went, and when they
reached the Stewart went up it to the McQuesten.
By this time they had to make for Fort Reliance,
as their supplies were running out, and when they
reached there it was found the steamer had
broken down on the lower river, and they had to
continue to Tanana, where they wintered. In the
spring McQuesten took them up on the boat,
and they spent the summer prospecting on the
Stewart. In the fall they all went out over the
Dyea Pass, so they could not, at most, have put in
more than three months' prospecting. On the
way up the Yukon they met Thomas Boswell and
Franklin, who were mining on the upper river,
working on the banks and bars. Poplin and party
told Boswell that he could find plenty of better
digging on the Stewart. Boswell and party took
the hint, and went down to Reliance, where they
remained through the winter. In the month of
April they sleighed up to the Stewart, hauling
the sleds themselves, the custom then, and prospected the as they went, by building fires
on the bars, thawing the gravel and washing it.
They marked the bars that would pay as they
determined them in this way, but striking
Chapman's Bar, about ninety miles up, they found
it so good that they determined to work it for
the summer. The average per man for the season
was about one hundred dollars per day, which,
with  rockers to wash it with, was  considered FIRST GOLD SENT OUT
extraordinary. Richard Poplin returned the
same spring from Juneau with Peter Wybourg,
Francis Morphat, and Jeremiah Bertrand, and
went up the Stewart, passing Boswell and party
at Chapman's Bar. They continued to what
was afterward named Steamboat Bar, about
seven miles farther up, and settled to work.
Their clean-up for the season was about thirty-
five thousand dollars. They went into camp in
September, about twenty-five miles from the
mouth of the river.
News of this success on the Stewart reached the
outside, and in the summer of 1886 about one
hundred men came in and worked on the river.
They were scattered in their arrival, and also
in their position on the river ; still, in spite of this
handicap, they averaged about one thousand
dollars each. Anticipating from the success of
Boswell and party, and Poplin and party in 1885,
a big rush, Harper and McQuesten arranged to
establish a supply post at the mouth of the river
in the summer of 1886, which was done, and the
Stewart was looked on as the camp for some time
to come. Later on, in the remarks on mining
methods, we will see how slow and crude the work
here was, and how rich the gravel must have been
to yield as it did. As we have seen, the Stewart
River was pretty well prospected up to the falls,
and the McQuesten to an unknown distance. On
the Stewart all the good ground is on a stretch of
ninety-five miles, beginning at a point about
fifteen miles above the mouth, and extending
about the same distance above the mouth of the
McQuesten. No one appears to have found anything above the last point, either at that time or
since. Above the falls not much prospecting has
yet been done, but reports speak well of the surface showings.
On the McQuesten no one in those early days
found anything to rank with the bars on the
Stewart, consequently nothing of note was done
on it. Recently, on some of its affluents along
its upper reaches, coarse gold has been found in
areas that promise well for its future, but as the
stream is not navigable for steamers, and difficult
for small boats, it is very much handicapped.
In the summer of 1882 twelve men came over
the divide, as it was then termed, that is, over the
Dyea Pass, and wintered at Fort Reliance. Among
them was Joseph Ladue, who afterwards became
identified with the development of the country,
and William Moore, who piloted the steamer
Arctic. They prospected during the summer of
1883 on Fortymile and Sixtymile rivers, but did
not strike anything of note, and all left in the
fall except Ladue and one other. I mention this
to show how uncertain prospecting is, for both
those rivers became famous camps afterward.
The rivers Fortymile and Sixtymile were so
named   because   they   were   estimated   to   be FIRST GOLD SENT OUT in
those distances respectively from Fort Reliance.
Seventymile. River, below Egbert, was named for
the same reason.
In 1886 Franklin and Henry Madison made an
examination of the Stewart to the falls, and the
McQuesten as far as they could ascend in their
boats. They appear to have been prejudiced
against both streams, for Franklin remarked to
the miners on the river that he did not like the
kind of trees that grew on the bars, and that gold
was never found where wild onions or leeks grew,
of which.there is abundance along the shores of
that stream. Being firm in their convictions, they
went down-stream to the Fortymile, which they
ascended, and very soon made the discovery of
coarse gold on bed-rock, up that stream about
twenty-three miles from its mouth, just past
where the International Boundary crosses it.
They returned to Stewart Post in October, proclaiming, according to the code of the country,
the discovery. This was the first coarse gold
discovery in the region, and as coarse gold is the
great desideratum of all miners, it made great
excitement in the territory. After Franklin and
Madison left the Stewart two brothers named
Day came along, and made over thirty dollars
per day on one of the bars which Franklin and
Madison rejected.
The Fortymile discovery upset all the calculations with regard to the Stewart, as every one
decided to strike for the new field, and the camp
being practically deserted in the spring of 1887,
Harper and McQuesten had to move to the new
ground. They built a new post at the mouth of
the Fortymile, which they were just beginning
when I arrived there September 9th, 1887. It is
estimated that there were two hundred thousand
dollars taken out that season. As there was no
base of supplies above Fortymile nearly all the
work and prospecting done in the country had
to be done near Fortymile; consequently, we
find that all the discoveries made for some years
were confined to the Fortymile region. For
several years from that date about three hundred
men mined in the region, but as the small steamer
plying on the river could not bring provisions
enough to winter more than one hundred in
the country, the other two hundred had to
make their way out, some up the river by poling
their boats, very hard, difficult work, and
some down to St. Michael on the chance of
catching a United States Revenue cutter home
bound, or the Alaska Commercial Company
steamer to San Francisco. After the Arctic
began to make regular trips on the river from
St. Michael, in 1890, there were plenty of
provisions in the country as a rule, and
more men wintered there, and prospecting
was done in the winter months. It is hardly
necessary  to  say  how   many  branches  of  the
Fortymile were discovered, and give their names.
We will close this record by mentioning the
discovery of gold on the tributaries of Sixtymile,
two of which, Miller and Glacier Creeks, especially the former, were famous, until eclipsed
by the Klondike discovery.
As we have already stated, McQuesten sent
two men, whom he names Syrosca and Pitka, both
native Indians, to prospect on the head of Birch
Creek, which takes its rise close to the Tanana,
and flows into the Yukon about forty miles below
Fort Yukon. In its course it runs parallel to the
Yukon River for nearly one hundred miles, and at
Circle City is only some seven or eight miles from
it. McQuesten says that on his way up-river in
September, 1894, he found about seventy-five
miners waiting for the boat. They had laid off a
town-site, and had about thirty cabins under
construction. In that and the following season,
nine paying creeks were discovered, Dead Wood
(or Mastedon), Eagle, Hogan, Harrison, Independent, Miller, Boulder, Greenhorn, and Yankee.
The entire clean-up in 1895 was about four
hundred thousand dollars.
Fortymile and Circle City divided the attention
of most of the miners till 1896, when the Klondike
was discovered. Aiew prospected on the Koyu-
kuk with such success that a small steamer was
put on the stream. Others prospected along the
watershed between the Yukon River and Arctic ii4 EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
Ocean, with varied success, but some of the
reports point to important discoveries in the
future. Prospecting in that region is greatly
handicapped by nature, and at present by lack
of transport facilities at the places where they are
most needed. CHAPTER VIII
IN August, 1896,the world-startling discovery
of the Klondike was made, which for a year
or two put a period to all exploration and
prospecting except in its immediate vicinity.
We will introduce an account of this discovery
by referring to the name of the river from which
the field takes its name. We may recall the
reader's attention to the fact that we have previously referred to the name "Tron Deg" being
given this stream by Harper and McQuesten.
They got the name from the Indians in the
vicinity, and, being short and easily pronounced,
they adopted it. The natives in that and most
other countries name places and things after some
prominent characteristic or feature, and in most
cases the names so given are compound words,
long and difficult to pronounce except for those
given to the study of philology, which but few
miners or traders are. This accounts for so few
of the native names being recorded, much less
retained, and is the reason for the name Forty-
mile and others,  instead  of the Indian  name n6
which signifies the river, or rather water, the word
literally is, that flows swiftly past the stones,
which is long and difficult to pronounce, there
being a great many guttural and nasal sounds in
the language. Now, while I did not devote much
time to the study of the language, I always did,
when opportunity offered through some native
who understood enough English and was intelligent enough to comprehend my object, try to
get the correct native names of places and things,
and their correct pronunciation, and note the
words composing them, with their meaning in
English. I can, therefore, appreciate the difficulty such a task presents to the ordinary miner
or trader, for often it was only after several
attempts that I was able definitely to fix the
sound. For illustration, the Indian word for
water, on the upper half of the Yukon and on
nearly all the Mackenzie, is "duh" or " tuh,"
but so pronounced through the throat and nose,
as I heard it, that it is difficult to say exactly
which sound is intended; in fact, in pronouncing
it, I have used both without criticism. In compounding a name for a stream the word for water is
always terminal, as, for example, the Hootalinque,
the Indian name of which is " Teslin-tuh" or
" duh," meaning " Teslin-water." The word
"Teslin" is the native name of a large fish found
in the lake out of which this stream flows. As I
gathered from  the   natives  I  talked  to,  they DISCOVERY OF THE KLONDIKE       117
employ what might be termed a diminutive of
the word " tuh " or " duh," when the stream or
water is small, and this takes the form "thick"
or " diuck," but generally pronounced so fast and
indistinctly that it sounds like "tick" or " dick,"
and some so pronounce it that one might call it
" tig " or " dig." I spent hours talking to all
the Indians in the vicinity, whom I could make
understand me, to get the correct pronunciation,^
and I think I succeeded. This being true, the
correct native name for the Klondike is " Tron-
diuck," or " tiuck." This in English means the
" Hammer-water," from the fact that this
stream was a famous salmon-run, and barriers
of stakes were driven across the mouth to
compel the fish to enter the traps set for
them. These stakes had to be driven or
" hammered" into the gravel in the riverbed, hence the name. When I passed the
mouth, September 1st, 1887, the whole width
of the river-bed was staked, and half a dozen
f amilies were camped on an island in the mouth of
the Klondike, which has since become a bar, the
timber being washed away. How the name
Klondike came to be adopted is incomprehensible
to me, for to the old-timers who had occasion to
name it, it was "Tron-deg," and the present name
does not resemble that more than it does the
native name "Tron-diuck." The word was pronounced to me as if one started to say "duck," u8
but put in a slurred "i" before "u." We must
admit that Klondike is easier to say, and more
euphonic. A word in very common use in the
territory, which has found its way out, and is
sometimes quoted in a slangy way, is" mush." Its
origin is not so difficult to trace, for it is simply
a corruption of the French word " marche,"
which the dog-drivers on the Mackenzie used as
a word of command to their dogs to go on. The
Indian corrupted it to "mash," and the average
resident of the Yukon, with his or her proclivity
to miscall things, changed it to " mush."
*Had they known that it is the word used by the
commanding officer of troops, when he orders his
command to proceed, march, they might have
got it right, but that is doubtful; "mush" is
original, and slang, and there you are.
Leading up to the discovery of the Klondike,
that all credit may rest where it is due, we have
to go back of the date a year or two.
We have already referred to the advent to the
country, in 1882, of Joe Ladue, of French-
Canadian descent, born in New York State.
Failing in his mining expectations, he entered
the service of Harper and McQuesten, and when
they separated in 1889 he continued his connection with Harper as a partner in business. His
residence in the country, with its trying winter
journeys, and lack of even the most ordinary
household comforts in the pioneer days, wrecked DISCOVERY OF THE KLONDIKE       119
his constitution, and, like his partner and friend
Harper, he became a victim to consumption a few
years after fortune opened its gates to him in
the discovery of the Klondike. He was a most
enthusiastic advocate of the Yukon and its possibilities, which sometimes led him into awkward
situations, for every reported new strike was just
what they had been looking for, a veritable
El Dorado, and every one was going to become
rich now and for ever. It takes such enthusiasm
to sustain a man in such a country, and happy is
he who is ultimately rewarded by having his
visions realized. Joe was for some time in charge
of the new trading-post at Ogilvie, where all the
incoming miners called on their way down the
river, and he never failed to encourage them with
tales of wonderful prospects at newly found
Among those who came to the Yukon seeking
adventure, before the Klondike discovery, was
Robert Henderson, from Big Island, off the north
coast of Nova Scotia. He had been a sailor for
some years, and in that capacity had been pretty
well over the globe. Of an adventurous nature,
he took to hunting for gold, not so much to become rich as to find adventure, for those who
know him best do not believe he would work the
richest claim on earth if he had to stay on it
till it was worked out. So constituted we find
him in all his sojourn in the Yukon, and he is there 120        EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
now, continually looking for new fields. So,
when others were tramping over the Fortymile
and Birch Creek regions, " Bob " was in another
In July, 1894, Henderson and two associates,
Kendrick and Snider, arrived at Ogilvie, where
they found the ever-smiling Joe Ladue in charge.
He was ready for them with a good story about
the prospects on Indian River, which joined the
Yukon nearly twenty miles below them. It was
comparatively virgin ground, and that was
enough for " Bob " Henderson. His associates,
however, were not so easily enthused, and went
back to Colorado, whence they had all come only
a few weeks before. Indian River is parallel in its
course with the Klondike, and as the distance
between them in an air line is only fifteen to
twenty miles, the watershed between them is
sharp in its slopes, and so well adapted to catch
and hold the gold contained in its gravels as
they are gradually worked lower and lower by the
rushing waters.
After a few days' stay at Ogilvie, Henderson and
a new-found comrade started for Indian River,
and went up as far as a creek they named Quartz,
and continued up it to the divide between it
and what is now Hunker Creek. Provisions ran
out, and they came down the Indian on the ice in
October, but found the Yukon still open. This
must have been a novel experience for a man   DISCOVERY OF THE KLONDIKE      121
who had been a great deal in the tropics, and had
spent the most of fourteen years in Colorado
before coming here. After a rest, and renewal of
his outfit, Henderson went back alone to Indian
River, and spent the winter of 1894-5 in prospecting, mainly on Quartz Creek. He had to
thaw his prospect holes down to bed-rock, which
to a lone man was laborious and tedious work.
We are sorry to have to record that he found a few
colours only in each of the holes. It is interesting
to note that this creek, in the days of the Klondike
rush, was boomed for awhile, but fell flat after a
season ; notwithstanding this, it is now considered
a fairly good creek with, if not high-grade dirt,
plenty of paying stuff. This is due, more than
anything else, to the improvement in methods,
and cheapening in processes.
In March he started up the river to prospect
a large branch, named Australia Creek. He had
to make so many trips back and forth with
his outfit and supplies that he was sixty days
reaching his objective point. He found nothing
to encourage him, and moose and caribou being
plentiful he killed some, made a boat of their
skins, floated down the Indian, and paddled
up the Yukon to Ogilvie. As he was prospecting
these upper creeks an accident happened to him
that might have ended his career, and, as he was
alone, if it had done so it is improbable that he
would ever have been seen again, or any certain n  t
idea formed of what had become of him. In
prospecting on the head of Australia Creek it
became necessary for him to cross, and as it was
at flood-tide with the spring freshets, he had to
fell a tree over it. In order to make it passable
the numerous limbs had to be cut off, and to do
this he steadied himself with a stick, held in his
left hand, which rested on the bottom of the
creek. While cutting limbs the stick broke, and
losing his balance, he fell in such a way that the
sharp point of one of the limbs just got caught
in the calf of his left leg, piercing it in such a way
that he hung suspended from the limb until his
sailor craft enabled him to swing himself up and
on to the tree, taking care to keep hold of his axe,
the only one he had. The wound confined him
to his camp for fourteen days. The only diversion
he had during his confinement was to watch the
numerous wild animals that came around the camp.
He appeared to be as much an object of curiosity
to them as they were to him. After his wound
had healed sufficiently to allow of his departure,
he embarked in his skin boat and drifted down to
the mouth of Quartz Creek, up which he went a
day and a half, where he put up a dam to raise
water for sluicing. He worked sixteen days on
this, and at its completion sluiced a day and a
half, cleaning up thirteen dollars. Discouraged
by this and the wound in his leg, he again embarked in his skin boat, drifted down the Indian, DISCOVERY OF THE KLONDIKE       123
and poled up the Yukon River to Ogilvie, where
he obtained a fresh supply of provisions and a
companion, one William Redf ord. They made their
way back to Quartz Creek, where they ground-
sluiced some of the top material off in preparation
for next season's operations. Their provisions
were then exhausted, and they returned to
Ogilvie, where, after waiting for several weeks,
Henderson was able to obtain a year's supply
of the staple articles of the country ; bacon, flour,
beans, tea, coffee, sugar, and a very little butter.
With these he returned alone to Quartz Creek,
where he spent the winter prospecting, burning
holes to bed-rock, and other work preparatory to
a big clean-up the following spring. He killed
two moose for winter meat, but though he cached
the meat securely, as he thought, the wolves got
it and did not leave him a taste. In the early
spring another pioneer, Al. Day, a French-
Canadian, and a companion came up to see him
and found him sluicing. He had already taken
out four hundred dollars, but they returned at
once, lest the track they had made on the river
should overflow. Henderson cleaned up altogether six hundred and twenty dollars. The
amount was not encouraging, though one might
think it not bad for a sailor who had never before
mined in a frozen country in his life. He then
ascended Australia Creek, which he prospected
over all its length, taking in its branches as he m
did so. Nothing satisfactory was found, as might
naturally be anticipated from such a cursory
examination, and he drifted back to Quartz, and
ascended it to the head, from which he crossed
a watershed to a stream which he surmised flowed
into the Klondike. This he called Gold Bottom.
Here he found a two-cent prospect, that is, two
cents of gold to a pan. This was something
better than he had heretofore found, and he
determined to work it. He went to Ogilvie to
replenish his rations and try and induce some
one to come with him and relieve the loneliness.
He got the needed supplies, and was fortunate
enough to induce two Swedes, Munson and
Swanson, Dalton, nationality unknown, and an
Italian, Liberati, to accompany him. The return
trip was made by the Indian River and up
Quartz Creek. Meanwhile Joe Ladue was
spreading the news of the new discovery as much
as opportunity offered, and many prospectors and
new-comers went in search of the new field.
About the end of July food again ran out, and
Henderson returned alone to Ogilvie for more.
Going down the Indian he found the water so
low that his empty boat often grounded, and he
knew that it would be impossible to return that
way with a load. Believing as he did that he was
working on a tributary of the Tron-deg (Klondike), he determined to go down the Yukon to
the mouth of that stream to the camp.   He had, DISCOVERY OF THE KLONDIKE       125
of course, to assume that the creek he was working
on joined the main stream quite a distance
above the mouth, and could only guess when he
came to the right one.
At the mouth of the Klondike he saw
George Washington Carmac, whom story has connected prominently with the discovery of the
Klondike, and some think the discovery of the
Yukon itself. Henderson, in accordance with the
unwritten miners' code, told Carmac of the discovery he had made on Gold Bottom, and invited
him to come up and stake. Carmac was then
engaged in salmon-fishing with his Indian friends
and associates, the male members of whom were
Skookum, or "strong" Jim, and Tagish-(sometimes
Cultus, or "no good") Charlie. As Henderson tells
the story Carmac promised to take it in, and take
his Indian associates with him, but to this Henderson strongly objected, saying he did not want his
creek to be staked by a lot of natives, more
especially natives from the upper river. Carmac
seemed to be offended by the objection, so they
parted. I have this story substantially the same
from both Henderson and Carmac, the latter, of
course, laying a little stress on the objection to the
Indians. I have had Jong interviews with both
Jim and Charlie, and some of the others camped
with them on the Klondike at that time, and
reduced the purport of our talks to writing. As I
have said, both Henderson and Carmac gave me the i!
same story about Henderson having told Carmac
of the new discovery, and the Indians assured
me that they knew " Bob," as they call Henderson, told George, as they called Carmac, of it and
asked him to go and stake on it; that much, therefore, may be assumed without doubt. The stories
told me by the Indians may be questioned, but
they were very sincere in their tone and assertions
when telling me. I took the precaution to interview them separately and afterwards get them
all together and criticize and discuss the narrative
of each in committee of the whole, as we might
term it. Put in as concise terms as I can frame it,
Jim's story tells us that he, Charlie, and George
were, as we know, camped at the mouth of the
Klondike fishing, but as a straight fish diet becomes monotonous in time, in order to procure
some variety it was agreed that they would get out
some saw logs, take them down to Fortymile, and
sell them to the saw-mill there. The current rate
was twenty-five dollars per thousand feet board
measure. Much depended on Jim in this work,
and he did a good deal of examination in the
woods around the place to find the best and most
convenient logs. This work took him some distance up a creek afterwards known as Bonanza,
which joins the Klondike less than a mile above
the mouth. He informed me he found some very
good logs up this creek at various places, and in
order to learn whether or not they could be ROBERT HENDER!  DISCOVERY OF THE KLONDIKE       127
floated down to the Yukon, he had to make a close
examination of the creek bed. In doing this he
said he found some colours of gold at various
places in the gravel, and particularly at where
claim sixty-six below discovery was afterwards
located he found what he considered very fair
prospects. He told the fishing-camp of this find,
but it did not arouse much interest. Jim, according to his own story, was anxious to further investigate, but as George was chief councillor in
the camp and did not appear much interested in
the matter it was allowed to drop temporarily.
About twenty days after Henderson called at
the camp, George told him to get ready for a
tramp to find Bob. Jim, Charlie, and George
started up Bonanza on the quest, with a gold pan,
spade, axe, and such other tools as were necessary
for a prolonged stay from camp, and such provisions as their means afforded, and according to
the Indians the supply was not extensive nor
diversified, being mostly fish. Travelling up the
valley of Bonanza through the thick underbrush
at that season was tedious and fatiguing, and the
mosquito-laden atmosphere added torment to
fatigue. A short distance below where they afterwards made discovery, both Jim and Charlie told
me they, while panning during a rest, found
a ten-cent pan. There is a slight discrepancy;
each claimed that he made the find, but when
confronted, it settled down to the mutually satis- 128
factory statement that while resting they thought
they would pan for fun. Jim took the pan and
washed such dirt as Charlie gathered for him, so
they both found it, though neither expected it.
This discovery caused a ripple of excitement in
the community, small as it was, and it was decided
that if the Gold Bottom trials failed they would
devote further attention to this place. The
Indians both told me they asked George if they
would tell Bob of this find, and that George
directed them to say nothing about it till they
came back, if they did, and investigated further,
then if they found anything good they might tell.
Travelling was so tiresome and tedious in the
valley that, when they came to the confluence
with the creek now called Eldorado, they took to
the divide between it and Bonanza, and followed
the crest of this divide around the head of
Bonanza Creek, where, finding the marks made by
Henderson, they descended to him. Arrived there
they were nearly bare of provisions, and completely out of tobacco, a serious predicament for
Jim and Charlie. Henderson, either through
shortage himself or dislike of the Indians, or both,
would not let them have anything, though Jim
and Charlie both assured me they offered to pay
well for all they could get, which Jim was both
able and willing to do. As they did not find
any prospect approaching in value the ten-cent
pan on Bonanza, they remained a very short time DISCOVERY OF THE KLONDIKE       129
at Henderson's camp, and made their way back to
the head of the creek which first gave fame to the
Klondike-Bonanza. Before they got far down it
their provisions were entirely exhausted, and as
they prospected on the way down, and Jim was
hunting for meat, their progress was slow ; and
their hunger was becoming acute, with exhaustion
and weakness fast following. To shorten the
story of Jim and Charlie, for they dwelt long on
this part of the narrative, Jim at last, when they
were all too tired and weak to do further prospecting, got a moose. He had fired at one before, but
missed ; the first time in his life he assured me,
and he had a good rifle too, Winchester, he exclaimed proudly.
After killing the moose, Jim says he called on
the others, whom he had left some distance away,
to come to him. While waiting for them to come
he looked in the sand of the creek where he had
gone to get a drink, taking with him a bit of the
moose. He found gold, he said, in greater
quantities than he had ever seen it before. When
the others joined him the moose meat was cooked,
and they had a feed. Then he showed them the
gold in the sand. They remained two days at
this place panning, and testing the gravel up and
down the creek in the vicinity. After satisfying
themselves that they had the best spot, and deciding to stake and record there, they got into a
dispute as to who should stake discovery claim,
J 130
Jim claiming it by right of discovery, and Carmac
claiming it, Jim says, on the ground that an
Indian would not be allowed to record it. Jim
says the difficulty was finally settled by agreeing
that Carmac was to stake and to record discovery
claim, and assign half of it, or a half-interest in it,
to Jim, so on the morning of August 17th, 1896,
Carmac staked discovery claim five hundred feet
in length up and down the direction of the creek
valley, and No. 1 below discovery of the same
length ; both the full width of the valley bottom,
or from base to base of the hill on either side, as
the regulations then read. No. 2 below was staked
for Tagish Charlie, and No. 1 above for Skookum
Jim. The gold they panned out of the surface
gravel on discovery was put into a Winchester
rifle cartridge shell and the party went to camp
at the mouth of the Klondike. There a small raft
of saw logs was prepared for the saw-mill at Forty-
mile. Carmac and Charlie went down on it, and
Jim was sent back to the claim to watch it, as the
country all around there was alive with men looking for the Henderson discovery. In proof of this
I have only to quote from my notes to show that
/two days after Carmac and party staked, that is,
August 19th, 1896, Edward Monahan and Greg
Stewart staked two claims that subsequently were
found to be Nos. 28 and 29, below discovery about
three miles, and the following day D. Edwards,
J. Moffat, D. Robertson, and C. Kimball staked DISCOVERY OF THE KLONDIKE       131
what proved on continuous survey to be Nos. 16,
17, 18, and 19 below discovery. An event which
led to a great deal of misunderstanding and trouble,
which will be fully related later, transpired on
August 22nd, that is, what was called a miners'
meeting was held on the hillside opposite to claim
No. 17 below discovery. Twenty-five men were
present, and there must have been nearly as many
more wandering about the valley looking for
Henderson's discovery. Now as we have seen,
Carmac, Jim, and Charlie left discovery claim in
the forenoon of the 17th, and as that is at least
eleven miles from the mouth of the Klondike,
consequently a good day's tramp through the
woods and swamps of the region, and they did not
reach the Yukon till that evening, if they reached
it that day at all, we are positive they could not
give any notice on the Yukon River of the new
discovery till the 18th. As they had to gather the
logs for the raft they took to Fortymile, and it
took a long day to float down, they could not possibly reach there, the main camp of the district
at the time, till the 21st, so we can feel assured
that the men who staked on the 19th and 20th,
and those who attended the meeting on the 22nd,
could not all owe their information to Carmac and
his associates, and he can hardly be properly
credited with the discovery of the Klondike.
Henderson has always bitterly resented Carmac's
neglect to send him word of the new^discovery as mm
he—Henderson—says Carmac promised he would
do, if he found anything better than where they
were working on Gold Bottom. The result to
Henderson was that he did not learn of the new
discovery which was brought about through his
labours and invitation to come to Gold Bottom
till after all the ground on both Bonanza and
Eldorado was staked. Henderson could not,
owing to short season and falling water, lose the
time to go to the office at Fortymile and record
his claim on Gold Bottom, until after Andrew
Hunker had located on the creek below him, and
had gone down to Fortymile, and not only recorded a discovery claim, but had the creek named
after him, notwithstanding that Henderson had
marked a large tree at the junction of this creek
with the Klondike when he left his boat there on
his way up in July, " This creek to be known as
Gold Bottom Creek." As the mining regulations
then were, only one discovery was allowed in " a
district," the boundaries of which were fixed by
the Government Agent. A discovery was allowed
on Bonanza Creek to Carmac, and another on
Gold Bottom, or as it was misnamed Hunker, to
Hunker, and no more would be allowed in the
Klondike district. The result was Henderson, after
his two years' hard work, and his proclaiming
his find and inviting every one he met at all interested in mining, and some he knew were not, to
try the new field, got only an ordinary claim in it. DISCOVERY OF THE KLONDIKE       133
When Carmac and Tagish Charlie reached
Fortymile and related the new discovery not many
paid much attention to it at first. Carmac had
never followed mining as a business heretofore,
though he had prospected some, and as he had just
recently come to Fortymile and was not very well
known, there was not that importance attached
to his statements which might have been had he
been a longer resident, and had he followed mining as a business. Also his association with the
Indians for so long had created a prejudice against
him in the community. When I first entered the
country in 1887 I found him at Dyea Pass. He
was then closely associated with the Tagish, or
Stick Indians, as they were called. It was understood between these and the Chilcoot and Chilcat,
or coast, Indians that the country north of the
summit of the pass belonged to the Sticks, and all
the coast to the south of it to the coast tribes.
Carmac spoke both languages in a limited way,
and had considerable influence with the Sticks. I
employed him to help me over the pass and
through his influence got a good deal of assistance
from his Indian friends. Skookum Jim and Tagish
Charlie were both there, and packed for me.
Skookum well earned his sobriquet of " Skookum "
or " strong," for he carried one hundred and fifty-
six (156) pounds of bacon over the pass for me at
a single trip. This might be considered a heavy
load anywhere on any roads, but over the stony 134
moraine of a glacier, as the first half of the distance is, and then up a steep pass, climbing more
than three thousand feet in six or seven miles,
some of it so steep that the hands have to be used
to assist one up, certainly is a stiff test of strength
and endurance. After we crossed the summit and
while building our boat I employed Jim in various
capacities, and always found him reliable, truthful, and competent to do any work I gave him.
Afterwards, while working on his claim on Bonanza,
I had more experience with him, and it only corroborated the opinion I have expressed of his
character. Charlie I did not know so well. Poor
Charlie, while celebrating during the holiday
season last winter, fell off the railway bridge at
Carcross on the White Pass Railway and was
drowned. I had seen him last summer, and had
quite a long chat with him about the old days, and
the discovery journey to Henderson. Again on
my way out last fall I had a lengthy interview
with Jim, Charlie, and all the rest of the tribe at
Carcross. The old days were gone over, and the
old tales told, I am pleased to say with very little
variation from the first version I heard of them.
Jim is an enthusiast on prospecting, and his
object in life now, apparently, is to make another
big discovery that will be all his own.    He is ^,|wmw»S|  DISCOVERY OF THE KLONDIKE       135
particularly anxious to discover a big quartz lode,
and fully realizes the importance to the country
of such an accomplishment. He possesses a practical knowledge of prospecting that is far beyond
what one would expect to find in an uneducated
savage. Further, he is qualified as a prospector
in a way that but few white men are, for he
carries nothing on his outings, which last weeks at
a time, but a rifle, hatchet, and gold pan. His
food he shoots, and his hatchet is responsible for
his shelter. He spent some time with me in consultation about a prospecting journey from Car-
cross over the divide between Tagish Lake and the
Teslin River, and from there across country to
the Pelly, McMillan, and Stewart. We discussed
at length all the information we had both of the
route and the best way to go about the work.
He was waiting the fall of a little more snow to
enable him to make way with his sled, which he
intended to haul himself. There is something-
unusual in a man planning an expedition of this
kind, it might be said alone, for though an old
white man intended to accompany him, Jim
would have to bear most of the burden. He was
taking very little with him, trusting to his implements for all he wanted. The trip would occupy
most of the winter, under the most favourable
circumstances, but if something good was found
early in the season he would return at once to
proclaim it and record title to what was staked.
T 136
I might say much more in relation to the discovery of the Klondike, and the impression prevailing at the time Carmac and Charlie came down to
Fortymile to proclaim it, leaving Jim to guard
the claims staked, but it would only be an elaboration of what has already been stated. CHAPTER IX
WE will now go back to the time I first
visited the territory in order to bring
the record of the region, in lines
other than mining, up to the discovery of the
Klondike, which being responsible in a large
measure for the settlement of the territory, and
the discovery of later fields, may be called the
summit of history in the district. I do not mean
to imply that there will be no further story to tell,
but now that the Yukon is connected with the
outside by boat, rail, and wire there can never be
the same romance, the same tragedy as in the
days of 1896, '97, and '98. That there will be new
finds there is no doubt, but the field will be filled
so quickly that future Klondike excitements cannot last more than a few weeks, certainly not more
than a few months at the most.
During the winter of 1887-8, many miners
called at our winter quarters near the boundary.
Knowing that I was in Government employ, and
in a measure the Government representative in
the district, all were eager to learn from me as 138
much as possible what the intentions of the
Government were with regard to the region. At
that time, as the Dominion Government had no
mines of any importance under its jurisdiction,
the mining regulations were in a very embryonic
state. Such as we had were based principally on
the British Columbia mining laws, and were ill-
suited indeed to a region where eternal frost
could be found almost anywhere a foot or so beneath the surface. All placer claims were then
limited to one hundred feet square. Up to the
year 1887, all mining done in the territory was on
the bars and banks of the streams, and most of
this was known as skim diggings, that is, only the
two to four feet of the surface was worked. This
was because, in the great majority of cases, below
that depth water was encountered, which prevented profitable work. In the banks, too, frost
was often met before the work extended far. In
view of these natural handicaps the regulation
size of claim was unanimously considered much
too small. Out of the hundred or so miners
wintering in the country I must have met at least
half, and talked over at considerable length all the
matters pertaining to mining in the territory.
All the views presented to me were embodied
in quite a lengthy memorandum which I left with
Harper and McQuesten to be forwarded to
Ottawa at the first opportunity. In this way it
was probable it would reach the Department of • i *■—•   ij/^JIk iHmBS
f-<   'J
a^Ssi ^3»-*"  *
*   ifelW
'-$>:: s*;^   |%X.,   . 7:^
the Interior late in August, whereas I was not
likely, if I carried out my programme, to be there
before November. This memorandum in the
main endorsed the miners' views, and asked for
amendments in the mining regulations to legalize
them. It was asked that the size of creek claims
be extended to at least three hundred feet in
length measured in the direction of the valley,
and run in width across the valley bottom, or
from base to base of the hills on either side, as it
was worded in the changed regulations.
The minimum length was fixed at three hundred
feet, but five hundred was suggested as more suited
to the peculiar conditions of the region. Another
provision of the old regulations that was universally condemned was the tax or royalty of
two per cent of the clean-up on each and every
claim. As was quite natural, there was a very
wide diversity of view among the miners on every
subject discussed, and the more experienced ones
seemed to differ more widely than the novices.
Had a code agreeable to all been required,
there never would have been one outlined, and
the best I could do was to hear as patiently as
possible the views of all. Many questions of
engineering were placed before me for consideration and practical solution. One important feature was brought forth at almost every meeting
with any one; the question of bed-rock mining,
as in more favoured regions farther south.   The 140        EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
frost was considered by many an insuperable
barrier, and it was pretty generally believed that
bed-rock could not be reached by any practicable
method. It was assumed that here, as elsewhere,
the best pay would be found at the lowest depths,
but how to get through twenty, thirty, and forty
or more feet of frozen sand, clay, and gravel at
reasonable expenditure of time and money was
the question, and as it developed it was a burning
question. All sorts of ideas were propounded and
discussed, many impracticable from the paraphernalia required, and some impossible of execution ; still, all helped the discussion along. As I
had seen holes burned in the frozen crusts of the
streets in Ottawa to reach defective gas and
waterpipes, and I had several times had to use the
process myself for other purposes, I suggested
this as I had seen it applied, substituting, of
course, the wood of the country for the coke used
in the city. As some of the miners had already
used the firing method to secure the bar gravels
uncovered by the very low water of the winter
months, I used this as an argument in favour of
burning down. Whether my advocacy had much,
or little, or anything at all to do with the inception of the method I cannot say, but it was tried,
and a tremendous impetus was given to mining
in the region. Bed-rock was reached, and a quality
and quantity of gold found that had not been
dreamed of before. MR. OGILVIE'S VISIT TO THE COUNTRY 141
The use of wood for burning involved provisions in the regulations for its acquisition.
The preparation of the memorandum sent out
was a serious bit of work for me. I wanted all
that was worthy of note to reach the Department,
whether I reached it or not, for there was some
doubt expressed by the Indians as to whether or
not we should succeed in reaching the Mackenzie
by the way I proposed to go, and while I believed
no action would be taken till I returned to headquarters, I wanted to ensure against my failure
to do so, and so made the paper more complete
than 1 should have done had there been no
doubt about my reaching home.
In the early morning of March 17th, 1888, I
bade good-bye to the last miners I saw at the
mouth of Seventymile River, and started on my
way to the mouth of the Mackenzie. I did this
with regret, for my intercourse with the miners
had been most pleasant, and my association with
Harper and McQuesten most satisfactory, yet I
left with a feeling of exultation that I was now on
the return stretch of my long journey, though
more than twenty-five hundred miles lay between
me and the nearest railroad station, nearly all of
which had to be surmounted by foot and paddle.
I agreed with the miners to send them back by
some of the Indians, who accompanied us part
way, my impressions of the new route as a gold-
field.   I had to tell them that, a short distance 142        EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
from the Yukon on the stream I went up, the
geological character of the country gave very
little hope of any metal of value being found
in it. I learned afterward that, notwithstanding
my advice, some of them followed my track about
twenty miles and prospected, but found nothing.
When I reached Ottawa in the following
January, the then Deputy Minister of the Interior, the late A. M. Burgess, was most anxious
to get all possible information about the country,
as was the Minister, Mr. Dewdney, but most of
my business was with Mr. Burgess. He had decided, before taking any action in connection
with the territory, to await my arrival home.
The condition of the country as I knew it was
gone over very thoroughly, and with the memorandum I had sent out in the winter before us, we
discussed very fully what was deemed best to do
in the interest of the Canadian part of the territory. Mr. Burgess was very frank in asking me to
place my views fully before him, and I was asked
to say freely and fully what I thought had best
be done at that time. I told him that our mining
regulations, as far as known, were unfavourably
commented on in comparison with those of the
United States, where each mining community
elected its own recorders, regulated the size of
its claims, and did nearly everything else the
majority of the miners thought wise, so long as
they did not clash with the general mining law MR. OGILVIE'S VISIT TO THE COUNTRY 143
of the United States. I advised him that while
Fortymile seemed to possess the essentials for a
pretty stable camp, most of the diggings on it were
on the American side of the boundary, that at the
time there were not freighting facilities enough to
support more than one small camp, and that until
such times as there were more and better means of
transport it would be unwise in us to interfere
with the affairs of the region, for the reason that
most of the miners, while of foreign origin, were
American citizens, or had declared their intention
to become so, many even of Canadian birth and
education having done so, for the advantage it
gave them in the region, no alien being allowed to
stake and record claims in the American territory
of Alaska, while Canada allowed any one to stake
and secure title. I informed him that about sixty
thousand dollars' worth of goods, local value,
entered the territory from American ports every
season, but that to attempt to collect customs on
them would likely endanger prospecting in our
country. Generally, my advice was that, as the
country was in a very unsettled state, and our
mining laws, so far as known, unsatisfactory to
the miners, even of our own nationality, any
attempt to take charge of affairs on our side of the
line would hinder prospecting by driving most of
the prospectors to the American side, and they
would stay there till something very rich was discovered in Canada, and that the chance of this 144
would be put back by our action, if we entered
with authority then. He agreed with me in this
view, as did Mr. Dewdney, the Minister, and I was
asked to prepare a memorandum setting forth my
views, and the reasons for them, which I did.
It was decided to allow things to stand as they
were for awhile, but I was directed to keep my
eye on the region, and whenever I thought it
time to take possession to notify the Department.
In September, 1893,1 wrote to Mr. Burgess from
Juneau, Alaska, where I was in connection with
the work of the International Boundary Commission, that I thought it time we were moving in
the matter of establishing authority over the
Yukon in the goldfields, or we might, if the work
were delayed, have to face annoyances, if not
complications, through possession, without protest
from us, by American citizens. The following
summer a North-West Mounted Police officer,
Capt. Constantine, and Sergeant Brown from the
force were sent in, and formally took possession
of Fortymile, by visiting the stores there and requesting and receiving payment of customs due
on the goods in them. Some other matters
were attended to, and the party continued down
the river and returned by the British warship
Pheasant, then doing duty in Bering Sea. While
at Juneau, on his way up, the people of that town
strongly impressed Capt. Constantine that nature's
route to the Yukon was by Taku Inlet, from the MR. OGILVIE'S VISIT TO THE COUNTRY 145
head of which a wagon road could quickly and
cheaply be constructed to the head of Lake
Teslin, and from there all necessary to be done
was to build boats or rafts and float down to any
point on the Yukon. He sent a report to his Department urging that the route be examined and
adopted. When I returned from my work on the
Boundary Commission for the season, I was handed
a copy of that part of the report referring to the
proposed new wagon route, and asked to report
on it. My reply was to the effect that I had met
several men who had entered the Yukon valley
by this route, and had got from them detailed
statements of what they found along it, and the
time it took them to cover the distance; that I
had also met some who had made their way out
over the same route, and had secured from them
complete reports, so far as they were competent
to give them, of the route. In no case, was anything represented to me in the same light as the
people of Juneau put it to Capt. Constantine.
Further, I had spent much time in Juneau while
on the Boundary Commission work in 1893-4,
and knew that the people of that town were most
anxious to have Juneau become the entrepot to
the Yukon, and as there appeared to be no good
harbour or docking-places at the head of Taku
Inlet, it was hoped that Juneau would become
the terminal port for the route if established. I
knew that they had tried to impress me in the 146        EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
same way they did Capt. Constantine, and were
most anxious to represent their views as strongly
as possible to all whom they thought could bring
them before the proper authorities with any hope
of notice. Notwithstanding my representations, it
was deemed necessary to make an examination of
the route, Capt. Constantine's evidence seemed so
strong. I protested personally against such a
course, as it would involve a great deal to establish
what was already as well known as reliable evidence could make it. I was directed to put my
Boundary Commission work as quickly as possible
into such form that it could be carried on in my
absence, and after being at head-quarters only a
few weeks, left Ottawa the night of November
30th, 1894, for Juneau. I had arranged for a
party of good reliable men to meet me at Victoria,
B.C., from where we sailed on the steamer
Mexico for Juneau. My arrival and mission
created quite a sensation. Now it was hoped
Juneau would come to her own. Had good wishes
availed anything I certainly would have found not
only a wagon road, but a railroad, or any other
thing that was necessary to fix travel that way to
the Yukon now and for ever. A few days were
spent securing the necessary outfit, and two boats
fit to carry it and the party to the head of Taku
Inlet, about twenty-five miles. We got away
about noon of December 24th, but owing to
heavy loads and contrary wind and tides it. was MR. OGILVIE'S VISIT TO THE COUNTRY 147
dark, and a very dark night it was too, before we
reached Bishop's Point, which forms the lower
limit of Taku Inlet. I shall never forget the difficulty of landing here in the pitchy darkness,
tramping over slimy rocks, the tide being at its
lowest, and just as a blinding snow-storm was
coming on, a snow-storm such as is known only by
the residents of that region. We unwittingly chose
a spot near an Indian encampment, and we were
not long there before the dogs of the camp made
their presence known. Being acquainted with
their thieving propensities, and unable to raise
our large tent for the fierce wind, we had to pile
our stores in as smooth a heap as we could, and
after a hurried supper, laid our beds on the pile
to keep the dogs from stealing all we had. As it
was, they jerked a pair of boots from under the
head of one of the men, who had made a pillow
of them, and we never saw the boots after. Three
days the storm raged as only storms can rage in
these mountain valleys, and we lay waiting for it
to subside. The fourth day we rowed hard all
day to reach the head of the inlet, only to find
more than a mile of it filled with ice from Taku
Glacier, which had been held there by the fierce
south wind so long that it was frozen together. It
began to snow when we landed in a rocky gulch,
so we made the best camp we could for the night.
Next day I looked over the ice-field for a passage
across it, the bank being precipitous and prac- EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
tically impossible ; the only way I could see was
to take the small boat, put it on the ice, and walk
beside it, hauling it along with us as we went.
With two or three hundred pounds* in the boat, I
took four men, rowed out to the ice and at a safe
place pulled out and started hauling the boat over
the rough surface, seeking carefully the best
places. Occasionally a foot would go through,
but the boat was our life-preserver. After a most
trying time we reached the head of the inlet, the
return was safely made, which, with the gale in our
favour, was not so difficult, but we all felt that one
such experience was sufficient if a repetition could
be avoided, but how to do so was difficult to see.
As I lay awake thinking the difficulty over and
over, and listening to the rushing of the fierce
gale blowing down the inlet, I was startled by one
of the most thunderous noises I have ever heard.
I had camped in the vicinity of Taku Glacier for
some time in the summer of 1893, and knew the
tumult it made whenever it shoved, and I knew the
noise came from a shove. What the effect was we
could not see till morning, when the whole of the
head of the inlet was found clear. The glacier
had started the two or three square miles of ice,
and the gale coming down the river valley had
driven it seaward into Stephens Passage, to become the dread of seafarers in the night.
In the teeth of the gale the stores were pulled
over to land at the mouth of the Taku River, up MR. OGILVIE'S VISIT TO THE COUNTRY 149
which our course lay. Dogs we had none, and if
we had they would have eaten more than they
could haul. We had to be our own transport
motors, and as we had several times more than we
could haul at one trip, we had to double and
triple trip the way to advance our supplies and
outfit. The most gruelling labour got us to the
summit of the interior plateau, a micrometer
survey of the line of march being made as we
went. The most rigid search revealed no practicable wagon road, nothing more than what had
been explained to me by the miners I saw who had
gone over the route. Two of these, I may mention, were the Day brothers, French-Canadians,
to whose reports great respect was paid wherever
they were known, and that was pretty widely in
the Yukon region.
The return march was begun with bright
promise of fine weather, but alas ! the second
night out the snow began to fall on us as it does
in that region near the coast, in great blobs rather
than flakes. Of our track up there was no trace,
and we sank more than knee-deep in the freshly
fallen snow in spite of the large Canadian snow-
shoes which I had taken, the native kind being
too fragile for such long-sustained heavy effort as
we had to put forth. The end of our land journey
was reached February 24th, and our boat dug out
of the five feet of snow that had fallen on it in our
absence.   Our provisions were exhausted, but we i
broke into a cache of dried salmon we found at
the mouth of the river and took a few of them.
After rounding Bishop's Point we were again
stopped by one of the fierce winter gales so common in that region, and for three nights and two
days we lay shivering and starving at the same
time in such shelter as an old cabin could afford.
Early in the morning of March 1st we were able
to continue our journey to Juneau, which we
reached before many of the residents were up. I
left the town in December weighing one hundred
and ninety-six pounds, and returned tanned by
the sun and wind to a bronze hue, and reduced
in weight to one hundred and seventy-two. Not
many of my friends there recognized me at first
sight. Here I learned the heartbreaking news
that my dear second son had departed from this
world on January 20th. When I left home I
knew he was sick, but had hopes of his recovery,
and looked with confidence to seeing him again.
The shock was a cruel one to me.
When I reached Ottawa I had to prepare a
minute report on my expedition and what I saw.
Then I had to discuss with Mr. Burgess a scheme
he had on foot for the partial organization of the
Yukon Territory. This scheme was to appoint an
Agent-General, a sort of everything in one, to
represent the Government in the territory and
administer the laws, and carry out the Government directions.    It was proposed to send in  I MR. OGILVIE'S VISIT TO THE COUNTRY   151
an adequate number of North-West Mounted
Policemen to enforce order and punish lawbreakers, and a sufficient number of assistants, to
carry on the work, such as it might prove to be,
effectively. The number of policemen was fixed
at not less than ten, nor more than twenty. He
asked me, if I were taking the office, how many
I would consider sufficient, and I replied that I
thought ten good reliable men would suffice, as
they, I felt sure, would be supported by the
good, practical common sense of the community
as I knew it. He then told me that I had been
selected for the place, and that my salary and
allowances would be sufficient to make the
position attractive. I asked if I had any choice in
the matter, and his reply was that, in view of the
bitter experiences I had had during the past
winter months, and the sorrow of my loss, if it
were very disagreeable to me they would not insist
on my accepting, but that it would be very
satisfactory if I would. I told him my heart's
deepest feelings opposed it, that I did not want to
shut myself out from the world, and away from
my two remaining boys, who had been brought
closer to me by sorrow, and who were now at a
critical age, both in education and development,
an age that required, I thought, my attention
and assistance more than ever. Were the position
one that would last only a few months it would be
different.   He asked me to think it over and try 152
and see my way to accepting. I could not accept,
and the scheme was changed somewhat. In a
month or so after this Capt. Constantine came
to Ottawa, he having been appointed Agent for
the territory. He was directed to talk the position
over with me and decide how many policemen
were necessary. He wanted a much larger
number than I thought were required, and we
took some time to come to terms on this point.
I insisted that twenty were enough, and supported my argument by the fact that there
was never any trouble in the country, that my
boundary line had been accepted when it might
legitimately have been rejected till ratified by the
United States, that he had himself gone, alone
it might be said, into the territory and collected
customs dues without any show of authority.
The number was fixed by Mr. Burgess at twenty
officers and men, all told. They were to enter
the country by the sea route, that is, to St.
Michael and up the river. It had been decided
before this that I was to visit the country again
for a season, and extend the International Boundary Line as far south and north of the Yukon
as I thought was necessary, and do any other
work that I deemed proper. I did not wish to go,
but Mr. Daly, the then Minister, insisted so
kindly and considerately, that I could not well
I decided to go again by the Dyea route, and MR. OGILVIE'S VISIT TO THE COUNTRY 153
chose from my old hands on the Boundary Commission work a good lot of men, and also took my
eldest son with me. At the pass I found my
old friend Skookum Jim, and his cousin Tagish
Charlie, who packed from Sheep Camp to Lake
Lyndeman for me. The manager for the firm
of Healy and Wilson had organized a horse-
packing service from the landing to Sheep Camp,
the rest of the way was too steep and rough for
horses. On the way down the river I repeated
many of the observations I had taken in 1887,
especially magnetic ones. Proceeding leisurely
we reached Fortymile the last day of August.
Here I remained in conference with Capt.
Constantine for some days, at the same time
adjusting my instruments, repeating observations,
and gathering information about some matters
of which I had acquired indefinite knowledge in
1887-8. On my way down to the boundary I
examined some coal exposures and reported on
them to the Agent, in view of applications being
made for them, which seemed probable. At the
boundary I found our old quarters pretty well
wrecked. My observatory had been burned,
and a new one had to be erected. When all our
preparations for the winter were completed, I
arranged for a hunt to secure some fresh meat
for the winter months. It may interest many to
learn that, just as we were preparing to cross the
river on the way to the place I decided to go, i54
one of the men called attention to some dogs, as
he thought, walking on the bank on the other side
of the river about a mile below us, but a look with
the glass resolved, as the astronomer would say,
the nebulous mass of dogs into a dense crowd of
caribou. As quickly as possible we crossed in our
canoe, and in less than a minute after landing had
killed six, and in less than half an hour had secured
twelve. The females were small compared with
the males, and after estimation I decided that it
would take at least fifteen to make enough meat
to last us the winter, so after dinner I told the
men that, if any of them who had not been in the
shooting wanted the experience of killing a caribou in the far north, they could go out, shoot one,
and then we would put up our guns for the winter.
Three elected to do so, went out, and each secured
one. Two floated beyond our reach before we
could get them ashore, and I killed three more,
making in all eighteen killed and sixteen saved.
They were almost as tame as cattle. Most of
those killed were swimming in the river at the
time. They are magnificent swimmers, and
could breast current against which two men in
one of our light canoes, empty, could not make
headway. They were migrating southwards
at the time, and remained in thousands around
our camp for more than a week. Our houses were
objects of great curiosity to them, and numbers
of them would swim over, approach the buildings MR. OGILVIE'S VISIT TO THE COUNTRY   155
cautiously, whistling and snorting as they did so.
They often came so close and were so noisy that
they became a nuisance, and we would go out
and chase them away. At any time one looked
out they were to be seen swimming across the
river, and as they were crossing for about ten
days, tens of thousands of them must have passed
this place. They are migratory, travelling in
vast herds, in numbers uncountable. In fall they
travel south, and in spring north. The range
they travel over is wide, and when they happen
to strike near an Indian encampment, there is
plenty and contentment there for man and dog,
but when, as is often the case, they are scores of
miles away, there is starvation and misery for all.
The rifle I used was the '303 calibre carbine of
the British military service, with a twenty-inch
barrel. We had other makes in camp of larger
calibre, but I never handled a more satisfactory
weapon than it proved. But seldom had I to take
the second shot at anything when I fired with it.
I used altogether the hardnosed bullet, finding it
gave the most satisfactory all-round results. It is,
indeed, a very convenient weapon for mountain
service, short, light, strong, and not easily injured.
The new service rifle, with a twenty-four-inch
barrel, should prove nearly as handy, and a better
shooter. Both are well protected against accidents
peculiar to mountain work. CHAPTER X
WINTER  WORK   IN   1895-6
"\HE observatory finished, I set about getting as many observations as possible of
the same character as I got in 1887-8.
Before cold weather set in I secured six more, which,
when reduced and applied to those obtained in
1887-8, left my previous determination practically
where it was. I then set about continuing the
boundary line northward from the river. I had
no instruments of precision with me outside of
the astronomical transit. My ordinary line
transit was a small three-inch one designed for
mountain work.' I had to lay down a series of
traverse lines with this from the observatory to
the boundary line, nearly three miles, and through
this traverse I had to originate my boundary line.
Those experienced in this kind of work will
understand how difficult it would be to lay down
a true course from such a source. All the two
months I worked on the boundary line I could
not get a sight on a star with my transit, such as it
was, so the line was run for more than fifty miles
i56 WINTER WORK IN 1895-6 157
unchecked. It was transited with the baby instrument from peak to peak, sometimes miles
apart. The distance from station to station
was determined by rough triangulation, which
gave results within a few feet of the truth in a
mile. At almost every station the camera was
set up, and the horizon photographed completely around, in accordance with the system
of photo-topography developed so successfully by
Capt. E. Deville, Surveyor-General of Canada.
This would give a fairly accurate map of the strip
along the boundary line of a width of ten miles
each side. In addition to this the position and
elevation of some distant peaks were determined,
and names given them, in nearly all cases perpetuating the names of pioneers.
The work was stopped on April 12th, and I
returned to Fortymile to await a stage of water
that would permit reasonable progress up-stream
and out. While waiting for this, a survey was
made of Cudahy and Fortymile town-sites, and
some mining claims and land applications laid
out. The Canadian Government had entered
into a contract with the well-known west-coast
veteran, Capt. William Moore, better known as
" Old Bill Moore," to carry three mails into the
Yukon during the season of 1896. The United
States Government had also made a contract
with a party to carry mails into the lower Yukon,
via the Dyea Pass.   The veteran Captain had been 158        EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
over the pass at least twice before, having accompanied me a part of the way down the Yukon in
1887, and later was a few miles past the summit
for the British Columbia Government, so he
knew how to climb, and better, had some acquaintance with the Indians. Somehow the American
contractor got into trouble with his Indians,
and was held up about the foot of Lake Bennet,
when the Captain came along with the Canadian
mail, and though he had only one man with him,
and was in his seventy-third year, he, for a consideration, took the American mail along, agreeing
to land it at its destination. The Captain brought
news to me that precluded all thought of my
going out till fall, if not later. The Canadian
Government had entered into negotiations with
the United States Government for a joint
commission to lay down the International Boundary Line with authority, and finally, from the
Pacific to the Arctic. I was to be the Canadian
Commissioner, and was directed to await further
advice on the matter. I was also informed that
assistants would likely soon join me with all the,
necessary outfit. Soon after this I sent my son
home by the steamer Alice, via St. Michael. I
waited anxiously all summer for further advice
regarding the international survey, but none
came till the Captain's last trip, and I was then
advised that the negotiations with the United
States had failed, and I was directed to return WINTER WORK IN 1895-6 159
with all possible dispatch, but dispatch in that
region then meant more than it does now. It
meant constant physical effort for twenty-five
to thirty-five days, making one's way against the
strong current of the Yukon, and over the Dyea
Pass to the sea. I notified all the people of the
vicinity that I would start for the outside in
three days, and carry any mail entrusted to me.
On the day appointed for my departure the worst
storm of rain, with the most violent wind I ever
saw in the country, came on, and lasted for three
days, culminating in something unprecedented
in that region in September, a heavy fall of snow,
which covered the ground to a depth of nearly
a foot. On October 3rd the river was running
thickly with ice, and my trip out was over till
the winter at the earliest. The storm appeared
to be local, for on October nth the ice ran past,
and on the 14th the steamer Arctic made a passage
up to the new camp at Dawson, carrying eighty
passengers and many tons of much-needed
supplies. Ice began to run again in the last days
of the month, and winter set in for good. Few
who were in the country at that time will forget
the very unseasonable weather of the last days
of September.
Early in January, 1897, I went up to Dawson
to lay out the town-site and survey several other
blocks of land applied for there. EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
I have already referred to a meeting of miners
and others on Lower Bonanza Creek at claim
No. 17 below discovery, and now I have to take
it up again at greater length. When the Mounted
Police entered the country the majority of the
people were pleased that at last there was some
reliable official body representative of law and
order in the country, but some who were accustomed to what they called liberty, that is, the
privilege, if we may term it so, of doing as they
pleased, and paying when they chose, and
especially those accustomed to the regulation
by each mining community of its own local
matters by miners' meetings, and who had not
suffered by that system, were opposed to what
they styled the interference of the police. At
this meeting there were twenty-five, but as in
every other crowd, a few did the talking and
swayed the meeting. There were only a few
pronounced opponents of the police; the rest
listened and let things go. At the meeting it was
resolved that, as the location of claims so far had
been done at random, without any connection
between the many locations, therefore it was
right and proper that a new and connected
survey be made ; carried. Resolved further that
a local recorder be appointed, and as a " sop " to WINTER WORK IN 1895-6 161
the public a stranger named David McKay, from
Nova Scotia, was elected. It was also resolved
that the name of the new creek be Bonanza. A
rope was procured, and measured fifty feet long,
with which to survey the creek from discovery
claim down. A few went up from discovery.
Now I afterwards saw seventeen out of the
twenty-five present, and examined thirteen of
these under oath, but I could never learn who
measured the rope, nor to whom it belonged,
apparently no one saw it measured. Very good
prospects were found on discovery, and just as
good on a claim which proved to be sixteen below ;
what number it was then they could not know,
but as it was supposed to be two miles below
discovery, and the ground between them was
assumed to be all as good, the more claims in
the stretch the more people would be enriched.
It was agreed between them that the allotment
of claims staked that day would be governed
by drawing numbers out of a hat. In what
way the rope was measured, or how it was
held, I do not know, but I do know that discovery claim was cut from four hundred and
ninety-six feet, as measured by Carmac, to four
hundred and fifty and a half ; and No. 1 below
from four hundred and ninety-two by Carmac,
to four hundred and forty-seven.
Now there was no proper reason why those adjusters could not have been as correct as Carmac,
—- 162
they had a measure, he had none and trusted to
pacing to get the five hundred feet allowed him in
each claim. The so-called survey was carried down
the creek valley, more than fifty claims in an afternoon ; true, the afternoons were long then, from
noon till midnight, and claims ranged from three
hundred and fifty to four hundred and fifty
in the located parts, and more outside of them.
They found no room for a claim staked by a
previous locator in the vicinity of No. 12 below,
so struck him out there and moved him down
to fifty below discovery. Only four miles! not
much of a move ! This man, immediately after
locating, had sold his title to the claim to a
syndicate of four. One of the first to locate after
Carmac was an old man, Edward Monahan, who,
on August 19th, located about twenty-nine below,
and as he was very friendly with the police
officers' wives, and Mrs. Healy, and another
lady at Fortymile, after staking his own claim
he thought it would be a compliment to the
ladies to stake a claim for them too, which he
did, and came down and had them recorded
through a misunderstanding of the mining regulations.
The adjusters, though they were not opposed
to locating absentee men, as there is good reason
to suspect was done, and moving one man, as
we have seen, from his own location and placing
him on another four miles away, were opposed to WINTER WORK IN 1895-6
absentee women being recognized, contrary to
the spirit of chivalry we see so often attributed
to the miner in stories; so they promptly
jumped the claims staked by Monahan for the
ladies, and as a warning to all future transgressors
like him, jumped his own location also. They
then sent a deputation to the Agent, and by misrepresentation to him, as he alleged, induced him
to give his official sanction and approval to their
acts. Monahan was induced to divide his claim
with the jumper, and so the matter ended for
awhile, but when the season permitted prospect
work to be done, that is, when the frosts tied up
all the surface water, and good pay was found, it
became an acute question whether or not the
new survey would stand. By it many claims were
divided between the original locator and the ward
of the adjusters, and it was impossible to do full
and proper work till the question of ownership
was decided. I remember one case where a jumper
was put on a claim in such a way that all the
original locator had was a few feet of his claim
at one end. He was working on this, but was very
much cramped in his efforts. In the case of the
claim from which the locator was moved to fifty
below, neither the purchasers of the original
owner's claim, nor the jumper installed by the
adjusters, would do anything till the question of
legality of location was settled. It seemed impossible to get action on the matter, and as I was
mm m
not Agent I could not interfere, unless requested
by the owners of the claims to make a survey of
them, but I had no more authority to step in
unasked than I would have to make a survey of a
man's town lot, or a farmer's farm, without his
I was at last waited on by a deputation, who
wanted to learn if it were possible to have
something done to settle the muddle things were
in. I told them to get up a petition to me to
make a survey of all the claims in dispute, or as
many of them as possible, and I drafted a form
of petition for them, which was copied out
on the yellow leaves of a sort of account-book
kept by Joe Ladue, the only paper available at
the time, and two copies were circulated. In
a few days they were returned to me, one containing over fifty signatures and the other over
eighty. I walked over the ground where most
of the confliction was, and found that, even if
there were no more different interests than those
caused by abutting claims, there would be trouble,
for not one miner or prospector in a hundred
ever thinks of the proper manner of staking a
claim. At that time the method was intricate,
but the motive in framing it was perfectly proper ;
it was to have each locator so mark his claim,
and so surround it by lines, that another locator
could not possibly mark one conflicting with it,
unless he were physically or, worse, morally blind. WINTER WORK IN 1895-6 165
The locator was supposed to plant a post at each
corner of his ground, and to cut lines through the
woods between them so wide and clear that each
post could be seen from the preceding one,
unless a hill intervened, in which case the line
would lead one to the next post anyway. The
locator was supposed to stand facing the south,
and post No. 1 would then be over his left
shoulder, or at sunrise post No. 2 would be
southerly from that up or down the valley, as the
case might be, and five hundred feet from No. 1 ;
No. 3 would be across the valley from No. 2,
and No. 4 would be up or down the valley from
No. 3 and five hundred feet from it. All four
posts were to be made not less than three feet in
height from the surface of the ground, and not
less than three inches square at the top, squared
for at least a foot. On No. 1 was to be written
legibly, by durable pencil, or inscribed on the
post if preferred, the number or other designation
of the claim, the name of the locator in full,
Christian and surname, the date of location, and
the letters M.L.P. and the number of the post
as in the order set forth. The above letters stood
for Mining Location Post. On the other posts
the letters and number of the post only were
required, as one finding any of them would know
which way to go to find the next in order. I tried
very often to get prospectors and miners to see
the reasonableness of this method of marking, EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
more especially pointing out that it practically
insured them against jumping, for if their lines
were so cut out, and posts so marked, very few
would care to run foul of the boundaries, and if
they did, the presumption of crookedness on their
part would be so strong as to amount to absolute
proof, but I could never evoke any interest in the
method ; as one old-timer said to me, " What the
h—1's the use of staking at all if you have to
represent your claim before recording it ?"
In spite of the risk that a claim not legally marked
might be lost if another party took the pains
to mark the same ground regularly, they were
marked in whatever way was most convenient
at the time. To mark a claim according to the
regulations, as has been outlined, would take a
fair axeman about half a day, and when it was
done, the locator knew exactly where all his
boundaries were, unless he measured more than
five hundred feet in length, in which case there
would be a fractional claim of the overplus cut off
the last end of his claim, that is, a strip the width of
the overplus running along the line from post No. 2
to No. 3. As a rule the procedure was to select
a tree, knock a bit of bark off it, and proceed to
write or scratch on it something like this, " I
claim five hundred feet up-stream (or downstream as the case was) for mining purposes,"
then date and name, generally only initial for
Christian  name,  or  names.   Now,  if  it  were 1   CREEK   NO.  2   BELOW
r~  WINTER WORK IN 1895-6 167
summer-time, and the tree selected was a spruce,
which was generally the case, the surface would
not only be rough, but very slimy from the sap
juices under the bark, and the writing, at best
scrawly and poor, would hardly be decipherable.
In a few days the flow of gum natural to. the
spruce would cover the whole face of the cut,
and the record, whatever it was, became invisible
except to one accustomed to translating such
hieroglyphics with the aid of a good magnifying
glass. If a poplar were selected, the sap in the
tree turned black in a few days after exposure, and
the record generally fared as badly as if made on a
spruce. If the sap-wood were cut through and a
fair surface made, the record was good for an
indefinite period. I have often seen records made
partly on the sap-wood and partly on the drier
wood under it, on which the dry wood retained
the record and the sap-wood was completely
Now, all the difference in time required
between making a post that would retain the
record for years and one that would retain it
for as many weeks, is only a few minutes. A good
retentive surface can be prepared by any one so
minded in five minutes, but it was not considered
necessary to do more than put down something
as quickly as possible, which the writer knew the
meaning of at the time, but which would take the
closest study by others, and most of whom would EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
fail to make anything out of it. Often even the
writer, if we may dignify him by such an appellation, could not an hour after, without the aid
of his memory, say exactly what he had written.
The post or tree marked, the locator then traced
a course up or down the valley of the gulch,
seeking the easiest places through the brush
until he reached the other end of the claim. Here
he marked another tree, or made a post, and spent
just as little time doing it as possible. One would
think it a primary object to be sure that the full
five hundred feet was included between the
stakes marked, yet in the majority of cases this
was not done, which was entirely owing to the
course the locator steered while measuring. He
made his paces long enough, and counted enough
of them, but his base line of measurement was
so crooked, or so far away from the middle line
of the valley, and so out of parallel with it, that
the claim was short in measure. The mathematical principles underlying this are so simple
that one would think them perfectly obvious,
and that a little torment from mosquitoes, or a
biting cold, could not drive them from their minds,
but so it appeared. From the upper end of
discovery claim to the lower end of sixty below,
as laid out, there are sixty-one claims, yet the
measurement shows it sufficient for fifty-two
full claims only. I remember one instance where
the locator so meandered that his lower stake WINTER WORK IN 1895-6 169
was actually twelve feet farther up the valley
than his upper one, that is, he had actually
staked twelve feet less than nothing, and as he
had sold the claim (No. 12 below mentioned)
the location had to be considered, and by adjusting the boundaries above it I succeeded in
allotting it three hundred and eighteen feet,
without interfering with any rights. In another
case a locator had so meandered in his pacing that
I could not possibly give him more than one hundred and thirty-eight feet between his stakes.
The reader will see from this, that with the
confusion of two different sets of stakes planted,
and the resultant confliction of development
work, there was no easy task before me in trying
to do justice. First I saw as many of the parties
present at the meeting of August 22nd as I could
conveniently reach, and under the provisions
of the Survey Act examined them as fully as
possible regarding the motives and acts of those
present. Most of those I saw now perceived the
folly of their attitude at the meeting, and the
mischief that had resulted therefrom, and were
heartily with me in my endeavour to adjust
matters, and assured me that whatever I did
would be satisfactory if the muddle were only
settled. A few, however, of the members stuck
to their original ideas, and held that, as the Agent
had assented to what they had done and put it
on record, it was good and valid.    I could not
accept this view, and proceeded to wipe out their
work wherever it conflicted with any previous
location. There was no active objection to my
doing so, but there was some " wild and woolly "
talk. One or two who hailed from freeman's land
seemed to think that something was required of
them, and accordingly, if report be true, talked
of shooting, and other violent measures, if their
locations were interfered with. A few of my
friends took a serious view of this and warned
me to be careful, but it did not seem to me that
the threats amounted to more than letting off a
cloud of steam to back out of, unseen. As the
work proceeded this kind of talk quietened down,
and when I came to the location of the man who,
according to report, did most of the threatening,
even to saying he would shoot me if I came on his
claim, my base line ran into his cabin, and I had
to set my transit on the roof to carry the line
over. This I did in peace, and without objection,
though the occupant was in the cabin at the
time. When I descended he came out, and
laughingly asked me what I was doing. I told
him, and was then invited in to dinner, which
I accepted. During the meal he inquired if I
were going to put him off the claim he was on,
and to my great surprise, when I told him I was,
he accepted the dictum very gracefully, and asked
me what I would advise him to do in the future ;
go and look up new ground and get a full claim, WINTER WORK IN 1895-6 171
or accept a fraction of a hundred feet that was
still open ? I was a good deal surprised by this
sudden change of front, for I could not doubt all
my informants about this man's attitude, and was
very cautious about advising him in any direction
till his sincerity appeared real to me. After some
discussion as to his means and position, I advised
him to take the fraction as the best thing he could
do at that time. He thanked me, and we parted
good friends, he going that afternoon to locate
the fraction in question, and so the noise ended.
The noise ended, but four or five of the
quieter protestants held a meeting and appointed
a deputation of three to wait on and learn from
me if they could not do something in the way
of presenting their case to Ottawa that would
secure them some consideration, for, as they said,
they hated to be left out in the cold entirely.
This was even a greater surprise to me than the
surrender of the belligerent individual just
mentioned. The conference was held in a
vacant cabin, so was on neutral ground. I asked
the deputation to state its case as concisely as
possible. It was simply a recital of what I had
heard very often before, to wit, they had been
sincere in their attitude at the meeting, and had
acted aboveboard and in good faith, having an
eye single to the best interests of the community
in all they did. Now it was quite evident to me,
from remarks that were dropped from time to EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
time by those I had examined as to the doings
and sayings at the meeting, that the meeting was,
on the part of the ringleaders at least, a protest
against interference with their rights. They
considered, as they had been left so long to the
direction of their own affairs, that the intrusion
of authority and policemen to uphold it was an
usurpation. As I have said before, only a few
held this view, but that few insinuatingly tried
to present it and have it acknowledged as widely
as possible. Knowing this, I was not much impressed by the protestations of good faith,
though I did not say anything. I told them if
they wished to present their case to Ottawa, that
was their privilege, and I would give them any
assistance I could in so doing. They asked me
if I would endorse their position, which I emphatically assured them I would not, but on the
contrary would report against it as strongly as I
could. After some discussion as to how the
matter of their petition should be arranged, I
rose to go, remarking as I did so, " Whenever
you are ready, gentlemen, call on me, and I will
be glad to assist you in getting up your petition,
but just before I go I want to say to you that the
most peculiar feature of the case, as it presents
itself to me, is the position you are in yourselves."
I was asked what I meant, and replied, " In
the application you made when applying for the
claims you recorded, you swore that, f to the best WINTER WORK IN 1895-6 173
of your knowledge and belief, the land you applied
for was vacant Dominion land, and that in staking
you had not encroached on any occupied ground.'
Now there is a provision in the Criminal Code
of Canada that ' any one who knowingly and
wilfully removes, defaces, alters, or destroys
any post or monument planted, placed, or marked
as a boundary or limit of any parcel or tract of
land whatsoever may be imprisoned in the pene-
tentiary for five years.' Now if you can convince
the officers of the Department of the Interior,
or a disinterested jury, that you collectively
went down this creek in the afternoon of August
22nd last, removing, defacing, altering, and
destroying every post you could find that interfered with your programme, and putting yourselves on the claims so located ; and that you did
not see those posts while you were doing this, why,
you may stand clear in your record. But if they
do not believe you, you are liable to criminal
prosecution of a serious nature. Another thing
I must say is, that your claim to recognition,
because you were officially recognized, will not
afford you that support you seem to think so
strong, for the Agent will declare that he recognized you through misrepresentation on your
part, and his affirmation under the circumstances
will be at least of as much force as yours. Good
night, gentlemen; when you want me, call on
As I was picking up my snow-shoes outside,
I overheard the spokesman for the party remark
" It's a fizzle," and laugh.    I heard
no more about a reference to Ottawa. Nor was
the trouble ever again referred to as a right by
any one. I have spoken of this matter at some
length, because it was a thing of much interest
and excitement at the time, and as an instance of
what may occur in mining camps, not on as large
a scale, perhaps, but many times posts are either
not seen, and the ground re-located, or, worse still,
the posts destroyed, or the record on them removed and another put on, and then it is a case
of who can swear most. Our Territorial Judges
could tell something about this subject. At the
time I speak of, the method of marking out a
claim was intricate, no doubt, as I have described,
but it was worth all the trouble and more to
the locator if he would only follow it out,
for it put him on record on the ground in
a very patent way, but the method was not
generally known, for only the Agent and myself had copies of the regulations, and so but
few saw them. Now, however, each paper in
the Yukon Territory publishes in every issue
a resume of the mining regulations sufficient
to acquaint any one with all that is necessary
to properly locate, mark, and record a claim.
Yet I will venture the assertion that not more
than twenty-five per cent of the claims are marked WINTER WORK IN 1895-6 175
any way near the legal manner. It is now illegal
to mark a tree as a post bounding a claim; a tree
may be used, but it must be cut off at the legal
height, and flatted or squared so as to present
the appearance of a post. A line must be marked
or opened out in the woods, between the posts,
to make it evident to prospectors that some one
else has been there before. As an illustration
of how it is really done, I may describe what
I found in 1908, when looking for the boundaries
of nine claims I wanted to examine. The party
of nine was led by two commissioners for taking
affidavits, one of whom is called a mining
engineer. To these we should look for something
approaching precision, yet I found that all the
posts but one were trees, only one of which had
been cut off to make it a post, which was not,
however, either the legal height or size. Only
one record was readily decipherable, four of them
undecipherable, and all the rest were more or
less so, yet they had been marked less than three
Immediately after the staking, one of the
commissioners took the affidavits of the men
that they had " marked out on the ground, in
accordance in every particular with the Dominion
Mining Regulations, the claim hereby applied
for " ; knowing, if he knew anything, that they
did not. The measurement was made in such a
careless way that the whole bunch of claims did 176
not cover more than two-thirds of the ground
mentioned. In the case of the one staked by the
mining engineer, it will not, when surveyed,
be more than one hundred and fifty feet long,
instead of five hundred, as allowed by the regulations. I dwell on this feature because it seems so
remarkable to me, and I am sure would to the
public too, if it could only see it, and realize
the result of such criminal ignorance and neglect
in the disputes and lawsuits for which it is responsible. There is no excuse for it now. There
might have been some in the early years. I do
not mean that all claims are shorter than they
ought to be ; many locators are shrewd enough
to be sure to take enough, knowing that all they
have over five hundred feet will be separated
as a fractional claim whenever a survey is made.
I know one case where nine hundred and forty-
two feet were paced off, and the justification was
that it was done in the dark, and the party could
not see to count his steps. The real motive was
to secure a claim for an absent friend, but " the
best laid schemes o' mice and men," etc.; before the friend came another man discovered the
extra length, located it, and is now a wealthy
resident of a western city. CHAPTER XI
I SURVEYED one hundred and twenty claims
on Bonanza Creek, and fifty on Eldorado
Creek, and by that time, April 12th, the snow
was melting so fast, and the water so deep in
places, that further work could not well be done.
During the progress of the work I lived with the
miners, and they furnished the help necessary on
the work. My time was paid for by the Government, so the survey cost the claim-holders but
little. I can never forget the universal kindness
and consideration of the people as a whole, in the
midst of a great excitement; for there are few
other conditions as exciting as the inception of a
great mining camp. I once heard a prominent
Englishman, in an address he was making in
London, declare that there were two great
calamities that could befall a country, and he
could not say which was the worst : " War, or the
discovery of gold." This may be an exaggeration,
but, certainly, when the microbe of gold-fever,
fresh from the shafts, drifts, and sluice-boxes of
the field, gets into the blood, the temperature
mm f
rises till delirium sets in and even the best of men
are hardly themselves. Think of it, reader;
a man may apparently have been doomed to a
lifetime of toil, of pinching here and pulling there
to make ends meet, hoping and longing for what
he must feel he can never have; what it means
to be suddenly thrust into a field where he may
any hour, unknown to himself, mark out millions
for the digging. Is it any wonder that men, and
women too, lose their heads and become for the
time what they never dreamed of becoming ?
Is it any wonder that a gold-mad camp has been
compared to war, and war has been compared
to some place far south of Klondike !
Sitting with the miners in the long evenings,
much talk was indulged in about many things,
and the mining regulations came in for a large
share of comment and criticism, and truly they
were at that time not quite suited to the needs
of such a bleak clime. Many suggestions were
made and discussed as to amendments. These
were all carefully noted and sent to Ottawa at the
first opportunity, from which followed many
changes. The old method of marking out a
claim was simplified to practically the present
method, which, as w? have seen, is not observed
much, if any, better than the old way. The
age of a locator was lowered from twenty-one
to eighteen, the objectionable formula in the
affidavit of application, "I solemnly swear that
I have discovered therein a deposit of gold,"
which very few ever did, for the simple reason
they did not look for it, was changed to " I
solemnly swear that I have reason to believe there
is therein a deposit of gold." It is astonishing to
reflect that thousands of claims were staked and
recorded in the Klondike particularly, and Yukon
generally, and in few was any attempt made at all
to find gold. Some one had found gold somewhere on the creek or bench. That was enough ;
every one who recorded did so on the strength of
that find. The spirit of the law in those days was
that each individual should thoroughly prospect
his claim before applying for record, and he was
given sixty days in which to do it. I attribute
much of the apparently criminal conduct to the
slipshod way affidavits are generally read over;
in fact, they are very often not read at all; it
seems to be the desire to get through with the job
as soon as possible.
While making the survey, one of my duties
was to take the affidavits of application of
locators who did not wish to make the journey
to Fortymile, sixty odd miles, to the Agent's
office, the only place they could record at the
time. The regulations permitted a locator to
make the affidavit of application before any
Justice of the Peace or Commissioner, and as I
had been made a Commissioner of Police before
my first entry to the country I was qualified to i8o
serve the miners in that way. The affidavit, with
the necessary fee for record, was sent to the
Agent's office by the first opportunity, and the
record was counted from the date the affidavit
was sworn to. In every case before swearing
the attestor I read it over slowly and carefully,
and in many cases the proceedings stopped there,
for the applicant had not discovered gold, had
not looked for it, and, of course, he could not
swear to something he had not done. In many
instances, however, I felt sure the oath was taken
in spite of the fact that no search had been made
for the precious metal. I remember one instance
where a man came to me to have his affidavit taken
who bore the reputation of being the toughest
citizen of Dawson at that time, before the rush,
and I did not look for any conscientious scruples
on his part. When his affidavit was completed
I read it over to him ; as soon as the words " I
have discovered therein a deposit of gold " were
spoken, he stopped me sharply with the exclamation, " But I have not! I did not look for any."
" Then you cannot take this oath," I said.
After explanation, it turned out he did not know
the requirements, thinking it only necessary to
stake the ground. He had only forty-eight hours
in which to return to the claim, prospect it, find
gold, and complete recording by making the
affidavit. If he failed he might lose it altogether,
for another party, knowing it was not recorded, WORK DONE ON THE CREEKS        181
had staked it, anticipating failure to record
within the legal time. He started immediately
for the claim, it being highly desirable to avoid,
if possible, any question of loss of title through
its having been re-staked before the sixty days
expired. He reached the ground the next
evening after travelling all night, fed and tied
up his dogs, gathered dry wood, built a fire,
thawed the ice off the gravel, and built another
fire to thaw the gravel itself, washed all he had
thawed, and did not find a colour ! He selected
another place, thawed again, washed and found
three small colours, but unmistakably gold,
started back, and reached Dawson about eleven at
night, showed me the gold, made his oath, and
saved his title by an hour, after being on the
jump for forty-eight hours without rest, and with
very little nourishment. When all was completed
he remarked, " Mr. Ogilvie, I am considered a
hard case here, and there are more want to pass
me than speak to me, yet I would not have taken
that oath to save my claim, not for all the claims
in the Klondike," and I believed him. It is poor,
poor ground where there is not some pay streak.
Contrast this with another case about the same
time. When I read over the affidavit, and the
formula above-cited was spoken, he was startled
into the exclamation, " But, by golly, I didn't
find any, I didn't look for it."
" Well," I said, " you cannot take this oath." EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
He went away, and the claim was recorded
somehow. A few were so scrupulous that when
they discovered they had unwittingly sworn to an
untruth, they went to the trouble of re-locating
their claims, and recorded them a second time,
having, of course, to pay a second fee.
As I have said, every consideration was extended
me while on the creeks. It seemed I was considered a sort of arbiter in all disputes, and as my
knowledge of law was very limited, no question of
jurisdiction was ever raised, nor was any decision
I ever made objected to in any active way. I
had to decide against some one in every dispute,
yet I never noticed any feeling of animosity on
account of it, and I think that speaks well for the
law-abiding sentiments of the people then in the
country. There were no policemen nearer than
sixty-five miles, and even had there been they
were so few in number that, if lawlessness predominated, they could not have done very much
to restrain it.
The reader will have gathered that, while
making the survey of the claims, many questions
arose that in older communities would have involved lawsuits; my position was in consequence
sometimes a trying one. In many cases I had to
fling law and the principles of boundary adjustment aside, and make such adjustment of limits
as would save to innocent people the result of
months of trying labour.    I recall one case in WORK DONE ON THE CREEKS        183
particular, when a rigid adherence to the law
governing surveys would have cut a poor miner
out of the result of nearly five months' labour,
and compelled him to begin over again too late
in the season to accomplish more than pay the
great expense he had incurred under the very
exceptional conditions of the winter and even
that satisfaction might have been doubtful. The
parties adjoining this boundary had no idea of the
quandary I was in for a time, and the one to whom
I extended the favour of the doubt is now a
wealthy resident on the Pacific coast. The other
one, though he had equally as good ground as his
neighbour, lost all, some are unkind enough to
say through his own act, and is still resorting to
the territory in search of fortune. So the sequel
to my decision, in a manner, eased my conscience
on the irregularity of the boundary.
The measurements on the survey were made
with a Gunter's chain of sixty-six feet in length
divided into one hundred links, and as the measurement on my bases was continuous no one but
myself knew whether a claim was long or short,
or how much so, until I told it. In this way I
was enabled to conceal the existence of fractional
claims, which I made known only by marking them
on the posts bounding the end, not the beginning
of the claim. In only one case did I depart from
this rule, and that time I felt the circumstances
justified it. 184        EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
Mr. Clarence Berry, of California, was the
fortunate owner of a half-inter est in claims Nos.
3, 4, 5, and 6, on Eldorado Creek. He and his
partner decided to do all their work for the season
on the upper end of claim No. 5. Such a thing
as there being an overplus of measurement in this
claim did not occur to them. Fortunately for
them and the community, I reached the limit
of claim No. 5 in the evening, just as the men
were quitting work in the shafts below, and as it
had been a cold, windy day—ten below zero—I,
too, thought it time to quit, so directed my men
to take my instruments to a near-by cabin. I then
turned to my notes to figure out the length of
the claim, the men, meanwhile, standing around
me guessing what I was doing, and anxious to
learn how the claim turned out in size. I never
suspected a fraction here; such diligent search
having been made for them in all the rich ground
that it seemed impossible for one to escape. My
calculations showed that claim No. 5 was five
hundred and forty-one feet six inches long, thus
opening a fractional claim of forty-one feet six
inches to location. And such a location ! Possibly
in all the history of gold-mining none was ever
found richer ; single pans—two shovels of dirt—
were found in it with values as high as five hundred
dollars in gold. Fifty, sixty, and so on to one-
hundred-and-fifty-dollar pans were quite common.
Nearly all the work so far done—and it was near  L WORK DONE ON THE CREEKS        185
the close of the season—had been done on this
fraction. The discovery brought from me, by
way of exclamation, a whistle, which I at once
recognized would cause suspicion, and maybe
investigation. So, to allay it, I turned to the men
and repeated to them in more detail my instructions regarding the instruments, then said to
Berry, " Let us go to supper, Berry; I am cold
enough and hungry enough to eat nuggets," and
started on a quick walk to his cabin, a short
distance away. The men, however, did not do
as I directed them ; they seemed to have suspected something, and gathered in a group, and
engaged in what appeared to me, as well as I could
see by hurried glances over my shoulder, an
animated discussion. Berry, also, was alarmed,
and as we were walking hurriedly to his cabin,
asked me, in too loud a tone I thought, " Is there
anything wrong, Mr. Ogilvie ? " I whispered,
" Come on out of hearing," but he could hardly
wait, and kept asking, " What is wrong ? My
God ! what is wrong ? " When we were well out
of hearing I said, without slackening my pace,
for the men, I could see, were still watching us,
" There is a fraction of forty-one feet six inches
on claim No. 5, and nearly all your winter's work
is on it." " My God ! " he exclaimed in a loud
voice, " and all our work on it too ; surely it
cannot be so ; tell me it is not so ! What will I
do ? "   I replied, " I cannot advise you ; it is not
my place to do so" ; but he insisted on my making
some suggestion. Under the pressure of his alarm
I said, " Have you not a friend you can trust ? "
" Trust, how ? " " Why, to stake that fraction
to-night, and transfer it to yourself and partner."
At the suggestion the name of the same individual
occurred to both of us—George Byrne—and it
was decided that Berry should at once go to where
he was at work on a claim five miles farther up
the creek, and I would await his arrival at Berry's
cabin. In the cabin Berry, without much
ceremony, told Mrs. Berry to get me my supper
at once and not wait for him, as he had to run
up the creek a bit to see a man.
She, naturally enough for either man or woman,
wanted to know what the rush was about.
" Could he not wait for his supper after such a
cold, hard day ?" And so on. He, however,
bolted in the midst of her inquiries, leaving me
to dispel her curiosity as best I could. Between
nine and ten o'clock Berry returned with Byrne,
and shortly after we all sat down to another,
hearty supper. During supper, Byrne, who was
a well-educated, intelligent man, made minute
inquiries regarding the legal method of staking
a claim; staking and marking it in such a
way that there would be no doubt about the
title. Mr. Byrne gave as his reason for the
inquiry the fact that he had not yet been fortunate  enough  to  find   a   bit   of   ground   he WORK DONE ON THE CREEKS        187
thought worth taking, which both Berry and I
knew, when his name occurred to us, and so he
could legally stake the fraction. No one would
suspect, either from his language or looks, or mine,
that we had more than a general informational
interest in the matter. After supper I took a
sheet of wrapping paper and made a detailed
plan of the method of staking and marking both a
full claim and a fractional one, which I gave to
him, and was rewarded with a profusion of the
most formal thanks. We each, though knowing
exactly what was in the mind of the other, concealed it by what I may with true modesty
call good acting. Certainly Mrs. Berry did not
suspect anything.
In the early hours of the morning, when every
one but Berry and Byrne was asleep, Byrne staked
the fraction, conforming strictly to the law, and
when the workmen arose and saw what had been
done, the comment was as loud and coloured
as the fraction was rich.
An estimate of the value of the dump—pile of
pay dirt taken out—placed it at one hundred and
thirty thousand dollars. It cleaned up more
then one hundred and thirty-six thousand in the
The reader is invited to imagine what a wild
scramble there would have been had all the
labourers present tried to stake that rich fraction
at the same time, for they all had an idea of its m II
great value. It is not at all unlikely that some
one would have been hurt; and the dispute
that would have followed as to who was the
first to complete staking would have been a
hard nut for the Agent, Capt. Constantine, to
Mr. Byrne at once assigned all his interest in
the fractional claim to Berry and partner, receiving in consideration an equal length off the
lower end of claim No. 3, so that Berry and partner
retained an unbroken block. It does not appear,
however, that the ground Byrne got was nearly
as valuable as the ground he gave. A friend like
that, in such a need, is a friend indeed.
As an example of the excitement and spirit the
possible acquisition of a rich, or supposedly rich,
claim can create, the following occurrences serve
The ownership of one of the last claims staked
on upper Bonanza Creek lapsed about the end of
November, 1896, through the locator having
failed to record location within the period fixed
by the regulations, and extended by the Agent
on account of the difficulty of travelling in the
early winter months. As it turned out, the claim
was worthless, nothing of value being found past
claim No. 42 above discovery on that creek, but
this was not known at the time. It was certain
that the locator had gone from the country, and
at that season of the year there was little likelihood
^fcg^ WORK DONE ON THE CREEKS        189
of his returning in time to make record, so some
twelve or fourteen decided to re-stake it and
record. As it was evident that several would
attempt to locate the claim, and all would be on
the ground at midnight of the last day, it was
deemed wise to send a member of the North-West
Mounted Police force, several of which were at
Dawson at the time, to see that there was no
disturbance, and to announce the hour of midnight officially. When the intending locators
met on the ground it became plainly evident
that it would be farcical for all to try and stake
at the same time and then be positively certain
who was the first to finish marking. So all dropped
out but two, one a Canadian, named John Van
Iderstein, commonly known as Johnny Van.
Strange to say, the possessor of this name was
nearly pure Scotch in descent, his mother being
Highland Scotch of so pronounced a character
that she read her Gaelic Bible and offered up her
daily supplications in her native tongue. His
father was Scotch, it might be said, in everything
but name. One day, while conversing with him,
I suggested that, in view of his parentage and
the misleading character of his name, he ought
to set himself right before the public by changing
the Van to Mac or Mc and call himself Mclder-
stein, but there was not the necessary authority
there to make the change.
The other man was, I think, a Swede, whose 190
name I cannot now recall. All the others, though
out of the contest, in spite of the bitter cold,
remained to see the race. The two prepared
stakes, on which was fully written the customary
record, and both repaired to the starting-point,
ready for action when the policeman should call
time; that called, both stakes were driven
simultaneously, and a race for the other end of
the claim, five hundred feet away, began. It ended
in a tie as nearly as those present could decide,
and then the great race to Fortymile—more than
seventy-five miles away—began. Down Bonanza
Creek they fled on foot, soon leaving the other
intending locators and policeman far behind.
Dawson, eighteen miles away, was reached in the
early morning hours, and the news of the race for
a claim set the town on fire. Each contestant
had friends, who determined to aid their choice
in every way possible. A hearty breakfast was
hurriedly eaten, and dog-teams as hurriedly
prepared, both as lightly loaded as practicable,
for every superfluous pound lessened the chance
of victory; then away they flew on the long sixty-
mile home stretch of the race. Each knew that
the office at Fortymile closed at four o'clock in
the evening, and if they did not reach it before
that hour, they would have to wait till nine o'clock
the next morning, and after such a long race a
night's repose might lessen their zeal through
stiffened limbs and  strained muscles,  so every
effort was put forth to reach the goal that evening.
How they passed and repassed each other ; how
they jockeyed or manoeuvred will never be known,
for but these two witnessed the race, and they were
too busy to pay any attention to details; the
great desideratum of modern business methods—
Results—was all they thought of. Within two
or three miles of the office the Canadian's dogs
began to flag, and no urging, no punishment,
could increase their speed. They were, in the
slang of the day," all in." The Swede was coming
up, and slowly but surely passing. Jumping ahead
of his team, the Canadian left it to finish on foot;
the Swede was not to be so beaten, and he, too, left
his team. On they went, neck and neck through
the barrack-yard gate, the goal now only a few
yards away, and each spent and panting for breath.
The Swede was not acquainted with the arrangement of the buildings in the barrack square, and
made straight for the largest building he saw—the
officers' quarters. The Canadian was familiar
with the place and knew the recorder's office
was on the right-hand side of the square, and
letting the Swede pass, he turned sharply to the
right, reached the office door, opened it, but was
unable to raise his foot over the threshold—about
six inches high—and fell prone on the floor
across it, shouting as he did so, " Sixty above on
Bonanza," the designation of the claim, which
the Swede, momentarily thrown out of the race 192        EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
by his ignorance, echoed as he fell over the
Canadian a second later.
When they were sufficiently recovered to talk,
the story was told, and the race being a tie from
start to finish, the Agent advised them to divide
the claim between them, which was done. Before
the winter passed the ground was known to be
worthless, but the memory of the great race
remains with them yet.
Another race worthy of record was made against
time by a Finn, and is a good example of the practical jokes common in mining camps, or in any
community of men endowed with the abundant
animal spirits the pure air and good exercise
found in the North bestows on the great majority
of its residents. This man, commonly known as
Charlie the Finn—I do not know his surname—
had located a claim on the branch of Bonanza
Creek, entering at well above the pay ground called
" Ready Bullion Creek." It appeared that none
of the locators on the creek were able, for lack
of funds or outfit, to do any developing work,
and its value was for many months an unsolved
problem. Well along in the winter Charlie went
down from the mines to Dawson to try his luck at
getting an outfit. Being of a hopeful, boasting
nature, he could not help talking about his claim
and the great good fortune it was going to yield
him. To all willing to listen he would enter into
a detailed calculation of how he was going to  .4'il WORK DONE ON THE CREEKS        193
work, what the result would be, and his happy
return to that girl in Finland. In two or three
days this became monotonous and the boys determined to stop it, so fixed up a little job. It was
known that Charlie had not yet recorded his
location, and that only a few days of the probation term remained for him to do it in, and thereby hangs this tale. While Charlie was holding
forth eloquently to some, this time eager listeners,
two new men came in, " Howdy'd " to the others
in the saloon, went to the bar and called for a
drink, in which the bar-tender was invited to join.
After the drink the bar-tender, who, of course, was
in the secret, asked them " where they came from
and how things were doin'." The replies in
whispers, loud enough, however, for Charlie to
hear, were, that " they had just come in from the
vicinity of Ready Bullion, where something rich
had been struck, something that knocked Bonanza,
Eldorado, Hunker, and all the other creeks into a
cocked hat." One after another of the listeners
joined the group, and soon all were engaged in
animated discussion of the new find and its possibilities ; all but Charlie, who, knowing his claim
was not recorded, was prudent enough to say
nothing more than ask a casual question once in
a while. Soon one of the new-comers asked "if
any one knew who owned claim number six on the
Creek. He had accounted for all the others and
tried to get one of them, and his only chance was 194        EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
that claim, which he could not place, as the writing
on the location posts was impossible to read ;
further, he had been told that the locator had never
recorded, and if he could learn that positively, he
would go right out there, locate and record at
once." Poor Charlie could stand no more, and
left as quietly as possible, rushed over to his cabin,
seized some cold pancakes—all the food left over
from his self-cooked breakfast—and without any
more clothing than he wore in the house, started
on foot for Fortymile to record his claim, having
still a few days left in which to do so. The only
cabin he could rest in was about eighteen miles
down the river. About nine miles down a man
with a team of dogs coming up met a solitary
individual running as if for his life, streaming
with perspiration, carrying his cap in one hand,
and some frozen pancakes in the other. Thinking
this individual mad or criminal, he tried to stop
him, but he was past almost before the dog driver
could stop his team, and in answer to inquiries,
" Where are you going ? What are you running
for ? " all that could be heard was something
about " Number Six, Ready Bullion, struck it
rich " ; and he was out of hearing. Meanwhile
the parties to the joke missed Charlie and made
search for him, but the day being cold and windy
and but few outdoors, it chanced no one had
seen him leave. It was not until the dog driver
reached town that the mystery was cleared up, WORK DONE ON THE CREEKS
and then serious fears were entertained lest the
poor half-clad, half-fed man would perish on
the long, lonely sixty-mile race. He reached
Fortymile next day, recorded his claim, and raised
an excitement almost equal to his own about
Ready Bullion. Alas for poor Charlie and many
others like him ! Ready Bullion proved no
bullion at all, and as far as I have ever learned, that
girl in Finland is still waiting. Some time after,
when Charlie had learned of the trick that had
been played on him, I met him and innocently
remarked, " Well, Charlie, that was a great race
you had." What he said in reply has made me
regret ever since that I mentioned it.
Practical jokes of this kind were sometimes
successfully played by " Chechakos" (new-comers)
on "Sour Doughs" (old-timers). An instance of
this was the trick played on Joe Ladue in the
spring of 1897. Harry Ash, a "Chechako" from
Juneau, had brought with him some very fine
specimens of gold-bearing quartz. Now, Joe's
satisfaction with the results of the past winter's
work in the Klondike was almost perfect; the
only thing required to round it out to absolute
perfection was the discovery of a big vein of gold-
bearing rock ; but Joe had remarked in a tone of
conviction, " She's comin', boys; she's comin' ! "
One of Joe's associates in business thought it
would be a pity to disappoint him, and arranged
with Ash to put up a job on him.   Ash then began EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
to show, in strict confidence, some of his specimens of quartz, with mysterious hints that their
source was not very far away. Among the favoured
few was, of course, Joe's partner, who, beaming
with joy, took him into the secret, with strict
injunctions not to mention the matter to a soul,
as Ash was not ready for proclamation yet, having
first to stake, and so fix his record as to make
himself absolutely safe. As evidence of what was
communicated, specimens of the gold-bearing
quartz were shown. This was more than flesh
and blood could stand, at least more than Joe's
could stand; he called on Ash, and by many winks
and nods let him know that he was "wise" to
some things supposed to be profound secrets.
Ash, of course, affected great chagrin that his
secret was revealed, and " wanted to know who
talked." Joe would not tell, but vowed eternal
silence if he were let in. Ash told him " he could
not yet proclaim the find, as was the custom, but
would let him (Joe) in just as soon as he had seen
Mr. Ogilvie and learned all about how to locate
and record a quartz claim." Joe, being on very
good terms with me, undertook to see me and
hurry the matter along. Ash and he called on me,
and by diagram I fully explained to them the
way to locate, mark, and record a quartz claim.
I asked no questions, but after the meeting Joe
came to me and in the strictest confidence—of
course—told me all he knew, and as proof of what WORK DONE ON THE CREEKS        197
he said showed me a small bit of the rock, which
certainly looked good.
Ash was to stake that day, and then Joe would
be given the tip. He would go out, find the
place, then signal me by fires, and I was to go out
with my instruments, trace the lode as far as
possible beyond Ash's location, when Joe would
stake on the continuation, to be followed by myself if I wished, then Joe's partner, and we would
all be rich, " Everlastingly rich ! Have barrels of
money." Soon after Joe left his partner saw me,
put me " wise," as he termed it, to the whole plot,
and told me that six others with Joe were to be
victimized; all the seven being selected on account
of their assumed superior knowledge of mining—
quartz mining particularly. At the appointed
time all seven were separately given the tip, each
being led to believe that he was the only one.
They started very secretly from seven different
points. Arrived at the scene of action, it was not
long before each began to see that others were in the
woods, and as secrecy had been absolutely required
of them, and was necessary to success, for each,
like Joe, had friends to follow, they spent the
whole day dodging each other. When they returned, tired and hungry, in the evening, the
chaffing and greetings accorded them can best
be left to the imagination.
That mines would be salted, that is, prepared
with gold-dust to tempt inexperienced purchasers, 198        EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
might be thought impossible in such a community
of " generally" experienced men ; but it was
tried on two or three occasions. In one instance
the intended victims were well-known miners,
natives of the Province of New Brunswick. The
promoter of the scheme was a Swede, an alleged
retired sea captain, noted for a craftiness in his
dealings that rather prejudiced his neighbours
against him. During the survey of the claims on
the Klondike creeks, this man tried to make use
of me for his own advantage, and as he said for
mine too, and it took a good deal of blunt talk to
convince him that he was on the wrong scent :
but to our tale of salting, though his attempts
with me might well be called that. He and
his partner were working two claims on a
branch of the Fortymile River, which were not
paying too much. Our crafty ex-captain thought
they might " strike it rich" by a more indirect
method than mining, and resolved to try it. One
morning, soon after the resolve was made, he
clothed himself in " sackcloth and ashes," so to
speak, and called on our friends from New Brunswick. He was invited to breakfast, but felt much
too bad to eat anything. Kindly inquiry after
cause of his indisposition was answered, in a voice
full of tears, by the information that his partner
was seriously ill with a complaint that only a long
course of hospital treatment could hopefully deal
with, and there being no hospitals nearer than
1   1 WORK DONE ON THE CREEKS        199
Victoria, B.C.—there was no Vancouver then—
to get him out in time to save his life meant
everything, and a good deal more money than they
had, unless they could sell their claim. Much sympathy was shown for the sick man and inquiries
made by the intended victims to learn if
something could not be done to help, or if the
community could not assist in some way. But
the broken voice assured them nothing but a
hospital treatment by a specialist would avail
anything ; that the sick man had been treated
for the same disease once before and warned that
a recurrence of it, unless speedily dealt with,
might, probably would, be a matter of life and
death. The plan of getting him out was gone
over, the details settled, and then the question of
means came up. A canvass of the camp to raise
by subscription the amount required the sorrowing partner would not listen to ; it would take
too long, too precious time would be lost, and the
man might die before starting, or on the way out.
The only way that would ensure any chance of
successful treatment was to sell their two claims
for what they could get for them, and with that
and the little they had they could probably get
out and defray the hospital expenses. The
claims were certainly worth much more than they
were forced by misfortune to offer them for,
which was five hundred dollars each. A visit to
the sick man, and the claims, was arranged for the ill
following morning, and they would see what
could be done. The wily one left much comforted by the prospect for his partner's speedy
relief and tried to express his gratitude, but his
broken voice and tear-brimming eyes did that
more eloquently than mere words could do. The
following morning the visit was paid, the sick
man found in bed, and a very sick man
he was if moans and appearances could indicate it. The wily one was so overpowered by
his partner's pain that he showed but little attention to the visitors; in a shaking voice he directed
them to a shaft in which he had put a fire the
night before, and requested them to clean it out,
he had not had time to do so, and pan the dirt for
themselves. They did so, and the result satisfied
them ; the claims were worth buying. Returning to the cabin, they arranged to buy the claims
for five hundred dollars each, handing over what
dust they had brought with them, nearly all the
proceeds of the season's work so far, and gave an
order on Jack McQuesten for the balance. A
transfer of the property was drawn up and signed,
by the sick man with great difficulty and much pain.
The victims returned to their cabins, about a
mile away, and being near noon one of them began
preparing dinner while the other unwrapped the
result of their panning in the newly bought claims
and put it under a magnifying glass for examination.   It did not take him long to see what they WORK DONE ON THE CREEKS
had found, and he was startled into the exclamation, " Well I'll be ! "    " What is the matter,
Skiff ? " was the almost equally vehement inquiry. " H—1, it's amalgam, Jack ! " " No ? "
" Yes, come and see ! " He did ; a critical look
convinced them that they had been fooled. To
put on his coat and cap was the work of an instant,
and to snatch his 45-calibre revolver and jump
for the track to the new claims, another. Arrived
at the cabin, it was found empty, and the "Yukon
sleighs," together with all the bedding and outfit
they had, were gone. It was, indeed, a case of
sudden repair to the hospital. To follow them
was the resolution of a moment, and as they had
each a heavily laden sleigh, overtaking them was only
a matter of time. He came suddenly upon them
nearly half-way to Fortymile,and "hands up" was
the order of the day. They were ordered to step
away from their sleighs, hand over the dust paid
them on account and the order on Jack McQuesten for the balance ; this done they were
thrown their transfer of the claims, and told to
go on as fast as possible. The sick man had,
apparently, fully recovered since morning and
the pair continued to Fortymile ; the claims not
being worth further effort. Jack and Skiff both
told me the story and seemed to enjoy the recollection. It is interesting to reflect on what the
result of an appeal to a Judicial Court would have
been in this" case, had there been one there at the 202        EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
time, and the wily one and partner had appealed
to it. Would Jack and Skiff, as is very often the
case when honest men come into conflict with
" crooks," have been unfortunate ?
Some may not know what Skiff meant when he
exclaimed " It's amalgam, Jack," so I will explain. It is very difficult—sometimes practically
impossible—to separate fine gold from the gravel,
sand, and black sand associated with it, without
the aid of mercury. After all the dirt possible
has been separated from it mercury is mixed with
the residuum and the lot stirred and mixed until
the mercury has taken up all the gold, dissolving
it into an amalgam of both metals. This is retorted ; that is, held over a fire till the heat sublimates the mercury and leaves a mass of a light
yellow, friable-looking stuff, which is the gold
with more or less of the mercury still in it. It
appeared that the gold in the two claims sold was
so fine that it could only be saved by mercury,
and the owners, with all their cunning, were
shortsighted enough to break up their amalgam
with which to salt the shaft. There,is so much
difference in appearance between amalgam, no
matter how finely powdered it may be, and
native dust gold, that none but those entirely
ignorant in these matters could mistake one for
the other ;  especially under a good magnifier.
A few days after my arrival in Ottawa, December, 1897, a gentleman calling himself Alexander WORK DONE ON THE CREEKS
McDonald came to me, professing to be commissioned by the authorities at Washington to
acquire information and advice regarding some
work the United States was going to do along the
International Boundary Line in the interior ; and
incidentally also to learn just how claims were
marked, designated, recorded, title issued, and
everything else connected with them, including
copies of the printed forms used, and a copy of
the signatures of all the officials connected with
the Record and Title. His story seemed a strange
one, and as no intimation had been sent from
Washington announcing him, it looked suspicious.
He produced an introductory letter from the
Survey Office at Washington, and others from
several important men in the United States, which
he, however, did not let me examine too closely.
When asked why advance letters had not been
sent, he started to explain, but like the parrot in
the story of the cat and dog fight, he talked too
d—d much. An inquiry wire was sent to Washington, but he must have had a pal in the office
at New York, for he was notified of the inquiry
and our message was held there till he had time
to get away. His message was handed to him in
the hotel office, and when he read it, he walked
out to the nearest railroad station, where he found
a train just leaving, and went on it. His hotel bill
is still unpaid, I believe, but his trunks and grips
are security for it. EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
In the following April he turned up in London,
England, with many valuable claims for sale. I
was there at the time, but unknown to him.
When asked to get from me an endorsement of
the value placed by him on his property, he left
for the Continent, and I had to publish an exposure of the man and his methods.
While I was in London at that time, an investigation in the matter of a sale of a fictitious
claim was held. The name, " Yellow Jacket," the
title, description, and value of the claim all were
imaginary, but looked good enough to bring six
thousand pounds (nearly thirty thousand dollars)
to the author. I showed clearly enough, I thought,
in my evidence that there could not be any such
claim in the locality ascribed to it; further, that
the size of the claim was not permitted by our
regulations, and that the forms for title used were
not the regular forms. Because there was a quartz
claim located and recorded just across the river
from Dawson, which might be the " Yellow
Jacket," the action was dismissed. I mention
these things as part of the aftermath of a great
gold discovery. CHAPTER XII
DURING the preceding summer it seemed
that Fortymile Camp was exhausted, the
known ground was all filled to overflowing, and no new fields were in sight. Many
new adventurers were coming to the country, as
well as many who had tried it before. At Forty-
mile inquiries, and sometimes search, soon showed
that there was not much hope either of their
doing anything or getting anything there, and
they soon passed on down the river to the next
camp, Circle City, from where, after repeating
the experience at Fortymile, they passed to the
next, and so on to the mouth of the river, and
from there home if they had the means. Some
of them, even without means, found their way back
to the old home, many only to be lured back the
following season by the strangely delightful wander they had had down the great river of the north,
a wander once over the pass, made with so little
effort, and through so strange scenes, that it was,
I think, often repeated to prove whether or not 206        EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
the first time had been only a dream. Some also
left Fortymile who had come to the end of their
job or worked out their ground, and many, because
they had not saved a fortune as some others had
done, cast the dust from off their feet, as it were,
against the place, rating it very low indeed, and
vowing never to darken its landscape again with
their presence; wherein they proved poor
prophets. Among these pilgrims were some who
had staked in the new field, the Klondike, and
failing to secure a few dollars for their title had
gone off, never expecting that any more would
come of the venture than what followed a great
many stampedes—a rush, a commotion, a revulsion, and a look out for the next.-
In the fall when good pay was discovered,
and claim after claim not only followed with
good prospects, but beat the best, and so on
till men's eyes began to protrude, and their
tongues fail to express their surprise, some of
the would-be knowing ones tried to steal a march
on fortune by quietly leaving Fortymile for
Circle City; just a friendly visit, you know,
to see how things were down there, and maybe
pick up for a trifle a claim or two. But maybe
they didn't. Mystery was in the frozen air ;
and as much of it was native to Circle City
as came from Fortymile. The Fortymilers
did not know much about the new field. Oh,
no !    In fact, when they left, there was not LOCAL EXCITEMENT
much to know, they believed there were a few
men working, and maybe it would be a paying
field ; but!—well—you know there is a lot
of risk about those things! and so forth, and
so on. But the Circle Cityites were not in a
hurry about their property, maybe they would
go up in the spring and look into it. So the
friendly visitors returned after accomplishing
little more than a visit, and arousing suspicions
regarding the value of the new field, which
was not yet named Klondike. A good many
of those who had gone from Fortymile the
preceding summer were still at Circle City
waiting for something to turn up. Many of
them left Fortymile with anything but friendly
feelings for the district, criticizing the place,
the officials, and especially the mining regulations,
which exacted a recording fee of fifteen dollars,
and limited the dimensions of placer claims
to five hundred feet in length, and the width
of the valley bottom, as against a recording
fee in Alaska of two or three dollars—whatever
the community of miners at the place made it—
and a claim thirteen hundred and twenty feet
square. Many of them, even Canadians and
Britishers, called their change of residence going
back to " God's Country" ; however, when
it dawned on them that the new field was something so rich that the reputation of the region
was made, they discovered that" God's Country " 208
might take in places other than where they were,
and they resolved to confer the blessing of their
presence on the new ground. It was rumoured
that before leaving Circle City they held a
mass meeting, and resolved: " That the conditions in it required attention to bring them
in line with the most modern civilization:
That in the opinion of the resolutors the claims
in the new ground were much too large: That
one hundred feet square of the ground in the
new area was enough for any man who had the
fear of God and love of his fellow-man in his
heart." I have reason to believe that there was
good foundation for this report, though it may
have been exaggerated as I heard it. However,
arrivals from Circle City were numerous through
nearly all the months of February, March, and
as much of April as was safe for travelling;
but when they reached Dawson they found
but little inclination on the part of the claim
owners to accept their communistic theories,
and so they had to be content with searching
for fractions, that is over plus of measurement
in the claims already owned and worked. Some
of them had conscience enough to be ashamed
of this, and it was said they did it with the aid
of lanterns in the small hours of the night.
One North of Ireland man, who was most pronounced in his references to " God's Country "
when he left Fortymile a few months before, LOCAL EXCITEMENT 209
sought diligently for a fraction in the rich parts
of Bonanza and Eldorado, and at last staked
one of about five feet, which he considered
would be plenty for his wants if he only got it,
but the survey reduced it to between three and
four inches, and he left for " God's Country "
again, expressing great disgust to me that a man
could not get " a futt o' groun' in his own
counthry." Yet he, it was alleged, while in
American territory, was most violent in his
denunciation of Canadians and Britishers, and
was opposed to their being recognized in any
way there. There were a few such cases, and
it is gratifying to be able to record that when
they had to come to the Klondike they were
extended very little sympathy by either Canadians,
Britishers, or Americans. One American was
fortunate enough to secure a large fraction on
Bonanza Creek near discovery claim, and realized
a large fortune out of it. It was well known
as the Lowe fraction. It was eighty-six feet
in depth, by some three hundred feet wide
across the valley, and cleaned up about four
hundred thousand dollars. Few richer bits of
ground have been found anywhere.
While I was making the survey I frequently
got data from claim owners showing what they 210        EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
were doing, and how the ground worked, " prospected " (that is the average value per pan
in gold). From the known area of the claim
as I found it I made computations to determine
how the ground so tested would yield, and
found it surprisingly rich. On one claim in
particular, number sixteen on Eldorado, owned
by Mr. Thomas Lippy, now of Seattle, the
data furnished me by him pointed to a final
output of a million and a half dollars. In other
cases the figures ran to about a million. From
all the data furnished me in this way, I came
to the conclusion that there were at least sixty
claims on Bonanza Creek and forty on Eldorado
that would average not less than one thousand
dollars per running foot, and the assertion
was often severely criticized and ridiculed.
One gentleman while lecturing in Ottawa,
who had just come from the Klondike, while
acknowledging my ability as an astronomer,
doubted my capacity to make the calculation
which authorized this assertion. He did not
know that any schoolboy, if given the data
furnished me, could make the calculation as
well as the greatest mathematician alive; it
was simply the superficial area of the claim,
which I knew, multiplied by the depth in feet
of the pay gravel, and the result multiplied by
five, the average number of pans in a foot,
and you have the number of pay pans in the   LOCAL EXCITEMENT 211
claim. The claim owner gave me the average
value of a pan, which, multiplied by the number
of pans, is the presumptive output in dollars;
very simple, I had the gratification in the fall
of 1904 of meeting Mr. Lippy's foreman*
who told me the claim had just been worked
out, and my estimate had been exceeded by
a little over thirty thousand dollars. I also,
about the same time, had the gratification of
having an acquaintance of several years, whom
I met in Dawson, remark: " I want to shake
hands with you, Mr. Ogilvie, and congratulate
you at the same time." " I am glad to shake
hands with you, but do not understand the
congratulation," I replied. " Well, I heard
you in London in 1898 make the statement
publicly that there were one hundred million
dollars in sight in the Klondike region, and at
least another hundred millions, probably two
of them, to be discovered. I laughed at the
time, and called you an old granny who did
not know what she was talking about; well,
your hundred millions and more are out now ;
and as for what is left, my own estimate, based
on a great deal of testing, is that it is much more
than you said."
I mention this because it has often been said
that my excessive estimates of the gold in the
Klondike were directly responsible for the
royalty tax imposed on the output of the mines 212        EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
by\ the Dominion Government. The fact is
that no estimates of mine became public until
after the royalty had been imposed; but
even had I known that the imposition of a
royalty would follow any statement of mine,
and I had as good reason to make it, as I knew
at the time I had, and time has since justified,
I would have made it all the same. As to my
reports to the Department, I could not begin
to make any of positive value regarding the
new fields till June, 1897. In November, 1896,
there was an opportunity to send out a letter
by Capt. Moore, who has before been mentioned.
He had come down the river with the last of his
three mails about the middle of September,
and as he had arranged to deliver the American
mail, he intended to continue down-stream
to the mouth of the river, and go by steamer
from there to Seattle, thence home. The
storm that kept me in the country held up the
veteran riverman also ; he had to provide himself
with a dog team, and walking and riding as the
state of the roads permitted, this man, in his
seventy-third year, made his way from Circle
City to Fortymile, where he spent a day or two
repairing sled and harness, when the journey
was resumed to Dawson, where he switched off
up Bonanza and staked a claim, resuming the
outward journey up the river, and made his
way safely out,  in  the  bitter  winter  weather LOCAL EXCITEMENT
over roads, or rather no roads at all, that would
have to be seen to be realized. A week or so
before the Captain left Fortymile a party of
three young men, all apparently fit to battle
for their lives, started out with much flourish
of banners and blare of trumpets. They were
going to make a record trip out, and they did.
The Captain overhauled them all nearly broken
down, almost out of provisions, and very dispirited.
He took them along with him, and landed the
whole party safe at Juneau. I sent out with him
a short report, telling what I could learn of the
new discovery; but at that time, with the exception of one or two claims on Bonanza, not
much of a positive character was known. About
January 21st, 1897, Thomas W. O'Brien, a
pioneer, started for the outside; and a few
days after Stewart Menzies, in the employ
of the Alaska Commercial Company, left with
dispatches for his company. I sent out short
reports with those gentlemen, and was able to
say that the new camp gave much promise
of being the greatest yet established in the
territory, and probably would prove world-
startling. No further opportunity offered itself
to send mail till the middle of June, when, as I
was making my way up to Selkirk with a heavily
loaded canoe, two men passed me outward
bound. They were light, and travelling fast.
I hailed them, and asked if they would take 214 EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
out a letter for me, which they agreed to do.
Sitting on the bank of the Yukon, I wrote
on my knee a short letter to the Minister of
the Interior, saying I was very pleased to be
able to assure him that my most sanguine expectations respecting the new camp were more
than realized by results, both as to the extent
and quality. I told him that from extensive
and exact observations I had been able to make
in the field, I estimated the output for that
season to be about two and a half million dollars.
I did not again report till I did so personally in
AFTER the survey of the claims, and
some work at Selkirk, I remained at
Dawson,awaiting a boat for St.Michael,
which did not come until the middle of July.
Meanwhile Mr. Thomas Fawcett, having been
appointed Gold Commissioner, arrived with
his clerk, Mr. Robert Bryce Craig. The office
was opened in Dawson, and the work thus
transferred from Fortymile to the vicinity of
the mines.
During the winter the last arrival from the
outside who brought any newspapers, brought
dire intelligence indeed. According to the
papers, Queen Victoria was critically ill; Pope
Leo XIII was at the point of death; war was
imminent between England and Russia ; and,
more exciting to the camp, a fight for the
championship of the world was coming off
some time in the spring between the star pugilists,
James J. Corbett and Robert FitzSimmons.
All were sorry for the " poor old Queen," as
it was expressed, and much sympathy was shown;
215 216        EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
all regretted the passing away of the Pope;
great anxiety prevailed about the war; and
nearly everybody bet on the fight, the Americans
to a man on Corbett, the old-country people
on " Fitz," as he was called, even when they
were doubtful if he would win, while the
Canadians divided their allegiance. Imagine
five or six hundred people receiving this news
late in January, and not learning any more till
May.     In   the   camp   was   an   individual   who
was  known  as  Lawyer   ,   because  he  had
been a lawyer's clerk for a time, and at miners'
meetings generally told the multitude what
the law was, clothing it after the fashion of the
cloth in Norman-French and Latin terms. Now
this man at times put things very pithily; in
epigrams it might be said. At noon May 14th,
1897, the ice in the river began to run, and
ran full till the morning of the 16th, when it
thinned out enough for boats to come down;
and they came ! At that time the town site
of Dawson was covered with scrub timber,
with a fringe of larger trees along the river-
bank. On the south side of the Klondike River
was a few acres of flat just below a rock-cliff
on the bank of the Yukon. This had been
built on by the Indians, and their cabins had
been bought by some of the white men in the
country. Two of the cabins were, at the time
I   speak  of,   occupied   as   saloons.     Joe  Ladue EXPERIENCES IN CAMP
had a saloon, the only one in Dawson. There
was a little whisky in the place and a good deal
of water, but the boys, for the sake of old times,
were willing to pay fifty cents a glass for the
mixture. The hamlet south of the Klondike is
now known as South Dawson, but its name then
was not dignified, and was bestowed on it by the
Dawsonites in contempt. It was called after
a small insect that is not permitted about the
person or premises of cleanly people. Now the
saloon-keepers of this hamlet were wise in their
day and generation, also, they were human
in so far that they were resentful because of
the slight put on their town, and determined
to show that even the lowliest may be vengeful,
so they painted a large sign, " Danger Below.
Keep to the Right," and put it on high poles
at a prominent point nearly a mile above their
town. Now the first boats of the Klondike
rush were following the ice down as closely as
possible, and in the early morning of May 16th,
when they saw this sign, they naturally were
alarmed, and at once hugged the right bank
as closely as possible, till they came to the first
town. Here they all landed and proceeded to
inquire about things, and also answer questions,
at the same time drinking occasional glasses of
whisky and water. They assumed they were
at Dawson, and there was no one there to impress them differently.   It happened that morn- 2i8 EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
ing that Lawyer had gone over the Klondike
from Dawson to the other place, where he saw
the beach literally covered with boats. It was
no part of his duty to spoil business, so he drank
the visitors' whisky, but did not tell them there
was another, and a much larger Dawson, even
if it had only one saloon. After some time spent
with the incomers, and they were still coming,
he returned. No sooner had he landed than he
proceeded to tell the good news of the arrivals.
I was standing some distance away, but thought
I heard him say something about boats, and
raised my voice to a shout, and asked him about
it. He replied that a good many boats had come
down behind the thick ice, had landed at L—e
town, and were there yet. I asked, " How
many ? "
" About two hundred."
" How many people ?"
" About six hundred."
" Well, what's the news ?"
" 7'he Pope's alive! The Queen's well! There's
no war! and Bob FitzSimmons knocked h—/ out
of Jim Corbett!"
That was all, and it was all we were anxious
about for months. Imagine it on a newspaper
bulletin board. As soon as Joe Ladue heard
of this influx, and that it was drinking up all
the whisky in the camp of the enemy, he was
wroth,  and swore mightily.    How to get the EXPERIENCES IN CAMP 219
multitude to come and partake of his hospitality
was a serious matter to him. I offered to get
them down if he would let me have the use of
his sawmill, which was running. He accepted,
and I tied the steam-whistle open. The continuous blast caused inquiry, satisfactory answers
were not given, and soon the rush to Dawson
was on. A wilderness of tents covered the
ground, without regard to order or convenience.
Every hour of every day boats of all patterns
and designs arrived, each with several occupants;
The Gold Commissioner's Office was henceforth
a veritable hive of industry for more hours in
the day than offices are generally held open.
When I reached St. Michael late in July I
found crowds there waiting for a steamer on
which to make their way up. I was compelled
to remain for some time waiting for a steamship
south bound, and the experience was certainly
unique. But few of the multitudes Klondike
bound had any idea of even where it was, or the
climatic, political, or judicial conditions existing
there. The passengers of one steamer, after
due deliberation, resolved themselves into a
committee of the whole to devise ways and
means of preserving order when they should
reach the camp, and the committee of the whole
appointed itself a vigilance committee after
the manner of something they had read somewhere in some story of the west.   Learning that 220 EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
I, a person who had spent some time at the camp,
had just come down, they sought me. I listened
for some time to the verbal report they made
to me of their actions, and their intentions
regarding the preservation of law and good
order. I then told them that their interference
would be quite unnecessary, that the North-
West Mounted Police would attend to law,
and order, and everything else necessary. They
wanted to know what the North-West Mounted
Police was, and when I explained, they inquired
who sent them there. When told that it was
the   Canadian   Government,   they   wanted   to
know what in   the Canadian Government
had to do with it, and it took some time, and
some references to maps I had, to convince
them the diggings were in Canada. I met many
reporters sent specially to the new camp for this,
that, or the other newspaper. Many of these
got long interviews from me and turned back.
I had hundreds of photograph negatives with
me, from which I made many prints for the
reporters, and they appeared in due time as
having been taken specially for " our journal,"
though no one belonging to the journal had
ever been within a thousand miles of the scenes;
indeed, it would have taken a whole season to
visit them, for I had been gathering them for
two years and a half. Major Ray and Captain
Richardson, of the United States Army, were EXPERIENCES IN CAMP 221
at St. Michael while I was there. They had been
sent by the United States Government to spend
the winter in Alaska, to attend to the preservation
of law and order as much as possible, and to
inquire into the conditions and requirements of
the country, with a view to a regular military
establishment later on.
Major Ray held several conferences with me
regarding the region I had just spent two years
in, and was most anxious to learn everything of
practical value connected with the whole northern
region. Both he and Captain Richardson impressed me as eminently fair and practical in
their views.
At St. Michael I learned of the changes in
the mining regulations, and the imposition of
the royalty tax.
A few words relating to this tax will not be
out of place here, more especially as to the why
and the when it was imposed.
The why, I may say, was more the exaggerated
reports of the western newspapers than any
other thing. I had reported that the output
for the season of 1897 would be two and a half
million dollars, which was not far from the truth.
But when the reports created for the Press,
one after the other, reached Eastern Canada,
they created great excitement, as it was intended 222        EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
they should everywhere. When the total output,
according to these gross exaggerations, reached
nearly twenty millions, and all that flowing into
the United States, the people of Eastern Canada
very naturally took the matter up, and were
strongly of opinion that Canada should derive
some benefit. If I am not very much mistaken,
strong pressure was brought to bear on the
Minister to do something to secure to Canada
a share of the vast sums taken from its treasure
field into strange countries. Other countries
forbade such a condition by preventing aliens
from securing mining claims in their territory.
Canada, in accordance with British precedent,
did not do this, so another way had to be tried
to benefit by the richness of her fields. As a
sample of the way reports were manufactured,
I may cite the case of the ship on which I went
to San Francisco at the time of which I speak.
One of the owners was aboard, and he knew a
great deal about the financial condition of most
of the passengers. He knew positively how much
gold belonging to his company was aboard.
Jack McQuesten was also with us, and what he
did not know about the passengers was not
worth knowing. I also knew considerable about
them and their wealth. We canvassed the boat,
and learned positively that the total in dust
aboard was five hundred and eighty-seven thousand dollars.    We were sure to within a couple ^
of thousand dollars of the truth. When we
reached San Francisco we had not got through
the Golden Gate before tugs with reporters
met us; went through the passengers, and
found two and a half millions on them. A list
was then published, and opposite every name
was set a sum, the whole aggregating the amount
stated. Poor Mr. Harper, who came down to
die, was credited with sixty thousand; he
had not a cent, being dependent at the time on
the Alaska Commercial Company. There were
other similar cases, and I, to escape the annoyance
of several long interviews, had arranged to pass
as one of the crew, thus losing, I have no doubt,
great credit for dust. The public believed in
the two and a half millions, and so acted.
In the last days of September, at Vancouver,
B.C., I met Mr. Sifton, the Minister of the
Interior, Major Walsh, the newly appointed
Commissioner of the Yukon Territory, and the
staff of officials appointed to accompany him
to Dawson, and returned north with them to
Tagish, on the lake of that name. I learned
then that a handbook of information concerning
the Klondike and Yukon generally had been
prepared by one of the clerks in the Department
of the Interior, and that it had a very wide
circulation. Though the clerk took great pains
to make it reliable, he was personally unacquainted
with   the   country  he  was   dealing   with,   and 224
naturally some of his inferences and impressions
were not quite correct. I mention this because
I have often been taxed with getting up the
book. I did not reach Ottawa until the middle
of December, and as soon as possible set about
writing an official guide or handbook for the
benefit of intending Klondikers. This work
did not go through the press till the last days
of January, 1898, so thousands who thought
they had my book never saw it. While preparing
it I was deluged with inquiries about every
conceivable thing regarding the Klondike region,
and a myriad of inconceivable things as well. CHAPTER XIV
I WILL now describe the methods of mining
in vogue in the early days, and compare
them with those of more recent date.
We have already seen that the first mining
done in the territory was confined to the bars
and banks of the streams, for the reason that
it was considered impossible to reach bed-rock
as in other regions, where less frost prevailed.
In those days the principal means of separating
the fine gold from the sand and gravel was the
rocker. In all the methods used a common
principle existed; that is, the principle of
gravity. Gold is nineteen times heavier than
water, and seven to eight times heavier than
rock, and although native gold is never pure,
consequently lighter than pure, the difference
does not affect the principle of extraction.
Generally, then, the practical application of
the principle to the separation of the precious
metal from the dirt holding it, is an inclined
plane, over which a stream of water is made to
flow.    The gold-bearing dirt  is  shovelled into 226
the fast-flowing stream, which carries along the
lighter material and leaves the heavy gold behind.
To aid in arresting and holding the gold, barriers
are put in the bottom of the trough. Where
there is plenty of water, and a head can be had,
that is, if the water can be taken from a higher
level to a lower one, a series of troughs are made
of plank, as wide as possible consistent with the
supply of water. These are elevated on trestles
or other appliances, so that the water enters
the high end and flows through them. They
are fitted into each other at the joints, so that
the stream is continuous, and the line of three
or more " sluice boxes," as they are termed,
is sloped, to give the water momentum enough
to carry down the gravel and sand, yet hardly
move the gold. The progress of the metal is
finally stopped by the barriers, called " riffles."
These are in up-to-date gold-saving plants made
of angle iron, cut into lengths the width of the
sluice box, and bolted together at a constant
distance from each other, in groups resembling
a large gridiron. The groups are, of course,
limited in size for convenience in handling.
Sometimes, especially when the gold is fine,
expanded metal and coco-matting are associated
with the riffles. The metal is laid on top of the
matting, so that its bars throw down the fine
material and the gold is entrapped in the
matting.    The bars of angle iron in the riffles   METHODS OF MINING
are set about an inch apart. The spaces soon
fill with sand and fine gravel,, but the small
cataract formed by the water falling over each
bar keeps a basin between them in which the
gold and heavy material remains, the heavier
bits at the top, and the lighter scattered along
in proportion to their size and weight; and the
very lightest in the coco - matting. In the
early days the riffles were made of bars of wood,
generally sections of small trees, cut in convenient
lengths, placed parallel to each other, and held
in that position by a section of plank nailed on
to their ends. These sections of riffles, unlike
those made of angle iron, were placed longitudinally with the sluice box, instead of transversely. That system is all right where the gold
is very coarse, but with fine gold a lot of it
escapes. Small stones soon got wedged between
the wooden bars, and pits in the sand were formed
between them, as in the oase of the angle-iron
bars. Variations of the sluice box and riffles
constitute all the methods of washing gold.
Where the sluice box could be used, it always
was, but it is obvious that on bar and bank
mining there would be but few places where
the miner could avail himself of it, and those
only where a stream joining the main one came
in with a rapid descent. Generally the fall in
the box had to be about one in four or five to
get the best results, so that in thirty feet of box r
there had to be a head, or drop, of five to seven
feet. The sluice box enabled the operator to
work a- great deal more dirt than by any other
system of manual labour. The material was
simply thrown into the head of the line of boxes,
the water did the rest. Bringing the dirt to the
box was the greatest part of the labour.
Where the sluice box could not be utilized
for lack of a head of water the rocker had to be
employed. As its name implies, it is a box
some three or four feet in length, and twenty
to twenty-four inches wide, placed on a pair
of rockers, such as might be found on an old-
fashioned household cradle. On top of this
box a shallow box or hopper with a thin iron-
plate bottom was placed. The iron plate was
plentifully punched with quarter-inch holes.
Below this cover was one or more sloping shelves,
covered with a bit of blanket or, in some cases,
a small riffle. Close beside a stream or pool of
water, two hewed blocks were firmly fixed in the
ground, and on these the rockers of the machine
were placed. The operator took his place
beside the rocker with a long-handled dipper
in one hand, and the other ready to rock. If
alone, he first filled the shallow box with fine
gravel, rejecting all the coarse parts. He then
ladled water on to the mass, at the same time
rocking the machine from side to side; the
water and motion combined carried the finer METHODS OF MINING
and heavier parts of the sand and gravel through
the holes in the iron plate, and they fell on to
the inclined shelves below, down which they
were sluiced by the water, the gold being caught
by the wool of the blanket or in the riffles, as
the case might be. If two or more persons were
working in partnership, one carried gravel and
loaded the hopper, while the other rocked.
Several times a day the blankets or riffles were
taken out and washed in a tub of water to get
the gold out of them. They were then replaced
and the work resumed. This process, it is evident,
is slow and laborious, but there were many
places where it was the only method available.
By it a pair of men could clean from one and a
half to four cubic yards per day. With sluice
boxes and a plentiful supply of water, many times
that quantity could be washed. When we
reflect that two men by this method averaged
about one hundred dollars per day on the bars
of Stewart River, we can form some idea of
the richness of the ground they worked. When
we are told that six men during a little more
than two months took out by this tedious,
laborious process about thirty-five thousand
dollars from one of the famous bars of that
stream, it surprises us. But when we recollect
that at many other places along the banks and
bars of the Yukon and Hootalinqua men were
making very good wages by this process when 230        EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
the discovery of coarse gold on Fortymile put a
period to bar and bank diggings, we can form
some estimate of the future of the region when
dredge and other approved methods of mining
such ground, under the conditions existing there,
are installed on the scale the region justifies.
As we have seen, firing the bars in the early
spring months during the period of the very
lowest water, to get the richer parts of the
deposits, which were inaccessible in summer,
led to firing or thawing to bed-rock. This gave
a tremendous advance to mining in this hitherto
" skim" mining region, as it was considered.
It opened regions of ground before thought
impossible, and made room for scores where
one had been considered enough. Vast improvement as it was, it was very expensive and wasteful
of fuel. The fire was not confined, it could not
be, to produce the best result. Naturally
ascending, the heat thawed a great deal more
ground than held pay, and this had to be handled
with the rest, greatly reducing the average per
yard of the dirt worked, and at the same time
increasing the cost of working in the same ratio.
The pay streak was often not more than three
feet in depth, and the burning thawed seven,
eight, and nine feet. During the winter of
1897 much discussion was held by the miners
concerning the improvement of the firing
method.     All   sorts   of   ways   were   proposed, METHODS OF MINING 231
only to be dropped after thorough examination ;
but two stood out prominently and permanently,
namely, thawing by steam, and thawing by
coal oil or gasolene flames. The latter idea
was an enlarged plumber's torch, the intense
flame of which was to be directed against the
wall of frozen earth. Of the two, the steam
was considered the most adequate, but the
gasolene torch was more portable, involving
no boiler or wood; the cost of the gasolene or
oil, however, at that time—and yet—one dollar
per gallon, was prohibitive, no matter what the
practical merit of the method might prove;
and though wood became more and more scarce,
it never got high enough in cost to reach the
level of the gasolene. The gasolene torch was
tried, but its action was too slow and too local.
Steam at a pressure of about forty pounds
to the inch was carried in flexible hose, and
applied through " points," that is, a section of
half-inch iron pipe five or six feet long, into
one end of which a steel plug is inserted. In
this are bored two or three holes one-eighth of
an inch in diameter, through which the steam
issues against the frozen gravel, and thaws it at
an astonishing rate. The points were held against
the wall till driven into it their full length, and
were then left to do their work. This process
did a great deal more work with the same amount
of wood, and, better still, the limits of the work 232 EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
were much more under control. With improved
hoisting machinery, better sluice boxes and riffles,
ground could be worked with good profit that
would not be touched in the earlier years of
the territory. At one time the minimum value
worked was ten cents to the pan, now less than
a fourth of that is eagerly sought.
So far hydraulicking, as carried on in California
and elsewhere, has not been extensively tested,
and whether that method can be utilized profitably is not decided yet. There are, no doubt,
places where it will prove practicable and
profitable, but the almost universal condition
of frozen ground, to as yet undetermined depth,
is a handicap too serious to be dismissed by a
hope that it will come all right anyway. Generally, where it might be applied with advantage,
a good head of water, which is the essential
feature of the system, is difficult and expensive
to get, and this bars all attempts at the method
unless they are backed by very large amounts of
money. One company is now engaged in bringing
water to the hillsides of the Klondike at an
expense of several millions of dollars. The work
has been going on for several years, and will not
be completed for one or two more. That the
field  to  be  operated justifies  the  expenditure METHODS OF MINING 233
of time and money there seems to be no doubt,
and I am sure the friends of the Klondike
heartily hope so.
Dredging was first thought of as a mode of
developing some of the ground in the winter
of 1898. While I was in London a syndicate
which owned a valuable piece of ground in
the Klondike consulted me about putting a
dredge on it. After every aspect of the question
had been thrashed out, it was decided that
though the method would very likely prove
the best under all the circumstances, the machine
would have to enter via the St. Michael route,
and so reach Dawson too late the first season to
do more than arrange to have it hauled by
sleighs to the field, where most of the work
of putting together the machinery would have
to be done; this coming in, in parts small enough
to be handled by men. This, together with
the enormous freight rates of that time, would
pile up the cost of even a medium capacity machine
to a practically prohibitive sum, and the idea
was abandoned, never to be taken up again by
the same persons. In the summer of 1898 a
personal friend of my own, the late Mr. John A.
McPherson, who was associated with a Cincinnati capitalist, Mr. Hines, brought the
machinery   and   lumber   for   the   construction >
of a small dredge over the White Pass Railway,
which had just been completed, to the head of
Lake Bennet, and from there by the Canon
route to the leaseholds owned by them on the
Lewes River, extending some distance above
the mouth of the Big Salmon. Notwithstanding
all the difficulties confronting Mr. McPherson,
the material was all safely landed, the hull
constructed, launched, machinery erected, and
the dredge at work the first week in September,
which is something of a record. As is usual
in such ventures, under new and largely unknown
conditions, it took all the remainder of the.
season to get the machine adjusted to its environment. Mr. McPherson was on his way
back to the field the following spring, but he
met with a serious accident on the coast, and had
to return to his home after a stay in the hospital.
His associate, Mr. Hines, came in, but after
running the dredge for a short time near Big
Salmon River, he was, I was informed, taken sick,
and becoming disheartened, ordered the machine
down-stream to be sold or returned to the
builders. At Dawson it was arranged with some
parties there to place it on one of the claims on
lower Bonanza. It was dismantled and hauled
by wagon to claim No. 42 below discovery,
where it was set up, and though the ground
was frozen from the surface down to bed-rock,
it   worked   it   out  in   less   than   two   seasons,
with profit to both machine owners and claim
owners. It was then moved up to discovery
claim, which it worked over again after it was
worked out by the hand system. The ground
here was thawed by steam to save wear and tear
of the dredge and increase its output, and though
this is expensive, it was continued, showing
that it must have paid. The owners of the dredge
also purchased from our friend Skookum Jim
the remains of his claim, No. 1 above
discovery, after he had worked on it about six
years, paying for it sixty thousand dollars,
which shows, perhaps, more forcibly than anything else that could be said, the thoroughness
of dredging as compared with the old system
of firing and sluicing, by which Jim principally
Two steam shovels were put to work in the
Klondike valley near the mouth of Bear Creek,
some four miles above the mouth of the Klondike.
The ground was very good, and the method paid,
but a dredge replaced them two years later.
In 1902 a small dredge was put on the Stewart to
test the gravels there. It operated part of two
seasons, and though poorly suited to the work,
its results have been the cause of two other
dredges of up-to-date design and capacity being
put on that stream, and the intention apparently
is to add to the number till a fleet of not fewer
than ten is working.   There are several working
in the Klondike valley, and also in the Bonanza
valley, placed there since 1904. The Bonanza
ones are, it is said, working out the valley bottom,
preparatory to the hillsides being washed into it,
when the arrangements for bringing water
for that purpose are completed. In the beds
of the large streams the gravels are not frozen,
so these huge machines can work up to their
full capacity, some of them to four and five
thousand cubic yards per day of twenty-four
hours. But away from the flowing waters the
frost has bound the ground firmly, and the output
of the machines is very limited, and the wear
and tear of the buckets very great. It is possible
that by working a large pool for each dredge,
and heating the water and keeping it circulating,
or even circulating it alone, the trouble with
frost will be very much reduced. There is no
doubt that, as time goes on, new ways and methods
of combating this great handicap of the north
will be developed. It is mainly the coming
means of working the treasure out of a large
part of the area there, and it is only a question
of human ingenuity, which always conquers,
to meet the difficulties and offset them. The
machines themselves are constantly being improved to meet new conditions, and there is
no doubt that they will conquer in this field,
as well as in all the others into which they have
entered. METHODS OF MINING 237
Dredging, like hydraulicking, requires a lot
of money to begin it properly, so much that
it cannot be counted available to any but the
wealthy or a company. A medium-sized machine
when put to work in the most accessible parts
of the Yukon Territory will cost from sixty to
seventy-five thousand dollars. A larger one will
cost proportionally more, depending on the
weight of metal in the machinery and the amount
of lumber in the hull and house. Something,
too, depends on the quality of metal in the working parts. It is safe to state that a machine,
of say 250 cubic yards' capacity per hour, not a
very large one as they go now, will cost not less
than one hundred thousand dollars in the most
advantageously situated parts of the Yukon
Territory, that is at points on the main tributaries,
like the Hootalinqua, Pelly, or Stewart, or even
on the main stream itself. If the material
has to be hauled far from the main arteries,
the cost may be doubled or even trebled, depending on the distance and difficulties. It is
very evident then that the prospector has not much
show to make anything by this method, unless
he is prepared to give the lion's share to some one
who will provide a dredge. Here, too, he is
handicapped by the regulations which require
the payment of one hundred dollars per mile
of river bed, sixty days after his application
is filed.    He is allowed to acquire ten miles, I
and has to pay down one thousand dollars.
He is required to put on a dredge to be approved
by the Minister of the Interior within three
years of the issuance of his lease, and to pay
ten dollars per mile each subsequent year of the
existence of his leasehold. Now it will take
more than one season to thoroughly prospect
the ground, and if he begins prospecting before
making application, he is at the mercy of any one
who may deem it good enough to acquire.
The sixty days after application will hardly
enable one to get the necessary appliances for
prospecting to the ground. The drill alone
required to make the necessary tests will cost
about three thousand dollars laid down at
White Horse, and take a month to get there,
and it may cost nearly as much and take more
time to get it from there to the ground desired.
After the ground is selected, all that can be
done in the sixty days between the date of
application and the payment of the money is to
make a very superficial examination which may
be very misleading in its results; the prospects
on the surface being good, but nothing beneath,
there is no way to tell differently till a drill
has thoroughly and systematically prospected
the leasehold from surface to bed-rock, unless
the latter should prove to be at an impracticable
depth, in which case the test would have to be
limited to a practical digging depth for a dredge. METHODS OF MINING
This depth may be modified by conditions that
can be learned only through the work of the
drill. The minimum width allowed for a dredging
stream is one hundred and fifty feet, all under
that being reserved for placer mining. Let us
assume that we have a leasehold ten miles long,
and varying from two to three hundred feet
wide. Such a stretch of ground ought to have
at least a pair of drill holes at intervals of five
hundred feet, and this would not give a too
conclusive test. Under the most favourable
circumstances two holes a week would be good
work, which takes into consideration moving
the drill, and all other contingencies. Ten miles
would require in this not too critical examination
two hundred and ten holes, which would take
one hundred weeks, and as the most favourable
season there affords not more than twenty-two,
we see that it would require five seasons to
complete the prospect, and the applicant has
to go it blind altogether too much. True he
may have learned from other sources something
of the nature of the locality he is in, but in
the case of a pioneer, or pioneers, that is not
I would suggest that the applicant, after sixty
days, be required to pay down, say ten per cent
of the purchase money, and j as soon as practically possible begin comprehensive, systematic
prospecting  work.     I   say as  soon  as possible, 1
I mt
because what would be possible in one place there
would be absolutely impossible in another, and
if the country is to be developed, we must take
possibilities, and especially impossibilities, into
account. The Territorial Mining Engineer,
or some other competent official in the territory,
could easily decide just what was and what was
not possible in each case. As soon as a sufficient
portion of the leasehold was prospected, and if
the tests showed values sufficient to justify it,
the installation of a dredge should be required
in a practicable time, the engineer or other
official again reporting as to the desirability of
the machine, basing his requirements on the
sworn returns of the prospector from the work
he has done (verified personally where possible
by the engineer, or some one for him), and on
the situation of the leasehold. Should all the
ground not prove paying, the privilege of abandoning the unprofitable .portion to be permitted,
and the balance of the hundred dollars per mile
retained to be paid. This would not involve
the risk of the miner losing his money, and would
prevent dishonest speculation with poor or
worthless ground. A few words showing the
relative burdens imposed on the placer miner
and the dredger will not be out of place. A
placer mine is five hundred feet in length,
along the creek or gulch, and two thousand
feet   in   width,   thus   containing   very   nearly  L -
twenty-three acres. The recording fee is ten
dollars per annum, and the regulations require
two hundred dollars' worth of work to be performed on the claim every season. The methods
by which this work may be done are laid down
in the local regulations, and certainly they
are liberal enough; any one who wishes can
do the work with very little trouble. It can
easily be done in a month by one man. Take
a dredging leasehold of ten miles in length,
and an average width of three hundred feet,
which contains three hundred and sixty-three
and two-third acres, the recording fee is one
thousand dollars for the first year, and one
. hundred for each subsequent one. In the case
of the placer claim it is at the rate of forty-
four cents per acre, and for the first year in
the case of the dredging lease two dollars and
seventy-five cents per acre, and one-tenth of
that for all other years. The representation
work on a placer claim—two hundred dollars
per year—is equivalent to eight dollars and
seventy cents per acre, while the representation
work on a dredging lease, exclusive of prospecting,
which, as we have seen, is absolutely necessary,
is for the first three years a dredge which to
be of reasonably good service must cost at least
seventy-five thousand dollars before a wheel
is turned, and probably will be double that;
anyway, it is not less than twenty-five thousand 242
per year for the first three years, or nearly seventy
dollars per acre. Afterwards, the running expenses and wear and tear of the dredge will
average seventy-five to one hundred dollars
per day, during a season of about one hundred
and fifty days.
In the case of a quartz claim, which'is allowed
fifteen hundred feet square, or fifty-one and
two-third acres, it is acquired by planting and
marking three stakes, paying a recording fee of
five dollars, performing one hundred dollars'
worth of work per year on it for five years,
when, upon filing a plan and description of
survey, a patent deed may be obtained for it
by paying one dollar per acre; and the land is
for ever the property of the patentee, without
power of interference from any one. These
conditions are decidedly easy. It might be said
that dredging is the capitalist's method of mining,
and he can afford to pay for what he gets. That
argument, if valid at all, will apply with almost
equal force to the quartz miner, for he, too,
requires a lot of money to establish himself
If the dredger could be accorded some consideration in the way of assurance that he will
not lose his ground, and all the labour performed
on it, because he has failed to live up to the
regulations, he would not have so much reason
to   complain.     He   is   required   to   do   certain METHODS OF MINING 243
things every year of the life of his leasehold,
and if he fails he is liable to lose all. This is
in the hands of the Minister of the Interior,
and we may accept it as an axiom that that
gentleman will never impose any unreasonable
or unnecessary hardship on any one, so long as he
does the best he can under the circumstances.
Good public policy would require this. There
is no positive assurance, however, that he will
not, as the regulations provide he may, and
the doubt breeds doubt in the mind of the
In the case of the quartz miner, we have seen
that he can acquire absolute title. Why not
provide something akin to that in the case of
the dredger ? It would be easy to assure him
that if he failed in living up to the requirements
after spending a lot of money, that an interest
in the ground, proportionate to what he expended, would be given him; that would be
little enough, and much less than what is given
the quartz miner who, as far as development
of the country goes, is entitled to no more
consideration than the dredger. The future of
dredging is the future of a very large area of
the country, too poor or too difficult for the
placer individual, and it is not unreasonable
to ask consideration of the restrictions on the
dredger. He should have more assurance against
total loss, and a little more freedom of action. 244        EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
He cannot assign or transfer his leasehold without the consent of the Minister of the Interior,
while, as we have seen, the quartz-claim holder
can acquire his claim absolutely, and do as he
likes with it. CHAPTER XV
HE judicial customs of all countries and
communities, however small, have always
JL been of interest, and those of a mining
camp cannot be less so. The record of camp justice, as far as I know it, will be brought down to
the advent of established judicial service in
the territory in 1898. There are few who
have lived anywhere contiguous to mining camps
who have not heard or read of "miners' meetings."
They may be called to consider any question
related to the camp. In United States Territory
they have a much wider scope than in Canada,
as each locality makes its own by-laws, elects
its recorder, fixes the amount of the recording
fee, and decides the size of the claims, not to
exceed thirteen hundred and tw enty feet square ;
all of which is done in Canada by the Department
of the Interior. They were also called in the case
of a dispute, by one or both of the disputants, to
hear the evidence and settle the matter, and it is
in this capacity that I propose to speak of them.
In the first days of mining in the territory
245 L
when the mining groups were scattered, with
but a few members in each, they were simple,
fairly just, inexpensive, quick in results, and
promptly executed. Can we claim all this
for our more elaborate judicial machinery ?
In such small communities it followed that
every member of it knew as much of the doings
in camp as every other, and that all had a pretty
accurate conception of the characteristics of
the others. I may be permitted to digress
here to say that it appears to me that this was
the root idea from which our jury system sprang.
In a small community, such as were very common
in early times, it is likely that everybody knew
everybody else pretty well, and it would be
very difficult for false evidence to escape unchallenged, also a man's known character would
avail him something in a trial. Nowadays,
in some places, the object seems to be to get
a jury that knows absolutely nothing about
the case or its participants; and an individual
in our time and generation who does not know
a good deal about the matter, if not the parties
to it, long before it is called, is not fit to be
on a jury or any other deliberative body of
citizens. When the meeting was summoned,
all who could spare the time repaired to it,
for all knew that some day they might be in
trouble too, and if they did not manifest some
interest in the camp doings, it might be a cool  — LAW IN EARLY CAMPS 247
time for them when their trouble came. After
the meeting was organized by electing a chairman and secretary, which last was generally
the camp recorder, each disputant was requested
to state his case, and then evidence was heard.
When all was in, it was discussed openly and
a vote taken, the majority carrying the judgment,
which was promptly executed. At some of the
meetings all this formality was not observed,
but where the meeting contained experienced
men it generally was. As the country filled
up and the communities grew larger, results
became different, from various causes; sectionalism sprang up at times, and nationalism
began to crop up, but, worst of all, that potent
factor in modern mischief, the saloon, began
to have an influence. What time it came into
the field I cannot say, but think it was about
1889. There was a big profit in whisky, and
some who were going in, anyway, combined
business with necessity, invested a few dollars
in liquor, took it along and sold it at an enormous
advance. Some found it so profitable and
congenial that they took to the business almost
exclusively, and were afterwards known by the
name of "Whisky" prefixed to the surname,
whatever it might be. The liquor was sold to the
saloon-keepers, who retailed it along with some
water at fifty cents a glass. Like the saloons
everywhere   else,   they  had   their   clientele   of 248
loafers, and, like all the tribe, they interfered
with other people's business more than they
attended to their own. After the establishment
of saloons, miners' meetings were often held in
them, and as all present were generally counted
miners, as indeed they all were, more or less,
only some were so when they had to be, seeing
it was the only means of employment in the
country, so all had a vote. As an instance of
the kind of awards that were sometimes given
at the meetings, I will cite the case of a French
Canadian, known as French Joe, as told me by
Joe had been up the creek for several weeks,
and thought he would take a run down and
see how the town, as they called Fortymile,
looked. Passing a cabin he was hailed by the
occupant, and asked if he was going to town,
and as Joe said, " I tole 'im yes, den he hax
me if I would take down a couple o' hounces
an' give it to Bill Smit' for him, I tole him all
right, he hax me in, and he weight de couple
a hounces o' dust, an' geeve it to me. Well,
sir, I take it down, an' geeve it to Smit', he
weigh it an' say dat's all right, but dat son of
a gun ho me tree hounces. I say I don' know
what he ho you, he geeve me two hounces to
geeve to you, your got it, dat's all I got to do
wit' it, but he say I mus' geeve him de hudder
hounce dat fellar ho him.    I say I donno what LAW IN EARLY CAMPS
he ho you, he might ho you a tousan' hounces,
I don ho you noting, I geeve you de two hounces
he hax me to fetch you, dat's hall I have to
do wit' it. Well, sir, dat fellar call miners'
meetin' hon me, in Bob Hinglish's saloon,
de place was full, eighty-six man was dare;
Bob was make chairman. Smit' tell de way he
want it; I hax heem if he got his two hounces.
He say yes. I say, well boys, dat's all I know
'bout de ting, I get two hounces to geeve him,
I give it, I do'no what dat fella ho him, I got
noting to do wit' it. Well, sir, dey take a vote
on dat, six vote for Smit', five for me, de res'
dey don't give a d—m nohow, I los' me case,
I got to pay twenty dollars for de use of de saloon
to hoi' de meetin' on, I got to treat all hand,
and go hout and borry de hudder hounce to
pay, dat's cos' me more dan hundred dollars;
no, sir ! I don' want no more miners' meetin's,
me." That was Joe's story, but it may have been
coloured a little in the telling. I never had an
opportunity to hear the other side. It was
generally alleged in the camp that Joe was a
social cuss, so much so that when he came to
town he always had a " time," and they may
have thought that he might as well spend a
few dollars in the way they made him, as in his
own. Whether or not a meeting held out of
town would have returned such a decision,
it is bootless to discuss, but of one thing we 250
are certain, he would not have had to treat so
many men at an expense of fifty cents a glass,
and it is not likely, social as he may have been,
that he would have found so many for himself.
As was before remarked, a man's standing in
the community stood him in good stead in the
case of a dispute. Saloon-keepers as a rule were
a hearty lot of good fellows, whose generosity
was often helpful to many; nevertheless, their
places were rendezvous for idlers, and often
fruitful of mischief. In the spring of 1896,
soon after the claims on the head of Sixtymile
River, which had hitherto been thought to
be in Alaska, were recorded in Canada, and
every one thought the commanding officers of
the police, being magistrates, would naturally
succeed the miners' meeting as the judiciary,
a dispute arose between the owner of a claim
on one of those creeks and his labourers. The
labourers summoned a miners' meeting to settle
the difference, and they came. The meeting,
after hearing the statements on both sides,
dispossessed the owner and put the labourers
in charge of the claim. Why they did this
was not very clear, there being no detailed report
of the meeting. Anyway, the owner of the
claim came to Fortymile and laid a complaint
before Capt. Constantine, who was Gold Commissioner, and to whom the dispute should
have  been  referred in  the  first  place.    After LAW IN EARLY CAMPS
some consideration it was decided to send out
a body of ten or twelve policemen, under the
command of Lieut. Strickland, to dispossess
the labourers and reinstate the owner of the
claim. Strickland did this in a considerate
manner, which deprived it of much of its sting
to the miners. Some time afterwards I met
one of those who had been present at the meeting, and asked him why it acted in such a highhanded manner as to deprive a man of his vested
rights without a shadow of law to support
the act as far as we could see. Further, why
it interfered with what it must have known
was the prerogative of the magistrates then
in the country, whose authority had been acknowledged when record of the claim concerned
was made in a Canadian office. He replied,
" that the majority of those present felt it
was a case in which no process of law as they
knew it would do justice." He said "the general
impression of the owner was that he was a trickster who did not intend, and could hardly be
compelled, under the circumstances, to pay
his men. It appeared to them to be a case
where a designing, cunning man could hedge
himself around by the law, which is supposed
to stand for justice, to do an injustice, and as
the poor labourers had no money, and felt they
could not succeed without it, they appealed to
their fellows, who, while knowing that their action 252
was irregular, decided to put themselves on
record very emphatically on the side of justice."
My friend was a college graduate of more than
usual intelligence, possessed of much more than
an ordinary knowledge of law, for he had taken
a course in it; a man of very high character,
a gentleman in the full sense of the word.
He said " with reference to interfering with
the offices of the magistrates, that while their
act certainly appeared like a wilfully deliberate
attempt to do so, they did not look on it in
that light, their intention all through the affair
being to put themselves on record on the side
of fair play and justice as it presented itself
to the camp, and if the authorities were appealed
to, to submit to their judgment quietly and
respectfully. The act of sending out an armed
force, as if to compel wrongdoers to retract,
was not regarded agreeably at all. All that
was necessary was to send them a message
that their act was not recognized, and they
would have abandoned their position at once,
and advised the labourers to try the magistrates
for their pay."
Soon after this a Jew tailor and a negro barber
in Fortymile had a dispute over accounts. It
appeared they had been exchanging commodities
for some time without balancing accounts.
When one was ready to do so the other was not,
and vice versa.    At last the Jew determined to
bring matters to an issue, and rendered an
account which showed a balance of four dollars
in his own favour. The barber presented a
counter-account, which wiped out the balance,
and made one on the other side of one and a
half dollars. The Jew, out of respect for what
he thought was public opinion, called a miners'
meeting, that is, he called a meeting of the
residents of Fortymile to be held in a saloon,
then kept by a now wealthy Klondiker, to hear
the case and decide who owed who, and how
much. After due inquiry and deliberate consideration, judgment was entered for the plaintiff,
the tailor, in the sum of one dollar and fifty
cents, the exact amount the defendant claimed
was due to him. As soon as judgment was given,
one of the " Solons " present gravely rose and
proposed that the tailor be fined in the amount
of twenty dollars for calling a meeting to consider such a trifling matter. This was about
to be put, and no doubt carried, when an Irishman, who had spent some time in the mining
camps of Montana, and had acted as a sheriff's
officer, jumped to his feet and shouted, " No !
gintlemen, ye can't do that; it's absurd; this
poor man has called on ye for jushtice, ye have
acknowledged his claim be meetin' and decidin'
in his favour, and now ye want to fine him for
ashkin'for jushtice; that's nonsensical,ye can't do
it." They were awake enough to see the point, and
i 254
the motion was withdrawn. Had it been carried,
the money would have been spent there and then,
the reader can guess how. The barber was
ordered to pay forthwith, but he rose, and in
highly coloured language told the assembly
that it might or could collectively and individually go to several places not marked on
the maps of the Yukon or Alaska. That he would
not then, nor at any other time, pay that or
any other amount, and if they thought they
could get it from him, to try, try ! that was all,
try! ! The police were within hail, and to take
him at his word might involve consequences
none of them cared about assuming, so the meeting dissolved, quietly dissolved into its original
elements. It was realized that without power
to enforce their decisions miners' meetings
were no use. At those meetings, as at every
other gathering of curious people, for most of
them had no other motive in attending, one or
two present led in the talk; it did not follow
that they were the best fitted to lead in common
sense, but that seldom figures, and sometimes
the discussion took a trend no one expected.
Early in the spring of 1897 I went over the
records * of the miners' locations in the town-
site, such as it was, of Fortymile, and compared
them with the occupants of the ground. The
town had organized some years before, elected
a registrar to record every new resident as well as wt'
possible by metes and bounds. The registrars, for
there had been several of them, were not surveyors,
and the records were so unsatisfactory, compared with the ground, that I deemed it necessary
to take them to Ottawa with me, in order that
title might properly be issued to the occupants.
I advised the registrar that as the records had
been given into his custody by a meeting of
those interested, he should call another meeting
to consider the step I proposed to take. He did
so. It happened at that time the registrar was
the manager of one of the large trading companies. When he handed me the records,
enclosed with them were also the records of
the administration of some deceased miners'
estates, which I abstracted and handed back to
him, they not being related to the business I had
in view. When the meeting was called to order,
a chairman and secretary were elected. I was
then asked to state my purpose in requesting
the care of the record book till all the titles
were worked out at Ottawa. The records were
unanimously voted me for the purpose stated,
and the meeting was about to disperse when
one of the attendants rose and asked for a hearing,
as he had a very important matter to lay before
me. When order was restored, he in a most
dramatic manner asked " if there were not some
other records enclosed with those of the town-
site when I got them."    I told him there were, 256        EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
and that I had handed them back to the registrar.
Now it happened that this man was offended
with the registrar, because of some mercantile
transactions, and he immediately proceeded
to say all manner of reckless things about him
with reference to the abstraction of important
papers from the records. To my surprise he
was taken seriously by a good many present,
because they too had trouble with the registrar,
as manager of a store, about some accounts.
Quite a commotion was being worked up.
I rose and asked the chairman if I could say
a word or two. Consent was given, order called,
and I stated "that to me the situation was a
very simple one. The papers in question were no
use to me, in the purpose I had in view; I had
handed them back to the registrar, who, I had
no doubt, had put them carefully away, and
if the chairman would nominate a committee
of two or three citizens to call on the registrar,
and ask for the documents, I had not the least
doubt that they would be forthcoming at once."
The idea was at once adopted, and in less than
five minutes the committee returned with the
documents complete and in order. I mention
this to show how shallow-brained, unprincipled
demagogues can lead better people astray for
a time, but then my readers can witness examples
of it at almost any public or political meeting.
A   most  glaring  example  of   this  occurred  at LAW IN EARLY CAMPS
Fortymile some time before the advent of the
Police Magistrates and force. The manager
of one of the trading companies had taken with
him a woman servant, who was under contract
to serve him and his family one year, for which
she was to have a suitable wage, board, lodging,
and be returned to the coast at the cost of her
employer. It was not long till she began to
absent herself in the evenings, which was thought
peculiar, for the only other woman associate
she could have was the mistress of the house,
her employer's wife. She was talked to about
the irregularity of her conduct, but it seemed
to make matters worse. At length her absence
in the evenings was so prolonged that it was
sometimes morning before she returned, and
she refused to give satisfactory explanation of
where she was or what she was doing, so the
master of the house did the only thing he could
do under the circumstances, tell her that if
she was not in before a certain hour she would
be locked out and dismissed. She disregarded
the warning, and it was carried out. She reported to her friends, and a howl of indignation
went through the camp. A meeting was called,
and with many sobs and tears she told how
cruelly she had been used, she was only visiting
some friends, etc., etc. A professional man
who was in the camp then made a most eloquent
appeal  on  behalf  of  female  misfortune  in  a 258        EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
frozen, God-forsaken country like that, and
so on. The camp was moved to indignation,
and it was ordered that the employer be compelled to pay her a full year's wages at the
contract rate, to pay her way back to the coast,
and to furnish her with sufficient food to last
till her departure. This was enforced, but I
think some of the parties to the order had to
give bond that if ever a proper court came into
the country, and the case was tried, and judgment
given against the order of the miners' meeting,
that the bondmen would have to make restitution
to the employer or his company.
It was generally believed afterwards that the
orator who was such an ardent advocate for
unfortunate womanhood was her partner in
misconduct, and that her prolonged stays out
at night were in his company. It was also alleged
that he benefited personally by the fine imposed
on the employer. One of the bondmen, in
speaking of it afterwards, told me he was heartily
ashamed of the part he had taken in it, but that
he, like the others, had been completely hoodwinked by the story the girl told, and judging
from the zeal displayed by her advocate, one
would never suspect he was her partner in guilt.
He told me that " the manager was not over
popular in camp, partly personal and partly on
account of his company, and he thought that had
something to do with the result, but it was mainly LAW IN EARLY CAMPS
the woman's well-acted distress and indignation
that brought them round"; it generally does.
He for one was willing to contribute at any time
his proportion of the sum necessary to recoup
the company, but the other bondmen were so
scattered, it would be difficult to collect them,
even if they were willing to pay. When a proper
court was instituted in the country nearly all
the principals to the affair had gone from the
district, many of them where no process of the
court could reach them.
Soon after the Klondike discovery Capt.
Constantine, as Gold Commissioner, tried a
couple of cases where claim interests were
concerned.   One was a case of jumping.
When Mr. Fawcett assumed the duties of
Gold Commissioner, in June, 1897, there were
a good many disputes awaiting his arrival,
and during his incumbency—June, 1897, to
January, 1899—he certainly earned his small
salary. When Judge McGuire came in May,
1898, he assisted Mr. Fawcett all he could,
but he was kept very busy with his own court
business, and his assistance was not as niuoh
as he would have liked.
I believe I can claim the honour, if it be one,
of trying the first civil case in the Yukon Terri- I
tory, which arose in this way. A young fellow
with not too much of this world's goods had
entered the territory to try his fortune. If he
were not rich in the precious metals, he was in
brass, for his assurance was equal to any occasion.
He had been fortunate enough during the winter
to secure what is termed a " lay," on a rich bit
of ground. A lay is the privilege of working a
portion or all.of a claim on a percentage of the
clean-up. The ground this gentleman got
turned out phenomenally rich, and he found
himself on the high road to wealth quite unexpectedly. This somewhat increased his self-
satisfaction, and he apparently thought the
common people did not pay him that respect due
to a man of his riches. Among others, he had
employed an elderly Frenchman, who, by birth,
culture, and education was entitled to all the
respect the other fellow thought was his due.
This gentleman had fallen on evil days, and had
to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow, but
he did it like a gentleman. His employer gave
him some orders one day in a tone and terms
Which grated on his sensibilities, and in polished,
though caustic, terms he told Newrich what
he thought of his style, and protested against
a continuation of it in dealing with him. The
result was his immediate discharge and a refusal
to pay him what was coming to him, until it
suited his lord and master, late of the extreme /im*± ^uii LAW IN EARLY CAMPS 261
democrats, to do so.- The amount due the old
gentleman, if I recollect aright, was one hundred
and fifty-two dollars, and it was all he had in sight
after a winter of hard work, and as he was not very
well acquainted, his credit was not extensive. He
came down from the creek and sought me, I being
the one of the officials he was best acquainted
with, told me his story, and asked for justice.
Now I had been made a Commissioner of
Police in 1887, but what authority that gave
me I did not know. I had taken the oath
of office before British Columbia's Grand Old
Man, Sir Mathew Begbie, and after it was
administered he became reminiscent, and told
me many stories of his own experience in the
early days of the Province, but that, while of
some practical value, did not enlighten me much
on what a Commissioner of Police was. I knew
the law conferred on the office the power of
two justices of the peace sitting together,
but that was as vague to me as nothing at all,
in fact, I knew as little about it as a lawyer,
and was willing to admit it. Mr. Fawcett also
was a Commissioner of Police, as was Dr.
Wills, Surgeon to the Mounted Police, and as
both of these gentlemen were in town I reasoned
that together we were as strong, legally I mean,
as six justices of the peace, and six husky magistrates, I thought, ought to be as strong as a
puisne judge, and so we could try the case. 262        EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
I saw them, and argued that we must not let
such a flagrant bit of impertinent injustice go
unchallenged. Whether we had authority to
try it or not, we could bring this fellow to time,
and by so doing create a much-needed and
good impression, if we only put on a stiff, bold
front. They agreed to sit with me, so I made
out a summons to both parties. I had not much
experience with summonses, but used all the legal
lore I had in getting this one up, and made it
look as awesome as possible. I had Fawcett and
Wills sign it with me. We then had a policeman
serve a copy on both parties; this looked portentous, and created its due impression, for
they both promptly attended. I was elected
presiding judge, and Robert Craig acted as
clerk of court. Each party was sworn. There
was no defence, only that the employee had
not been duly respectful in his address to his
employer, and the employer had withheld payment of the amount due till he could feel the
wound to his dignity was healed. With the
proper amount of dignity and severity, I hope,
I told the employer that the offensive language
he complained of was no justification for illegal
action on his part, that if he felt very much
offended he could have recourse to a magistrate,
before whom the case would be tried, and a
legal punishment administered. I concluded
by ordering him to pay the amount due within
twenty-four hours, or further action would be
taken. The costs were nil. A few hours after
I met the defendant on the street, and he stopped
me, and in a very saucy manner asked what
the consequence would be if he refused to pay
the money within the twenty-four hours. I
replied, " You will go to the lock-up until you
" What! do they put people in jail for debt
in Canada ? "
" Not any more than in the United States."
" But they do not do it there."
" Oh, yes, they do; they order a man to pay
his debts, and if he does not, he is sent to jail
for contempt of court, that is, for not regarding the authority of the law."
" Well, if I refuse to pay in this instance,
what will you do ? "
" If you want to learn that, refuse," I replied.
After some reflection he said, " Well, I guess I
had better pay up ; but if I am a little behind
time, you will not be too hard on me."
I replied, " We have already tried the case,
we will not do so a second time, and what you
ask involves a second trial; if you wanted any
consideration of that kind, you should have mentioned it at the court room."
The money was paid early next day, and we
gained quite a local reputation as jurists.
A few days after this a man came to see me, 264        EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
carrying nearly four thousand dollars' worth
of gold dust in a deer-skin sack. He told me
the dust was the result of a clean-up that five
men were interested in. They had made an
agreement, but since its execution had swapped,
cross swapped, overhead swapped, and subway
swapped parts of their interest with each other,
till, to use a slang phrase, " they did not know
where they were at," and the agreement was
interlined and scrawled over till it looked like
the manuscript of some of the famous writers,
or the draft of a politician's speech. They
could not agree as to the division of the cleanup, and the custodian of the dust, learning of
the court at Dawson, brought it down and
handed it to me, asking that the other parties
to the puzzle be summoned to attend, and
show cause why they should get any of it. But
a summons was not necessary, for the others
were close behind him, and seconded his request
for a hearing and proper division. This simplified
matters, for I did not want to try too many
cases, lest I might meet with a reversal. Our
first case was disposed of finally, but another
might not result so satisfactorily.
The three Commissioners of Police, or six
Justices of the Peace, as you may elect, and the
Clerk of the Court, as in the previous case, all
met the disputants on Saturday afternoon and
heard the testimony of  each man under oath. LAW IN EARLY CAMPS
The difficulty was more like an arithmetical puzzle
than anything else one could conceive. Between
the original agreement, which was deciphered
with the aid of the parties, and the evidence,
we were seized of all the facts, and the intended
facts. Mr. Fawcett was somewhat of a mathematician, but Dr. Wills could not dissect the
puzzle as easily as he would have something
else. I worked most of Sunday on the thing—
there was no Sabbath observance law there then
—and found how old Ann was, or at least within
a year or two of it. I submitted my solution
to Fawcett, who accepted it, but Dr. Wills
begged to be allowed to jump it as it was. Monday we met, and I solemnly read the judgment
of the whole court. Mr. Fawcett, as Gold
Commissioner, weighed to each claimant his
share of the dust, and all departed satisfied, at
least expressed no dissatisfaction.
As far as I know, no more civil cases were
tried in Dawson or the territory till the arrival
of Justice McGuire.
When Capt. Constantine entered the country,
in 1895, he represented the Government generally, being Magistrate, Gold Commissioner, Land
Agent, and Collector of Customs. In 1896 Mr.
D. W. Davis came in as Collector of Customs.
He had for several years been manager for a
large trading firm in the north-west of Canada,
and had been much in touch with the Depart- 266
ment of Customs while in this service. He is
credited with telling that while his position
and salary were being discussed by the Premier
of Canada, Sir Mackenzie Bowell, and himself,
that the Premier suggested his taking all the
duties he collected for his salary. If this is a fact,
and he had accepted, what a salary he would
have had in 1897, 1898, 1899, 1900, and 1901 !
The creeks would have averaged small in comparison. When Mr. Fawcett came in representing
the Department of the Interior, in 1897, the
service of the territory was pretty well divided,
and when Major Walsh came in in 1898, the staff
accompanying him, with those there, represented
every service, and the country was organized.  M
IT is greatly to the credit of the pioneers of
the region that though errors of judgment
were committed, as we have seen, no serious
crime was ever perpetrated, or attempted, with
the exception of the poisoning I have already
referred to. We have seen how that attempt was
punished, and must admit the sentence was not
too harsh. Another crime of a less heinous character was punished by a precisely similar sentence.
The story is worth telling. In the fall of 1886
the supply of provisions for the camp on Stewart
River was very short. Harper and McQuesten
counted heads, and set aside for every man his
share of what they had. Many were absent, and
probably would not reach the storehouse till
Well on in the winter, and maybe dead broke
then ; but that would not count in the distribution. All would share alike, dust or no dust.
In those days what might be termed luxuries were
not imported in large amounts, being more like
holiday fare than everyday food. Among those
267 I!
articles was butter. After the census was taken,
the butter, like other articles, was divided equally,
and each man, as he came for his share of provisions, got his allowance of butter at the same
time. In the camp at that time was a person
known as " Missouri Frank," who let it be
assumed he was a bad man from somewhere,
had notches on his gun, and all the other insignia
of the class. Frank was camped about fifteen
miles up the Stewart with a partner, not in reputation, but mining. Early in the winter some
of their articles of food ran out, among them
butter, and Frank hitched himself to his sleigh,
and hied him to the post to replenish their
stores, never dreaming of a refusal, for he had the
dust; and that he thought would be all-prevailing,
and only a question of amount. This time he
was mistaken. Harper was willing to give him
of such things as they had a surplus, which were
very few, but of butter there was only the
allowance for three or four men who had not
yet come in, and that no one else could get at any
price. Three or four times the selling price was
offered, but without avail. Frank had a reputation to live up to, only he overlooked his surroundings this time. He waited till night, broke
into the storehouse, and stole all the butter left
took it a mile or two out along the road, hid it,
and returned to make a fair start home the next
A few days after, one of the delayed parties
called for his allotment, when the butter was
missed. An examination showed that the door
fastenings had been tampered with, and the theft
became evident. Harper called a meeting of the
miners in camp, laid the facts before them,
and speedy action followed. A deputation of
three, accoutred for the occasion, was appointed
to call on the gentleman from Missouri, and
" show him." The deputation was headed by
" Bill Love," a Nova Scotian, well known as a
" splealer," and wag. I had the pleasure of
hearing Bill tell the story, and he told it well.
They reached Frank's cabin after the evening
meal was over, and immediately upon entering,
two of them covered that gentleman with their
forty-fives, and the other one the partner.
" Hands up !" was the order, and it was bad form
to keep them down. Bill then told Frank that
they were a little short of butter in the camp,
and thinking maybe he had some, they came to
borrow a little till next churning time! Frank
denied any knowledge of any butter, but Bill
told him " he had another think coming, and
to hurry up with it, lest his hand got shaky,
or his finger cramped, or something like that
happened, which might prove unfortunate for
some one."
The partner began to see a light dawning, and
spoke up, telling Frank to confess, for if he did ,
not, he, the partner, would tell all he knew.
Frank would not speak, so the partner told them
" that Frank had come home from the camp a
few evenings before, with some supplies and a
good deal of butter, which he said he had bought
from Harper at a high price," in this, lying against
Harper and defrauding the partner, for he would
have to pay half the amount of the bill. The
butter was unearthed, or, to be more precise,
unsnowed, and tied on to Frank's sleigh ; he was
hitched to it, and driven into the camp, hauling
the stolen butter, his bedding, and some food
with him. Arrived at the camp, he was arraigned
before an assembly of all the miners present, the
evidence was all put in, the butter identified, and
Mr. Frank asked " what he had to say for himself." He would not say anything. It was
unanimously voted that he be exiled from camp
at least one hundred and fifty miles, and that he
never again come near it under penalty of death.
He was given his goods, some provisions and
ammunition, and escorted out of the camp, up-
river, half a day's journey, and watched out of
When I was going down the river with my
survey the next summer I saw a man rocking on
a bar opposite the mouth of Big Salmon River.
I drew in close to shore, and tried to engage him
in conversation, but could not get a word out of
him.   He would not condescend to even look at
me. I thought he might be deaf and dumb, but
could see that he was not blind. When I reached
Fortymile Camp, I learned from Harper and
McQuesten who he was. He, I believe, went out
up the river that fall, and never was heard from
after. This may be considered a severe sentence
for such a crime, but the idea appeared to be
that he was a bad man, and lest he get the camp
into difficulty over a killing, it was deemed best
to get rid of him in time. I never heard of even
an exchange of shots on the Canadian side of the
line. There was one at Circle City, but the
good sense of the camp prevailed, and it was
stopped, with a severe warning to indulge in no
more of it.
At Fortymile there was a challenge issued for
a duel through a dispute over a woman. An
Englishman and an American quarrelled because
the American's squaw accepted too many attentions from the Englishman, so they were to shoot
over it. The time was at five in the morning,
the place on the ice in front of Fortymile. As the
story went, the Englishman appeared at the time
and place appointed, armed with a Winchester
rifle, and brought with him, in what capacity
no one knew, a big Canadian, armed with a
double-barrelled shot gun, who remained on top
of the bank. The American came along soon
after, armed with a large six-shooter. He looked
to the front, and there was the Empire; he looked *l!
to his left flank, and there, too, was the Empire,
one of the five nations furnishing, we may assume,
a voluntary contribution to the defence. He was
uncertain as to what part that shot-gun would
take in the dispute, and the owner was a very
sphinx, so he abandoned the field, and fair
one. There was peace after, proving that a
well-prepared defence makes for good understanding.
The first imprisonment in the territory was
made in June, 1897. Some of the police force
were in Dawson, under the command of Dr. Wills.
They were building quarters and offices for the
force. In the town at that time was a log saloon,
Joe Ladue's, and several others of canvas or
cotton. Two of the latter were large, one of
blue stuff, the other of white, and they were
known as the Blue and the White Elephant,
respectively. It happened one hot day that a
more than usual amount of spirit was manifest,
a few turned, after the manner of our Scandinavian ancestors, berserker, and if not ferocious,
That day I was engaged doing something for
the miners, and wanted to find another person
to get some information. I went into the Blue
Elephant looking for him, having been told he
was there. In it at the time was a Cornish miner
whom I had known for some years. He immediately claimed my attention, and insisted that BBnK Sais REFLECTIONS 273
I drink with him. I tried quietly to get away,
but he was determined that I should have a day
with him. There was no use trying to reason with
him, so I broke away, and dashed for the door,
but he was after me, insisting that I should remain, and began to call me all the vile names in
his vocabulary, and he had an extensive one of
that character. I tried to quieten him, but he only
grew worse, and at last called me a name very
'common, but to me very offensive, and one I
think should justify homicide, yet it is surprising
how many men of good standing use it. To knock
him down would have been easy in the condition
he was in, but I restrained myself, and called on a
policeman, who had been listening to him for
some time, to take him away and put him in the
lock-up. There was one building, the walls of
which were complete, but there was no roof on it
yet, so a jail was improvised out of that, and the
prisoner was shut in. A little while after this I
heard an uproar in a saloon not far away. I went
over, and found that a white man and his Indian
woman were having a stand-up fight. The
woman's mouth was bleeding, and the man had a
cut on his cheek, where she had landed on him.
I believe she was getting the best of it, but I
stepped between them and stopped it, apparently
much to the dissatisfaction of the woman. I
then addressed a few remarks to the saloon
keeper,   and  stepped   out   and  called a  police- 274        EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
man, and directed him to take them both to the
Soon after this, the Irishman whom I have
mentioned in connection with the miners' meeting, held to adjust the difference of account
between the Jew tailor and the negro barber,
under the influence of various motives—some
sentimental, some physical, and some spirituous—
grew eloquent and noisy, principally the latter,
on the rights of his fellow citizens who had just
been ignominiously committed to prison for
simply enjoying their undoubted privileges. For
awhile it was amusing, but all amusements soon
pall, and this not only palled, but became offensive
to all who had to listen, and so Dr. Wills, now that
we had a lock-up, ordered his arrest and incarceration. It was a terrible blow, for, like many other
would-be apostles of liberty, he found that
amusement may cause more applause than conviction, and no one rushed to his rescue. All
four culprits had to remain in the roofless prison
all night, and the contemplation of the starless
sky must have brought wisdom, for in the morning
all except the Irishman were penitent, acknowledged their error, and were willing to promise
anything to obtain their liberty. They all promised to leave town for their claims at once, if let
go, and they did.
The  old miner wept, and declared he  had
been a miner for more than forty years, and REFLECTIONS 275
had never been in jail before. He had come
into town for a pound of tea, and as soon as
he was at liberty he went to a store and
bought it. A bystander, as he was getting the
tea, remarked, " Have a drink, Bob," and Bob
turned on him in wrath, said some things, and
fled for the hills as though running for his life.
The man and his Indian woman did not wait
for anything, but took over the hills, as though
the town were plague-infested. But the Irishman
—well, he was different—he would not even leave
his prison. As he was the Doctor's prisoner I let
the Doctor deal with him, and he harangued that
gentleman for nearly half an hour, dilating on all
the damages he was going to claim from the
British Government, or the Canadian Government, or any Government he could reach, for
false imprisonment, and he was going to rot in
the vile dungeon rather than damage his prospects by leaving even for a moment. " Tin
thousand—t-i-n t-h-o-u-s-a-n-d dollars — d'ye
hear, is the very laste cint I'll take." The Doctor
retired, leaving him to his reflections. After
a little more sleep, he consented, as the workmen
wanted the premises, to leave under protest.
Down town he found an unaccountable apathy.
No one seemed interested in his case, unless manifest amusement is interest; so after wasting some
eloquence on the desert air, he betook himself to
his camp.    The action for damages never was li
brought, and as the poor fellow died in the
Philippine Islands a few years ago, there will be
no action.
We were congratulated by a good many for
ridding the town of a nuisance.
The first prisoner extradited from Yukon
Territory was arrested in Dawson early in July,
1897. The charge against him was murder, committed in the State of Iowa, U.S.A., in the early
spring of that year. The victim was a well-known
old farmer, who had acted as parent, guide, and
friend to the murderer ; and the motive was to
secure, through the wife of the murderer, life
insurance to the amount of 30,000 dollars on his
own life. The old man was decoyed to his foster
son's office late in the night, shot to death, and the
premises then fired to conceal the crime and to
convey the impression that the murderer himself
had been burned to death. The fire, though it
charred the body did not destroy every means
of identification, and after a few days' investigation, it was positively recognized as that of the
old farmer, by clue it is unnecessary here to state.
Application had been made for the insurance
money, but the identification of the body
stopped payment, and the insurance company
placed the tracing of the murderer in the hands
of a Chicago detective, named Perrin. At the
investigation it was established that the body
had been shot through the heart, and the mur-
derer's financial circumstances revealed the motive for the crime. After a careful examination
of the premises, and inquiry into everything
that would aid in the trace, the detective concluded that the criminal would make for the
Klondike, the name being then familiar, where,
if he reached it, he would seek to lose his identity.
As this place is in Canada, extradition papers
would be necessary were he found there, and the
detective went to Ottawa, the seat of government
in Canada, laid his facts before the Minister of
Justice, and in two days everything necessary
to deport the criminal, should he be found in the
Yukon region, was completed. The detective
returned to the scene of the crime, gathered what
additional information he could, part of it being
a detailed description of the suspect and a small
photograph of him, taken many years before. He
hurried to Seattle, the United States northwestern port for the Klondike, sought for clues,
one of which led him back to Philadelphia, there
to find he was after the wrong man. Back to
Seattle he rushed, sought for, and found evidence of a man answering the description having
gone north on one of the Skagway-bound
Even at that early date, June, 1897, the rush
was wild, and hardly a rod of the dreary twenty-
three miles over Dyea Pass but showed signs of
some eager' slave to the universal passion.    Men L
and women, good and bad, adventurers and
adventuresses,Jsaints and'sinners, simple and wise,
cunning and guileless, strong and weak, healthy
and sickly, rich and poor, young and old, clothed
and ragged, women in their ordinary dress,
women in part male and part female attire, and
many entirely in male clothing—all mad with a
common madness, nearly all wise in council for
the common weal, many, many brutes in action
for their own. Some sinking to lower than bestia 1
shamelessness in conduct and association, and
strangely, too, I was almost saying, but only consistently after all, some of the most degraded,
degraded beneath decent designation, posed in
Dawson as immaculate, and were the greatest
censors of the government and public officials.
Straggling along the route from tide water
to the summit, fifteen miles away and two-thirds
of a mile above it, and from the summit to Lake
Lyndeman, eight miles farther, and a fourth
of a mile below it, was this motley crowd of many
tongues and nations, in which Detective Perrin
sought his man, but in vain ; for the indifference
to attire and cleanliness, begotten of such a rude
life and its surroundings, works wonderful changes
in the personal appearance of most men. Down
the river Perrin continued the almost hopeless
search. Every boat was searched, and its occupants scrutinized for future reference, for it
might prove that some one else " wanted " would
be sighted, but no face reminded him of the
photograph he had or recalled the figure he had
in mind.
Arrived at Dawson, its myriads of tents and
their ever-flitting occupants seemed like the proverbial haystack in which he had to search for his
needle. Almost hopeless, he began a systematic
watch, conducted so as to occasion as little notice
as possible. At last a faint suspicion arose. One
tent was noted, which contained three men, only
two of whom moved about during the day, the
other only momentarily showing himself in the
daylight hours, being always confined to the
tent, ostensibly by the cooking necessary for the
party. After midnight, with hat well pulled
down and lowered head, he would take a quiet
stroll in the unfrequented parts of the town. It
was difficult to get a good look at his features,
even if it were daylight all the time, and to act
too boldly might lose him altogether, for any one
could be lost in a moment in that land of mountain
and moor.
Night after night, Perrin watched the suspect's
jaunts, until something in his eyes reminded him
of the eyes in the photograph, and gradually, like
the lineaments in a puzzle picture, the face in the
photograph was revealed through the heavy beard
and moustache the suspect now wore. He
recognized in him also a dirt-begrimed, ragged,
taciturn man he had noticed in the pass several I
times, but now, as he was clean and dressed, one
could see what his features resembled.
Soon suspicion became conviction, and Perrin
applied to Capt. Constantine, then the only
peace official in the territory, for the arrest and
deportation of the suspect. The extradition
papers were found in order, and the commanding
officer had the man arrested. The resemblance
to the photograph and description was found
satisfactory, which together with his suspicious
conduct while in Dawson, made good cause
for his extradition, and he was placed in charge
of the detective for that purpose.
The prisoner naturally denied all knowledge
of the case, declaring he hailed from another
part of the country, and gave a false name, J. L.
Smith, under which name he had been travelling.
A stalwart policeman, whose term of service was
nearly expired, was allowed to accompany the
detective to assist in looking after the prisoner.
On the morning of July 14th, they left Dawson
on the river steamer Jdhn J. Healey, for
St. Michael, the Bering Sea port of entry for
Yukon, situated on an island of the same name
on the easterly shore of Norton Sound, about
seventy miles north-east of the mouth of the
Yukon River.
I went from Cudahy to St. Michael with them,
and heard the story as I have related it, from the
lips of Perrin.   m
At the mouth of the river we ran, with a
falling tide, on to a muck bar, and were nearly
twenty-four hours there. In windy weather
river steamers cannot make the run from the
mouth of the river to St. Michael, Norton Sound
becoming too rough for such frail craft to live in.
When we got clear of the bar and mouth of the
river, a north-west wind arose, and we had to put
out two anchors, and lie for forty-eight hours
in water so shallow that at low tide the boat
often bumped the mud bottom, and we drew
only two and a half feet, yet we were more than
half a mile from shore.
The wind was so fierce that at times we expected the light cabins to be blown off, and so
cold that we spent most of the time in the saloon
or dining-room, it serving both purposes, where
a brisk fire was kept going in a large stove, notwithstanding that it was July.
At noon on Sunday, July 25th, we reached St.
Michael, where we all had to await an outward-
bound steamer for several weeks. Here quarters
for the prisoner and guards were found in the
North American Transportation and Trading
Company's premises at Fort " Get There," as
it was then called.
During the wait, Perrin requested me to photograph the prisoner, first with beard on, after
which he would be shaved and another photograph taken.   As the pictures were intended for 282 EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
use in court when the trial was on, I took Perrin
into the dark room, where I loaded a holder with
two plates, on each of which I marked with a soft
pencil the date and my initials. I then requested
the detective to put on his initials, the date, and
any other marks of identification he thought
I exposed both plates on the prisoner with the
detective sitting beside him. As my camera
was not a portrait one, and the exposure was made
in an ordinary room, the pictures cannot be called
a great success, though the likeness to each man
is very fair. One of the plates I developed, and
made some prints from, some of which were given
to Perrin. Both the developed and undeveloped
plates were then carefully packed. After the
prisoner was shaved, the photographing was
repeated as above, then the four plates were
placed in a waterproof box, and the detective
took them with him to Iowa, where the other
two were developed, and prints from all four
were used in the court.
Of the copies retained, I have lost or mislaid
all but one. At the time I made the prints I had
no way of toning my work, and the proof—it is
nothing more—was simply carefully fixed, so
its tone is not quite orthodox. I have hundreds
of times shown the picture to people, remarking
as I did so, " Here is a picture of a cruel murderer and the detective who followed him nine
thousand miles to arrest him. Now, which
is the murderer ? " Very seldom is the right one
When more than two weeks at St. Michael had
passed, Perrin had an opportunity to leave with
his prisoner for Iowa. Not long after his arrival
there, the prisoner was put on trial and convicted ;
but some of the jurors being opposed to capital
punishment, brought in a verdict of murder in
the second degree, which does not necessitate
the death sentence. In consequence the murderer got off with only twenty years' imprisonment.
As arranged between us, the detective wrote
me a synopsis of the trial, and sent me papers
containing a full report of it.
This has brought the record down to the organization of the territory, and the advent of official
supervision of every department of governmental
administration, and that was as far as I intended
to go with this record. Since that time, official
records relate all that has been done ; before that,
the recollections of a few individuals with a few
records, mostly unofficial, were all that could
be looked to for authentic information. I
have tried to give the gist of all this that came
within my ken to the best of my judgment and
Some day, when events justify it, the history
of the country will be written fully from that ml
■1 111
! 1 Efl
date, but there is hardly enough of great note
since the organization to justify it yet.
The camp, in its early days, was often on the
verge of starvation. This was particularly so in
the winter of 1885-6, and, again, especially so in
the winter and spring of 1896-7; but it was
found there was plenty for all, though not much
to spare.
The following anecdote, told me by Long John,
whom the reader will recollect in connection with
the attempt to reach Stewart River from Forty-
mile by steamer in the fall of 1887, will illustrate
how close the camp was to actual want in the
spring of that year.
" Whin I raked tigether all me provisions ti
start for the new digging at Fortymile, I found
I had d n little.   I got ready ti lave about the
middle o' March, and down to Fortymile was a
long haul, a hundred an' twinty mile we called it.
I had only wan dog ti help me, an' nothing for
that one ti ate barrin' the. dishwashin's, which id
be d d thin on the way down.   Well, I found
I was purty short iv ivrythin', but more so iv flour
than anythin' else. I shuck out all me old sacks,
and turned thim inside out, an' thin dusted thim.
Whin I got through I had about forty pounds of
purty d d dirty luckin' stuff, ye could call it
flour if ye wanted ti, but ye needn't if ye didn't
want ti. The rest iv me stuff was purty much th e
same.    Altogether I had about a month's pro- REFLECTIONS 285
visions, an' how I was going to live on it till the
first boat got up, maybe in July, maybe in August,
was more than I could tell, unless I tuck ti the
woods, an' thin we had d d little ammunition.
I knew I'd waste a lot iv me flour, bad as it was,
be mixing it every time I'd bake, so ti save as
much as possible, I mixed it all with bakin'
powder, an' thin put enough water in it to make
a nice batter, an' whin the whole lot was well
mixed, I put it outside ti' freeze. When I wanted
bread I'd rowl it up agin the fire, and whin it
was purty black on that side I'd knock off the
cooked part, an' ate it. This saved me a lot of
trouble while on the way down the river, for it
was d d cowld, I dunno how cowld it was, for
me mercury was solid, an' the painkiller was purty
thick, so it must a been below forty. Well, sir,
one mornin' I got up ti get me bread ready, an'
me ball iv flour was gone. I lucked and lucked,
but the divil a sign iv it could I see. I lucked
at me dog, but he, poor divil, lucked as hungry as
iver, an' as innocent as a lamb. I was stumped !
an' couldn't make head nor tail iv it, but there
I was without me flour. I lucked around, gettin'
farther from camp all the time, till I saw signs
on the ice like what somethin' bein' rowled along
would make, an' I followed it clane across the
river, and there, up agin the bank where he
couldn't rowl it any farther, was me ball iv flour,
an' it was a sight, shure 1   The poor divil iv a dog I!
had scratched it wid his paws, an' gnawed it wid
his teeth, try-in' ti get somethin' off it, till it was
scratched all over. I tuck it back ti the fire, and
the dog lucked the guiltiest thing ye ever saw,
but I hadn't the heart ti touch him, poor divil,
he was starvin', for I had nothin' but bacon rind
ti give ti him, and not much iv that. I lucked
at me ball iv flour for a long time, thinkin'
whether I'd cut off all the outside where it was
scratched an' licked,  but I couldn't afford to
waste it.   It was d d hard, but I had ti cook
it an' ate it."
An incident occurred in the spring of 1896
that illustrates a phase of human nature, called
by various names, and discussed from various
standpoints, which I will let the reader view as he
likes, and analyse as he pleases. A resident of
Fortymile, not having much to do, and money,
or dust, being scarce with him, thought he would
distil some "hootch," the name given a brand of
whisky distilled from the fermentation of flour
and molasses, or from anything else that would
ferment, but those articles were most frequently
I have seen the Indians on the coast making it,
using for the condensing worm the long stem of a
species of seaweed very common in the north.
While the distillation is going on, they sit watching
the liquor drop from the worm, and drink it as
fast as a mouthful gathers. m
Our friend made his worm out of tin or iron
pipes as he found them most readily. When he
had some eight or ten gallons of the liquor, he
called on Capt. Constantine to learn what to do to
be safe in trafficking in the stuff. The Captain
told him he had no control over him disposing of
it, but he would have to collect from him the
excise duty on it. Now he might have said
nothing about what he was doing, and disposed
of it quietly, and this excise was a shock to his
puny pocket. However, he paid, and arranged
his plan of operation, which was to take it to
the best paying creeks and sell it either retail
or wholesale as suited the convenience of his
customers. The miners on the two leading creeks,
Miller and Glacier, learning, as he intended they
should, of his intentions, held a meeting, and
resolved: That in the event of any party or
parties coming to their creeks with intoxicating
liquors to sell, they would seize the liquor,
spill it, and send the party or parties whence
they came with a warning. Our distiller heard
of this, but smiled, and thought, "Well, we'll
Nothing daunted, he loaded his sled with his
bed, some provisions, and the precious liquor, and
hauled the lot to a vacant cabin convenient to
the mouths of both creeks, where he took up his
abode. The miners knew he had started, ostensibly, for their creeks, and when he was some time 288 EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
overdue, became anxious about him. At last
his whereabouts was learned, and their indignation was increased, if that were possible. But
indignation, like other volatile things, is evanescent, and as nature abhors a vacuum, one of them,
on the following afternoon, took down his rifle,
and proclaimed his intention of going out to look
for a caribou; he was tired of eating bacon, and
yearned for a bit of fresh meat. He returned next
morning, weary and tired from his hunt; he had
not seen any caribou, but had seen good signs, and
might take another look around before long.
That evening another hunter went out to look
up the signs, and see whether it might not be
the animals' spring migration. It was! When the
caribou were all secured and the keg empty, the
distiller returned to town with a well-filled
" poke," the price of numerous caribou killed
out of season. When all the fresh meat in camp
was disposed of, another meeting was called, and
more stringent resolutions passed against whisky-
sellers, death, I think, being one of the penalties
to be inflicted on the next transgressor ; but the
spring migration had carried the caribou down to
town by the time another keg was ready.
The making of hootch was never much
resorted to in the territory—to its credit be it
said. One of the boys in 1889, I think it was,
brewed, not " a peck o' maut," but something
else, not quite so palatable, but maybe equally
^^—=   REFLECTIONS 289
potent, and invited, like " Willie," some of his
" frien's " to come and " prie." Just to add to
the amusement a game of poker was begun; a
dispute arose, which ended in a quarrel in which
knives were brandished. Good sense, however,
prevailed, and when sobriety returned, it was
agreed that never again would any of that
gathering encourage hootch-making. I
IT can readily be perceived that, in such a cosmopolitan community, anything like common
customs or social habits would be most conspicuous by their absence. One feature of human
nature which is as wide as humanity itself prevailed there just as it does everywhere else, and
under every adverse condition of the country,
that is the fun-making feature, which has been
sometimes called the human attribute in contradistinction to the purely animal.
As we have seen in the earlier years of the
river's history, no mining was done in winter,
during which the miners, as a rule, settled around
the supply posts, and if we may judge from the
stories told, endeavoured in every way they could
devise to make up for the loneliness of their
isolation in small hard-worked groups during the
summer. Playing practical jokes on one another,
both individually and collectively, was a source
of much amusement; but the organization of
story-telling clubs appears to have been one of, if
not the principal feature of winter diversion,.
Consequently, the tales related grew, from
something more then natural and probable
proportions, to very prominent Munchhausen
In the fall of 1887-8, a camp of seven or eight
miners was formed on an island in the Yukon,
a mile or two above Fortymile. This group
developed such inventive powers in story-telling
that the island was named " Liars' Island," and
the denizens, the " Forty Liars," it being held
that though only seven or eight in number, they
were equal in talent to the forty liars in story.
The miners evidently had in mind liars instead
of thieves. This club held regular meetings
which as many outsiders attended as room could
be found for in the small cabin club-room.
Whether a programme and subject for succeeding
meetings was given out at the close of the preceding ones, I cannot say; but the stories,
generally, were confined for the evening to one
subject, and each story might be commented on,
or reflected on without offence. The nature of
the stories is already apparent; the value of them
as efforts will appear from these samples. The
sagacity of animals appears to have been the
subject for the evening, and one narrator told
of a tame beaver an uncle of his possessed, which
happened one night to have been shut in the
parlour, where it had been entertaining some
visitors during the evening with its wonderful 292        EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
intelligence. In the night a water-pipe which
ran along the wall of the room burst, and soon
the water was flooding the apartment. The
beaver, true to its instinct, at once began to dam
the flood, cutting up and using for that purpose
all the furniture in the room, the piano included ;
using the chairs and sofa coverings and stuffing,
and the carpet on the floor in place of the mud
found in its native haunts to fill the interstices in
the dam, and make it watertight. In the morning,
when the household arose, they found the animal
" busy as a beaver," building up the dam to hold
the water in one part of the room. It had cut
down the door of the room and added it to the
dam, and was busy on the hall furniture when
they relieved it. A listener sagely remarked that
the feat only went to prove what he had known
since childhood, that the beaver was, it might
be said, superhuman in its intelligence and
capacity for work. He recalled some memories
of a beaver that belonged to his grandfather,
with which as a child he often played. His
grandfather kept a general store, and it happened
one evening that the beaver got into the basement
where the syrup, sugar, and other bulky commodities were kept. Now this particular evening
was unusually cold; some syrup was asked for,
an attendant went to the hogshead containing it,
opened the spigot, placed the measure under it,
and waited for the cold, thickened liquid to fill it. SOCIAL CUSTOMS
This took so long that the customer became
impatient, and his annoying importunity made
the clerk forget to close the spigot. The beaver
soon found the flowing stream, realized that
a serious loss would result if some preservative
measure were not at once taken; so laid itself
on its back with its open mouth under the spigot,
and swallowed the precious stuff as fast as it
descended. In the morning it was found at its
post still trying to hold the syrup as it flowed out,
though its capacity was being strained to the
breaking-point, the hogshead being about two-
thirds empty, having been almost full at the
start. The narrator of the " dam " story remarked, " That ain't a natural story by a dam
site." " Well," was the prompt response,
" haven't I the same site to tell a dam good story
that you have ? "
Another evening the subject of contest appeared to have been the quantity, or amount, of
camp supplies they had seen at any one time.
One of the club, named Steele, was famous as a
" spealer." He gravely told of having seen in his
experience in the mining camps in British
Columbia, many years before, one hundred and
thirty-nine cords of bacon piled on the bank
of the North Thompson River. Some one said,
" Ah ! come now, Steele, take off a cord or two " ;
" Not a G—d d—n rind," was the instant and
emphatic reply.    When the reader reflects that 294 EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
a cord is eight feet long, four wide, and four high/
he can form some idea of the size of the pile.
As to why Steele employed such unfamiliar terms
of bulk, each may decide for himself, but it is
evident a cord of bacon is much more original
as a definition than a ton, and leaves it to be
worked out just how much was there.
In a community where so many communistic
ideas prevail, it is needless to say class distinctions were prohibited, and any one who tried
to raise them was not only despised, but was
unmistakably shown that he was. The manager
of one of the big trading companies, who assumed
office a short time before the Klondike discovery,
came in with rather European ideas as to the
importance of his position. He had commercial
jurisdiction over all the Yukon valley and, the
miners thought, put on airs co-extensive with it.
He really was not a bad fellow, and by those
with whom he was acquainted was generally
highly esteemed. His exclusiveness, however,
did not go down with the miners, and they set
about conferring on him a title which they
imagined would accord with his own ideas of
his importance. At first, the " Duke of St.
Michael " was suggested, but that was soon rejected as too local; St. Michael was only a trading-
post, so the " Prince of Alaska " was tried for a
while, but that was not considered quite comprehensive enough ; it was generally believed the
gentleman considered himself infallible, so some
one suggested the " Pope," which stuck.
It is hardly necessary to say that religious feeling
or prejudice, one way or the other, had nothing
to do with the bestowal of this title. In such
cosmopolitan gatherings, where religious observances or exercises are very little practised, religious sentiments and prejudices soon become
dulled, and are often discussed, in not too
orthodox style. For myself, I might say I have
no feeling, and intend no disrespect to any
denomination in telling this story; to me it is a
story :  nothing more or less.
It happened that among the incomers about
this time was a rather elderly woman, with her
husband ; advisedly I have placed her first. She
had lived a fairly long frontier life, which, added
to her natural characteristics, gave her a widely
known and respected facility for expressing her
feelings in sharp, crisp, frontier style. The
husband had staked a Klondike claim in the first
days of the rush. Means they had not too much
of, so to help out, the wife took in laundry work,
and in her clientele was the family of the distinguished gentleman referred to. When the
proper season enabled work on the claim to be
done, messages began to come in from the husband, giving higher and higher values to the pans
as the work progressed. Visions of prospective
wealth   and    ease    appear    to   have   produced ti
negligence in the laundry, but as there was no
competition there could be no choice, and the
slighted work was borne to the limit of patience.
When, one day, our lofty friend returned a parcel
of botched garments by the hands of a messenger,
with a haughty, emphatic order, 1 to do the
clothes in a proper manner, and return them in a
proper condition ! " the, messenger delivered the
order word for word and tone for tone. The wife
was busy over the wash-tub at the time, but
straightened up, placed her arms akimbo, and
with an emphasizing nod of the head to every
word, said, " Tell the Pope to go plumb to h—1;
Jack's getting forty dollars to the pan now."
The story got out, and the old lady, as she was
styled, was, figuratively speaking, heartily slapped
on the back, and unanimously commended as a
good fellow. Had Jack's pans not yielded
plentifully, I verily believe a subscription would
have been taken up for them, the story was so
much enjoyed and applauded.
The worthy pair accumulated from numerous
forty-dollar pans a fortune that would have seemed
fabulous to them a year before that time, and are
now living in retired ease in a lovely home.
A FITTING conclusion to this, as to every
enterprise or labour, is " Home " ; home,
the miner's cabin, what he built it of, and
how he built it. What he built it of was always
what he could find adjacent to the site he chose,
and as the prevailing timber of the region is
spruce and poplar, the walls and roof consisted
of logs of those trees, of such size and length as the
party of one or more who were to house themselves in it could conveniently handle. The roof
consisted of small poles laid from ridge-pole to
the wall on either side ; on this series of beams,
as they might be termed, was put a layer of the
moss found so abundantly in the country, of a
depth of about a foot; on this was placed about
an equal thickness of the clay of the place. This
made a close, warm roof, and in summer-time,
unless the rain fell unusually heavy, it was dry too.
After the size of the building had been decided
on, a space somewhat larger in extent was cleared
of the surface moss, leaves, and sticks; on this
the two first logs were laid parallel to each other, 298        EARLY DAYS ON THE YUKON
the ends saddled to receive the notched ends of
themext pair of logs to be laid on the saddles
prepared for them. The ends of the last pair
were then saddled as with the first pair, and so on,
till the height of the walls was reached. On the
ends of the building walls sloped logs were laid,
and fastened to those below them by wedges or
pins, as proved most convenient to the builder;
on the apex of this slope was laid the ridge-beam
or beams, there being sometimes two, the height
of which above the side-walls determined the
slope of the roof. In the walls, as they rose, were
left openings for the door and window, or
windows, which were dressed to measure, and
squared after the walls were finished. The door
was made of slabs; it might be split from suitable
logs, or, if possible, whip-sawed from the same.
Very often the door was mounted on wooden
pin-hinges, made on the spot, as household hardware was not much dealt in in the earlier years of
the territorial settlements. Glass was often scarce,
and other means of admitting light through the
windows had to be substituted. Sometimes
untanned deer-hide, from which the hair had
been removed, was used; this was translucent
to a limited degree, but not by any means
transparent. Sometimes a bit of white cotton
canvas was used, and sometimes empty white
glass bottles or pickle jars were placed on end
on the window-sill, and the interstices between
^-■li« ■F«r      n
1 fu
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r^!n^8IR^                   vn ■ --   ^MPI
PFfflFITf "fHHfc^i  HOME 299
them stuffed with moss. Whatever method was
used to admit light, it made but little difference
in the result; for the intense frosts so soon
covered the surface of the media, that light was
practically shut out; indeed, in the long winter
nights, about twenty hours out of the twenty-four
windows were of very little use anyway, and in
the summer months the miner only used his
cabin to sleep in, and he invited darkness rather
than light.
The walls, door, and windows finished, the
spaces between the logs, and every other space
visible, was chinked, or stuffed, with moss, driven
in tight by suitably shaped sticks. The furniture
consisted of stools, the seats of which were hewn,
or sawed, from blocks of trees, and were supported
by three or four legs. Tables and beds were laid
on small beams, one end of which was driven
between two of the wall logs, and the other
supported by uprights driven into the ground.
On the bed, beams were laid parallel with the wall,
small poles, and on these grass, if it could be got,
and where it could not, the smaller branches of
the spruce tree ; on this mattress was spread the
blankets and other covering. Sleep on this
primitive bed was as sound as that enjoyed anywhere, and the food eaten off the rough, uncovered table tasted as well as if laid on the
finest mahogany. Table-ware consisted of tin
plates, tin cups, and the cheapest and strongest 3oo
of spoons, knives and forks. Cooking was
mostly done in frying-pans, called spiders, and
bake-kettles, or dutch-ovens, a cast-iron pot,
with a close-fitting top of the same metal. These
last were made in nests enclosed in one another
for convenience of packing.
Stoves were almost unknown at first, and fireplaces of rock were built in the cabin ; as an
opening in the top to let the smoke escape was
prohibited on account of the low temperatures,
these fire-places had to be closed on top, and at
the rear end continued to the roof in a chimney.
Sometimes, where suitable rock and good clay
could be found, these fire-places were rather
artistic in form and finish, and certainly very
comfortable, for the mass of rock, once heated,
retained the heat a long time. The size of the
cabin would shock a hygienist, as no account of
air-space was taken in the design, the first
consideration being warmth. It was not an
uncommon thing for a cabin, say sixteen feet by
eighteen, to house four or more men. My
winter quarters at the boundary for seven men
was twenty-two feet square inside, and was
thought palatial in dimension; it certainly was
in comfort, being well heated by a rock stove
three feet wide, three high, and eight long ; the
rear end, three feet square, continued in a chimney to the roof. All this mass of rock was bound
together by an excellent clay we found near. HOME 301
Ventilation was secured by two ventilators, one
long one bringing the cold fresh air down in
rear of the chimney, which heated it, and the
other one carried the heated foul air out at the
other end of the building. I never spent a more
comfortable winter in my life than in that house. APPENDIX
THE foregoing reminiscences by Mr. William
Ogilvie contain probably the most complete of
the several authentic accounts now extant of
the discovering, mapping, and settlement of " The
Empire's Furthest North." A surveyor and mathematician by training and inclination, he at the same time
possessed, to a rare degree, the qualities which gato make
up an exceptionally interesting raconteur. Thus, in the
exact detailing of the events which developed the Yukon
for Canada and the Empire, he does not lose sight of
any of the romance thereof. An illuminating character
sketch, a graphic story or some gem of colloquialism, aid
materially in imparting to the reader the true atmosphere.
After all, these men who opened up the North, while of
an heroic mould, were of our own flesh and blood. And
nowhere does Mr. Ogilvie fall into the error of regarding
the age of heroism as past. What they did was big.
That which they added to the known world was immense.
But with a little story or two he brings his heroes out of
the clouds down to our own level; and we grasp them
and understand them in a way quite impossible from the
reading of much more pretentious works than this book
of reminiscences of Mr. William Ogilvie.
With a modesty which is characteristic, the author APPENDIX 303
lays down his pen at the very point in the history of
Yukon where most men in the same position would have
taken it up to write. Mr. Ogilvie was practically the
first Governor of that territory. His predecessor, Major
Walsh, held the position but a few months, and the task
of laying the beginnings of a Government was left to Mr.
Ogilvie. It was under his hand that a vast wilderness in
the inaccessible North became a populous territory in a
single year. Distracted and torn with eagerness to possess
some of the marvellous flow of gold of which the world
was then talking, this army of adventurers had to be controlled. Laws had to be created for the administration of
the country, and the conditions were without precedent.
Ninety per cent of the people were aliens, and a hundred
per cent were individualistic to a remarkable degree.
There were neither mails nor telegraphs, neither roads
nor bridges. The only existent mining regulations were
completely inadequate. An army of officials had to be
created out of the most unpromising material, from men
mostly half mad from the craze for sudden wealth.
Every man spoke and thought for himself. The source of
all authority was at Ottawa, four thousand miles away,
requiring months in which to refer a single question or
to get a solitary ruling. Meanwhile the need was for
instant legislation—rulings on the moment, and it was
into this seething whirl of eagerness, discontent, greed,
and prodigality Mr. Ogilvie was cast as Governor or Commissioner in the summer of 1896. An entire system had
to be created. Advisers were plenty, for every man in
the country considered himself quite capable of suggesting a solution of every problem. But in the multitude of
counsel there was no wisdom, since very few agreed.
There was no precedent.   Mr. Ogilvie's powers as Com- I'
missioner were greater in many respects than the powers
of a governor elsewhere, but the Federal Government of
Ottawa still held the reins. All expenses were on a scale
of at least four to one—wages four times what they were
anywhere else in Canada ; and costs of supplies of all
kinds the same. And, while fabulously rich claims were
pouring out gold in disconcerting amounts, the value of
most of the ground was quite normal. The Federal
authorities at Ottawa were being advised by the Press and
public men to see to it that a share of Klondike's great
wealth found its way into the public coffers. Thus, for a
term, there was the inclination to say " No " to expensive
requisitions and to insist upon large taxes, which could
have easily been paid by certain of the fabulously rich
claims I have mentioned, but which spelled ruin for many
of the miners in the country.
Mr. Ogilvie did wonderful things in the situation I
have described. The best men available at that time were
drafted into the service. Mining regulations for mining
were devised. Civil courts and schools were established.
Mails were contracted for. Voluminous information was
dispatched. The criminal administration became the
model of the world. Multitudinous public grievances,
many of them most real and acutely serious, were abated
one by one. Order was gradually evolved out of chaos.
Departments were organized and authority segregated.
The whole work was colossal and epochal, and in his book
Mr. Ogilvie modestly lays it all aside with the naive suggestion that, from where he leaves off in his writings, the
rest may easily be taken up from the official records. He
only concerns himself with that which, else, might have
been lost for ever.
Since the closing of Mr. Ogilvie's narrative much has
happened. Yukon is down now to a business basis in
every way. The government of the country has been
largely delegated to its wholly elective council of ten
representatives, who meet as a little Parliament, elect a
speaker, impose local taxes, and arrange for disbursements.
With such a local body, immediately responsive to every
public wish and movement, one may easily forget the
difficulties besetting Yukon's first legislator.
In a material way the changes are still greater. The
fabulously rich claims of the early days have been worked
out, reworked by improved methods, and with much other
hand have fallen into the hands of companies able, by the
use of large capital and improved methods, to extract still
further amounts of gold therefrom. The developments
which Mr. Ogilvie in his book so clearly foresees have all
come about. To-day (1913) we have a fleet of thirteen
great dredges digging gold in the vicinity of Dawson.
These machines are all driven by electricity and run night
and day during the working season. Great hydraulic
mines are working on many of the hills on Bonanza and
Hunker creeks, and plans and works are under-way for
repeating this over the Divide in the Indian River watershed. The water to work the present hydraulics is brought
by a great ditch, with siphons and flumes of steel and
wood, for seventy-two miles over a range of mountains,
and is perhaps the longest in the world constructed for
that purpose.
Copper is to-day being successfully mined in the
vicinity of White Horse. Immense deposits of copper
ore have been discovered in the vicinity of White River,
and only await transportation to make them most valuable. Coal exists in large quantities in the territory, as is
demonstrated by the Geological Survey Department of I
Canada. Grazing is just beginning, and will in all probability develop into a thriving industry in the south-east
portion of the territory, where horses can live out all
winter and find fodder in the succulent grasses indigenous
to that section.
The future of this vast region is full of hope, as it is
generously endowed. The resources are rich and varied
and only await the pick of the prospector, the plough of
the farmer, and the advent of the horse and cattle rancher
to make it what one day it will truly be—Canada's great
	 m   L FS?'5f, 2
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