Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
January 2005

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia



Klondike, the name of a gold-bearing region of undetermined extent in the Yukon territory, comprising the valley of the Klondike river and adjacent valleys. The Klondike river is a tributary of the Yukon river, which flows into it at Dawson. The name Klondike is an English corruption of that given to the river by the Athapaskans, Trondiuck, meaning "hammerwater", and having reference to the fact that, since the river was a famous salmon-run, "barriers of stakes were driven [by the Indians] across the mouth to compel the salmon to enter the traps set for them". The discovery of gold in the valley of the Klondike took place in the summer of 1896. Previous to this gold had been found on the Yukon river at Circle City in Alaska and at Forty-Mile creek in the Yukon Territory ; but these finds had not been spectacular. The richness of the gold found in the gravel-bars of the creeks in the Klondike region was such that in 1897 there took place into this region, by way of the difficult White and Chilkoot passes, one of the greatest gold-rushes in history. Dawson became almost overnight a city of 10,000 people; and from the richer creeks, such as Bonanza and Eldorado, fortunes were garnered. The gold production in the Yukon territory reached its maximum in 1900, with a production of 1,350,057 oz. of fine gold, having a value of $22,000,000. Since then the production has gradually declined, until in 1934 it was only 38,799 oz. of fine gold, with a value of $1,338,566.


The literature relating to the Klondike is voluminous. In 1897 over 20 books descriptive of the Klondike were published; and this was only the beginning of a stream of literature which has not yet ceased, most of it dealing with the experiences of individuals in the gold-rush. The most important items are probably William Ogilvie, The Klondike official guide (Toronto, 1898), and Early days on the Yukon (Toronto, 1913). But especial mention may be made also of J. H. E. Secretan, To Klondike and back (London, 1898), J. M. Price, From Euston to Klondike (London, 1898), W. B. Haskell, Two years in the Klondike (Hartford, Connecticut, 1898), A. Heilprin, Alaska and the Klondike (New York, 1899), R. Auzias-Turenne, Voyage au pays des mines d'or, le Klondike (Paris, 1899), F. Palmer, In the Klondike (New York, 1899), L. Boillot, Aux mines d'or du Klondike (Paris, 1899), R. C. Kirk, Twelve months in the Klondike (London, 1899), Mary E. Hitchcock, Two women in the Klondike (New York, 1899), A. N. C. Treadgold, An English expert on the Klondike (Toronto, 1899), T. Adney, The Klondike stampede (New York, 1900), J. I,. Spurr, Through the Yukon gold diggings (Boston, 1900), J. Lynch, Three years in the Klondike (London, 1904), N. E. Keeler, A trip to Alaska and the Klondike (Cincinnati, 1906), Hon. Stratford Tollemache, Reminiscences of the Yukon (Toronto, 1912), J. S. McLain, Alaska and the Klondike (New York, 1915), A. T. Walden, A dog-puncher in the Yukon (Boston, 1928), Elizabeth Page, Wild horses and gold (New York, 1932), G. W. Carmack, My experiences in the Yukon (n.p., 1933), M. L. Davis, Sourdough gold (Boston, 1933), and R. A. Bankson, The Klondyke Nugget (Caldwell, Idaho,1933).

Source : W. Stewart WALLACE. Ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. III, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 396p., pp. 343-344.


© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College