Exploring the Great Northwest along the Yukon River

Along the Yukon

Along the Yukon

The title of this jigsaw puzzle, “Along the Yukon” is rather interesting. The phrase “The Yukon” could refer to the Yukon River or to The Yukon Territory. The picture doesn’t help me identify the possible subject. Indeed, without the title this could be a general picture of the northwestern part of North America during the mid-20th century.

As the third largest river in North America, the Yukon River starts in northern British Colombia, goes through Yukon then cuts horizontally through the middle of Alaska until it empties in the ocean. According to the website Yukoninfo, in Canada “during the Klondike Gold Rush the Yukon River was one of the principal means of transportation. Paddle-wheel riverboats continued to ply the river until the 1950s, when the Klondike Highway was completed.” It is also a major avenue of transportation through the center of Alaska. In Alaska, it connects some small indigenous towns which have less than 1,000 people in them. Thus, the picture could refer to the towns along the river that benefit from its resources.

But the title could refer to the major communities of Whitehorse and Dawson City in the Yukon Territory in Canada. Along the way, the Yukon River goes through Whitehorse which is the largest city in Northern Canada and only city in Yukon. In fact, 65% of all Yukonites live in Whitehorse. Whitehorse became the territorial capital in the 1950s with a population of almost 3,000 people. Before that the capital had been another community along the Yukon River named Dawson City [which is not currently an official city], but with the construction of the Klondike Highway the population shifted to Whitehorse. Both municipalities in the Yukon Territory could fit this picture due to their buildings’ architecture and to having paved streets. The towns along the Yukon River in Alaska, such as Fort Yukon and Pitkas Point, have always have been very small with buildings and streets that do not resemble this picture.  They also were not connected with the Klondike Goldrush like Whitehorse and Dawson City were.

The Klondike Goldrush existed for a few short years in the 1890s in this area but according to Wikipedia, gold mining is still in the top 2 for industry in Dawson City. This would make sense since the goldrush started here upon the discovery of an excellent form of gold. To this day, the architecture of this town still must resemble that of the 1890s. This is because the other main industry of this town is tourism. Tourists love to visit the area where the goldrush started and brought tens of thousands of prospectors around 120 years ago.

Did you know? American author, Jack London, lived in Dawson City during this time, too. He wrote Call of the Wild and White Fang while he was there. Based on all of this information, I suspect that the theme of the picture refers to life in Dawson City during its heyday in the mid 1950s.

As you and your loved ones assemble this car jigsaw puzzle, it would be a great time to research more about Alaska, Yukon Territory, the Yukon River, the Klondike Highway, the Klondike Gold Rush and Jack London to help get a real feel for the background of this picture. If you have loved ones who love great adventure this would be a great springboard for discussions about exploring the great Canadian and Alaskan north.



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