52 Ancestors: Week 27 – Finding Ancestors in Yukon Newspapers

This week\’s 52 Ancestors theme is \”Independent\”. When I think independent, the first thing that comes to my mind is those that settled in the Yukon. Whether the attraction was the gold rush in last years of the 19th century, or homesteaders going off the grid in the 20th and 21st centuries, the Yukon has always attracted those with an independent spirit.

One of the problems with Yukon research is that the records just aren\’t there like in the more settled areas of Canada. According to Statistics Canada, the population of the Yukon in 2017 was estimated to be just under 40,000. That\’s present day. Can you imagine how sparsely populated it was in the late 1890s, when 100,000 gold seekers descended on the area in the space of 3 years.

Though civil registration started in the Yukon in about the same time as the Gold Rush, it was sporadic at best. It wasn\’t until about 1930 that it was a standard practice to record births, marriages and deaths. Early church records are dependent on the diligence of the missionaries. Anyone who has tried to research missionary church records in other areas of Canada know that they can be haphazard at best, and non existent at worst.

Newspapers were an important source of information for the sparsely populated areas in general. I imagine they would have been especially important for those in the Yukon. Even if your ancestor didn\’t permanently settle in the Yukon, newspapers might your best chance of finding a record of them while they passed through. Here\’s a few interesting tidbits I found looking through Yukon newspapers:

In Dawson City in 1903, there was a growing problem of \”women offenders\”:

Apparently in 1901 in Whitehorse, a Mr. Fred Trump felt the need to let everyone know that he no longer employed a Mr. Ernest Levin, and was no longer responsible for the man\’s debts:

Here\’s one about a young man having his feet frozen from the Klondike Nugget in 1898. He had falsely been reported dead in Seattle newspapers.

So where to find newspapers?

Google News Archive
This is an underused resource by many genealogists i general. They have several runs of digitized newspapers from the Yukon. These are not complete runs by any means. However, the digital images are incredibly clear and sharp. I\’ve provided links to the newspapers I\’ve found:

Yukon Archives
The Yukon Archives has both microfilmed and original newspapers. Along with Yukon newspapers, they also have collections of newspapers from cities in North America that were also affected by the Gold Rush. They participate in inter library loan, which is exciting. You can find their contact information here. This is what their website says about their newspaper collection:
…The newspaper collection consists of over 50 individual mastheads, including the Dawson Daily News, 1899-1953; Klondike Nugget, 1898-1903; Yukon Sun, 1899-1904; Whitehorse Star, 1901-to date, and other early Yukon newspapers in their original form and on microfilm. To augment local coverage, the Archives has microfilm of 1897-1898 papers from major North American cities which were affected by the Gold Rush; such as Seattle, San Francisco, Edmonton and Vancouver. The Archives also subscribes to more than 40 northern oriented current newspapers, including Yukon community papers…

The Yukoner
This free history magazine has biographies, historical accounts, photos and stories. They were 32 issues, and they are free to download from the site.

Of course Canadiana would have digitized newspapers. Is there anything this site doesn\’t have? A search of Yukon newspapers gave me:

While searching for your Yukon adventurer, don\’t forget to check out Northern British Columbia and Alaskan newspapers. Both places often reported on what was going on in the Yukon. This is especially true not only during the Gold Rush, but when the Alaska Highway was being built.

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