First stop on Day 2 was the Braeburn lodge that my Dad told me had really big cinnamon buns we should check out. He wasn’t kidding!

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Cinnamon buns at the Braeburn lodge. Ate it for 3 days and still couldn’t finish it!

The drive up to Dawson City is really nice. There were a bunch of pull offs with historic sites.

Jeff driving in the Yukon!
Jeff driving in the Yukon!

 

Scenery was beautiful everywhere!
Scenery was beautiful everywhere!
Much of the Yukon is burned regularly in forest fires. This one in 1998 was caused by a camper's campfire. Crews fought the fire all summer. It burned underground in the winter and was extinguished the next spring. It cost $2.2 million to fight.
Much of the Yukon is burned regularly in forest fires. This one in 1998 was caused by a camper’s campfire. Crews fought the fire all summer. It burned underground in the winter and was extinguished the next spring. It cost $2.2 million to fight.
I think these folks were all travelling together.
I think these folks were all travelling together.
If memory serves correct, this was the bridge at Carmacks over the Yukon River. Pierre Berton said in his Drifting Home book, that this bridge is too low and will never allow steamboats to travel down the Yukon again.
If memory serves correct, this was the bridge at Carmacks over the Yukon River. Pierre Berton said in his Drifting Home book, that this bridge was built too low and will never allow steamboats to travel down the Yukon River to Dawson City ever again.
The Five Fingers rapids on the Yukon River. Islands separate the rapids here into 5 routes. Only the eastern one, or the one on the right when you're heading down river, was recommended, and was the one the steamships used.
The Five Fingers rapids on the Yukon River. Islands separate the rapids here into 5 routes. Only the eastern one, or the one on the right when you’re heading down river, was recommended, and was the one the steamships used.

Dawson City

I could move to Dawson City today, if I could find a way for Jeff to do his job from 4 time zones away 😉 I fell hard for Dawson.

Dawson City and the Klondike region was the scene of the 1898 gold rush, and the gold rush is still going on in various forms there today.

Some of the shops on Front Street
Some of the shops on Front Street

The streets are all dirt, except for Front street, where special pavement without bitumen was brought in from France so it would look like dirt. It was only done because the dust from the dirt road was just too unbearable in the summer in the Front street shops.

Intersection of Third Ave and King Street, Dawson City
Intersection of Third Ave and King Street, Dawson City

The sidewalks are all wooden. Many old buildings, or rebuilt old buildings, are in Dawson City. It is a historical town where people are really laid back, and although there are many summer tourists, it doesn’t feel really touristy (like Skagway, Alaska).

The first evening we spent with my Dad’s cousin Veronica and her partner Rick. What a night! You should always greet a new town with locals 🙂

Here is “The Pit”. It is a famous bar that is open year round in Dawson.

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The Westminster Hotel – an original building from 1898
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The bar on the main floor is known locally as “The Pit”. There is so much history in this place, so many stories and legends!

We had dinner at Klondike Kate’s and I had the best plate of food I’ve ever had in my life. If you’re ever in Dawson City, or even within 3 days drive of it, you have to go to Klondike Kate’s and order the Chicken Little. It is a nice big hot sandwich with smoked chicken, cheese, avocado, bbq sauce, bacon, etc. So big and smokey and juicy you’ll need a stack of napkins handy as the juice drips up your arms to your elbows each time you take a bite. Make sure you wash it down with a Yukon Gold beer or two.

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The Downtown Hotel – the place to go if you’re looking for the Toe Captain.

After dinner we decided to go look for the toe captain. It was time to join the Sourtoe Cockail Club. What’s that you ask? Well to join the Sourtoe Cocktail club, you need to take a drink with a toe in it. Yes a real toe.

“You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow, but the lips have gotta touch the toe”.

The original toe was found by eccentric Dawson sourdough Dick Stevenson in an abandoned cabin. It was apparently a self-amputated, frostbitten toe of a gold miner from the 1920’s. Using that toe, Stevenson created the sourtoe cocktail club in 1973. The toe has been replaced with donor toes several times over the years. The fine is now $2500 if you swallow the toe.

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Here’s the toe! On a bed of coarse salt to keep it preserved 🙂
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I so badly wanted to do this for so long, but was so sure I would gag. A few beers before the occasion was my key to success!
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There was a group in the bar with black cowboy hats. One of them wanted me to do it first, and then call them all pussies so they’d do it too!
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And there it goes! In a shot of Yukon Jack. The toe was so big, it got a little stuck in the glass and then fell on my lips. Yum!

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Jeff’s turn!
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The toe got super stuck for him too! He had to tap on the glass to get the toe to fall on to his lips!
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One more shot of that toe for you!

After the excitement, Rick grabbed a 6 pack of Corona for us from The Pit (off-sales are permitted here), and we headed up to the midnight dome overlooking Dawson City.

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DSC_0088 Dawson City. You can see the Klondike River joining with the Yukon River here.
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In this shot you can see the tailings left by a dredge in the front (look like snakey rows of dirt), and you can see bench cuts along the hills off into the distance.

We went on a short hike with Veronica and Rick to another look out and they showed me all the plants that are edible in the area. Who thinks now-a-days of foraging for food? Why don’t we? I ate a spruce tip. Never thought of eating  the new growth off a spruce tree before. It was really good!

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Veronica and I

It was probably 11pm or so in the above photo. The sun doesn’t set in Dawson except for a few hours after 1am, and even then, it isn’t dark at all. I really came to love the midnight sun!

We stayed at the Gold Rush Campground for a couple of nights. It is right in town. Really just a parking lot for RVs and vans and a few tents, but super convenient because you can walk everywhere. It had showers (that took tokens they sell) and had a nice laundromat.

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On our second day in Dawson, we reorganized our plans to squeeze in a dinner cruise on the river, but not enough people signed up so it was cancelled 🙁

We did take an early morning walking tour of the town with Parks Canada. They own many of the old historical properties in town and preserve them for the future. They showed us a few of the old buildings and other notable buildings in town.

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Masonic Hall. Looks extravagant, but on closer inspection, the outside is just pressed tin pieces over a regular old building. All the detail is all tin.
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So much energy went into getting things to Dawson City over the last 140 years or so, that nothing much ever leaves.
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Cabin on Front Street.
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The S.S. Keno, a sternwheeler that once travelled the Yukon River between Dawson City and Whitehorse.
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This is the old bank on Front Street. Also entirely decorated with pressed decorative tin. Robert Service was a teller here in 1904. It may be restored some day, but for now it sits empty.
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Dawson City’s radio station.
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Our walking tour group approaching the old BNA Bank on the the right.
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Behind the counter of the old bank, now preserved by Parks Canada.

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Building on permafrost requires special footings. The goal it to not melt the permafrost with the heat of your building, or it will sink into the ground. Buildings often have to be re-levelled. Our guide said it isn’t uncommon to see a building moved onto the street for new footings to be put in.
These buildings were left untouched from 1901 to show what permafrost will do to a building if they aren't lifted off the ground to prevent the melting of the permafrost.
These buildings were left untouched from 1901 to show what permafrost will do to a building if they aren’t lifted off the ground to prevent the melting of the permafrost.
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Red Feather Saloon, recreated by Parks Canada based on photos inside the original.
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The old post office. Designed by Ottawa and totally impractical and impossible to heat. Was used just in the summer months before it closed and was replaced by a new modern little post office.
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Behind the counter at the old post office.

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By lunch we were headed out of town to the old Dredge #4. It was the biggest wooden hulled dredge until the record was recently beat by a dredge in New Zealand. It was built in 1912 for the Canadian Klondike Mining Company and worked in the Klondike Valley on the “Boyle Concession” until 1940 and then was relocated to Bonanza Creek and worked until 1959. It was partially sunk in the mud for years, but was saved and partially restored by Parks Canada.

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These mining dredges floated in their own ponds they made as they chewed through the land. They could be heard for miles because they didn’t grease anything (grease would make the gold float out of the sluice boxes with the water). Water canals and hydro power allowed the dredges to be powered by electricity.
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Inside the dredge.
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Sarah, our tour guide, who was raised in a placer gold mining family and was very knowledgable.

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In the afternoon, we squeezed in a visit to the Dawson City Museum before they closed for the day. DSC_0222

We were able to catch a demo of the old shaker boxes that worked like a big gold pan to separate gold from the dirt.DSC_0223

Then they demonstrated how to refine the gold and melt it into a gold bar.DSC_0224

Beside the museum is a huge shed holding the old train engines. There was a short rail line in Dawson City back in the gold rush days that helped bring firewood to town. It was so efficient, they had enough wood for a couple years and shut down the trains.DSC_0234 DSC_0236

That night we went to Diamond Tooth Gertie’s. It is a gambling hall, bar, with live entertainment. Gertie and her cancan dancing girls put on 3 shows each time, which each one becoming a little more risque as the night goes on. We caught the middle show and gambled a bit. It is a non-profit operation owned by the Klondike Visitors Association that reinvests all the profits into the community to preserve historic sites, produce local events and tourist attractions, and to promote the Klondike as a tourist destination. You need to buy a $12 membership card to get in, but it is good for the entire year.

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After the show, and a couple of Yukon Gold’s, we each grabbed a slice of pizza from Big Al’s (inside Gertie’s) and walked back to the campground in the midnight sun.

Here’s a photo from inside our van before we cleaned up and went to sleep.

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Lisa

Lisa (Verkley) Schuyler is a blogger reporting live from her new home in Canada’s Yukon Territory. Often found wearing a hoodie, covered in pet hair, Lisa is a mis-placed forester who now spends her days engineering happiness for WordPress users. Lisa loves nature, animals, and most importantly, her handsome husband Jeff.

3 Replies to “2014 Vacation: Whitehorse -> Dawson City

  1. Wow Lisa!! What an awesome job you did! The pictures are so clear; you must have a good camera. But you are a great photographer too…lol. I read one of Pierre Burton’s books, the one where he packed up his whole family ( he had a lot of kids!) and went to the Klondike on a vacation. I loved the book, and always wondered what Dawson City looked like. Thanks for sharing your journey with us, I am really enjoying it….Regards, Gail

  2. Looks like you had an amazing trip!! I finally got to Dawson a few years ago too and absolutely fell in love with it. One of my best friends is from Whitehorse, so we did the road trip to Dawson one summer while there and stayed for a few days. On a sad note, I don’t have ONE single photo from that trip. I’m an avid photo freak and even had two cameras with me in Dawson. One of them was a new digital camera borrowed from my friend’s mom in Whitehorse (this was over 10 years ago, so it wasn’t that great quality anyway) but we never uploaded the pics before leaving (and she can’t find them). I also had my SLR film camera and took at least 2 rolls of film but can’t find those either. Strange, as this is never happened to me even with one camera, let alone two! I was sorely disappointed as I have no photo momentos from Dawson, but great memories at least. Hopefully one of the film rolls will show up, or maybe even the digital pics someday 😀 Thanks for the walk down memory lane, I love all your pics. If it wasn’t for the short winter days, I’d move to Dawson City tomorrow 😀

  3. Hi Roadtrip Cowgirl! I think you’ll have to make another road trip, just to get more photos! We loved Dawson City so much, we talk about moving there every day. We love the cold and winter, so maybe some day we’ll do it! It sure is a special place.

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