Category Archives: Gold Rush

Sourdough Rendezvous: Carrying the “flour pack”



DSC_0223DSC_0015DSC_0019DSC_0172   DSC_0237DSC_0240DSC_0247DSC_0256DSC_0262DSC_0269What is this dangling chair? It’s a steel backpack frame able to carry hundreds of pounds; the rig for the annual flour pack.

This Yukon test of strength goes back to the gold rush. In the 1890s the RCMP required people crossing the Chilkoot Trail to carry six months’ provisions when entering Canada.

Men and women would travel back and forth across the trail carrying flour, coffee, lard, preserves, candles, dry meat, clothing, lanterns, oil, tools, mining equipment and all manner of supplies.

This year the women’s gold medal winner walked a short distance carrying 530 pounds on her back.

The Flour Pack record is apparently more than 800 pounds for men.

(Safety note: The backpack is suspended by chains. The chains are kept loose and a supporting rig is wheeled along by assistants as the contestant slowly moves forward. If a person falls the backpack doesn’t crush them.)


Sourdough Rendezvous 2014: Celebrating 50 years



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Whitehorse marks the Sourdough Rendezvous every year. It comes at a time when the sun is returning and people look forward to spring.

The name “sourdough” is of course a type of bread which was brought to this region in Gold Rush times and came to mean experienced miners.

Sourdough Rendezvous has a lot of fur on display. There is snow carving, music and outdoor games for the love of winter.

Unusual parka: Feathers on the outside

parka (Large) parka2 (Large)An unusual parka seen at the MacBride Museum of Yukon History. It is made from about 70 ducks and loons.

People wear goose-down parkas today but they are usually stuffed with loose down like a pillow. This design of a coat — with the feathers on the outside, the birds kept round and packed against each other — is very unique.


There’s carrots in them hills

DSC_0176 (Large)There’s some agriculture in Yukon and it’s a growing industry. Here we see a bag of carrots purchased at the local Extra Foods.

A lot of Yukon products seem to feature a bearded, Gold Rush panner on the label.


The Sourtoe: Whiskey in Dawson City with a human toe

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It’s one of Dawson City’s most bizarre and endearing traditions.

The world-famous “Sourtoe cocktail” is a shot of strong whiskey containing a human toe.

The goal is to drink the whiskey and have the toe slide down the glass and touch your lips. For $5 a Toe Captain will read you the story of its origin when local eccentric Captain Dick Stevenson found the toe in a jar and decided to set up this dare.

“You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow…must your lips must touch the toe,” goes the saying.

Like any club’s initiation the SourToe endures because people love a good rite of passage.

Drinking the sourtoe might take a few beers to “build up courage.” There is dread, building up to one unforgettable second followed by relief and high-fives, pats on the back and common stories about how people almost threw up.

Such are the things that make friends out of strangers and create good stories told years later.

Today on the news it was revealed that an American traveller went to drink the toe and have it touch his lips, instead decided to swallow it. The reaction was loud and many people aound the web have learned about the “sourtoe” today.


Chilkoot Trail: The Golden Stairs

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(Notice the two hikers in this image….click to enlarge. They are on the snowy section)

The Chilkoot Trail includes a summit crossing from the US to the Canadian side.

The day begins at Sheep Camp and most climbers will take more than 8 hours to arrive to Happy Camp.  Those climbing are advised to be walking by 6am due to avalanche risk in some seasons and also to mitigate any delays.

The scenery changes from forest to moss-covered rocks with snow. Planning for the Chilkoot includes carrying some cold-weather gear. At some points the climb is at a  45-degree angle over large angular boulders which resemble the long-settled results of a rock slide.

Climbers are welcomed by the Canadian flag and a Parks Canada cabin at the summit.

This climb was the 3rd day of the itinerary.Chilkoot - 5 day plan

Chilkoot Trail: Artefacts left behind

DSCF7123_1024x768 DSCF7210_1024x768 P1010197_1024x768 P1010200_1024x768 P1010290_1024x768 P1010293_1024x768 P1010295_1024x768Walking along the Chilkoot trail you see historic artfacts: pieces of metal, old shoes, horse bones and other detritus.

Seeing these items makes you reflect on the mindset of the pioneers who tried carrying these heavy items across the trail and *gave up* right there. Some artefacts are a monument to failure.

Other artefacts are leftovers from cable-cars, telegraph lines and even tent cities that were installed during the 1898-99 stampede.