Population: Approximately 2,020
Dawson City is the heart of the Klondike Gold Rush! An incredible community that has preserved its past, Dawson City invites you to turn back the pages of time and experience a rich living history. Meander the wooden boardwalks and visit national historic treasures. Join interpretative programs and amazing special events. Tour the Klondike Gold Fields and try your luck panning for gold. YES! We still have operating gold mines. Participate in unforgettable First Nations tours and Wilderness Adventures. Spend a night on the town in one of the most entertaining communities of the North, home to Diamond Tooth Gerties Casino - Canada’s first legalized gambling hall. Without a doubt, you’ll need a week to see it all!
Gold, discovered in 1896 on nearby creeks, caused the Klondike Gold Rush which turned this native summer fish camp at the junction of the Klondike and Yukon Rivers into the "Paris of the North". (The natives moved downstream to Moosehide.) The town was staked out by Joe Ladue and named after George M. Dawson, Director of the Geological Survey of Canada, who explored the region in 1887.
In 1898, Dawson was the largest Canadian city west of Winnipeg (40,000 people) with telephone service, running water and steam heat. Elaborate hotels, theaters and dance halls were erected, with Andrew Carnegie donating $25,000 towards the building of a library in 1903. During 1899 the stampede for gold came to an end, and 8,000 people left Dawson that summer. By 1902, the population was down to less than 5,000. In 1902, Dawson was officially incorporated as a city. It was the seat of the Territorial Government from 1898.
Major mining operations took over most of the Klondike gold beds in the years following the Gold Rush, but production declined after an all-time high in 1911. Higher gold prices caused a minor boom in the 1930's, but the last dredge was shut down in 1966. The Yukon's economic center shifted to Whitehorse, which became the capital in 1953. Whitehorse was more accessible than Dawson due to the building of the Alaska Highway and cessation of riverboat travel.
Today, tourism and gold mining are the major industries, both taking place during the summer months. Approximately 60,000 people visit Dawson City each year.
Numerous old wooden buildings throughout Dawson have been restored and a number of others are in various stages of rehabilitation, the majority of these projects being completed by Parks Canada, Klondike National Historic Sites. Walking tours of historic sites are available to visitors from June to September each year. Restored buildings include the Palace Grand Theater, Post Office, Dawson Daily News, Bank of British North America, Territorial Government Administration Building, Court House, Yukon Hotel, Commissioner's Residence, Robert Service Cabin, Macaulay House, Black Residence and the CO's residence. Canada's only legalized gambling hall, bar and Can-Can show, "Diamond Tooth Gertie's Gambling Hall", operates during the summer tourist season.
Placer mining to recover gold takes place on the nearby creeks and rivers. Mining activity can be seen from the roads on Bonanza and Hunker Creeks. Remnants of dredges can be seen throughout the Klondike, and Parks Canada has restored Dredge #4 on Bonanza Creek.
Dawson is also the regional center for highway maintenance, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Forestry and Mine Recording.