Today was Tour the Town day with a Parks Canada guide dressed in period costume from its glory days of 1898. Some of the buildings were rebuilt after being destroyed in fires, some just restored. The Red Feather Saloon was rebuilt down to the smallest detail from old photographs. Other buildings were left in their state of distress to show what happens due to permafrost. She explained the changing roles of the people and vendors in town over the years.
When the gold ran out and there were reports of gold in Alaska, the sourdoughs moved on and the town diminished. The town was nearly a ghost town by the 1950’s when the highway was built on its way to Alaska. So the remaining people started restoring the town as a tourist stop. It was very interesting learning about the people of 1897 and how the town came to be, starting with the gold seekers and the vendors that followed; how the river was so important to transportation and the growth of the city.
The city grew on the Yukon River around the First Nations people, the Trondeks. They lived and worked peacefully with the Europeans & Americans that came for gold. Their chief did not want to loose their culture and moved them north of town to keep them from the debauchery & alcohol. We visited the Heritage Center that told of their history.
One of Dawson’s notable citizens was Robert Service, along with author Jack London, whose works were based on the stories from the sourdoughs and other pioneer people of frontier. We enjoyed an evening performance of Robert Service’s poems and a history of his life by a Parks Canada guide, also dressed in period costume. He treated us to the first draft (which was discarded) of the poem “The Shooting of Dan McGrew”.