Capital of Yukon: Dawson City

In the late 19th century the Yukon had a very small population most of whom were aboriginal. Anthropologist Catharine McClellan has estimated that there was possibly an average of less than a single person in a hundred square kilometres. Small groups of miners and trappers also lived here, working along some of the territory’s creeks and rivers.

There was little government presence; the territory was then still a provisional district of the Northwest Territory, and was governed from Regina. But in October 1897 the Yukon was “elevated to the dignity of a District”; the following year, on June 13, 1898, the Yukon Territory officially came into being.

At that time the territory was governed by Commissioner and Council who were appointed by Ottawa. It was another five years before the first Federal Minister visited the Yukon and ten years before the Yukon had an elected, and not an appointed, council. In the 1970s the territorial government adopted its present form. The territory’s status is similar to that of a province, although unlike provincial powers, territorial powers are derived from the Parliament of Canada and may be changed by Parliament. Most Yukon communities have a municipal government today.

In 1973 Yukon First Nations people began to negotiate land claims agreements with the federal and territorial governments, formalizing their arrangements over self-government, land-use, wildlife, education, justice and heritage. Today land claims legislation is enshrined in the Canadian constitution. These new partnerships give all Yukon people the opportunity to share in the responsibilities of government.