Jack Sam and dog

New transportation and communication links brought great change to settlements and communities. The Han people saw the site of their fish camp at the mouth of the Klondike River transformed into Dawson City. Whitehorse developed from a seasonal fish camp into a busy transfer point at the head of rail.

The sternwheelers travelled the waterways for more than 50 years linking the small settlements along the rivers and lakes. Many trading posts, communities and wood camps grew up along the sternwheeler routes and the winter roads.

The Yukon, once home only to small scattered groups of people, now also had larger, more settled, permanent communities with schools, roads and services. Until the 1940s, many First Nations people continued to live on the land away from settled areas.

As gold mining declined, Dawson shrank to a fraction of its former size; in 1923, the Mayo area, with its silver-lead production, overtook the Klondike as the main mineral region in the territory. Some settlements, at the mercy of mining fortunes, boomed for a short time and then declined into ghost towns.

Transportation continued to change and develop. With the end of the riverboat traffic, communities shifted again, away from the rivers that had once been the territory’s lifeblood to the new all-weather highways.


In the early days, a roadhouse was a home away from home for people travelling on the Yukon’s roads. The roadhouses offered food and accommodation, plus shelter for horses, and were welcome stops in the cold winter months.

“Dutch Henry at Minto Bridge had served in clean and bountiful Dutch style with gentle reprimands of ‘Cut oudt der shenanigans’, if there was any disorderliness”.

Aaro Aho

YA, MS 82/161

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