Canadian History for Kids!
Sketches of Canada for August 16th!
August 16, 1896 is the anniversary of the discovery of Gold that set off the Klondike Gold Rush. But was it George Washington Carmack who discovered the gold? This Canadian History for Kids, Sketches of our Canada, looks at George Carmack and the Klondike gold rush.
This Canadian History for Kids article begins on August 16, 1896 when an American prospector named George Carmack, his Tagish wife Kate Carmack, her brother Skookum Jim and their nephew Dawson Charlie were travelling south of the Klondike River. Following a suggestion from another prospector, they began looking for gold on Bonanza Creek, then called Rabbit Creek. It is not clear who discovered the gold: George Carmack or Skookum Jim, but the group agreed to let George Carmack appear as the official discoverer because they feared that mining authorities would be unwilling to recognize a claim made by a native.
Gold was found along the river in huge quantities. Carmack had four claims, strips of ground that could later be legally mined by the owner, along the river; these including two for himself—one as his normal claim, the second as a reward for having discovered the gold—and one each for Jim and Charlie. The claims were registered next day at the police post at the mouth of the Forty mile River and news spread rapidly from there to other mining camps in the Yukon River valley.
By the end of August, all of Bonanza Creek had been claimed by miners. A prospector then went up into one of the creeks feeding into Bonanza, later to be named Eldorado Creek. He discovered new sources of gold there, which would prove to be even richer than those on Bonanza. Claims began to be sold between miners and speculators for large sums. Just before Christmas, word of the gold finds reached Circle City. Despite the winter, many prospectors instantly left for the Yukon by dog-sled, excited to reach the region before the best claims were taken. The outside world was still largely unaware of the news and although Canadian officials had managed to send a message to their superiors in Ottawa about the gold finds and the quickly increasing arrival of prospectors, the government did not give the matter much attention. The ice disallowed river traffic over the winter and it was not until June 1897 that the first boats left the area, carrying the freshly mined gold and the full story of the discoveries.
The Klondike Gold Rush was on.
But who actually discovered the gold? George Washington Carmack or Skookum Jim? Recently we have learned that the gold find was the result of a tip by a Canadian prospector, Robert Henderson, now credited as co-discoverer.
And that’s this week’s Canadian History for Kids, Sketches of our Canada.