M.A. Theses: Thomas John Hammer, 1999

On the Periphery of the Klondike Gold Rush: Canyon City, An Archaeological Perspective

This thesis investigates an Upper Yukon River Klondike Gold Rush site known as Canyon City. Canyon City and other sites like it were integral, but peripheral to the Klondike Gold Rush. This study attempts to integrate the oral, archival and archaeological data to provide insights into the day-to-day life of the resident population at Canyon City during the Klondike Gold Rush, 1897-1900.

Over the course of four years, six localities within the former settlement were extensively tested. These include: the West Tent locality, the Canyon Hotel and Saloon, the NWMP Barracks, the Canyon and White Horse Rapids Tramway Co. building, the East Cabin and the Machine/Blacksmith Shop. A total of 17,695 artifacts and 156 faunal specimens were collected during the investigations.

It is argued that the company structured the inhabitants' day-to-day lives within this single industry town. This structuring is evident in the settlement characteristics such as the structured settlement layout, the lack of duplication of services, the predominately male population and the dependence of the residents on the company for sustenance. Although based on limited data, the settlement also appears to have been organized socially the workers and the owners. Furthermore, the cultural remains and architectural data suggest the general nature of the site was expedient and utilitarian, which not only reflects the logistical problems faced by Klondike era settlements but also the economic motivation of the townsite's owners.

The abandonment behavior present at Canyon City appears to have largely been determined by company interests. Except for the East Cabin, which burned with much of its contents still intact, the site underwent planned, permanent abandonment.

Since the investigations carried out at Canyon City were the first of its kind on the Upper Yukon River, it is unknown whether or not Canyon City can be considered a typical settlement in this area. Work is needed at similar settlements along the Upper Yukon to better illuminate their role in the Klondike Gold Rush and their significance in the development of the Yukon.