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History of the Book in Canada: The Yukon

Few published scholarly resources exist to facilitate development of a history of the book in Yukon. Fundamental work has gathered together basic resources but print culture in Yukon is largely unmapped territory. This paper will suggest avenues by which to approach the mass of archival material available, and attempt to raise historiographical concerns pertinent to authorship, printing, publishing, and reading in Yukon.


Yukon, a territory located in the northwestern-most corner of Canada, boasts an area of 483,450 square kilometres and a population of 3,610 Native people and approximately 24,045 non-Native residents. Two events have indelibly marked Yukon history into three periods: the discovery of gold on Rabbit Creek near present-day Dawson in August 1896 and the construction of the Alaska Highway in 1942. Explorers, traders, and missionaries were relatively few in comparison to the indigenous population prior to 1896. The discovery of gold precipitated an unprecedented migration of people to the territory, particularly the Klondike area near Dawson that gave its name to the rush. The migration firmly established print culture in the territory.

The Klondike gold rush spawned numerous mining ventures and natural resources invested Yukon with significant economic importance. The Second World War (1939-1945) lent it a strategic value. The eruption of hostilities between Japan and the United States in December 1941 at Hawaii highlighted the susceptibility of the Pacific coast of North America to enemy attack; alarmingly, the Aleutian Islands were closer to Tokyo than to Seattle. To improve military access to Alaska the United States government decided to build a highway connecting it with the southern portion of the continent, often referred to by northerners as “the Outside.” Over 40,000 soldiers and civilian workers, a number several times greater than the 4,900 population of the territory itself, constructed over 1,500 miles of road in under nine months. Whitehorse was the centre of operations in Yukon but new communities soon formed to service the highway and its travellers. The highway became the defining feature of Yukon in the latter half of the twentieth century and impacted publishing as much as any other facet of life in the territory.

The Klondike gold rush spawned numerous mining ventures and natural resources invested Yukon with significant economic importance. The Second World War (1939-1945) lent it a strategic value. The eruption of hostilities between Japan and the United States in December 1941 at Hawaii highlighted the susceptibility of the Pacific coast of North America to enemy attack; alarmingly, the Aleutian Islands were closer to Tokyo than to Seattle. To improve military access to Alaska the United States government decided to build a highway connecting it with the southern portion of the continent, often referred to by northerners as “the Outside.” Over 40,000 soldiers and civilian workers, a number several times greater than the 4,900 population of the territory itself, constructed over 1,500 miles of road in under nine months. Whitehorse was the centre of operations in Yukon but new communities soon formed to service the highway and its travellers. The highway became the defining feature of Yukon in the latter half of the twentieth century and impacted publishing as much as any other facet of life in the territory.

I. First Nations, Oral Texts, and Print Culture (pre-Klondike)

The advent of European civilization often had an immediate and direct impact on Yukon First Nations, including Tlingit, Northern and Southern Tutchone, and Gwich'in. The steamers that brought prospectors to the territory in 1897, and the bulldozers that further opened the territory to the outside in 1942, exposed indigenous peoples to waves of migrants who brought with them printed material and a desire for more of the same. Native peoples retained a traditional oral culture for many years, however, due in part to the relative isolation of the territory from centres of European culture. The integral role oral tradition played in social relations also contributed to its endurance and vitality. Only one book, the collection of essays When Our Words Return (1994), has focussed exclusively on the connection between oral and written culture in northern North America. The essays included in the volume emphasize the distinct character of Native storytelling in Alaska and Yukon but they also draw parallels with written texts and highlight the impact print culture has had on traditional oral narration.

Oral narratives were accorded a respect generally reserved in European cultures for Scripture. Understanding lay in marking, learning, and inwardly digesting the traditional stories. The knowledge shared in oral narratives was meant, says the introduction, “to be learned over many years of listening and experiencing and meant to be learned personally, not shared with an anonymous public.”1 Julie Cruikshank's essay regarding Carcross storyteller Angela Sidney documents this historical understanding, but the implications of a transition from an oral to a book-oriented culture - such as Alaska and Yukon Natives experienced - are more fully elaborated by the contributions of Yup'ik storyteller Elsie Mather and folklorist Phyllis Morrow to the collection.

Mather emphatically states, “Yup'ik stories are not limited to bookshelf items . . . they are still best appreciated by Yupiit when they are shared and experienced.”2 The sharing to which she refers is different from the dynamic experienced through a book, where information is also shared, but at a remove - or several - from the teller. Mather describes “dependency on books” as “a monster” because it separates the recipient from the source of the knowledge being delivered through print.3 Mather's interests converge with those of Phyllis Morrow on “the problematics of shifting oral performance to paper” - primarily the recording of existing narratives, but also the crux of the broader shift from an oral to a printed environment - and the latter elaborates the issue raised by the former.4 Morrow concludes that while a radio environment offers one remove from “an oral and interactive context to a delayed and distant one,” the shift to a printed environment is far more dramatic for Natives. One storyteller, she notes, comfortably concluded a radio broadcast with a closing formula associated with oral narrations. Print imposes a certain closure on stories but the indeterminate nature of the audience creates other openings. Morrow observes, “In transmitting stories in a print medium, in another language, to another audience, we are never so sure when to stop.”5

Concern with the production of a distinctive Yup'ik literature, as opposed to texts contrived for educational use, also runs throughout Mather's essay. Mather laments that Yup'ik has too often been simply a vehicle for the transmission of English concepts. “Written words should reflect our language and culture,” she states, observing that Yup'ik materials are too often translations from English rather than works produced in Yup'ik. “I can't help but feel we have fallen short of transmitting our cultural knowledge through them.”6 The concerns of Mather and Morrow bear on the history of the book in Yukon as well. Yet the work of Old Crow journalist Edith Josie evinces the continued influence of oral narration on written work, and perhaps even offers an instance in which the transfer from oral to print culture was made with relative integrity. The foreword to a 1966 compilation of her work includes the comment, “Edith writes exactly as she talks in English, just as the other women of her age group talk in Old Crow.”7 Josie's ability to capture an element of oral narration in her written work was key to its popularity. Documenting the degree to which Josie and other authors have overcome the difficulties Mather and Morrow outline is one task that awaits historians of the book in relation to Yukon First Nations.

One can safely assume that the first printed words seen by Yukon natives were in Roman, not Cyrillic, characters. The Russian traders who established posts on the Pacific coast of North America and as far inland as present-day Nulato, Alaska, prior to 1867 probably had little contact with the peoples of the farther interior, regardless of the relationships the peoples with whom they traded had with the same. Moreover, when members of Bering's expedition contacted natives on the Pacific coast of Alaska in 1743 communications were reportedly facilitated by an English book, “de la Hontan's Description of North America.”8 Russia did not issue dictionaries to assist its traders in communications with the Alaskans. The printed aids that laid a foundation for European communication with the inhabitants of the region are therefore distinguished by being solely of English origin.

Hudson's Bay Company employee Alexander Hunter Murray began compiling a vocabulary of local dialects in 1847 at Fort Yukon near the juncture of the Yukon and Porcupine Rivers.9 When Church of England missionary Robert McDonald arrived at the post fifteen years later he was able to build on these early efforts and made rapid progress in learning Tukudh, the language of the local Gwich'in (Loucheux) people, and began translating portions of the Old and New Testaments, prayers, and hymns for the people to read and memorize.10 The first book of translations, featuring the four gospels and the three letters of John, was published at London in 1874. The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and the British and Foreign Bible Society subsequently published several other of McDonald's translations.11 This parallelled developments on other frontiers; traders were more interested in the economic role of the people they encountered than with giving them the literacy skills required to develop faith in the Christian gospel, and vocabularies gave way to more substantial material only with the advent of missionaries. The missionaries were also generally more concerned with publishing the results of linguistic activities. Surveyor William Ogilvie stated in 1888 that the Gwich'in continued to use the books McDonald had translated for them. “They hold every Sunday a service among themselves, reading from their books the prayers and lessons for the day, singing in their own language to some old tune a simple hymn. They never go on a journey of any length without these books, and always read a portion before they go to sleep,” Ogilvie recorded.12

Part of the reason for the diligent perusal of McDonald's books may have been a degree of awe towards printed matter. Robert Campbell, a factor of the Hudson's Bay Company in the territory during the first half of the nineteenth century, observed, “Indians are proud to be intrusted with letters, which they regard with awe, as a mysterious form of speaking.”13 His observation also begs consideration of the role Natives played as couriers prior to the establishment of a formal communications network by the non-Natives. Natives clearly formed a vital link in the dissemination of printed matter on the frontier but the extent to which this occurred is not well documented.

The efforts of missionaries to publish material in indigenous languages resulted in a limited range of texts. William C. Bompas, later appointed first bishop of Selkirk (later Diocese of Yukon), noted during his first years in the northwest that teaching Native peoples to read the language they spoke would be of little use unless they had reading material. His biographer, H. A. Cody, records his desire in 1867 for “a small quantity of large printing type, with ink and paper.”14 The material was not available, however, because even an adequate supply of the items most necessary for survival was difficult to bring into the country. Connections with the outside world were simply not adequate, and one can conceive that the severe climate would have hampered the operation of the equipment desired.

Elaine Hoag has documented some instances of shipboard printing in the Arctic, and some of these ships would probably have passed north of Yukon. Mechanical and physical difficulties, such as frozen ink occasionally occurred.15 Yet the presence of presses on board ships to print handbills and official forms indicates both that printing was needed and operable in the northern regions of our country - though they were cumbersome and explorers travelling by land could not afford the luxury of bringing one into the country.

The lack of printing equipment forced those who entered Yukon prior to 1896 to pack a variety of printed materials. These included the items requisite to the particular work each sought to accomplish: maps, journals, ink; scientific texts for explorers; ledgers and account books for traders; religious texts for missionaries. The tide of printed material regarding Yukon rose in the years prior to 1896 as successive generations of explorers edited and published the notes they had taken while in the region. The output included journals, maps, and texts, generally intended to prepare the prospective traveller rather than entertain the casual reader. Yet accounts of journeys through the region also had a market and following the discovery of gold in the Klondike some of the formerly scientific accounts were republished as general guides. The reports William Ogilvie prepared in the early 1890s are a case in point. Originally intended as to be a report for Canada's Department of the Interior, it was made generally available almost immediately upon news of the Klondike discovery reaching the outside. Ogilvie later revised his work and published it as Early Days on the Yukon (1913).16 The discovery of gold established a lucrative market for similar works and several former inhabitants of the region swelled the tide of literature to its peak with recollections and advice that they hoped would benefit others - and make themselves a tidy profit as well. These items deserve consideration as the literary backdrop against which people entered Yukon following 1896.

Newspapers, magazines, and books for personal reading were among the rarer items taken into the territory prior to 1896. Nevertheless, as the population increased, so did the supply and diversity of reading material available. Miners living at Forty Mile, a short distance down the Yukon River from the future site of Dawson, could enjoy the benefits of a small library and reading room. Church of England missionary, the Right Rev. William C. Bompas, recorded in 1895 that while the library could not satisfy the demand for works of history and travel, the magazines, especially Leisure Hour, were very popular.17 The situation was similar at other posts throughout the region, though a library of any size was a luxury few settlements had. The role of such reading rooms in fostering a literate culture in Yukon during the initial years of settlement deserves attention. Bompas notes that the reading room at Forty Mile also hosted debates and conceivably served as the setting for the exchange of stories, though this would have occurred elsewhere as well. “The problematics of shifting oral performance to paper” that Morrow notes with regard to Native cultures can also apply to the culture of the mining camps. The ballads and recitations that formed a significant portion of the miners' entertainment grew out of an established oral tradition but they also served as the model for the work of authors such as Robert W. Service. The role of camp ballads as the foundation for literature about Yukon deserves consideration.

These concerns parallel those throughout the northwestern frontier during the nineteenth century. The efforts to communicate with natives, then to publish literature, usually religious, in languages they would understand, and the desire to have a readily available supply of reading material for the literate portion of the non-Native population, marked the early history of the book in the vast territories northwest of Lake Superior. The advent of a sizeable non-Native population and the establishment of a system of government created a demand and a market for the services of printers. This transition occurred in Yukon most dramatically with the discovery of gold on Rabbit Creek (renamed Bonanza) in mid-August 1896. The subsequent influx of prospectors created a demand for newspapers and led to the establishment of numerous printing offices to produce the desired product.

II. The Development of Print Culture, 1897-1942

The discovery of gold attracted a diverse crowd of people to Yukon. Many were literate, due in part to nineteenth-century literacy campaigns. The male literacy rate in England at the turn of the century was 92.2 per cent, while in the United States it was 89.9. Even more striking, a survey of the mining and manufacturing sectors in the United States in 1909 indicates that literacy among English Canadian and British (English, Irish, Scottish) male immigrant workers was 99.0 and 98.2 per cent, respectively. The mean rate across thirty-five national and linguistic groups in the same survey was 85.3 per cent.18 The figures suggest a high literacy rate existed among those rushing north in 1898 and a corresponding desire for reading material. The war in South Africa (1899-1901), another significant contemporary event that left a substantial cultural legacy, was one of the most literate military campaigns in history; the Klondike was arguably the most literate gold rush the world had yet witnessed.19 Participants were used to the ready availability of newspapers, books, and other reading material but the frontier offered few substitutes. Demand for the reports of business, sports, and politics that filled newspapers outside the territory outstripped supply. The establishment of dance halls for the miners' amusement created a similar demand for sheet music.20

Contemporary accounts record the voracity for newspapers along the trail. They were a source of news from home, or at least of somewhere closer to home than the Yukon or Hootalinqua Rivers. Yet the first newspaper in the territory only appeared early in 1898.21 G. B. Swinehart issued the paper at Caribou Crossing (now Carcross). The Union List of Canadian Newspapers claims several earlier titles, however.22 Each community along the trail north, from Skagway to Dawson, was a potential centre of publishing activity. Ultimately, the first newspaper was churned out on a typewriter and illustrated the ambition, mobility, and versatility required of the earliest publishers. The first press would not arrive in the territory until 1898, presumably when spring break-up permitted steamers to carry equipment and supplies up the Yukon River from St. Michaels, Alaska. The alternative route, across the mountains to Whitehorse from Skagway, became more viable following completion of the White Pass and Yukon Railway in 1901.

The main centres for publishing in the territory soon emerged as Whitehorse and Dawson. Publishing ventures in the smaller communities either did not survive or eventually relocated to the larger centres. The Lake Bennet Sun, for example, first appeared in 1898 but in 1899 moved its printing operations to Whitehorse. It appears to have become the Whitehorse Star in 1900 when completion of the White Pass and Yukon Railway, with its depot in Whitehorse, diminished the early importance of Lake Bennet as a stopping place for prospectors crossing the Chilkoot Pass into Yukon. The scenario replayed itself in 1939 when the fledgling news Miner removed from Atlin, just south of the territory's border with British Columbia, to Whitehorse within its first year of operation. Atlin had witnessed three earlier publishing ventures but none survived.23 The community, politically part of British Columbia but very much tied by geography and interest to Yukon, relied as much as Lake Bennet and other towns along the White Pass and Yukon railroad on Whitehorse for newspapers. The increase in mining activity between the First and Second World Wars allowed several smaller communities to support local newspapers. Copies of papers published at Mayo in 1926, 1935-38, and 1940 exist at the Yukon Archives, for example. Similar efforts would not appear again until the resurgence of the local mining industry in the 1970s - an indication of the impact economic vicissitudes had on local publishers. The health of the mining industry played a determining role in the survival of Yukon publishers from the first. No sector affected publishers more directly prior to the Second World War.

Dawson, for example, had seven newspapers at the height of the Klondike gold rush. Yet few survived very long and all eventually gave place to the Daily News. Dawson being the seat of government in the territory, the news was also the foremost newspaper in the territory prior to its demise in 1954 - a fate that parallelled the decline of Dawson with the routing of the Alaska Highway 200 miles to the south through Whitehorse and along the shore of Kluane Lake. The news was rivalled only by the Whitehorse Star - whose fortunes waxed accordingly with the transfer of the seat of government to Whitehorse in 1953. The demise of the Dawson paper the following year punctuates consideration of the significant economic and demographic challenges that illustrate the marginal nature of publishing at the margins of civilization.

The Dawson news was an aggressive paper and despite the decline in population that followed the Klondike gold rush, continued to improve its facilities. It issued a souvenir magazine to promote Yukon in 1909 as a means to stimulate interest in the territory as a destination for businesses and tourists. The publication was distributed at the world fair in Seattle that summer as well as within the territory. Its production in Yukon testified to the maturation of the local printing trade but books were still beyond the means and abilities of most publishers. Yet a few years later the news issued the first book known to bear a Yukon imprint, Marie Joussaye Fotheringham's Selections from Anglo Saxon Songs (c. 1916-18). Fifty-six pages in length, half the proceeds of the book were intended for relief of Yukon soldiers fighting in the First World War.24

The career of Robert W. Service illustrates the more common route Yukon-based authors pursued. The drama of the gold rush captured popular imagination and served as fodder for Jack London, Rex Beach, and other writers. Service is unique, however, in being the sole author to publish best-selling material while living in the territory. His residency arguably makes him the first Yukon author to find success at the national and international levels. He adopted the territory for his home, arriving in Whitehorse in 1904, then moving to Dawson and remaining there following his resignation from the Bank of Commerce in 1910. He recreated the events of the gold rush from the evidence that remained five years afterwards. His success was such that he defined the territory for readers throughout the world.

Service did so, however, through a Toronto publisher. Books were seldom produced in Yukon but the existence of Selections from Anglo Saxon Songs indicates that local authors could have work published in book form locally if they so desired. This belies Service's stated intent that his first book was sent to Toronto for preparation as a Christmas keepsake.25 He had greater plans, and by sending his manuscript to Toronto he indicated the dominance that the city held in Canadian publishing circles. Like H. A. Cody, Anglican rector of Whitehorse, he was thereby able to capture international attention despite being on the frontier of North America. Moreover, the distance that separated him from the offices of his publishers in Toronto, Philadelphia, New York, and London, could be overcome by telegraph. While economic factors made large-scale publishing in Yukon inviable, telecommunications facilitated publishing initiatives. They played a relatively minor part in Service's career but have since revolutionized the publishing process.

An infrastructure for the distribution of books and other publications was in place by the early 1900s. Songs of a Sourdough (1907), Service's first book, arrived in Whitehorse within three weeks of its initial publication in June 1907.26 It was presumably shipped to Vancouver, sent up the coast by steamer, and freighted to Whitehorse over the White Pass by rail. Other books also arrived and were duly noted in the newspapers. Unfortunately, no formal documentation of the Yukon booktrade or local library development exists.

III. Print Culture, 1942-present

The difficulties facing publishers in a region where the delivery of basic supplies continues to require considerable economic expense and logistical planning are conceivable. Nevertheless, the construction of a highway to Alaska in 1942 made the region more accessible than ever and facilitated not only the delivery of supplies to publishers but the distribution of printed matter produced within and without the territory. This became especially important as the tourist traffic increased in the 1950s. A desire to inform those on the outside about conditions in Yukon had provoked innumerable volumes through the years. Now, local printers could meet some of the demand for promotional material.

The years following the Second World War also witnessed an impulse on the part of veterans of the Klondike gold rush to commit their memories to print. Many prepared manuscripts and solicited the interest of publishers. Most of these attempts at publication failed and the fact challenges scholars to understand the reasons. Some of the letters accompanying returned manuscripts suggest that the genre in which the writers chose to write was simply not suitable. The correspondence accompanying the sampling of these manuscripts at the Yukon Archives makes poignant reading but they complement evidence elsewhere in Canada regarding what publishers were seeking in the mid-twentieth century.

The focus of publishing activity in the territory shifted southwards following construction of the Alaska Highway. The Dawson news reflected the economic decline of Dawson itself when it went from tri-weekly to weekly publication in 1946. It ceased publication altogether in 1954.27 Similarly, local publications at Haines Junction on the Alaska Highway, and in the mining centres of Elsa, Faro, and Mayo, parallelled the buoyant economy that prevailed in the southern Yukon during the 1970s. Overall economic prosperity in an area was vital to the survival of a publisher due to the marginal existence of life on the frontier. Today, two newspapers dominate Yukon journalism, though smaller publications also exist. The Klondike Sun, Dawson, and the Watson Lake news are the only papers published outside of Whitehorse and reflect the significance of these two communities to the economy of the territory: the former is a tourist mecca while the latter is home to a busy mining operation. It is also a major stopping point on the Alaska Highway.

Newspaper publishing in Yukon has targetted a territorial audience rather than a local readership in recent decades. Correspondents, such as Edith Josie of Old Crow, became better able to communicate and provide news to newspapers such as the Whitehorse Star. The press offices themselves became connected with wire services and other modern tools for news-gathering that made them more competitive. Highway construction during and after the Second World War allowed vehicles to complement traditional ground and air delivery methods. The Yukon news (established 1965), for example, is distributed throughout the territory and enjoys free circulation in communities outside of Whitehorse. This gives it an audience of 7,993 on Wednesdays, of which 4,271 are paying readers, and 9,585 on Fridays (paid, 5,850). The paper has the largest circulation in the territory.28 Similarly, the bus from Anchorage deposits copies of that city's paper in the communities it passes prior to reaching its terminus in Whitehorse.

Magazines are another manifestation of printed matter that have occasionally appeared in the latter half of the twentieth century. The most notable, perhaps, is the Yukon Reader. It appears irregularly but is perhaps the most enduring of the several launched over the years. Stories display the proud provincialism that distinguishes Yukon culture. Other magazines are difficult to identify, but single copies do exist at the Yukon Archives. Locating them requires searching, however, as no comprehensive list of Yukon periodicals exists.

Few publications in languages other than English have appeared from Yukon publishers. Accessibility to the publisher's tools have not encouraged First Nations to develop an extensive indiginous press. An active francophone society regularly submits a column to the Yukon news and L'Aurore Boréale is a monthly newspaper published in Whitehorse, but Native-language publications are a rarity. Declining numbers of those proficient in Native languages, a trend parallelled in other regions of Canada, probably explains this phenomenon.

An electronic revolution is currently underway in Yukon publishing. This is an exciting development that allows Yukon publishers to compete on a level playing field with those in larger southern centres such as Vancouver and Toronto. Lost Moose Publishing and Hyperborean Productions publish books and electronic media, respectively, and illustrate the current state of publishing not only in Yukon, but Canada. Telecommunications have opened new opportunities to entrepreneurs beyond the dreams of the editor who typed out the first newspaper in 1898.

Lost Moose, established in 1993 in the wake of two successful projects conducted on an independent basis between four home-based businesses, is a small book publisher. The company boasts six partners but all have other jobs and there are no paid employees. Wynne Krangle, one of the partners, notes that they pay themselves for production work but at “a rate very much below market value.”29 Production is rooted in an electronic environment. Wynne and her partner, also a partner in Lost Moose, run a desk-top publishing business that doubles as the production studio for the publishing company. Files are sent via e-mail to a printer outside Yukon. One recent book, Chilkoot Trail: Heritage Route to the Klondike (1996), was produced entirely by electronic file transfers, including proof-reading.30 One concession to the physical book is the designer's visit to the printer to examine a book if it is a colour job.

Like many other small publishers in Canada, Lost Moose warehouses its books with a distributor located in Vancouver and Toronto. This mediates the challenge of independent distribution from Yukon, an expensive and inefficient practice. Tourism has also affected the marketing and distribution strategy of Lost Moose by bringing a market for the company's books to Yukon rather than forcing the company to rely on a local market for its mainly local-interest titles (environmental subjects and local history are the standard material Lost Moose publishes). Approximately 250,000 tourists allow the company to achieve 80 per cent of its annual sales within the territory. Promotional strategies target the local market; in summer this includes the tourists, in winter it comprises permanent residents. While Krangle notes that the tourist market offers a focus for marketing efforts, she adds, “Getting to those interested customers is challenging.” One unique marketing initiative is a partnership with the major bookstore in Whitehorse, Mac's Fireweed Books. Lost Moose and Mac's regularly issue a card advertising the northern titles in which each specializes. Ultimately, what makes Lost Moose viable is a combination of factors, says Krangle: “I suppose it is because people up here buy books, tourists buy books as keepsakes, we produce good quality products that take a lot of time and effort and it shows, [and] there is not a great deal of competition when it comes to Yukon book production.”

Krangle's explanation for the success of Lost Moose reflects both historic themes in Yukon publishing and book culture, as well as the advantage technological advances have given the company. The earliest publishers in the territory would appreciate the claim that a healthy portion of the population is interested in buying books and nod that competition is not tight. Yet they would marvel at the electronic tools that have greatly reduced the cost of book production - though perhaps not so much as to allow the partners in Lost Moose to relinquish primary jobs. The company can only afford to issue a handful of titles each year. Yet even this, given the isolation of Yukon and the difficulties confronting previous publishers, is a notable achievement in the history of the book in Yukon.


The bibliographical infrastructure to facilitate a study of the history and development of print culture in Yukon is minimal. Unpublished materials outnumber published works. This creates a need for basic research prior to exploring even the simplest aspects of printing, publishing, authorship, literacy, and other concerns pertinent to the history of the book.

The most extensive collection of unpublished resources is in the Robert C. Coutts collection at the Yukon Archives, Whitehorse. Mr. Coutts, with the assistance of the Canada Council, was able to gather together a siginificant body of printed material regarding the North that is invaluable to researchers. The Coutts collection includes books, manuscripts, typescripts, clippings, and ephemera. The archives, in the Coutts collection and elsewhere, also has the literary remains of several veterans of the Klondike gold rush. The difficulties many had in publishing memoirs will enhance descriptions of what publishers were willing to publish in the mid-twentieth century, as well as what these writers considered appropriate - though in many cases unpublishable - records of the period. Collections at the National Library of Canada, the Public Archives of Canada, and various repositories in British Columbia and the states of Washington and Alaska will also be useful.

Scholarly research, in indexed journals and elsewhere, has hitherto been scant in regard to Yukon printers, publishers, and bookmen generally. Memoirs exist that shed some light on the history but monographs are nonexistant. The History of the Book in Canada: A Bibliography lists nothing for Yukon. The Union List of Canadian Newspapers records several titles and complements Yukon Bibliography, which details publications to 1984. Yukon Bibliography does not list newspapers, the most recent introduction stating, “books, government and consultant reports, theses and items from periodicals; unpublished materials are incorporated only when the present owner has agreed to provide access to the document to any bona fide researcher. Maps, newspapers, air photos, films and other non book materials are not included.”31 Sources focussing on Alaska are of some help but they are mostly checklists of material. These include Elsie A. Tourville, Alaska, A Bibliography: 1570-1970, a checklist arranged by author and indexed by subject, and Charles W. Smith, Pacific Northwest Americana: A Checklist of Books and Pamphlets Relating to the History of the Pacific Northwest. Valerian Lada-Mocarski, Bibliography of Books on Alaska Published Before 1860 is concerned chiefly with Alaska during the Russian era but offers a detailed descriptive, annotated bibliography of the titles it includes.

Author bibliographies for Yukon authors are non-existant and therefore help little to place local printing and publishing in context. A bibliography of Robert W. Service is underway, but as he did not publish his material in the territory to any great extent it can only highlight his identity as a recorder of a highly popular version of local history and lore. Other bibliographies review material relating to specific historical eras.32

A history of the book in Yukon will share concerns with the history of the book in northern British Columbia and the contemporary Northwest Territories. First Nations involvement in printing and publishing, and the challenges of production and distribution in the vast region above the sixtieth parallel has afforded common historical challenges and historiographical themes. The various contrasts and parallels will ensure that the history of the book throughout Canada's North will offer illuminating counterpoints to the history of authorship, publishing, and reading in Canada as a whole.


1. “Introduction,” When Our Words Return: Writing, Hearing, and Remembering the Oral Traditions of Alaska and the Yukon, Phyllis Morrow and William Schneider, eds. (Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 1995), 4
2. Elsie Mather, “With a Vision beyond Our Immediate Needs: Oral Traditions in an Age of Literacy,” When Our Words Return, 15.
3. Mather, 20.
4. Phyllis Morrow, “On Shaky Ground: Folklore, Collaboration, and Problematic Outcomes,” When Our Words Return, 28.
5. Morrow, 46.
6. Mather, 22.
7. “Publisher's Foreword” in Edith Josie, Here Are the News (Toronto: Clarke, Irwin, 1966), vii.
8. Allen A. Wright, Prelude to Bonanza: The Discovery and Exploration of the Yukon (Sidney, BC: Gray's Publishing, 1976), 3. I have been unable to locate a more exact citation for this work.
9. Wright, 57.
10. Wright, 88.
11. McDonald's translations are available in the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions series of pre-1900 monographs. The title page of the Tukudh gospels and epistles (CIHM no. 25661) reads: NUWHEH KUKWADHUD JESUS CHRIST ¦ VIH KWUNDUK NIRZI ¦ MATTHEW, MARK, LUKE, JOHN ¦ HA RSIOTITINYOKHAI KIRRE ¦ KWITINYITHUTLUTH KWIKIT. ¦ JOHN RSIOTITINYOO VIH ETUNETLE ¦ TIG HA ¦ TUKUDH TSHA ZIT ¦ THLETETEITAZYA. ¦ LONDON, ¦ 1874.
12. William Ogilvie, Information Respecting the Yukon District (Ottawa: Department of the Interior, 1897), 47.
13. Robert Campbell, Two Journals of Robert Campbell, Chief Factor, Hudson's Bay Company, 1808-1853 (Seattle, WA: printed by John W. Todd, Junior, 1951), quoted in Wright, 62.
14. H. A. Cody, An Apostle of the North: Memoirs of the Right Reverend William Carpenter Bompas, D.D. (Toronto: Musson, [1908]), 64.
15. Elaine Hoag, “Print on Board: Rare Examples of Shipboard Printing in the Arctic,” National Library News 29.1 (Jan. 1997): 1-4.
16. William Ogilvie, Information Respecting the Yukon District (Ottawa: Department of the Interior, 1897); Early Days on the Yukon (Ottawa: Thorburn & Abbott, 1913).
17. Cody, 267-68.
18. Harvey J. Graff, The Legacies of Literacy: Continuities and Contradictions in Western Culture and Society (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1987), 367, 376.
19. Malvern van Wyk Smith, Drummer Hodge: The Poetry of the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978), 156-58.
20. George L. Parker, The Beginnings of the Book Trade in Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1985), 147.
21. Parker, 147.
22. The Union List cites the following papers, while omitting the one at Carcross: Klondike Morning Times [Dawson], 1897; Yukon Sun [Dawson], 1897-1904; Klondike News [Dawson], 17 July 1897; Dawson City Ranger [Dawson], 25 Sep. 1897; Midnight Sun [Dawson], 11 June 1898; Klondike Nugget [Dawson], 16 Jun. 1898.
23. The Union List of Canadian Newspapers cites Atlin Claim (1899-1908), Atlin Globe (1899-1900), and Atlin Nugget (1936).
24. Thanks to Carole Gerson of Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC, who alerted myself and others to the existence of this book in a note posted on the discussion list BIBSOCAN, 26 February 1997. A copy exists at the National Library of Canada, Ottawa.
25. Robert W. Service, Ploughman of the Moon (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1945), 327.
26. “Songs of a Sourdough.” Weekly Star [Whitehorse] 21 Jun. 1907: 4.
27. “The Dawson news Stops Publication.” Weekly News [Dawson, YK] 25 Mar. 1954: 1.
28. Canadian Advertising Rates and Data (Feb. 1997).
29. Wynne Krangle, electronic communication to the author, 24 February 1997. All subsequent quotes by Ms. Krangle are from this source.
30. David Neufeld and Frank Norris, Chilkoot Trail: Heritage Route to the Klondike (Whitehorse: Lost Moose, 1996).
31. Geraldine A. Cooke, ed., Yukon Bibliography Update to 1984, Occasional Publication no. 8-13 (Edmonton, AB: Boreal Institute for Northern Studies, 1987), v.
32. Three such bibliographies include: Alaska Highway, 1942-1991: A Comprehensive Bibliography of Material Available in the Yukon Archives and MacBride Museum (Whitehorse: Yukon Education, Libraries, and Archives, [1993]); Pierre Berton, A Klondike Bibliography (Kleinberg, ON: s.n., 1958); Helen Dobrowolsky, Fort Selkrk Bibliography (Whitehorse: Yukon Tourism, Heritage, 1988).


I. History of the Book in Canada

George L. Parker. The Beginnings of the Book Trade in Canada. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1985).

Minko Sotiron, ed. An Annotated Bibliography of Works on Daily Newspapers in Canada/Une Bibliographie annotée des ouvrages portant sur les quotidiens canadiens, 1914-1983 (Montreal: Sotiron, 1987).

Union List of Canadian Newspape s (Ottawa: National Library of Canada, 1991).

II. History of the Book in Yukon

R. N. De Armond, ed. “Stroller” White: Tales of a Klondike Newspaperman (Vancouver: Mitchell Press, 1969).

Valerian Lada-Mocarski. Bibliography of Books on Alaska Published Before 1860 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1969).

Phyllis Morrow and William Schneider, eds. When Our Words Return: Writing, Hearing, and Remembering the Oral Traditions of Alaska and the Yukon (Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 1995).

Charles W. Smith. Pacific Northwest Americana: A Checklist of Books and Pamphlets Relating to the History of the Pacific Northwest. 2nd ed. (New York: H. W. Wilson, 1921).

Anne Templeman-Kluit. “History of the Whitehorse Star.” North 30 (Spring 1983): 24-27.

Elsie A. Tourville. Alaska, A Bibliography: 1570-1970 (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1974).

Yukon Bibliography (1963-1984).

Peter Mitham