7. Klondike Gold Fields


In this final album are photographs E. A. Hegg took beyond the outskirts of Dawson in the Klondike gold fields: images of the claims, the mines, the men, and the countryside that stimulated their dreams of unimaginable wealth.

What finally happened to the stampeders who, like Charles R. Weddleton, of Yarmouth South, dropped everything to join the mad rush to the Klondike gold fields? Pierre Burton argued that, in the end, most were unsuccessful in their quest for riches.

    1. “The statistics regarding the Klondike stampede are diminishing ones. One hundred thousand persons, it is estimated, actually set out on the trail; some thirty or forty thousand reached Dawson. Only about one half of this number bothered to look for gold, and of these only four thousand found any. Of the four thousand, a few hundred found gold in quantities large enough to call themselves rich. And out of these fortunate men only the merest handful managed to keep their wealth.” [4, p. 396]

  1. Weddleton was right to cherish, instead, the experience of the Last Great Gold Rush:

    1. “Altogether, I enjoyed four years in the Klondike, with big pay and much enjoyment thrown in.” [3, p. 52, col. 4]

  2. References and Notes

    [1] E. A. Hegg (Illustrator), Souvenir of Alaska and Yukon Territory. Skaguay, Alaska, 1900. 104 pp. (Y MS1 645.2, YCMA)

    [2] Ethel Anderson Becker, Klondike ’98: Hegg’s Album of the 1898 Alaska Gold Rush. Binfords & Mort, Portland, Oregon, 1958. 126 pp.

    [3] Murray Morgan, One Man’s Gold Rush: A Klondike Album. Photographs by E. A. Hegg. Univ. Washington Press, Seattle, Washington, 1967. 216 pp.

    [4] Pierre Burton, Klondike: The Last Great Gold Rush, 1896–1899. Anchor Canada, 1972. xxiv+472 pp.

    [5] Pierre Burton, The Klondike Quest: A Photographic Essay, 1897–1899. McClelland and Stewart, Toronto, 1983. 240 pp.

    [6] Charles R. Weddleton, “Swift Water Trails” in Maclean’s Magazine, 1 November 1931, pp. 19–20, 52. (2000:6.1 O/S, YCMA)

    [7] I thank Jamie Serran, Archivist at the Yarmouth County Museum and Archives, for providing access to photographs and archival material.

William Day (25 November 2012)