ExploreNorth, your resource center for exploring the circumpolar North

Return to the Home Page The ExploreNorth Blog About ExploreNorth Contact ExploreNorth

Search ExploreNorth

Dr. Antoine "Antony" Varicle (1853-1907)

Klondike Gold Rush

Arctic & Northern Aviation

    Although his plans for a Klondike balloon expedition in 1898 and a North Pole expedition by dogsled in 1905 were well covered in over 600 newspaper articles, much of Antony Varicle's life is still a mystery to us. He was born in France in about 1853, but the first time he appears in English-language newspapers in 1898 he is described variously as a well known aeronaut, engineer and/or inventor looking to raise money for the aerial expedition to the Klondike and beyond.

1898 Klondike Balloon Expedition

Dr. Antony Varicle, Member of the Geographical Society of France, 1904

January 12, 1898:
Paris, Friday. - An appeal is made in the "Journal" for funds towards a project for carrying aid to the miners at Klondyke by balloon. Varicle, the well-known aeronaut, proposes to leave for Juneau with a company of prospectors, engineers, and others to the number of about a dozen, and there make the ascent for Dawson City, which he calculates can be reached in about 20 hours." (The Aberdeen Weekly Journal)

March 23, 1898:
To the Klondike by Balloon

April 4, 1898:
French Balloonists will search for gold and Andree

April 9, 1898:
Secretary of War wants to buy Le Balon d'Alaska

April 13, 1898:
Le Balon d'Alaska

April 28, 1898:
News from the Varicle balloon expedition

July 26, 1898:
Antony Varicle in charge of Santiago war balloon

July 29, 1898:
French scientists left Vancouver for the Klondike today

October 17, 1898:
French Balloonists in the Klondike?

October 18, 1898:
Frenchmen doing well - their balloon didn't go north

December 5, 1898: "Dr. Terwagne, the French scientist who took a balloon expedition to the Klondike, is missing with three members of his party. They left Dawson and came out to Atlin by the last steamer, two months ago, but since then no trace of them can be found, and their friends in Vancouver are decidedly anxious. M. Varicle, one of the most noted aeronauts in Europe, who made several ascents for the army in Cuba this year, and went North from San Francisco, was a member of the party. The balloon part of the expedition did not materialize and all the apparatus was sent back to Vancouver three months ago without being used. Instead of searching for Andree, as they intended, they went gold hunting and secured several good claims on French creek." (The Examiner, San Francisco)

The graphic below is from the March 23, 1898, article.

Life in Dawson City

Dr. Antony Varicle, Dentist - Dawson City, Yukon, July 1904

The ad below was published in the Dawson Daily News
on August 5 and 7, 1903.

Dr. Antony Varicle, Dentist - Dawson City, Yukon, August 1903

September 15, 1905:
"Dawson Man Honored
    A letter stating that Dr. A Varicle of Dawson bas been unanimously elected by the council to a life associate of the American Institute of Mining Engineer was received from Dr. R. W. Raymond, secretary of the institute. The honor is shown in consideration of the handsome souvenir prevented hy the doctor to the institute when the engineers were here in July. It is also stated in Dr. Raymond's letter that a suitable certificate engrossed with Dr. Varicle's name in full will be prepared and sent to Dr. Varicle as soon as the full name of the Dawsonite is obtained." (Dawson News)

October 25, 1905:
Water grant at Trail Gulch, Yukon

1905 North Pole Expedition, and related

July 13, 1905:
"IS THIS MAN BUGHOUSE? Dr. J. A. Varicle, the well known Dawson dentist, will, during the coming winter, make experiments in winter travel and exposure with the view of using the experience gained in a contemplated expedition to the North Pole. He believes that with experienced and hardened malamute dogs and drivers he can make the 700-mile trip from Greenland over the ice to the North Pole and to Spitzbergen. The doctor is already selecting dogs for experimental purposes."

Dr. Antony Varicle - Is This Man Bughouse? July 1905

August 21, 1905:
Klondikers after the North Pole

November 19, 1905:
Dr. Varicle's Dash to the North Pole

November 24, 1905:
Dr. Antony Varicle's proposed North Pole expedition

November 27, 1905:
Relief expedition to imprisoned whalers

December 17, 1905:
Explorer Amundsen the first to force the Northwest Passage

December 24, 1905:
"It is a safe bet that very little will be heard of the Yukon-Polar Institute after Dr. Varicle returns to Dawson." (The Daily Evening Star)

July 27, 1907:
    "Dr. Antony Varicle, Parisian inventor, scientist, balloonist and dentist, known from Paris to Dawson City, Yukon Territory, died last night at Providence hospital in Seattle, after an illness lasting several weeks. Dr. Varicle has been practicing dentistry in Seattle for some years past, following his return from the north.
    In the realm of invention, Dr. Varicle is known for his telegraph instrument, which transmits handwriting and drawings, a combination key used by the French government in connection with time locks on all postoffice property, and a number of small devices.
    Dr. Varicle is known in the north for his proposed dash for the north pole. He organized the international society for polar research and experimenting in Dawson in 1905. Such men as Governor McKinnis of Yukon Territory, the three leading justices of the territory and members of the Canadian parliament were associated in the scheme."