As the stampeders were moving North to the Klondike with great expectations there became a need,for the development of a mail delivery network. Post Offices began to open in the Yukon.
The mail came overland via two routes. One route was from Edmonton, Alberta north to the North West Territories and then west to the Yukon. The other route was from central British Columbia north to Atlin Lake and into the Yukon River system. Most of the mail coming from west coast ports - Seattle, Vancouver, San Francisco, was ferried by ship to the Alaska Panhandle communities.
From these Southeast Alaskan communities mail was carried overland through the Coastal Mountains either by the Dalton Trail from Haines, Alaska or through the Chilkoot Pass or White Pass from Skagway, Alaska.
The Chilkoot Pass and White Pass was used by nearly 30,000 stampeders travelling to the Klondike Fields in 1897-99.
Inspector Strickland of the North west Mounted Police noted that in 1898 "Nearly everyone of 28,000 people who passed mailed letters." The first Yukon Post Offices opened in 1897 at the Tagish North West Mounted Police Post and Dawson City followed by Pelly, Hunker, Dominion (1899) and Whitehorse (1900). The British Columbian Post offices were at Bennett City (1898), Log Cabin and Atlin in 1899.
The NWMP acted as the early post masters until civilians could be appointed to the job and deliveries were contracted out to local express and transportation companies. These companies included the new White Pass and Yukon Route Railway which extended from Skagway to Whitehorse by 1900.
With time, faster ways and means for mail to travel were implemented when trucks and tractor trains replaced horsedrawn wagons amd sleighs between Dawson City and Whitehorse. The first air mail flight took place in 1927 and the planes covered the distance in a few hours as opposed to a few days. The sternwheelers, which were also used for summer delivery of mail to the small communities along the Yukon River, stopped their service in 1955 with the opening of the year round Klondike Highway between Whitehorse and Dawson City.
In 1985, during the celebration of the National Parks of Canada Centennial, the Klondike Heritage Mail Run is sending these envelopes between Seattle, Washington and Dawson City via the Chilkoot Pass. The days of dog team and sternwheeler mail delivery have gone but the spirit of the people who trekked letters over the Chilkoot Pass and endured the snows and hardships of long distance sled patrols deserves the respect and admiration of all people in the Yukon today.
The year 1985 is the National Parks of Canada Centennial. Throughout Canada special events will be taking place to commemorate the founding of the first National Park at the Cave and Basin Hot Springs in Banff, Alberta in 1885. This discovery and its development led to the establishment of the National Park System in Canada.
Today there are National Parks and National Historic Sites in every Province and Territory in Canada. The National Parks Centennial is an occasion to renew our commitment to preserve examples of our heritage unimpaired for the benefit of all Canadians.
To celebrate the Centennial in the Yukon the "Klondike Heritage Mail Run" is taking place between Seattle, Washington and Dawson City, Yukon. The following organizations have made this run possible.
Whitehorse Rotary Club
National Parks Citizen Centennial Committee
Yukon National Historic Sites, Whitehorse
Thank-you for your participation in this event as we celebrate "100 years of heritage conservation".