British Yukon Navigation Company Sternwheeler
by Murray Lundberg
This ship is the second British Yukon Navigation Company (BYN) sternwheeler by that name. The first was sunk below Hootalinqua on June 12, 1936, when the captain misjudged a corner and hit the bank.
The information on the Klondike that follows is simply a cut-and-paste from my database, compiled from a wide variety of sources, primarily the White Pass & Yukon Route corporate records (COR 722) at the Yukon Archives and newspapers including the Whitehorse Star (Star). If you have any other information about this boat, please drop me a line.
Links to further resources follow the data.
- Canadian Shipping Registry #156744, registered at Dawson.
- wooden sternwheeler; the boat was 210 feet long, with 41.9 foot beam and 5.75 (6.25?) foot hold. Gross tonnage 1,362.504, registered as 1,020.49 tons. One deck, one mast, carvel build, straight head, transom stern, and 6 bulkheads. The wheel was 19 feet 4 inches in diameter, 23 feet long, with 16 buckets. Licenced for 75 passengers, with 10 passenger rooms on the saloon deck, 6 on the Texas, with a total of 32 berths. The dining room would seat 30 people.
- engine room was 40.7 feet long, housing the machinery from the first Klondike, a pair of tandem compound condensing engines built in 1929 by Gillette & Eaton of Lake City, Minnesota. They had 2 cylinders, 17 inch diameter on the high pressure side and 28 inch diameter on the low pressure side, with 72 inch stroke, developing 71.5 NHP, 525 BHP at 16 RPM. The boiler was a steel locomotive type, with 242 tubes, built in 1901 by Polson Iron Works of Toronto. Minter reports that it came from the Yukoner. Minter has much more construction and mechanical information.
- 1936-1937, built at Whitehorse by the British Yukon Navigation Company; the total cost was $105,000; she went into operation in June 1937.
- 1938 season crew: Master, C.M. Coghlan; Chief Officer, W. Bromley; Extra Pilot, J. Wakefield; First Mate, M. Macaulay; Second mate, S. Keary; Chief Engineer; J.S. Scotland; Second Engineer, J.G. Ford; Purser, J.J. Forde; Steward, W. McGregor (Star,May 6)
- 1939 season crew: Master, C.M. Coghlan; Chief Officer, W. Bromley; Extra Pilot, A. Courquin; First Mate, M. Macaulay; Second mate, S. Keary; Chief Engineer; J.S. Scotland; Second Engineer, J.G. Ford; Purser, J.J. Forde; Steward, W. McGregor (Star,May 5).
- 1947, a slightly larger wheel was installed; it was 19 feet 10 inches in diameter. This may have been to get the buckets deeper into the water with the lighter loads she was carrying at the time.
- with boats unable to keep up with ore shipments, a road was built to Mayo in 1950, and on to Dawson in 1955. The Klondike was turned into a tourist boat in 1953-1954 by White Pass and Canadian Pacific Airlines, at a cost of $100,000. Had capacity crowds in 1954 and 1955, but costs were too high, and she was put on the ways in the fall of 1955. For more about that period, see our S.S. Klondike Luxury Cruises page.
- December 6 1955, BYN steamer service was ended with a letter to their staff: "Cost of placing the S.S. 'Klondike' in suitable operating condition for the 1956 season together with its running expenses will not permit a reasonable fare to offer the public and, therefore, we have no alternative but to abandon the service." (Northern Heritage News, Nov/Dec.1985).
- August 24, 1959, offer made by White Pass to give the Casca, Keno,
Klondike and Whitehorse to the Federal government, on an as-is, where-is basis. The company had been planning to tear apart the ways and remove the ship-handling equipment, but that was to be delayed until the summer of 1961.
- An article in the Edmonton Journal of March 3, 1966, talked about plans to preserve the Klondike and demolish the Whitehorse and Casca - see "Drive On To Save Boats".
- 1966, towed through town to her present location near the Robert Campbell Bridge; YA has a series of photos in the Sigurd Hansen collection, PHO 345, 87/1.
- restoration completed July 1, 1981. Restored to her 1937 appearance.
- July 1995, Ron Doyle of Whitehorse donates a scratch-built model of the boat to the Transportation Museum (Whse Star, July 25, p.4)
- now open to the public, she is furnished with over 7,000 artefacts representing the period from 1937 to 1940.
S.S. Klondike Photo Album
S.S. Klondike - Parks Canada
Klondike compass - is this the original?
Roster of Yukon/Alaska Sternwheelers