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An Explorer's Guide to Mayo, Yukon

Location: at the confluence of the Mayo and Stewart rivers in central Yukon; accessed from the Silver Trail at Km 50.7

Population (March 2023): 459

Elevation: 503 meters (1,650 feet)

Postal Code: Y0B 1M0

Airport: CYMA is 3 km (1.9 miles) north of Mayo by road, with a single gravel runway (07/25), 1,476 meters (4,843 feet) long. No scheduled flights.

    Mayo is named after Alfred Henry Mayo, a riverboat captain and prospector who was working as a trader in the area by 1875. The 1901 Duncan Creek gold rush brought men into the region, and Alex Nicol built the first cabin at what is now the site of Mayo, which was the most convenient place to build docks for the boats supplying the mines. In 1903 the townsite of Mayo Landing was surveyed.

    The discovery of silver on Keno Hill in 1919 started a boom for the Mayo area that lasted almost twenty years, and a second silver boom after World War II kept it going for almost 30 years more.

    The first all-weather road between Whitehorse and the Mayo mining district was completed in 1950, and the name of the community was shortened to "Mayo" in 1958.

    Na-Cho Nyäk Dun Indians ("Big River People") moved to Mayo Landing in 1904, but in 1915, because of social problems, moved their village to a site downstream and on the opposite side of the Stewart River. They moved back to Mayo in 1958 and the school and mission that had been built at the new site by Julius Kendi, a First Nations Anglican minister, closed.

    The Village of Mayo was incorporated in June 1984, and the municipality provides a wide range of community and municipal services, including volunteer firefighting services and a piped water/sewer system. For visitors, there are 2 motels, 1 B&B, 4 campgrounds and a restaurant, as well as fuel and other services.

    The captions on the many photos below will give you much more information about the community.

Village of Mayo

Stories from Mayo, Yukon

Historic Walking Tour of Mayo

The Silver Trail (highway)

All photos were taken by Murray Lundberg.

Mayo, Yukon, as seen on Google Earth Clicking on this image from Google Earth will open a new page with an interactive map of the Mayo area. The village is in the centre of the image, the airport at the top, the large river is the Stewart River, and the Mayo River runs vertically down the centre of the photo, to the left of the community. The Old Village can be seen on the right side of the river loop to the left of Mayo.

Mayo, Yukon - hottest and coldest place in the Yukon This sign is seen on the North Klondike Highway just south of Stewart Crossing, the Junction of the North Klondike and the Silver Trail which leads to Mayo, Elsa and Keno City. The record high temperature at Mayo was 36.1°C (97°F) on June 14, 1969, the coldest was -62.2°C (-80°F) on February 3, 1947. That is the Canadian record for the greatest range of absolute temperatures, a difference of 98.3 degrees Celsius between the extreme high and extreme low.

Mayo Road interpretive sign, Yukon

This sign on the North Klondike Highway at Stewart Crossing describes the development of the Mayo Road, part of which is now Yukon Highway 11, The Silver Trail:
    The first overland road between Whitehorse and Dawson City was constructed in 1902. This road was extended in 1914 from Minto to Mayo Landing. Until the 1920s, the Overland Trail was a winter road that accommodated wheeled horse-drawn coaches when the ground was frozen and sleighs during the height of the winter. Over time, the horse-drawn vehicles were replaced by trucks or small cats (tracked vehicles). In the 1930s, a cat train travelling day and night from Whitehorse took seven to eight days to reach Mayo.
    As silver ore production in the region rose, the sternwheelers were sometimes unable to clear the backlog of freight and there was a need for an all-season overland route. The first all-weather road between Whitehorse and the Mayo mining district was completed in 1950 and ferries were installed on the new route at the Pelly, Stewart and Yukon rivers. United Keno Hills Mines maintained the road from 1953 to 1957 when the government took it over. By the late 1950s, all of the ore concentrate was being shipped by road and the golden age of Yukon sternwheelers was over.

Welcome to Mayo, Yukon "Welcome to Mayo. Heart of the Yukon." The paddlewheeler on the sign is the SS Keno, now sitting on the riverbank at Dawson City. The sign on the right says:
"Mayo. Named for Capt. A. Mayo, who navigated Yukon rivers with his steamer New Racket in the late 1800s, supplying traders, trappers and prospectors in the Stewart basin.
Duncan Creek's placer rush used Mayo Landing.
Hard rock mining of Galena Hill saw a road built, enabling sacks of concentrate, stockpiled here, to be sent to smelter outside, via paddlesteamers. Mayo became the regional centre.
In 1961, Tutchone and Gwitchin peoples moved to town, from the village downstream, and identify as Nacho Nyak Dun."

Red fox at Mayo, Yukon Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) are one of the most commonly seen animals in the Yukon. This one was on the road at the outskirts of Mayo.

Mayo Petroleum at Mayo, Yukon Mayo Petroleum is located at the junction of the Silver Trail and the Mayo access road. There is another gas station and convenience store a few blocks towards town.

Binet House - Mayo, Yukon Gene Binet climbed the Chilkoot Pass in 1895, and arrived in the Klondike in late December 1896. In 1902, Binet heard rumours of plans for the Mayo Landing townsite and after the site was surveyed, bought lots for a hotel and homestead and began building. He operated the Binet Bros. Hotel, and his farm supplied a new store addition with local produce. In 1922, Binet hired a carpenter to build this house for his new bride, Jewel. Jewel and their son lived in California during the winter months after 1932 and in 1938 Binet retired and moved to join his family. The Binet House was renovated in 1990 and is open during the summer as a Visitor Reception Centre and museum.

Stewart River interpretive sign at Mayo, Yukon One of the interpretive signs around town. The river steamers were Mayo's connection to the outside world in the summers until the road to Whitehorse opened in 1955. The river is very shallow, which caused many problems, particularly for the sternwheelers hauling heavy silver/lead/zinc ores from the mines.

Stewart River at Mayo, Yukon The Stewart River remains an important part of life for many residents of Mayo.

Stewart River interpretive sign at Mayo, Yukon This panel describes the Stewart River as a "Corridor to the Klondike". Over the winter of 1897-98, about 100 men including author Jack London lived at the mouth of the river when they were stopped by ice forming on the Yukon River. The Stewart was also part of the incredibly difficult "Edmonton Route" which ran from Edmonton to Great Slave Lake and overland to the headwaters of the Stewart.

A high-water channel of the Stewart River at Mayo, Yukon A high-water channel of the Stewart River near the upriver part of Mayo.

Bonnet Plume River / Canadian Heritage Rivers System monument in Mayo, Yukon Mayo is the closest community to the Bonnet Plume River, part of the Canadian Heritage Rivers System, which this monument in Galena Park on the banks of the Stewart River commemorates. The Bonnet Plume, which is only accessible by air, flows over 350 kms (217 miles) before joining the Peel River, a major tributary of the Mackenzie River.

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, at Mayo, Yukon, in 2001 On April 29, 2001, HRH Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, dedicated the Tree of Knowledge at J. V. Clark School in Mayo, as well as the Prince of Wales section of the Trans Canada Trail.

Centre Street in Mayo, Yukon Looking north on Centre Street, with Bigway Foods on the left. This is the view from the riverfront gazebo in Galena Park.

Historic Royal Bank Building in Mayo, Yukon What is now known as the Royal Bank Building was built in 1937 by James Mervyn, with rough lumber from local sawmills and imported doors and windows. He had been contracted by Gene Binet, who built it for the Bank of Montreal. The Royal Bank took over the building in 1947 for 3-4 years, and then it was empty for many years. It is now the local office of the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Board (YESAB).

The log building beside it was started by Alex Nicol, who intended to rent it to the Bank of Montreal, but it was never finished. In about 1950 construction was completed and it was the government liquor store for several years. It was also used as a classroom and library before becoming the meeting room for the Canadian Legion Hall - it is now known as the Legion Hall.

First Avenue in Mayo, Yukon Looking west on 1st Avenue, with Galena Park and the Stewart River on the left, and the Legion Hall on the right.

St. Mark's with St. Mary's Anglican Church at Mayo, Yukon St. Mary's Anglican Church was built in 1922 soon after some important silver strikes were made in the area, and Reverend F. H. Buck conducted the first service on October 15 of that year. The church has been continuously occupied since that date. During the 1936 flood, the church was one of the few buildings to remain above the high water mark. When St. Mark's parishioners moved from the Old Village to Mayo, the church changed its name to St. Mark's with St. Mary's Anglican Church to reflect the new combined congregation. A stained glass window is dedicated to Rev. G.W.N. Wareham and Richard Martin, a Tetlit Gwich'in Deacon who served the Mayo region for many years.

Historic Alex Nicol outbuildings at Mayo, Yukon Alex Nicol lived in the Mayo area from 1903 until his death in 1965, and had something to do with many of the buildings. These were used in his freighting business starting in about 1910.

Community Hall and Municipal Office building at Mayo, Yukon Mayo's Community Hall and Municipal Office building was opened in 2007. As well as the municipal offices, it contains a large hall/gymnasium with performance stage that can host 250 person events, a 2 sheet curling rink, meeting room/lounge that can hold 100 person events, and a service area which contains a kitchen, bar, storage and washrooms.
Community Hall and Municipal Office building at Mayo, Yukon The entrance foyer of the Community Hall and Municipal Office building.
Curling rink at Mayo, Yukon The curling rink as it looked near the end of its construction in late August 2007.

Ruins of Mayo Motors - Mayo, Yukon The long-abandoned Mayo Motors property downtown.

Old Courier 95 bus at Mayo, Yukon This old bus, a Courier 95, once worked for Interior Transportation in Merritt, BC, then for Mayo Taxi and Bus Service. It's been parked beside a historic home in Mayo for many years now. This bus series was built by Motor Coach Industries between 1953 and 1960.

Historic May Fairclough's House at Mayo, Yukon One of the many colourful cabins around Mayo, May Fairclough's House was originally built for Isabel Kimbel. May Fairclough, the daughter of Ira and Eliza Van Bibber, retired to live here in 1969. She and her husband George owned and operated Pelly Farm from 1927 to 1940. George also operated a freight boat on the Pelly River and was also in the wood cutting business.

Hstoric Churchward's Tinshop at Mayo, Yukon Guy Churchward bought the old Broadway Hotel in Klondike City adjacent to Dawson City, disassembled it and shipped the lumber to Mayo to build what is still known as Churchward's Tinshop, in 1921-22. The "shed" roof is still covered with the original metal roofing installed by Churchward. The Churchward family lived upstairs in an apartment until the 1950s, when Bert Klippert bought the shop to use as a garage. In the 1970s, Klippert sold it to Bob Adair who ran a garage and tire shop.

Bedrock Motel - Mayo, Yukon The Bedrock Motel, located on the highway north of Mayo, has 12 rooms, an RV park and a conference room.

Pioneer cemetery at Mayo, Yukon The Mayo Cemetery, the final resting place of many of the area's pioneers, is located adjacent to the airport, 3 km (1.9 miles) north of town.

The grave of pioneer pilot John Melville Patterson at Mayo, Yukon John Melville Patterson, the chief pilot of Yukon Airways, was killed when his plane, a Ryan Brougham B-5 called "Queen of the Yukon II" (CF- AHD), crashed on the frozen Stewart River at Mayo on November 2, 1929.

The Mayo Airport (CYMA), Yukon The Mayo Airport, code CYMA, is 3 km (1.9 miles) north of Mayo by road. It has a single gravel runway (07/25), which 1,476 meters (4,843 feet) long. There are no scheduled flights. Alkan Air's Cessna 208A Caravan seen in front of the terminal is a regular visitor on charters.

The Old Village down the Stewart River from Mayo, Yukon The Old Village, home to many of the Na-Cho Nyäk Dun between 1915 and 1958. This photo was taken in May 2002.

The Nacho Nyak Dun cemetery at Mayo, Yukon The Na-Cho Nyäk Dun cemetery is on a high bench across the river from the Old Village. This photo was taken in May 2002.

The Nacho Nyak Dun cemetery at Mayo, Yukon The Na-Cho Nyäk Dun cemetery in May 2002 was a gem for anyone with a passion for history, as it was virtually all original.

The Nacho Nyak Dun cemetery at Mayo, Yukon A great deal of restoration work in the Na-Cho Nyäk Dun cemetery started in about 2006.

The Nacho Nyak Dun cemetery at Mayo, Yukon The Old Village can be seen on the opposite side of the Stewart River below the back gate of the Na-Cho Nyäk Dun cemetery.

The Nacho Nyak Dun cemetery at Mayo, Yukon The 20,000-square-foot Na-Cho Nyäk Dun First Nation administration building ("Government House") was opened in 2010, as the anchor of a new community being built on the high bench near the historic cemetery. CBC posted a 4-minute video of the planning and construction in September 2009, and the architects, Broadway Architects, has a fairly lengthy description of the building's concepts in their portfolio.

Map of the Mayo-Keno area, Yukon From Mayo, the recreation opportunities are nearly infinite, especially for people interested in history. The network of roads and trails to and in the mining district to the northeast in particular would literally take years to explore.