Parks Canada cuts seen as blow to Yukon's Klondike region

A Dawson City councillor believes cuts by Parks Canada to its historic Klondike attractions will hurt the community.
Dredge No. 4 on historic Bonanza Creek where the Klondike Gold rush began is closing indefinitely next month because of federal spending cuts. (Dave Bezaire)

A Dawson City councillor says people in the town are concerned about the future of the Parks Canada service in the community.

Federal funding cuts to Parks Canada mean the community's Dredge No. 4 National Historic Site will close indefinitely.

Coun. Wayne Potoroka said the Parks Canada office in Dawson that manages a treasure trove of historical artifacts is also slated to close. As a result, he said, people are worried about the future of the artifacts.

Many are from the Klondike Gold Rush that began in the late 1890s.  

"Dawson has, someone mentioned to me, nearly a quarter million artifacts in storage in and about the community." he said.

"And that's probably the largest archival collection outside of Ottawa and so now the idea is that material is going to be managed from our nation's capital and the concern that I have is how we're going to make sure those artifacts remain vibrant and accessible to the community and in the community," Potoroka said.  

He added the federal funding cuts means there will be fewer jobs for people who make Dawson City home.

The dredge, synonymous with Dawson's mining history, is a wooden-hulled excavator and was the biggest in North America when it began working in the Klondike Valley in 1912.  It was later moved to Bonanza Creek where it operated until 1959 and then gradually sunk into the muck.

The dredge was raised by Canadian army engineers in the early 1990s and restored by Parks Canada.

The S.S. Klondike, the largest sternwheeler from the era of the riverboat in Yukon, will remain open at its resting place next to the Yukon River in Whitehorse, but the guided tours provided by Parks Canada staff end next month.