The Klondike Gold Rush: A Look into the Great Gold Rushes in Canada
Sometimes, business startups arise because of discoveries that create opportunities for everyone. The discovery of the Americas, the opening up of the west, and the gold rush come to mind.
The gold rush phenomenon caused a migration of miners in countries like Brazil, Canada, and the United States. Countries saw a surge of people from all walks of life embarking on the journey to hopefully strike a fortune.
In Canada, one of the most famous gold rushes in history is the Klondike Gold Rush, which occurred from 1896 to 1899.
Most of the indigenous peoples in the Yukon were aware that gold is in the region. However, they don’t consider the metal of high value.
It wasn’t until 1896 when an American prospector named George Carmack—along with Jim Mason and Dawson Charlie—found gold on Bonanza Creek in the Klondike River. Carmack measured the strips of ground that a mine owner can legally mine before registering his claims the next day.
The Start of the Stampede
News quickly spread that there is gold in the Klondike River, but the winter delayed miners from arriving at the area. The gold rush started in July 1987 as people tried to reach the goldfields. An estimated 100,000 miners embarked on the river, but only 30,000 to 40,000 miners eventually did. The first miners from San Francisco and Seattle later returned from Klondike with large amounts of gold on ships.
Historians point out the sudden stampede to Klondike to the series of bank failures and financial recessions that plagued the US. The gold standard, a monetary system that ties the country’s currency to the value of gold, and the shortages of metal meant that gold was increasing in value.
Most of the miners have no experience in the mining industry—some of them were clerks, while others were salesmen. By venturing to areas with gold, they thought they could earn higher wages and achieve financial security.
The Klondike Gold Rush started to slow down by the end of 1898 as the word spread that there was little gold left. The rush ended in 1899 when gold was discovered in Nome, Alaska.
Effects of the Klondike Gold Rush
The massive arrival of miners formed boom towns along Klondike. The towns were often packed and disappeared as soon as they came. Most of the residents were men, with some women coming with their husbands. One of the boom towns, Dawson, became a legitimate city. The gold rush also caused an increase in Canada’s population, especially in Alberta, British Columbia, and Yukon Territory.
The Klondike Gold Rush also helped the US out of depression. The era drew people into buying gold coins and nuggets produced privately by engravers, goldsmiths, and jewelers. These coins filled the value for large transactions.
However, the gold rush had a terrible impact on the local environment. The areas along the Klondike River caused deforestation, massive soil erosion, and water contamination. The Native people also fell victim to diseases like smallpox, leading to a decline in their population.
When gold was discovered in the Klondike River, it started a mass migration in which people in the US traveled to Canada to find a large fortune. Although several people came back rich beyond their wildest dreams, others weren’t so lucky.
Like other gold rushes, the Klondike Gold Rush contributed to the population boom in Canada, but it also caused negative environmental effects.