I hiked back up to Crocus Bluff today to get in some Chilkoot training and also to explore the numerous Dawson City cemeteries along Mary McLeod Road. There is a much less exhausting way of getting up there, of course, straight up King Street, which becomes Mary McLeod. Park at the Crocus Bluff Recreation Area parking lot and prepare for some slight uphill strolling.
There are several cemeteries in Dawson City, one for Catholics, one for Jews, one for Masons, one for the general public, a new one for the general public (since the older one is filled up), one for the NWMP (Northwest Mounted Police) and one of the members of the Y.O.O.P. (Yukon Order of Pioneers).
In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, it was very expensive to have marble brought up the Yukon River on a barge, so grave markers tended to be plain crosses painted white black lettering. Much of the markings have worn off now, but historians and family members have managed to identify a surprising number of graves. It would be easy to spend a full day exploring the cemeteries, there is so much of interest.
The weight of history was very heavy and I sort of melancholy overtook me as I respectfully made my way through the cemeteries. What struck me the most was how the majority of the graves were of people born a world away. In fact, no one is born in Dawson City today. Expecting mothers are flown to Whitehorse.
The Dawson Visitors’ Centre has a booklet about the cemeteries containing information about some of the more interesting graves. Much of the info in the following gallery is quoted from this guide. Let me add that the booklet is written with a tone of affection and respect, like the author knew and loved the people he or she was writing about.
This evening, guests asked me where they could find the cemeteries, so my timing in going there today was perfect!