Sep 11, 2010 - Canada, Travel, Yukon    3 Comments

Parks Canada’s Bear Creek Compound

Parks Canada’s Bear Creek Compound is somewhat legendary in Dawson as few have stepped foot in it. Today, for the first time in at least seven years, and possibly for the last time, the compound was opened to the public for a few hours. Checking it out seemed like a good use of my afternoon break!

From the Parks Canada website:

Bear Creek is an industrial complex of some 65 buildings and related structures located in the Klondike River Valley, 10 kilometres east of Dawson City. From 1905 to 1966, Bear Creek was the Klondike headquarters for corporate mining interests, acting as the administrative and repair centre for the goldfield’s dredging operations. These huge dredges worked the goldfields, replacing the small individual miner of the gold rush and ensuring the viability of gold mining as a profitable business up until 1966.

(For a refresher course on dredges, go back to my post about Dredge No. 4.)

Parks Canada acquired the complex in 1975 but because of environmental concerns could not do too much with it. One of the biggest hazards is the mercury that was used in the gold extraction process. The cost of rehabilitating the site to make it safe for the public would be prohibitive. Today, Parks Canada mostly uses the buildings for storage, but there is one garage left for repairing big machinery.

Visiting the compound was an extraordinary experience. The majority of the buildings are in some stage of decay, mostly advanced, and many have artifacts left in situ, as though time has stood still. It reminded me a lot of touring Alcatraz, actually, and the weight of history was incredibly present.

I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to tour the Bear Creek compound. What a way to conclude my stay in the Klondike!

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3 Comments

  • The staircase is beautiful. Isn’t it amazing how nature is reclaiming it all, a little at a time.

  • I made pretty much the same comment to one of the interpreters. He didn’t seem to share my vision. 😀

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