Discovery Day in Yukon Date in the current year: August 19, 2024

Discovery Day in Yukon Most Canadian provinces and territories celebrate the so-called Civic Holiday on the first Monday in August. It is a public holiday similar to the August bank holiday in the UK. However, there are certain exceptions. Yukon, for example, celebrates Discovery Day on the third Monday of August.

Discovery Day in Yukon commemorates the beginning of the famous Klondike Gold Rush. On August 16, 1896, American prospector George Carmack found huge quantities of gold on Bonanza Creek, a tributary of the Klondike River. The news of his discovery quickly spread across the region, and by the end of the month, miners had claimed all of Bonanza Creek.

The outside world remained largely unaware of Carmack’s discovery, partly because the government didn’t take the news seriously enough, and partly because winter weather prevented traffic. The news reached Seattle and San Francisco in 1897, after the first boats with the freshly mined gold had left the Klondike region, and the famous Klondike stampede began.

During the Klondike Gold Rush an estimated 100,000 prospectors tried to migrate to the Klondike region, although only around 30,000 to 40,000 of them eventually reached their destination. The center of the Klondike Gold Rush was Dawson City, founded in 1896 at the confluence of the Klondike River and Yukon River. In 1898, Dawson was a thriving city with a population of 40,000. However, a mere year later its population decreased fivefold because the gold rush had ended. When Dawson was finally incorporated as a city in 1902, its population was just under 5,000.

Although the Klondike Gold Rush was short-lived and the majority of prospectors didn’t gain any wealth, it had an enormous impact on the population and culture of the region. As a result, the Territorial Council of Yukon instituted Discovery Day as a public holiday in 1911.

Today, Discovery Day is celebrated across the territory of Yukon, but the biggest celebration is held in Dawson City. From Saturday till Monday, the city hosts the Discovery Days Festival that includes a colorful parade, various exhibitions and fairs, contests and competitions, a golf tournament, and a lot of other events and activities.

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Discovery Day, holidays in Canada, holidays in Yukon, Klondike Gold Rush