Yukon

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Yukon

Ųųg Han  (Gwichʼin)
Chu Nìikwän  (Southern Tutchone)
Coordinates: 63°00′00″N 135°00′00″W / 63.00000°N 135.00000°W / 63.00000; -135.00000Coordinates: 63°00′00″N 135°00′00″W / 63.00000°N 135.00000°W / 63.00000; -135.00000
CountryCanada
ConfederationJune 13, 1898 (9th)
CapitalWhitehorse
Largest cityWhitehorse
Largest metroWhitehorse
Government
 • CommissionerAngélique Bernard
 • PremierSandy Silver (Liberal)
LegislatureYukon Legislative Assembly
Federal representationCanadian Parliament
House seats1 of 338 (0.3%)
Senate seats1 of 105 (1%)
Area
 • Total482,443 km2 (186,272 sq mi)
 • Land474,391 km2 (183,163 sq mi)
 • Water8,052 km2 (3,109 sq mi)  1.7%
Area rankRanked 9th
 4.8% of Canada
Population
 (2016)
 • Total35,874 [1]
 • Estimate 
(2020 Q2)
41,293 [2]
 • RankRanked 13th
 • Density0.08/km2 (0.2/sq mi)
Demonym(s)Yukoner
FR: Yukonnais(e)
Official languages
  • English
  • French[3]
(ambiguous status)
GDP
 • Rank12th
 • Total (2017)C$3.089 billion[4]
 • Per capitaC$75,141 (3rd)
HDI
 • HDI (2018)0.908[5]Very high (5th)
Time zoneUTC−07:00
Postal abbr.
YT
Postal code prefixY
ISO 3166 codeCA-YT
FlowerFireweed
TreeSubalpine fir[6]
BirdCommon raven
Websiteyukon.ca
Rankings include all provinces and territories

Yukon[7] (/ˈjuːkɒn/ (About this soundlisten); French: [jykɔ̃]; also commonly called the Yukon) is the smallest and westernmost of Canada's three territories. It also is the least populated province or territory in Canada, with a population of 35,874 people as of the 2016 Census. Whitehorse, the territorial capital and Yukon's only city, is the largest settlement in any of the three territories.[8]

Yukon was split from the Northwest Territories in 1898 as the Yukon Territory. The federal government's Yukon Act, which received royal assent on March 27, 2002, established Yukon as the territory's official name,[7] though Yukon Territory is also still popular in usage and Canada Post continues to use the territory's internationally approved postal abbreviation of YT.[9] Though officially bilingual (English and French), the Yukon government also recognizes First Nations languages.

At 5,959 m (19,551 ft), Yukon's Mount Logan, in Kluane National Park and Reserve, is the highest mountain in Canada and the second-highest on the North American continent (after Denali in the U.S. state of Alaska). Most of Yukon has a subarctic climate, characterized by long, cold winters and brief, warm summers. The Arctic Ocean coast has a tundra climate.

Notable rivers include the Yukon River, as well as the Pelly, Stewart, Peel, White, and Tatshenshini rivers.

Etymology

The territory is named after the Yukon River, the longest river in Yukon. The name itself is from a contraction of the words in the Gwich'in phrase chųų gąįį han, which means white water river and refers to "the pale colour" of glacial runoff in the Yukon River.[10][11]

Geography

The territory is the approximate shape of a right triangle, bordering the U.S. state of Alaska to the west and northwest for 1,210 kilometres (750 mi) mostly along longitude 141° W, the Northwest Territories to the east and British Columbia to the south.[12] Its northern coast is on the Beaufort Sea. Its ragged eastern boundary mostly follows the divide between the Yukon Basin and the Mackenzie River drainage basin to the east in the Mackenzie mountains.

The Yukon River at Schwatka Lake and the entry to Miles Canyon

Most of the territory is in the watershed of its namesake, the Yukon River. The southern Yukon is dotted with a large number of large, long and narrow glacier-fed alpine lakes, most of which flow into the Yukon River system. The larger lakes include Teslin Lake, Atlin Lake, Tagish Lake, Marsh Lake, Lake Laberge, Kusawa Lake and Kluane Lake. Bennett Lake on the Klondike Gold Rush trail is a lake flowing into Nares Lake, with the greater part of its area within Yukon. Other watersheds in the territory include the Mackenzie River, the Peel Watershed and the AlsekTatshenshini, and a number of rivers flowing directly into the Beaufort Sea. The two main Yukon rivers flowing into the Mackenzie in the Northwest Territories are the Liard River in the southeast and the Peel River and its tributaries in the northeast.

Canada's highest point, Mount Logan (5,959 m or 19,551 ft), is in the territory's southwest. Mount Logan and a large part of Yukon's southwest are in Kluane National Park and Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other national parks include Ivvavik National Park and Vuntut National Park in the north.

Notable widespread tree species within Yukon are the black spruce and white spruce. Many trees are stunted because of the short growing season and severe climate.[13]

Climate

While the average winter temperature in Yukon is mild by Canadian arctic standards, no other place in North America gets as cold as Yukon during extreme cold snaps. The temperature has dropped down to −60 °C (−76 °F) three times, 1947, 1952, and 1968. The most extreme cold snap occurred in February 1947 when the abandoned town of Snag dropped down to −63.0 °C (−81.4 °F).[14]

Unlike most of Canada where the most extreme heat waves occur in July, August, and even September, Yukon's extreme heat tends to occur in June and even May. Yukon has recorded 36 °C (97 °F) three times. The first time was in June 1969 when Mayo recorded a temperature of 36.1 °C (97 °F). 14 years later this record was almost beaten when Forty Mile recorded 36 °C (97 °F) in May 1983. The old record was finally broken 21 years later in June 2004 when the Mayo Road weather station, located just northwest of Whitehorse, recorded a temperature of 36.5 °C (97.7 °F).[15]

Average daily maximum and minimum temperatures for selected locations in Yukon[15][16]
City July (°C) July (°F) January (°C) January (°F)
Whitehorse 21/8 70/46 −11/−19 12/−2
Dawson City 23/8 73/46 −22/−30 −8/−22
Old Crow 20/9 68/48 −25/−34 −13/−29

History

Hill-side mining during the Klondike Gold Rush, c. 1899

Long before the arrival of Europeans, central and southern Yukon was populated by First Nations people, and the area escaped glaciation. Sites of archeological significance in Yukon hold some of the earliest evidence of the presence of human habitation in North America.[17] The sites safeguard the history of the first people and the earliest First Nations of the Yukon.[17]

The volcanic eruption of Mount Churchill in approximately 800 AD in what is now the U.S. state of Alaska blanketed southern Yukon with a layer of ash which can still be seen along the Klondike Highway, and which forms part of the oral tradition of First Nations peoples in Yukon and further south in Canada.

Coastal and inland First Nations had extensive trading networks. European incursions into the area began early in the 19th century with the fur trade, followed by missionaries. By the 1870s and 1880s, gold miners began to arrive. This drove a population increase that justified the establishment of a police force, just in time for the start of the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897. The increased population coming with the gold rush led to the separation of the Yukon district from the Northwest Territories and the formation of the separate Yukon Territory in 1898.

Demographics

The 2016 census reported a Yukon population of 35,874, an increase of 5.8% from 2011.[1] With a land area of 474,712.64 km2 (183,287.57 sq mi), it had a population density of 0.1/km2 (0.2/sq mi) in 2011.[18]

Municipalities by population

List of municipalities in Yukon
Name Status[19] Official name Incorporation date[20] 2016 Census of Population[21]
Population (2016) Population (2011) Change Land area (km²) Population density
Carmacks Town Village of Carmacks November 1, 1984 493 503 −2.0% 36.95 13.3/km2
Dawson Town City of Dawson January 9, 1902 1,375 1,319 +4.2% 32.45 42.4/km2
Faro Town Town of Faro June 13, 1969 348 344 +1.2% 203.57 1.7/km2
Haines Junction Town Village of Haines Junction October 1, 1984 613 593 +3.4% 34.49 17.8/km2
Mayo Town Village of Mayo June 1, 1984 200 226 −11.5% 1.06 188.7/km2
Teslin Town Village of Teslin August 1, 1984 124 122 +1.6% 1.92 64.6/km2
Watson Lake Town Town of Watson Lake April 1, 1984 790 802 −1.5% 6.11 129.3/km2
Whitehorse City City of Whitehorse June 1, 1950 25,085 23,276 +7.8% 416.54 60.2/km2
Total municipalities 29,028 27,185 +6.8% 733.09 39.6/km2
Territory of Yukon 35,874 33,897 +5.8% 474,712.68 0.08/km2

Ethnicity

Visible minority and indigenous identity (2016):[22][23]

  European Canadian (68.1%)
  Visible minority (8.5%)
  First Nations (19.1%)
  Métis (2.9%)
  Inuit (0.6%)
  Other Indigenous responses (0.8%)

According to the 2006 Canada Census the majority of the territory's population was of European descent, although it has a significant population of First Nations communities across the territory.

The top ten ancestries were:[24]

Rank Ethnic group Population
1 English 8,795
2 North American First Nations 7,705
3 Scottish 7,000
4 Canadian 6,075
5 Irish 5,735
6 German 4,835
7 French 4,330
8 Ukrainian 1,620
9 Dutch (Netherlands) 1,475
10 Norwegian 1,340

The 2011 National Household Survey examined Yukon's ethnocultural diversity and immigration. At that time, 87.7% of residents were Canadian-born and 24.2% were of Aboriginal origin. The most common countries of birth for immigrants were the United Kingdom (15.9%), the Philippines (15.0%), and the United States (13.2%). Among very recent immigrants (between 2006 and 2011) living in Yukon, 63.5% were born in Asia.[25]

Language

Welcome sign to Yukon with text in English and French

The most commonly reported mother tongue among the 33,145 single responses to the 2011 Canadian census was English at 28,065 (85%).[27] The second-most common was 1,455 (4%) for French.[27] Among 510 multiple respondents, 140 of them (27%) reported a mother tongue of both English and French, while 335 (66%) reported English and a "non-official language" and 20 (4%) reported French and a "non-official language".[27]

The Yukon Language Act "recognises the significance" of aboriginal languages in Yukon, although only English and French are available for laws, court proceedings, and legislative assembly proceedings.[28]

Religion

The 2011 National Household Survey reported that 49.9% of Yukoners reported having no religious affiliation, the highest percentage in Canada. The most frequently reported religious affiliation was Christianity, reported by 46.2% of residents. Of these, the most common denominations were the Catholic Church (39.6%), the Anglican Church of Canada (17.8%) and the United Church of Canada (9.6%).[29]

Economy

A conveyor belt and cart outside of a mine tunnel in Yukon. The economy of the territory has historically been centred around mining.

Yukon's historical major industry was mining (lead, zinc, silver, gold, asbestos and copper). The government acquired the land from the Hudson's Bay Company in 1870 and split it from the Northwest Territories in 1898 to fill the need for local government created by the population influx of the gold rush. Thousands of these prospectors moved to the territory, ushering a period of Yukon history recorded by authors such as Robert W. Service and Jack London. The memory of this period and the early days of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, as well as the territory's scenic wonders and outdoor recreation opportunities, makes tourism the second most important industry in the territory.

Manufacturing, including furniture, clothing, and handicrafts, follows in importance, along with hydroelectricity. The traditional industries of trapping and fishing have declined. As of 2012, the government sector directly employs approximately 6,300 out of a labour force of 20,800, on a population of 27,500.[30][31]

A hydroelectric power station in Whitehorse

On May 1, 2015, Yukon modified its Business Corporations Act,[32][33][34] in an effort to attract more benefits and participants to its economy. One amendment to the BCA lets a proxy be given for voting purposes. Another change will allow directors to pursue business opportunities declined by the corporation, a practice off-limits in most other jurisdictions due to the inherent potential for conflicts of interest.[35] One of the changes will allow a corporation to serve as a director of a subsidiary registered in Yukon.[36] The legislation also allows companies to add provisions in their articles of incorporation giving directors blanket approval to sell off all of the company's assets without requiring a shareholder vote.[36] If provided for by a unanimous shareholders agreement, a corporation is not required to have directors at all.[37] There is increased flexibility regarding the location of corporate records offices, including the ability to maintain a records office outside of Yukon so long as it is accessible by electronic means.[37]

Tourism

Ivvavik National Park is one of three national parks located in Yukon.

Yukon's tourism motto is "Larger than life".[38] Yukon's tourism relies heavily on its natural environment, and there are many organized outfitters and guides available for activities such as but not limited to hunting, angling, canoeing/kayaking, hiking, skiing, snowboarding, ice climbing and dog sledding. These activities are offered both in an organized setting or in the backcountry, which is accessible by air or snowmobile. Yukon's festivals and sporting events include the Adäka Cultural Festival, Yukon International Storytelling Festival, and the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous. Yukon's latitude enables the view of aurora borealis.

The Government of Yukon maintains a series of territorial parks including,[39] parks (Herschel Island Qikiqtaruk Territorial Park,[40] including Tombstone Territorial Park,[41] and Fishing Branch Ni'iinlii'njik Park.[42] Coal River Springs Territorial Park)[43] Parks Canada, a federal agency of the Government of Canada, also maintains three national parks and reserves within the territory, Kluane National Park and Reserve, Ivvavik National Park, and Vuntut National Park.

The Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre is an interpretive centre with a focus on the Beringia land bridge.

Yukon is also home to 12 National Historic Sites of Canada. The sites are also administered by Parks Canada, with five of the 12 sites being located within national parks. The territory is host to a number of museums, including the Copperbelt Railway & Mining Museum, the SS Klondike boat museum, the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre in Whitehorse; as well as the Keno City Mining Museum in Keno City. The territory also holds a number of enterprises that allows tourists to experience pre-colonial and modern cultures of Yukon's First Nations and Inuit peoples.[44]

Culture

As noted above, the "aboriginal identity population" makes up a substantial minority, accounting for about 26 percent. Notwithstanding, the aboriginal culture is strongly reflected in such areas as winter sports, as in the Yukon Quest sled dog race. The modern comic-book character Yukon Jack depicts a heroic aboriginal persona. Similarly, the territorial government also recognizes that First Nations and Inuit languages plays a part in cultural heritage of the territory; these languages include Tlingit, and the less common Tahltan, as well as seven Athapaskan languages, Upper Tanana, Gwitchin, Hän, Northern Tutchone, Southern Tutchone, Kaska, and Tagish, some of which are rare.[45]

A musher during the start of the Yukon Quest dog sledding race in Whitehorse

Yukon also has a wide array of cultural and sporting events that attract artists, local residents, and tourists. Annual events include the Adäka Cultural Festival, Dawson City Music Festival, Yukon International Storytelling Festival, Yukon Quest dog sled race, Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous, as well as Klondike Gold Rush memorials.[46][47] Northern Lights Centre,[48][49]

Arts

With the Klondike Gold Rush, a number of folk songs from Yukon became popular, including "Rush to the Klondike" (1897, written by W. T. Diefenbaker), "The Klondike Gold Rush", "I've Got the Klondike Fever" (1898) and "La Chanson du Klondyke".

By far the strongest cultural and tourism aspect of Yukon is the legacy of the Klondike Gold Rush (1897–1899), which inspired such contemporary writers of the time as Jack London, Robert W. Service, and Jules Verne, and which continues to inspire films and games, such as Mae West's Klondike Annie and The Yukon Trail (see Cultural legacy of the Klondike Gold Rush).

Government

Yukon has numerous political parties and candidates who stand for election to the 19 seats in the Yukon Legislative Assembly. Those elected to the legislature are known as members of the Legislative Assembly and may use the post nominal letters "MLA". The three parties presently represented are the centre-leaning Yukon Liberal Party (11 seats) – who currently form government, the centre-right leaning Yukon Party (6), and the Yukon New Democratic Party (2).[50]

The 9th and current premier of Yukon is Sandy Silver, who represents the electoral district of Klondike as its MLA. Silver took office following the 2016 Yukon general election, where his Liberals won a majority government.

History

From the early 19th century to 1870, the areas that made up the Yukon were administered by the Hudson's Bay Company as the North-Western Territory.

In the 19th century, Yukon was a segment of North-Western Territory that was administered by the Hudson's Bay Company, and then of the Northwest Territories administered by the federal Canadian government. It only obtained a recognizable local government in 1895 when it became a separate district of the Northwest Territories.[51] In 1898, it was made a separate territory with its own commissioner and an appointed Territorial Council.[52]

Prior to 1979, the territory was administered by the commissioner who was appointed by the federal Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. The commissioner had a role in appointing the territory's Executive Council, served as chair, and had a day-to-day role in governing the territory. The elected Territorial Council had a purely advisory role. In 1979, a significant degree of power was devolved from the commissioner and the federal government to the territorial legislature which, in that year, adopted a party system of responsible government. This change was accomplished through a letter from Jake Epp, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, rather than through formal legislation.

The Yukon Legislative Building is the meeting place for the territory's legislative assembly.

In preparation for responsible government, political parties were organized and ran candidates to the Yukon Legislative Assembly for the first time in 1978. The Progressive Conservatives won these elections and formed the first party government of Yukon in January 1979. The Yukon New Democratic Party (NDP) formed the government from 1985 to 1992 under Tony Penikett and again from 1996 under Piers McDonald until being defeated in 2000. The conservatives returned to power in 1992 under John Ostashek after having renamed themselves the Yukon Party. The Liberal government of Pat Duncan was defeated in elections in November 2002, with Dennis Fentie of the Yukon Party forming the government as premier.

The Yukon Act, passed on April 1, 2003, formalized the powers of the Yukon government and devolved additional powers to the territorial government (e.g., control over land and natural resources). As of 2003, other than criminal prosecutions, the Yukon government has much of the same powers as provincial governments, and the other two territories are looking to obtaining the same powers.[citation needed] Today the role of commissioner is analogous to that of a provincial lieutenant governor; however, unlike lieutenant-governors, commissioners are not formal representatives of the Queen but are employees of the federal government.

Federal representation

At the federal level, Yukon is represented in the Parliament of Canada by one member of Parliament (MP) and one senator. MPs from Canadian territories are full and equal voting representatives and residents of the territory enjoy the same rights as other Canadian citizens. One Yukon MP, Erik Nielsen, served as Deputy Prime Minister under the Brian Mulroney, while another, Audrey McLaughlin, was the leader of the federal New Democratic Party (NDP) from 1989 to 1995.

Members of Parliament

The entire territory is one riding (electoral district) in the House of Commons of Canada, also called Yukon. The current MP for the Yukon riding is Liberal Larry Bagnell, following his victory in the 2015 federal election.

List of members of Parliament from Yukon:
Parliament Years Member Party
Yukon
9th  1902–1904     James Hamilton Ross Liberal
10th  1904–1908     Alfred Thompson Conservative
11th  1908–1911     Frederick Tennyson Congdon Liberal
12th  1911–1917     Alfred Thompson Conservative
13th  1917–1921     Government (Unionist)
14th  1921–1925     George Black Conservative
15th  1925–1926
16th  1926–1930
17th  1930–1935
18th  1935–1940     Martha Black Independent Conservative
19th  1940–1945     George Black National Government
20th  1945–1949     Progressive Conservative
Riding dissolved into Yukon—Mackenzie River
Riding re-created from Yukon—Mackenzie River
22nd  1953–1957     James Aubrey Simmons Liberal
23rd  1957–1957
 1957–1958     Erik Nielsen Progressive Conservative
24th  1958–1962
25th  1962–1963
26th  1963–1965
27th  1965–1968
28th  1968–1972
29th  1972–1974
30th  1974–1979
31st  1979–1980
32nd  1980–1984
33rd  1984–1987
 1987–1988     Audrey McLaughlin New Democratic
34th  1988–1993
35th  1993–1997
36th  1997–2000 Louise Hardy
37th  2000–2004     Larry Bagnell Liberal
38th  2004–2006
39th  2006–2008
40th  2008–2011
41st  2011–2015     Ryan Leef Conservative
42nd  2015–2019     Larry Bagnell Liberal
43rd  2019–present

Senators

Yukon is allocated one seat in the Senate of Canada and has been represented by four senators since the position was created in 1975. Since 2018, the Senate position has been held by Pat Duncan, a former Liberal premier of Yukon – now a member of the Independent Senators Group – who was appointed on the advice of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on December 12, 2018.[53] Former senator Daniel Lang, a Conservative, was appointed on the advice of then–prime minister Stephen Harper on December 22, 2008, and previously represented the territory.[54][55] His predecessor was Ione Christensen of the Liberal Party. Appointed to the Senate in 1999 by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, Christensen resigned in December 2006 to help her ailing husband. From 1975 to 1999, Paul Lucier, a Liberal, served as senator for Yukon. Lucier was appointed by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

List of senators from Yukon:

Name Party Division Date appointed Appointed by End of term
  Pat Duncan Independent Senators Group Yukon December 12, 2018 J. Trudeau Incumbent
  Daniel Lang Conservative Yukon January 2, 2009 Harper August 15, 2017
  Ione Christensen Liberal Yukon September 2, 1999 Chrétien December 31, 2006
  Paul Lucier Liberal Yukon October 23, 1975 P.E. Trudeau July 23, 1999

First Nations

Transportation

Before modern forms of transportation, the rivers and mountain passes were the main transportation routes for the coastal Tlingit people trading with the Athabascans of which the Chilkoot Pass and Dalton Trail, as well as the first Europeans.

Air

Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport serves as the air transport hub for Yukon.

Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport serves as the air transport infrastructure hub, with scheduled direct flights to Vancouver, Kelowna, Calgary, Edmonton, Yellowknife, Inuvik, Ottawa, Dawson City, Old Crow and Frankfurt.[70] Whitehorse International Airport is also the headquarters and primary hub for Air North, Yukon's Airline. Every Yukon community is served by an airport or community aerodrome.[citation needed] The communities of Dawson City and Old Crow have regularly scheduled service through Air North. Air charter businesses exist primarily to serve the tourism and mining exploration industries.[citation needed]

Rail

The railway ceased operation in the 1980s with the first closure of the Faro mine. It is now run during the summer months for the tourism season, with operations as far as Carcross.[citation needed]

Roads

The Klondike Highway is one of several territorial highways in Yukon.

Today, major land routes include the Alaska Highway, the Klondike Highway (between Skagway and Dawson City), the Haines Highway (between Haines, Alaska, and Haines Junction), and the Dempster Highway (linking Inuvik, Northwest Territories to the Klondike Highway, and the only road access route to the Arctic Ocean, in Canada), all paved except for the Dempster. Other highways with less traffic include the Robert Campbell Highway linking Carmacks (on the Klondike Highway) to Watson Lake (Alaska Highway) via Faro and Ross River, and the Silver Trail linking the old silver mining communities of Mayo, Elsa and Keno City to the Klondike Highway at the Stewart River bridge. Air travel is the only way to reach the far-north community of Old Crow.

Waterways

From the Gold Rush until the 1950s, riverboats plied the Yukon River, mostly between Whitehorse and Dawson City, with some making their way further to Alaska and over to the Bering Sea, and other tributaries of the Yukon River such as the Stewart River. Most of the riverboats were owned by the British-Yukon Navigation Company, an arm of the White Pass and Yukon Route, which also operated a narrow gauge railway between Skagway, Alaska, and Whitehorse.

See also

References

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