It’s been nearly 125 years since the Klondike Gold Rush turned Dawson City into the world’s epicentre for striking it rich. In 2019, the Yukon town’s tourism industry wants to compel people to race back for what they’re calling “Gold Rush 2”. On August 20, the Klondike Visitors Association is depositing chunks of gold into the waters where three members of an indigenous family and one of their in-laws discovered riches in 1896.
The site of their find was re-named Bonanza Creek after they first collected gold and continues to be where those seeking to get rich quick pan for the precious metal. But for the most part only tiny flakes can ever be scavenged from the riverbed. The visitors association will change that this month, says Paul Robitaille, the organization’s marketing events manager.
“What we’re trying to do with Gold Rush 2 is raise the concentration of gold,” Robitaille points out, adding that some of the new deposits will contain chunks large enough to send a few lucky treasure hunters into a spending spree — a splurge that may well include rounds of drinks at The Pit, the Dawson City watering hole famous for its good times and chicanery.
One ounce of gold, which is equal to 28 grams, is worth approximately $2,000 (Canadian dollars). Anyone who finds gold can take their collection to stores in Dawson City to get the value appraised. For the Gold Rush 2 promotion, Robitaille says the visitors association aims to raise up to $100,000 to purchase gold to put into Bonanza Creek and elsewhere in Dawson City. The belief is the chase for wealth will draw travellers hoping to find the spirit of the 19th-century prospectors who turned Dawson City — the last outpost in western Canada before the Arctic Circle — into the lively and unique destination it remains.
Gold Rush 2 launches as the town’s annual celebration of the original Bonanza Creek find ends. Discovery Days weekend, Robitaille notes, is an ideal lead-in to a modern version of the gold rush.
“People have wanted to get gold since the dawn of time. It will always have an appeal, and since it is what Dawson City is known for, we wanted to recreate those drivers for people, to rekindle the enthusiasm of the Klondike Gold Rush,” Robitaille says.