On August 19, celebrate Discovery day—an annual event in Yukon, Canada—and an homage to the discovery of gold by Skookum Jim Mason in the Bonanza Creek in 1896 (though it was originally thought that George Carmack, Mason’s brother-in-law, discovered it). Although it’s technically a one-day holiday, Discovery Day is an important day for the people of Yukon—its origins contributed to Yukon being established as a Canadian territory—so it’s typically celebrated with weekend-long festivals in locations like Dawson City, Watson Lake, and Whitehorse.
Discovery Day - History
The Yukon flag is selected
Created by Lynn Lambert for a territory-wide design competition, the Yukon flag is adopted
The capital of Yukon is changed
The capital seat is moved from Dawson to Whitehorse due to the construction of the Klondike Highway
Discovery Day goes public
The Yukon Order of Pioneer's convince the Territorial Council of Yukon to recognize Discovery Day as public holiday
The first capital of Yukon is founded
Joseph Ladue founds Dawson City and it becomes the first capital of Yukon
Gold is struck
Skookum Jim Mason discovers gold at Bonanza Creek in Yukon
Discovery Day Activities
Attend an event
Because Discovery Day is such a popular holiday, you can typically find festivals that last all weekend long. For example, visit the festival at Dawson City which features a Can-Can dancer show, golf tournament, face painting, arts and crafts, walking tours, and writing competitions. Just be sure to allot extra travel time as traffic tends to be heavy on these days.
Host a party
If you’re looking to do something different than the usual Discovery Day festival, then consider throwing your own party. Keep things within the gold rush theme by having gold décor and chocolate gold coins as cute party favors. You can also turn the party into a fun learning experience by having Klondike Gold Rush trivia games.
Broaden your knowledge
If you want to gain more insight about the Gold Rush, Discovery Day is the perfect day to do so. Take a trip to the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park where you’ll enjoy free tours, Junior Ranger activities for the kids, camping, and hiking. There are also informative books and movies you can read and watch to learn more about this momentous event, such as "Call of the Klondike: A True Gold Rush Adventure," "Klondike," and "Gold Rush: Alaska."
5 Wild Facts About Whitehorse
It has an inspired name
Whitehorse was named after the White Horse Rapids, whose rapids—before they were dammed— resembled the mane of a white horse
It had a name change
Originally, the city's name was White Horse, later modified to Whitehorse.
The Yukon River has a large presence
The Yukon River literally flows through the center of Whitehorse
Its known as the Wilderness City
Because of its many trails (approximately 700km worth) Whitehorse is often referred to as the Wilderness City
Size is on its side
Whitehorse is northern Canada's largest city
Why We Love Discovery Day
It reminds people of their history
Not only does this holiday honor the Klondike gold rush, but it also reminds them of how Yukon was established as a territory. Every year on Discovery Day, Canadians are reminded how their land came to be.
It’s a cause for celebration
Who doesn’t love a reason to come together with friends and family and celebrate? Well, Discovery Day is a day about attending fun events—typically outdoors—and celebrating the day away.
It’s a statutory holiday
While celebrating and being reminded of history are great, it’s also nice to have a day off from work or school. Because Discovery Day is a legal holiday in Yukon, that means kids—and some lucky adults—get to have the day off from their usual obligations and spend it having some fun.