On August 16, celebrate Discovery Day, an annual event in Yukon, Canada. The day has both historical and cultural significance. In 1896, Skookum Jim Mason, originally named Keish by his Tagish parents, discovered gold in the Bonanza Creek. This discovery triggered the Kluane gold rush in 1905, eventually establishing the Yukon as a Canadian territory.
Keish was one of the first native men to successfully straddle the worlds of both white and Indian peoples. Before he died in 1916, Keish set up a large trust fund benefiting his native community. So, Discovery Day acknowledges this history with its week-long festival in Dawson City, a fun, end-of-summer destination. Enjoy walking tours, art exhibits, a golf tournament and more on Discovery Day.
Discovery Day timeline
A Yukon native man, Keish, also known among the whites as Skookum Jim Mason, discovers gold at Bonanza Creek in Yukon.
Joseph Ladue founds Dawson City and it becomes the first capital of Yukon.
The Yukon Order of Pioneers convinces the Territorial Council of Yukon to recognize Discovery Day as a public holiday.
The capital seat is moved from Dawson to Whitehorse due to the construction of the Klondike Highway.
Created by Lynn Lambert for a territory-wide design competition, the Yukon flag is adopted.
Discovery Day Activities
Discover a festival on Discovery Day
Because Discovery Day is such a popular holiday, some festivals last all weekend long. The festival at Dawson City features a Can-Can dance show, face painting, arts and crafts and writing competitions. Just be sure to allot extra travel time as local traffic tends to be heavy on these days.
Throw a party
If you’re looking to do something different from the usual Discovery Day festival, 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
Take a trip to the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park for free tours, Junior Ranger activities for the kids, camping and hiking. There are also informative books and movies you can watch, like "Call of the Klondike: A True Gold Rush."
5 Thought-provoking Facts About Whitehorse, A Town With The Coolest Name Ever
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 (well, sort of...)
Originally, the city's name was White Horse and later slightly modified to Whitehorse.
The Yukon River has a large presence
The Yukon River literally flows through the center of Whitehorse.
It also has a different name
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 honor the founding of the Yukon.
It’s a great reason to party
Why not party in the Yukon? At summer's close, Discovery Day provides an excuse to get friends and family together for a celebration and festival of delights. Discovery Day in Dawson City offers an amazing backdrop for fun events in a beautiful, natural setting.
It’s a statutory holiday
Let's be honest. Sometimes, it's great to have a day off from work or school, whatever the reason. Because Discovery Day is a legal holiday in Yukon, you get to have the day off. You might as well head to the festival and have some fun!
Discovery Day dates