Rich placers of gold (flakes of gold in river sediments) were first discovered in the Yukon in 1896. By 1898, when the Geological Survey of Canada’s third Director, George Dawson, sent Richard McConnell and Joseph Tyrrell to examine the gold deposits, 10,000 mining claims were already registered and the Gold Rush was in full swing.
McConnell and Tyrrell described the gold-producing area as covering about 1000 square miles, with placer gold in four of the main creeks – Eldorado, Bonanza, Hunker, and Dominion. Tyrrell collected the gold sample shown here from one of these creeks.
Dawson City, which was the hub of the Gold Rush, was established in 1896 where the Klondike River joins the Yukon River. The Dominion Lands surveyor William Ogilvie named the new settlement in honour of George Dawson. In 1887-1888, a decade before the Gold Rush, Dawson had led an expedition through the Yukon and northern British Columbia that combined geological investigations and topographical surveying, in an area not previously mapped. Ogilivie had been a member of the expedition, and the resulting maps were of great value to the prospectors of the Gold Rush who used them to blaze their trails.