Chilkoot Trail: Heritage Route to the Klondike

Description

182 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Maps, Bibliography, Index
$24.95
ISBN 0-9694612-9-1
DDC 971.9'1

Year

1996

Contributor

Reviewed by Charlene Porsild

Charlene Porsild is an assistant professor of history at Simon Fraser
University.

Review

One hundred years after the Klondike stampede, and nearly 40 years after
Pierre Berton popularized the event, scholars are finally giving some
much-needed attention to the Last Great Gold Rush. The result of a
collaboration between Parks Canada historian David Neufeld and Frank
Norris, a historian with the U.S. National Parks Service, Chilkoot Trail
is by far the best and most accessible of the publications on this
subject to date.

Part photo-essay, part hiking guide, and part historical monograph, the
book chronicles four major phases of the Chilkoot Trail’s human use:
Native trade route, Klondike stampede trail, railway and boomtown
region, and tourist destination. At no time does the narrative lose
sight of the Native and non-Native people who called the region their
home.

What is particularly new here is the Canadian/American collaborative
angle. The wealth of popular literature on the Klondike has too often
either focused on the “American-ness” of the rush or taken a
defensive approach to a “Canadian aspect” of the stampede and its
infamous participants. Neufeld and Norris have presented us with a much
more comprehensive portrait of the Chilkoot region, pointing out
disputes, for example, between First Nations and the governments of
Russia, Britain, Canada, and the United States. They have also given us
a commendable history of the trail itself. Outdoor enthusiasts and
environmental historians alike will be hard pressed to find a better
description of the ecosystem of the Chilkoot region than the one
presented in the first part of the book. Meanwhile, northern-history
buffs are provided with an excellent synthesis of the natural, Native,
and non-Native history of the region through photographs and archival
documentation.

This book is a splendid example of how public history can be
simultaneously interesting, relevant, and scholarly.

Citation

Neufeld, David, and Frank Norris., “Chilkoot Trail: Heritage Route to the Klondike,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 16, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/2054.