Law of the Yukon: A Pictorial History of the Mounted Police in the Yukon


192 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-9694612-8-3
DDC 971.9'102




Reviewed by Trevor S. Raymond

Trevor S. Raymond is a teacher and librarian with the Peel Board of Education and editor of Canadian Holmes.


Whitehorse author Helene Dobrowolsky has skilfully woven together 200
photographs with a fascinating text in this chronicle of the Royal
Canadian Mounted Police in the Yukon from 1895 to 1995. There are brief
accounts of triumphs and tragedies large and small, such as the
internationally publicized hunt for the Mad Trapper, and the bizarre
“Midnight Sun Conspiracy” (when rumors of a plot by Americans to
seize the Yukon by force caused Ottawa to send reinforcements and arms
to the north). There had been an earlier influx of Americans to the
Yukon, but happily for Canada, the then North-West Mounted Police, which
were established there two years before the great Yukon gold rush began,
were able to represent Canadian interests in the face of great pressure.
The Mounties “shouldered the responsibility of maintaining good
international relations” again during the construction of the Alaska
Highway, when a real American army arrived, “many of [whose soldiers]
were unaware that they were in a different country.”

The volume also contains brief biographies of some of the distinguished
RCMP officers; one, who eventually commanded the entire force in the
Yukon, was the grandson of an American president. Of the years when
Mounties carried tons of mail by dogsled 600 miles from Dawson to
Skagway, Alaska, the author says, “[n]early every trip was a saga of
hardship.” Other hardships were borne by women. We read also of First
Nations special constables and guides. The author’s documentation is
extensive; some 250 endnotes indicate sources and elaborate on points in
the text. There is a bibliography and a thorough index. This volume will
no doubt be a forerunner of many books that will mark the upcoming
centenary of the Yukon gold rush. It will be a fine companion to the
best of them.


Dobrowolsky, Helene., “Law of the Yukon: A Pictorial History of the Mounted Police in the Yukon,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 19, 2024,