Across Canada to the Klondyke: Being the Journal of a Ten Thousand Mile Tour through the "Great North West," July 19th-October 13th, 1900
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography
Jami van Haaften is a librarian and author of An Index to Selected
Canadian Provincial Government Publications for Librarians, Teachers and
Harry Graham chronicles a cross-Canada trip undertaken by Lord Minto, Governor General of Canada, in 1900. Mr. Graham served as Aide de Camp and Acting Military Secretary from 1898 to 1904. He made writing his career in 1906 upon retiring from the army. The appendix lists 38 theatrical works and 32 poems, essays, short stories, and bibliographical works written from 1899 to 1932.
The Governor General was to gather information for Queen Victoria, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, and Ministers of the Crown relating to reform in the management of the Yukon and resolution of a boundary dispute. He was accompanied by members of his family and staff.
Mr. Graham seems to have had ample opportunity to record his observations. He suggests that his impressions may be “founded upon the insular prejudices of the average English mind”; this would account for the imperial tone of some of his writing as the Vice-Regal party visits the far reaches of the colony.
The journey totals over 10,000 miles by train, boat, and horseback from Ottawa to Dawson and back. Two maps provide fine detail for the reader, and geographical references acquaint one with the modern-day place names for many of the spots mentioned in the journal.
While the official aspects of the tour are down-played, the Aide de Camp provides all the colour and scenery to make this an important record of Canadian life. His sense of humour and his obvious affection for “Their Excellencies” come through page after page.
The author adds interesting tid-bits to his travelogue, reciting local lore, explaining the origin of place names, and commenting on the characteristics of the people in various towns.
Ottawa, “the City of Sawdust and Civil servants,” is compared to Dawson, and the reader begins to feel the Yukon capital is a more interesting settlement. Mr. Graham’s observations are valuable not only for their detail, but also because he was afforded a view of Canada not accessible to the average traveler of the period.