Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in Heritage Sites

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Forty Mile: Forty Mile Timeline

Chief Alexander and his family at Forty Mile, 1901.

Chief Alexander and his family at Forty Mile, 1901.

Library and Archives Canada, # PA-017088.

2300 b.p

Archaeological investigations show that this place was a base for First Nations people who hunted and fished in the area.

1874

Jack McQuesten of the Alaska Commercial Company set up the first trading post in Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in traditional territory at Fort Reliance. Hän people helped build the store and hunted for the traders.

1886

September, Harry Madison and Howard Franklin discovered coarse gold on the Fortymile River, 23 miles above its mouth.

1887

The gold find on the Fortymile River attracted hundreds of miners. Hän people helped Jack McQuesten and Arthur Harper build an Alaska Commercial Company trading post at the confluence of the Fortymile and Yukon Rivers. Around it grew the log cabin community of Forty Mile.

1892

Anglican missionaries, Bishop William Carpenter Bompas and his wife Charlotte, arrived at Forty Mile with to build a school and church. The First Nations camp was built around the church buildings on Mission Island. The Bompas’ took in a few children to board and their home became the Yukon’s first residential school.

1893

American trader John J. Healy of the North American Trading and Transportation Company (NATT) built a new trading post, Fort Cudahy, across the river from Forty Mile.

1896

16 August - George Carmack, Dawson Charlie and Skookum Jim staked the discovery claims on Rabbit (soon renamed Bonanza) Creek. Soon after the claims were registered at Forty Mile, miners begin stampeding upriver to the new diggings.

1898

After being “almost deserted” the previous year, the population of Forty Mile was recorded as “200 white men and 80 Indians”. Mounties set up a two-man town detachment at Forty Mile. According to Inspector Scarth, most of the First Nations people living there mostly came from Alaska or “the other side of the line.”

1900

Telegraph office opened at Forty Mile. The Dominion Telegraph Line was extended to the American border and then connected with the US Signal Corps system.

1903

Potlatch held to celebrate Peter becoming hereditary chief of Fortymile people replacing his father David. First Nations people attended from Moosehide, Peel River, Tanana, Mackenzie River and Charley Creek areas.

1938

The one-man RCMP detachment was closed.

1958

Death of Bill Couture, the last resident of Forty Mile.

1967

October, Cassiar Asbestos Corporation Limited opened an open pit asbestos mine at Clinton Creek, upriver from Forty Mile. The historic townsite became a recreational area for the miners and their families.

1973

Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in citizens began negotiating for a land claim settlement. The Forty Mile site was identified as being significant to Hän culture and history.

1978

Closing of asbestos mine and abandonment of company town at Clinton Creek.

1998

Signing of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in final agreement at Moosehide Gathering.

T.J. Hammer began archaeological work at Forty Mile. He and Chris Thomas work with Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in students over the next eight summers to help document the prehistoric heritage of the area.

2006

June 11 - Signing of the Forty Mile Management Plan in a ceremony at Forty Mile, hosted by Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and Yukon Government.

2009

Flooding of the Forty Mile site and more damage to some of the buildings.

Forty Mile Firsts

  • the Yukon’s first major gold strike (September 1886)
  • the development of new placer mining techniques
  • the Yukon’s first real non-native settlement (1887)
  • the Yukon’s first residential school (1893)
  • first meeting between Canadian government representatives and Hän people (1894)
  • the Yukon’s first post office (1894)
  • founding of the fraternal organization, the Yukon Order of Pioneers (YOOP) in 1894
  • Forty Mile became the place where the Canadian Government first raised the flag in the Yukon and collected customs taxes (1894)
  • the Yukon’s first Mounted Police post (1895)