alan  skeoch
January 2021

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No yellow line…no pitch black night…this is not the bus I stole but it is the Mayo 
Road to Stewart Crossing.  And winter is coming a month from now…

Did I have  to steal that bus? I really had no choice.  Bill Scott had already flown out to Toronto. Job is over.
 Either I stay in Mayo Landing and then fly to Toronto via Whitehorse and  Edmonton or I steal
the local bus and hightail it to Stewart Crossing, abandon the bus and board the White Pass bus to Whitehorse.  This
was not an easy decision.  Not something I  would normally do.  But my intricate plans to see more of  the Yukon depended
upon getting to the junction of the Alaska Highway  then southbound to Whitehorse.  Without this bus all  plans  would collapse.
 I did  pay the bus fare…maybe.  Here is how it
happened.  Hard to forget.

Lazy day in Mayo Landing.  My last day.  Got all geophysical equipment crated and ready for  CPA  air freight to Toronto…to be
confirmed when I get to Whitehorse tomorrow.
Tonight at 1a.m. I will board the local bus for the ride
to Stewart Crossing.  Then catch the morning bus to Whitehorse.  Tight connection.  No time to spare.  Waiting
for the next bus is  out of the question.  There is  only one bus leaving Mayo Landing.   Must get on it.
Had farewell drinks with the boys…walked  around  Mayo for last time…then joined the boys in the
Chateau Inn for another beer.  That should help me sleep on the night bus.

Then I stood outside the Chateau Inn waiting for the bus.  Others were there.  Not many.  I waited  in the dark.  No bus.   Waited more.  No bus. ” Jesus, where the hell is the bus?  If I don’t get
it tonight all my plans are doomed   Where in hell’s half acre is the bus?”  I asked Al, the bartender. We  had the same first name…knew each other. By now it was  1.30 a.m.

“Where is the fucking bus?”
“Parked over on east side of town, I expect.”
“how in hell will I get to Stewart Crossing in the morning””
“Go and wake the driver…happens often.”

So I walked a distance to the edge of town. And there was the bus..sitting
there.  Doors open. Ready.  But no driver.  I went to knock on his 
cabin door but did not make it.  He had a bunch…two or three…of sled dogs
on guard.  Alsations.  Big teeth and slathering mouths. They did not like me at all. Looked  hungry or protecting or both.
Bottom line was that I could not awaken the bastard driver.  Could not get
close to his house.  How in hell would I get out of Mayo Landing tonight.

I tried the bus horn.  The bastard would not wake up.  And there dangling beside
the horn were the bus  keys.  Dare i do it?  Dare I steal the bus?  Bit of a dilemma.  Either
I take the bus or I return to Toronto by air.  My intricate plans were in jeopardy.

(Readers will not believe my decision.  I cannot believed it even now 58 years later. Some
readers will think the whole story is fabricated.  Busses are not easy to drive. And taking
a bus without a special licence is  a crime.  But Al, the bartender, said the bus driver often
misses his schedule.  Was Al also inferring that a passenger could take the bus to
Stewart Crossing and  someone would drive it back to Mayo? About 53 km.)

I just have this one chance to get to Skagway.  Limited  funds.   Must get back
to Toronto for new academic year.  Only a few days leeway.  I have already cashed in my
CPA  flight … using that money to help me take this great adventure.  The dye is cast.  So I will take the bus…car theft?  No.  I have
a ticket.  Very lame excuse.  

I  would just be  borrowing the bus…doing  the bus driver’ route…a favour…with his customers.
Hardly  theft.  But deep down I knew these excuses were pretty lame.  Finally
I justified my actions just Like a criminal would.  “There will be no one of the road
to stop me or know what I was doing.” Traffic on the night road was  about nil.

So I turned the key.  The motor fired smoothly.  I reached for the big handle that closed
the  door,  slipped in the  clutch, shifted to first gear…eased  out the clutch and the great
big bus began to move.

The passengers were waiting at the hotel.  Same place I had been waiting.  I pulled up
opened the door with the hand lever and said “Anyone going to Stewart Crossing?”  About 
four or five people…I forget how many…stepped up and found a  seat without comment
or worry.  This must have happened before.

The is only one road from Mayo to Stewart Crossing.  I think there was  a nice yellow
line for me to follow.   Not sure of that.  Once we got rolling there was no looking back.  I did not say
good bye to my crew.  They were all  in bed.  We had said our farewells
and they assumed I was on the road to where I  would meet the morning bus to Whitehorse
at Stewart Crossing…about two hours  away.

That was  a long time ago.  And my memory could be faulty..  Was I  nervous?  Probably
but there was no time for worry.  I  had  to follow … to straddle at times…that yellow  line.
No  speeding  But no delay either.  If I was late at Stewart Crossing my morning bus
to Whitehouse would be gone and then I would  really be in s pickle.

The night was black.  Traffic was nil I think.  Drivers preferred the Mayo road in
daylight in case an errant moose got in the way at night.  That was a bit of a thought
so I kept my foot ready to brake.  But nothing happened  Once in third gear I never
changed  gears until I  geared down at Stewart Crossing.  

My passengers disembarked without comment. Some nodded acknowledging the theft with
amused gratitude,  I think some were First Natons
people but unsure.  This  theft was  a non event.  It had happened  before.

It was daylight when we pulled into Stewart Crossing So I must have driven
very slowly.  Not as heroic I guess.  

We met the southbound bus with a little time to spare but not much. I asked the
garageman aT Stewart Crossing where to put he bus.  He shrugged and gave a 
laconic  “Over there, out of the way.”  So this must have happened  before.  My 
worry that the RCMP would nab me before I got to Whitehorse seemed less
and  less likely.

Boarded the White Pass bus with my riders  and sank into a
double seat to grab some shut eye.   Relief and fatigue.  We rolled  into
Whitehorse around 11 a.m.   Arranged with the CPA agent to pick up
our Turam  equipment in Mayo Landing and ship it to Dr. Paterson in Toronto.

Signed into he Capital Hotel and went to sleep.  Awoke at 3.30 pm and had a nice
hot bath and then a roast beef dinner at the Taku Motel where I met Walter Malecky…drunk
but still a fascinating man.  One of the really famous old timers.  Extroverted close
friend of Moses Lord.  We had  a drink.

Later in the evening Went to the movies to see ‘All Fall Down’…good.  Then read
a little more of ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’  before dozing off.  Quite a day. I was now
totally on my own.  Skagway here I come.   

The strangest sensation settled over me.  Loneliness. Being alone is not too much
fun.  I wonder how drunk the boys are now back in Mayo Landing.  Do I wish I was
back there?  Time moves on.  I got the distinct feeling that my adventures would 
always be centred in Keno Hill.  Hell, that was one of the big reasons I wanted
to get to Skagway, then Juneau.  Just opposite Juneau is Douglas Island where
one of the great North American mining disasters happened.  The Treadwell Mine
disaster. And that disaster
cut Livinston Wernecke loose.  And he became a legend that cannot die.  Without him
Keno City would never have had those boom years of hookers, alcohol,…his story
is still to come.


Hotel   $5.00
Meals $5.50
Taxi    $2.00
Phone calls  .20

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Takhini River Bridge, Yukon


Dan and Thom and Marjorie (of course) and Rosalind and Pat and John and Owen and Dirk and Rooter…so many others … have sent me notes saying they were sad to see the Yukon Diary is coming to a close. What a nice thing to say. Sometimes I worry that my writing is a little too earthy for sensitive ears. Writers should write about what they know and that is what I have tried to do. There are still 6 or 7 more Yukon Episodes so the Yukon will continue. And then afterwards…perhaps Slovakia in the year when the Soviet Union collapsed or South Korea whose people may have hopped from island to island to North America by boat while others crossed the Bering land bridge thousands of years ago…or my First Class journey with big Red Stevenson…no end to the stories.
My diary is so explicit that at times I feel my comments go too far. Your support is very important to me. Several of you think I am writing a book. I am not. Books are not read often. And the work writing a book often kills the spark…dampens the fire…puts out the fire. Writing Episodes is better for I actually know my readers. And, yes, I know those of you who do not read the Episodes…I do know but send them anyway.
Years ago I was co author of a particular Canadian history book. My assignment was Quebec in the 1950’s. I was in Chibougamau on my first survey job when I was in Grade eleven. I saw hatred that summer… in the form of a butcher knife vibrating in front of me at it was slammed into a table….I saw a young girl my age about to launch into a career of prostitution…I saw what made the Quiet Revolution. I wrote about that summer. Guess what happened? Right! The real gutsy stuff that had meaning was edited out… scraps on the cutting room floor. When asked to write part of the second edition, I refused. They did not want me anyway.
I much prefer to write to you.
Many of you are still stuck in those goddamn isolated homes, rooms, condominiums…I hope my stories allow your minds to fly elsewhere … to be with me on different facets of life’s journey.
Thanks for hanging around. You do not really have much choice. The Pandemic has got you…like a twist in your underwear.
P.S. Sometimes just a couple of words can trigger a verbal avalanche…mammoth tooth, pebbly conglomerate, Daisy the Labrador, Grandma’s triumph over Parkinson’s, fanning mill, butterfly, snapping turtle, childbirth, Sikorsky S52 helicopter, Bunmahon copper caves, North Bay romance, Halifax Blonde Bomber, Arnold Red Skeoch…no end to these word triggers. Events that harbour both humour and tragedy. That is not just true of me…it is true of each of you.



alan skeoch
January 2021

Monday Sept. 10,  2021

Up at 7, breakfast at Luigi’s then met Bob Gilroy after arranging flight
from Juneau to Vancouver … planned my exit adventure … getting from Mayo
Landing to Juneau…(I really  did not know how to do it)

We then drove to Silver Titan camp to pick up the claim tags…also
a blazing  axe, compass, skinning knife and rifle (30.30)   Knife did not
make much sense.  Drove  to the McQueston flats for  day of tagging
claims…if I could find the base lines.  All alone in the silence of an oncoming
winter.  There was an inch  or more of ice in the swamps and  most of
the tagging was in surface water.  I wanted to be quiet lest a bear get
wind of me.  Not possible.  Each step cracked a slab of ice. Lots of sound.

This is  the way I would meet a bear I imagined.   In truth bears stayed  away
from humans.  We do not smell good.  

Worse still was the water that percolated through the holes  in my
gum rubbers and over the tops on occasion. Goddamned cold.  Best
thing, however, was to keep moving once I found the base line
leading to the claim posts.  This was  no picnic…no easy money…this
was as  bad  or worse than conducting the Turam  survey.  Worse,
because I was all alone.  I guess that was  why Bob  gave me the
rifle.  Jesus!  I never fired rifle except once in western Alaska when we were
armed in case of Kodiak bear attacks.  We dumped  the rifles because 
the Kodiaks were stuffing their guts with dead  salmon.  No danger.
And we were dropped into our location by an  S 52 Sikorsky helicopter.
Airborne rescue could be fast.

Here I was alone.  Not too sure I even found the old base line. Seemed 
to be some blazes but they were old.  And I was cold.  This was a winter
day in the Yukon…sept. 10, 1962.

Trying to follow an old claim line was sometimes like the proverbial needle in a haystack.

But I did find the claim posts  more by chance than design.  The best kind of
claim post is a living tree that has been decapitated and marked by axe slices
on two sides.  One side faces the direction of the claim…the other faces the
direction where the other claim post can be found.  Two claim posts.   At one time these posts
had  fresh slices…easy to see.  After a year these slices had  turned Grey
and  the spruce gum had oozed our\t as if trying to scab the wound.

Every year the claims had to be tagged to indicate work had been done
on the claim.  No work had been done on any of these claims.  No one had
been in here for some time.   Later i discovered that in lieu of work the
claimer could pay $100 which is what seems to have happened on these
Silver Titan claims.  

While  miserable I was at the same time rather proud  of myself.  Bob Gilroy
thought I knew what I was doing.  He did not know that I had never
staked or tagged mining claims in my life.  But I did it.  Took a full 
day of squishy squishing my way through these swamps and forests
of stunted Yukon spruce.  But I did it.  And  I sure needed whatever
extra money they paid me.  “Be bold, Alan, pretend you know  what
you are doing…and you may discover that you do know who you are doing.”

My feet were as wet as the feet on these moose.  They were designed for that.
I was not.  (see postscript)

Made my way…squish, squishing…back to the road at 4.30.  No one there.
Walked …squish,sguishing…for 2.5 hours until I met Steve and his 
truck heading for Mayo.  No supper.   Met Bill Scott and Alex Doulis
who were in a fine good mood fuelled  by rum I assumed.  Good to see
them.  My feet were tingly at first but soon became normal.
 Ate a can of cold pork and  beans as a supper around 9.

Reported to Bob Gilroy and drew  a rough map of the tagging.  around 8 p.m.
Then Mrs.
Gilroy cooked me a nice T bone steak around 9 …(did  not mention the pork and beans
consumed earlier).  Packed gear in back of truck and drove to Hutton’s where
I had my personal stuff weighed and shipped home.  From this point I will
be travelling light.just clothes on my back, my camera and  diary.

Dropped in at the bar at 10 p.m. where Bill awaited with a couple of  drinks.
Met Fred Carter who wanted  me to see his 35mm slides. Great pictures
including interior of the Dawson City church which was slowly sinking into
the permafrost…weird to see sunday  school basement with chairs and lecturns
half covered by clear ice…sort of unsettling.   Other pics, of course, of live bears.   
Then we went back to the
bar to drink that dreaded ‘double OP’ with Fred  and Jim Moran.  

All in all the day was better at the end than it was at the beginning and
the middle.  

Now, if anyone asks me about staking mining claims I can assume 
the posture of a veteran.

Expenses    Food … Shipping personal gear  $10.52

Post script: MY FEET

Friction between  underbrush and my gum rubbers was hard on my feet.  Eventually the gum rubbers
got holes in them.  Rub!Rub! Rub!  Sometimes I stepped  on what I thought was  solid  ground and found  my foot
submerged in water. Slosh! slosh! slosh!  I got used to it.  On  the Alaska  job  I was lucky if a pair of rubber boots lasted
three weeks.  Dr. Paterson was persuaded to foot the bill for new rubber boots on that job.   The 
Yukon job  was similar  but I Kept my mouth shut.  Who wants to appear to be a  suck? Even when my feet were protesting.  When the
summer ended my feet were as  white as ivory and as  pock marked as  a No Hunting sign targeted
by a shot gun.  Skin could be peeled.  This final claim staking job was  the worst for my feet but
that was clearly my own fault.  I know this sounds trivial.  Not so.  Do an  experiment.  Walk around
for a few days with water in your boots .  Water that starts off cold but soon becomes heated by
our body temperature.  The result is  not pretty.

Fwd: EPISODE 234 YUKON DIARY SUNDAY AUUST 26, 1962 TO sept. 9, 1962

Begin forwarded message:

From: ALAN SKEOCH <alan.skeoch@rogers.com>
Subject: EPISODE 234 YUKON DIARY SUNDAY AUUST 26, 1962 TO sept. 9, 1962
Date: January 27, 2021 at 10:54:40 PM EST
To: Alan Skeoch <alan.skeoch@rogers.com>

EPISODE 234    YUKON DIARY   SUNDAY AUGUST 26, 1962 TO Sept 9,1962

alan skeoch
Jan. 2021

Mystery photo.  Either taken at beginning of Yukon job (i.e.  no beard on my face) or at
a later job on North Shore of Lake Superior.  Camps always similar.   First set up sleeping
tent…then latrine…then construct kitchen  furniture for kitchen tent.

Each camp needed a kitchen which I got good at constructing.   Hope you agree.   When  we 

left one camp for another I do not remember what happened to our food supply.  Given  away’
I think…but not the rolled oats or the peanut butter or the pork and beans.   This picture looks  like
an advertisement for Minute Rice.

 I cannot be sure where this kitchen camp was located.  My green and black  bush shirt was with me in the Yukon.  But this camp

kitchen looks too well stocked for the Yukon job.

By end of job I  had  nice full red beard

I  am wearing the same green and black bush jacket as first photo…but have beard.   This bush camp is  not as neat however.

Sunday August 25, 1962

8 a.m. Had coffee at Luigi’s and  drove to Silver Titan where Dick, the Japanese cook,
insisted I have bacon and  eggs with all trimmings.

A very dreary day with no one around. I unloaded part of the Turam gear
then continued  on to Rio Plata where Bill Scott made me another hot rum
and we continued packing the Turam gear.   Axe and  I then drove  on up
to Jack Acheson’s to pick up the huge Mammoth tooth.

We got into a fierce rainstorm back at the Rio Plata camp.  Dumped all 
the Turam  gear at Silver Titan and  then drove to town for supper and
a shower.

Hans Bahr is very excited about the anomalies we  found on their property.

Axe and Bill Scott are still very sick.  Axe paid  back the $30 he borrowed in Whitehorse.

Monday, August 27, 1962

Packed my crate full of antlers and ancient miners tools…shipped to Toronto…100 pounds
cost me $33.00…had supper with Gilroys then drove back north to Silver Titan camp
using Ruth McGurlay’s truck,  Nice  supper cooked by Dick.

Got boys together…Terry Doubt and  Bill Andrechuck.   Bill Dunn showed me his
new dog…part wolf.  And his new  car, a 1951 Pontiac,  How can he afford a car even if
11 years old?  Amusing character.

We   drove into a new property North of us and began assembling the equipment in
another new camp…a loose term as  a camp is always short term and  not pretty.
Andy brought a bottle of  Lindemsn’s Port to celebrate our new location.

Expenses  meals  $3.50. tape  $2.20

Tuesday August 28, 1962

Up at 7.30 with long day ahead of us.Terry and I packed grounding rods  and  reel of cable
to the south end  of Base Line #1.  Back to camp to do same for North end of BL #1.

Built a table  then settled down by candlelight.   Traded  stories in evening as usual.
Seems that bush  camp workers have  a never ending number of  stories some of  which
might even  be true.  The hookers of Keno City in the 1920’s are favourite subjects.

Wed.  August 29, 1962

Up at 6, out by 7.45 in pouring rain.  Managed  to get 12 lines  done which is  half  the property.
Both Terry and Andy are good  men in the bush…no complaining.  The wet bush makes  work
really miserable.  A big fire and billy can of tea was nice at lunch. (Billy can is just a fruit can with wire
for hanging over open fire).

Picture taken in late August as the trees are beginning to change colour…Fall season is short…then winter.

Came across 20 blue geese as tame as chickens

In the evening Terry and  I made beds from long poles.  Cooked  by candlelight…not good.
Got some custard  ready and we  all ate from the pot.  

Picked  up  large anomaly…largest yet in the Yukon.

Thursday August 30, 1962

UP at 7, out by 8…finished  B.L #1…12 lines.  A wet long day.   Terry tells some damn good
stories…i.e. the bear that nearly got him on a glacier….and  the girls he had  success with.

Went to bed at 6.30 … telling each other stories in the dark.

Bill Scott is working in the other tent using our Coleman lantern.   Andy decided to cook apples
tonight but pot boiled  over. Bit of a mess. Applesauce was edible. Overall things are fine now that we have a tin wood
stove in the tent as  nights are getting colder.

Terry regaled us with with story of a woman he met in Haileybury, Ontario.  Funny.  Sensitive.  Terry
knows my friend Bob Tyson back in Ontario.   Laughed  a lot in the darkness.

Diary…now reconstructed after 58 years.

Friday  August 31, 1962

Slept late…9.30…then got fellows up for a  hasty breakfast.  Ice in the water bucket .  Rolled up Base Line #1
and  laid  out Base Line #2.  Packed in  the motor generator and got everything working …even managed
to do  4 lines finishing at 6.30 pm.  Not pleasant.  We are not  tourists…work to do.

Extremely cold weather.  We needed  a big fire at noon just to get warm.   

Andy is really bitching today as  he wants to get back to Mayo Landing tomorrow evening as
his First Nations woman wants him back fast.  Not  sure how true that is…he  drinks a lot.

Terry gave a whole load of tips on women.  True?  Maybe.  Bill Scott gave all of us Hot Rum
drinks while Terry read  poetry of Robert Service.

The Northern Lights  lit up the night sky tonight…flashing  across the darkness  like lightning bolts.

Our dinner plates were frozen to the table before we had  time to dry them.  Now that is cold.
Stacked up pile of  firewood in our tent.  We will try to keep stove going all night. Must be careful as
stove is just tin plate…could get red hot and very dangerous.

Trying to pound in grounding rods … snow and  ice on the ground.

Saturday Sept. 1, 1962

Up at 6 and got out in bush by 7.30. Finished  C.L. # 3 by noon.   Had good lunch of cold french
toast and bacon…and  hot tea over the bush fire.

Andy is determined to get  to Mayo Landing … decided to hike over the mountain to Silver Titan
leaving us at noon.  Terry and I pulled ground rods and coiled  cable.  Bill Scott helped
carry out some of the load.   Terry and I heard  a scream and rushed down the trail thinking
Bill was  in trouble.   Instead we met Bill and Mr and  Mrs. Gilroy drinking beer.  Bill gave
me a can of beer and a pile of mail.

We  put our food  up in a cache where bears could not get it then packed out several loads
of the heavy equipment.   I ripped the ass  out of my pants  again so had to keep facing
Mrs. Gilroy.

Terry and I hopped in the back of the Gilroy truck…a bitterly cold northern night.  We stopped
at Elsa for beer then drove on to Mayo Landing…delighted the little girls there…so cute…then
dinner at Luigi’s  and a drink with Andy and Ted in the Silver Inn.   Quite tragic to see Andy’
so drunk…and  Ted sitting there in his own urine as it trickled down his leg to the floor and out the door.

Met Henry Robachuk  who offered me a set of caribou antlers.  Amazing how many  friends  i now
have in Mayo  Landing…end  of third month here.
(Note:  I got the Antlers  from Henry and not from Moses as previously mentioned…or
maybe they were both involved  in the gift(

Expenses  $1.85  meals

Sunday  September 2, 1962

Packed some of our gear.  Visited Mrs  Moses and bought moccasins….$20 for two pair…Took
load of  waste to the dump.  Gilroys…then visited Mrs.Robachuk and got the caribou antlers.

Bob Gilroy bought a case of beer from the bootlegger and  gave each of us  a  can.  Poor Bob
Gilroy is an alcoholic which  is very hard on Mrs. Gilroy who is a  very kind and  extroverted French
Canadian lady.  Bob is great guy…charismatic…but wonder about his future.

Drove back to the Silver Titan  camp where Dick, the cook, fed us  all … seemed surly today.
Too much alcohol around today. Mrs. Gilroy and the little girls Patricia and Susan fled in tears.

(*Note:  As mentioned earlier Mrs.  Gilroy committed  suicide around Christmas  time in 1962.
I  was  informed  by some of the boys still in Mayo Landing.   Alcohol would not be a reason…
but would be a complicating factor..
I wondered what would happen to those two little girls)

Mayo Landing airport

Monday Sept. 3, 1962

Dick had  great breakfast for us today.  Then I washed 8 pair of  dirty socks  before starting

Terry and I  packed motor generator, 2100 feet of coiled wire, 4 rods,  sledge, etc.  into the
old C.L. #2 of Silver Titan in preparation for a day of Turam work.tomorrow.  Too  many
swamps to slosh through…water is icy.

Northern lights are spectacular.

When drive shaft falls out;   Bill Scott giving advice … note U. of T. Engineerng jacket.

Bill Scott

Bill Scott…first day on the job in June.

Tuesday Sept. 4, 2021

Up ar 6…cook provided
6 slices  of bacon, 2eggs,2 pancakes,  3 cups of orange juice
and coffee.

Terry Doubt, Jim Coyle and I packed carried rest of  Turam  equipment in to C.L.#2 at
Silver Titan.   Started  motor generator and read  lines 10, 15, 17, 20 on East side of  loop.
Left off line 18 because  10 degrees off proper grid. Survey error.

Packed  equipment uphill to the road.  No easy matter as  each of us  had  60 to 70 pound 
packsacks.   Poor John Coyle had  just come off a two to three week bender…drunk in other
words.  We  really thought he would have a heart attack,  We Left packs at side of road  and hiked
into town.

Bill Dunn reported we can expect snow any time…for sure next week.   Bill Scott got
us another hot rum drink … for all crew.

Nights are getting very cold.

Wednesday Sept. 5, 1962

Snow.   All pipes and pails with water now frozen.  Steve drove us to job site.  Then Jim Coyle,
Jack Gillis, Terry Doubt and I packed Turam equipment in to the new prperty which is very wet…swampy.
Did lines 132, 134, 134, 128, 126, 122….all west lines.  

Feels like December back home.  Ice  on all the small ponds, snow flurries most of the day.

Did all my washing in the wash basin in evening.  Two letters from Marjorie  Now starting to
get serious about plans to return home..the long way rather than the direct flight from Whitehorse.
I want to get the full Yukon experience which means Skagway…need to know more about the

Treadwell mine disaster on Douglas Island near Juneau.  Know so  little about these big events

that are keyed to a man  called  Livingston Wernecke.  Hope to discover.

Thursday Sept. 6, 1962

Motor trouble today…likely dirty gas.  Cleaned  the carburetor.  Broke the governor by accident.
scraped  carb  with a spoon.  Walked out to road and borrowed Hans  Buhr’s Land Rover then
on to Elsa for repairs.  Had the master mechanic do some spot welding on the governor..excelent job.

Hard drive back to camp then walked  down Proctor’s Road to site…not much of a road, more like a track..
put things back together
and completed the layout…116, 118, 120, 124, all on west side of base line.

I feel relieved..proud of myself getting  repairs done and survey done  But my legs
are very sore.

I hope I can  get some work on the side for the next few days…tagging claims  for Hans Buhr…I will
need the money for my escape route from the Yukon.   It will be a tight trip. Have some money but
not enough.  Will take a chance anyway…be  a  shame to miss Dead Horse Pass, Skagway,
Juneau…all landlocked places…mysterious  places.

Friday, Sept. 7, 1962

Muggy day…reclaimed cable from BL #3 and talked with Hans Burr in morning.   Read  book in pm.
Our last day and Silver Titan was slow and  uncomfortable.  

Pleasant feeling now job is  over and the weight of the world  off my shoulders.
This has been fascinating job but very stressful at times.   Yukon hills are not hills.  They are

 6,000 foot mountains.

Drove to Mayo Landing with Steve Rudnicki … slept on floor of  the Tim-o-Lou Motel basement.

Visited Bob Gilroy and got job tagging claims for a day…a little extra money.   

Had a Tom Collins at the bar and later a glass of sauterne white wine and shot of
rye with Bob Gilroy…hard on my stomach I fear…gut ache.

Have got really attached to Mayo Landing and all the characters I have met…even
the drunks.  Often drinkers have nice personalities.

Saturday Sept. 8, 1962

My idea of sleeping on he floor was not a good idea….bad  night.  Had breakfast 
at Luigi’s.  Dirk and Ray were there.  Dirk put on quite a show  by vomitting…food

Bill Scott and I went to the airport to make  sure the bags got away.    Cold, bleak
day in the Yukon.  Later  we went back to the Gilroys and jointly presented a bottle
of sauterne ($4.50) which  may not have been  a good idea.   Perhaps better than
a bottle of rye whisky though.

I arranged  to take the little girls, Patricia and Susan to the movies after our
supper at Luigi’s   The show  was terrible…John Wayne at his worst…killing Indians.
Patricia fell asleep.  Susan seemed happy about the movie.

Bob Gilroy  showed us his new discovery on Silver Titan…good stock market
opportunity for us but we had no money.   Stock  tips are to always accurate.

Expenses   $5.50

Sunday Sept. 9, 1962

My last Sunday morning in Mayo Landing.  Had biscuits for breakfast, read a little…in
afternoon I helped  Bob Gilroy cutting brush.

Made  arrangements to do the tagging of  claims.
…What  a nightmare that turned out to be…ice about an

inch or two thick in the swamps where claim posts were located.

…feet freezing wet…silence…armed with a rifle and compass…so
even my final work day in the Yukon was no picnic.   We arrived  in
the Yukon two weeks after the ice was swept down the Stewart 
River…and  we left the Yukon as  the ice began  to return…3 months
later.  Now there is  One nice event though!  The goddamn mosquitoes froze to death.

YUKON DIARY   to Sept. 9, 1962..END  OF THE JOB.



Note:  This Episode might be a little too crude for some readers.  But it is
part of my experience and certainly part of the mystique of the Yukon. Read
it if you will.  You have been  warned.  Livingston Wernecke is a very large
part of  Yukon history.  His story, very upright man that he was, has  been  reserved
for a special  Episode…


alan skeoch
January 2021



(Below  is my interpretation of the night that Livingstone Wernecke, the puritanical mine manager on
Keno Hill met Vimy Ridge, the lead Madam of the  sporting girls in Keno City.  The dialogue
is fictitious but the event likely happened because  it is mentioned so often )

“Did you hear what happened to old man Wernicke last night?:
“Did he fall asleep reading the Bible?”
“Did he persuade that Swede to sell the Elsa claims cheap?”
Then what happened?”
“Old Man Wernecke paid Vimy Ridge a visit in her whorehouse in Keno City”
“The Madam who hires those sporting girls?”
“I thought he was morally pure.”
“So did one of  the boys  who was wrapped around a sporting girl at the time.”
“One of our guys?”
“What happened?”
“Our man looked  up, surprised and  said ‘So you use this place too, Mr. Wernecke.”
“And Wernecke was embarrassed…said nothing….buggered off.”
“Why was he down there? He did not like having the sporting  girls
around.  Immoral.  Giving his boys some bad habits.”
“He  went down there to make sure Vimy Ridge allowed his
doctor to check out he girls…keep diseases out of Keno.”
“What diseases?”
“Don’t be naive…the ‘Clap’…you know right well…Old Man Wernecke wanted to
make sure his boys didn’t end  up with syphillis or gonorrhoea .”
“I thought he was trying to shut down the whoring in Keno City…drive the
sporting girls down to Mayo …maybe  drive them back to Dawson where 
they came from.”
“You mean Wernecke has given up his crusade…surrendered to the Madams…”
“Reckon so.  We’ve got 800 men up here…most of us  single…Wernecke figured  he
was fighting a losing battle.  Best to keep the girls  healthy if he could.”
“What happened  to the guy wrapped  around  the sporting girl?”
“Nothing.  Wernecke just left the place.  Vimy Ridge let the mine doctor check
out her girls.  Everybody seems to have won.”



In the summer of 1960, Dr. Paterson sent me on a short job to Elliot Lake…the uranium
capital of Canada.  Weird job that did  not make much sense to me.  Can  Met UrAnium mine
had been closed down.  The stope pillars deep in the bedrock had been pulled.  The mine was
collapsing as we conducted our survey through the doomed passageways.  I suppose
it was dangerous but I was used to danger, rather liked danger.

We were assigned one of the last mine employees as an underground escort.  A rough talking, hard drinking, kind of guy.
He asked me a question while we were sitting on a boulder that had  fallen from the
mine ceiling when some roof bolts gave way.

“Alan, do you know how to tell when a mine is successful?”
“When the hookers arrive…that’s when we know.”
“Did they arrive here in Elliot Lake?”
“Sure did.  Some of them did double duty working in the mess
hall in the daytime and on heir backs at night.”
“Any still around?”
“Are you kidding.  They bugger off fast when the mine began to close down.”


In 1962 there were no hookers in Keno City.  The great Keno Hill silver/lead mines closed down
in the 1930’s…hit hard by the 1929 Stock Market collapse and the U.S. refusal  to buy foreign 
silver.  The sporting girls were gone.   

But they had been in Keno City.  Perhaps a  dozen of them, maybe a few more  They had their cabins
grouped around Keno.  The sporting girls did not dominate Keno City…not nearly as dominant as
they had been in Dawson City two decades  earlier.   some sources said that the Dawson City
prostitutes  moved to Keno City once the gold rush ended in Dawson.  Possibly so.  But age
would have crept up on them.  And active sporting girls in 1900 might be in her twenties.  That
would make her 40 or 50 operating in Keno City.  A little old.  The Madams like Bombay  
Peggy must have recruited younger girls.  Some sources say that big time criminals controlled
the trade.  But that flesh business was  long gone by 1962.   Lots of stories  circulated as is
the custom when young single men get together around a campfire.  The stories told were
amusing.  Rough. Stories taken with a pinch of salt.

Like the story of one sporting girl in Keno who walked around town stark naked except
for her painted toe nails.  The story was made more startling when someone observed
her catch and kill a rabbit with her bare feet.  The rabbit was to be her dinner that night.
Now who could believe that story?   Think about it.   Summer time in the Yukon is made
miserable by clouds  of mosquitoes so dense that it is unlikely a nude woman would
be walking around town…unless she was insane.  Do  not rule out that possibility.
Madness among these sporting girls I would not rule out.

Prostitution must be a miserable occupation.  Seems to me that The glorification of prostitution is 
exaggeration gone wild.  My experience? Zero.  Never had an inclination even.  I can identify closest
to Livingstone Wernicke.   Sounds stuffy and boring around a campfire
so most of the time I just listened to the stories.   Some were sort of amusing and  horrifying at
the same time.  Like the story told by Bill Dunn who had a successful sex  escapade in Mayo 
Landing one night.  “I fell asleep afterwards  and woke up to find the family sleeping
in the same room.  They had been there in  the dark.”  Some  readers will find that story
disgusting.  Others amusing.  Still others will find it ridiculous…fabricated.  Bill Dun had
another story that seemed  true.   “We we’re sitting in the Power wagon and she tried
to put a knife in me.”   Ring of truth there I felt.  But….

Which get  me back  to the sporting girls of Keno City.  No glory there.  Some Yukon writers
like Pierre Berton (Klondike), Jack London (Call of the Wild), Robert Service (Songs of 
a Sourdough) give readers a distorted view of the lives of  sporting girls. 

I think Dr. Aaro Aho’s book (Hills  of Silver) paints the most accurate picture of
the sporting girls of Keno City.

“Up to seven eight sporting girls operated  in Keno in the 1920’s and 1930’s. They were
known  by names  like Vancouver Lil, Jew Jess, Alice, Vimy Ridge, Silver Fox and Nora. and
most had  seriously unhappy lives.  Some were exceptionally good hearted, others cruel,
some made fortunes, but most worked for fear of their lives under organized vice rings
centred in Vancouver, at least one of them, Silver Fox, was murdered there. (in Keno  City)”

This strikes me as a bit odd.  Seven or eight sporting girls to service hundreds
of miners seems a little one sided…and exhausting.  But Dr. Aho seems to have
researched the situation.  Let’s say he missed a dozen.  Even so the population
of girls of the line is very small.  

“Nora painted her toenails and often went around in the nude….Nora was really tough
and in the 1930’s moved in with one  the successful discoverers. She got him to hire
a cook for $7 a day,  pushed dope, and  helped  him go  through $17,000in nine months
whereupon his female partner … showed up and put a  stop to it.” (P. 132 Aho, Hills of Silver)

“Marie, a good looking woman, came to Keno in 1928, did very well as ‘a girl on the line,”
bought another house, added onto it to make a restaurant, and got her boyfriend  Barney to cook
for her. She then started a taxi business, but Barney Barney began to drink up the profits….She
closed the cafe” married several other men but became more and more mentally 
disturbed and impoverished.  Finally Marie  ended up on $20 a  month welfare then in
1941 just disappeared one winter.  She was tracked to a broken bridge.  “She had no next of kin
and no one ever made enquiries or tried to find her.”

So,  Aho reduces the sporting girl population to 7or 8 and most had unhappy lives.

There were lots of things to do in Keno  City other than pay $3 a trick  to a sporting
girl. “ice-skating, tennis, poop,ball game between the mines, villages, steamboat crews, 
swimming at Five Mile Lake, and occasionally boxing.”  Add the sporting girls and
there seems to have been lots of recreation activities.   Which one dominated
Alcohol consumption.  “But from all accounts it would
appear Keno’s main recreation was drinking.” (P. 130)

Police?  The RCMP sent an  undercover man to infiltrate the criminals in Keno City.
He was successful and a police raid followed.  Guess  who the criminals were?
No mention of the sporting girls.  None.  But a lot of time and effort was spent trying
to catch the bootleggers.  Lots of them during Prohibition.  Making hone brew out
of anything they could find that could be distilled.  Proof that drinking was the main
activity in Keno  Hill.

And that still seems to be the case if you have read these episodes.

alan skeoch
Jan. 2021

Post Script:  No mention of sporting girls was made in my diary.  But I do remember
one of the guys pointing out an elderly lady in the Chateau Inn, Mayo  Landing, and
saying she was once a hooker in Keno.  She would be in her late 60’s, perhaps  70’s
in 1962.   My memory is fuzzy.  Did I see her or just hear about her?   Apparently she
returns to Mayo Landing in the summer time.  A generous person from whom old timers can
always borrow a  few dollars.  Warm hearted.  Just a memory that I hope was true.

Dawson City prostitutes and their cabins.  Not glorious at all.   

The Yukon’s dance hall queen

‘The men did not come to the Yukon for the gold; they came to see me,” Klondike Kate Rockwell, perhaps one of the most well-known dance hall girls during the Klondike Gold Rush, is quoted as saying.

‘The men did not come to the Yukon for the gold; they came to see me,” Klondike Kate Rockwell, perhaps one of the most well-known dance hall girls during the Klondike Gold Rush, is quoted as saying.

Klondike Kate was born Kathleen Eloisa Rockwell in Kansas in 1876.

It was a date she would often forget throughout her life, claiming to have been born in 1880, 1882, and even 1892.

As a young woman Kate was beautiful and full of life.

“My father showered luxury on me,” Kate told a biographer, May Mann, later in life. “How could anyone imagine that his beloved and indulged stepdaughter, who was being groomed to take her place as a society leader in the city, was destined to become a variety showgirl and a Yukon dance-hall queen?”

She was expelled from a number of boarding schools because of her behaviour.

Kate loved to dance and flirt, especially with older men.

In New York City, Kate took the name ‘Kitty Phillips’ and got a job as a chorus girl in a variety theatre.

There, Kate got her first taste of what the job entailed: “I was told to sit in one of the boxes. An old schoolmate joined my table. ‘Will you have a bottle of wine?’ he invited. ‘Oh, no, thank you,’ I replied. ‘I do not drink wine. I only drink lemonade. A bottle of wine cost five dollars and the box waiter almost fainted. My commission would have been $1.25 a bottle.”

Later one of the girls told Kate that between acts she was expected to sit and drink with the customers on a percentage commission.

“She also showed me how to pour the drinks into the spittoons when the customers were not watching,” said Kate.

She worked in Washington and Oregon before coming north to the Yukon in 1898.

“I shall never forget my first sight of Dawson,” said Kate. “Front Street, facing the Yukon was a solid line of saloons, dance halls and gambling houses.”

During her first year in Dawson City, Kate made $30,000. One night, while wearing her $1,500 gown from Paris, Kate was crowned Queen of the Yukon. The men fashioned a crown from a tin can, and stuck lit candles on the jagged points. The boys went wild as Kate danced with wax dripping into her hair.

While in Dawson Kate fell in love with a Greek waiter named Alexander Pantages.

She supported him for five years as he worked his way up in the theatre.

He sent Kate to Texas for a year to perform and make money. While Kate was gone Alexander met and married a younger girl from the “right side of the tracks.” Heartbroken, Kate sued Alexander for breach of promise to marry her.

“The woman declares that by her earnings as a vaudeville performer in the Klondike during the early strike she enabled Pantages in five years to jump from poverty to riches, from a waiter in a dance hall in Dawson to the position of theatre magnate,” reported the Dawson Daily News in June 1905.

The case was settled out of court, leaving Kate with a settlement of between $5,000 and $60,000, depending on the source.

In 1933, she married John Matson and the pair returned to Dawson City for their honeymoon.

Matson remained in the Klondike and continued mining; he and Kate rarely saw each though they wrote two letters each year.

In 1946, one of Matson’s letters did not arrive on schedule Kate began to worry and soon after his body was found frozen about 12 kilometres from his remote cabin.

Later, Kate settled in Oregon and married twice before passing away peacefully in 1957, at age 80.

The MacBride Museum has a dress, purse and wrap that were owned by the legendary dance hall girl in its collection.

This column is provided by the MacBride Museum of Yukon History. Each week it will explore a different morsel of Yukon’s modern history. For more information, or to comment on anything in this column e-mail lchalykoff@macbridemuseum.com.



  • “That was one hell of  a fire.”
    “What fire?”
    “The night not so long ago that the Keno City Hotel burned to the ground.”
    “How did it happen?”
    “No one knows for sure…but there is a police investigation.”
    “How  has he fire affected  Keno City?”
    “Well, there was never much to see in the City…now there is even less.”
    “Was it ever s city?”
    “Is it worth the trip?”
    “Yes..for sure…if you like mystery…if you like  places that time has forgotten.”
    “What about the ‘sporting girls’?
    “Once upon a time the sporting girls were here but that was long ago.”

    Too  bad.  The Keno  City hotel burned to the ground recently which means there 
    is even less of  Keno City to find.  Mysterious circumstance fire.  Now there is only
    one place to buy beer in Keno City.

    Main Street in Keno  City.  The Museum has gathered together bits and  pieces of Keno City and  Keno Hill history.
    Worth a visit?   I love adventure so  I would  without hesitation  say yes.  But if you are seeking the hurly burly days
    of the rush for silver,  then you will be disappointed.

    alan skeoch
    Jan. 2021


    How  do i give you a short impression of Keno City?  Not very udiffcult.  “If  you are looking
    for a place at the very end of the civilized world, then take a drive to Keno City.” Drive slowly
    otherwise  you might miss the  metropolis.   There is not much left to see now that the
    Keno Hotel has burned to the ground under mysterious circumstances.

     A couple of years ago  Keno City had two bars facing each other; Competing with each other
    for the trade from the population of the city.  Population?  Are there 12 or 20 residents?  No more
    than that.  If you are wanting  women  as well as  booze you will be very disappointed because
    the ‘sporting girls’ have long since departed.  

    I have come to the conclusion that rumours  of good  time girls were… like the rumour of Mark Twain’s 
    death … grossly exagerrated.  That conclusion was  made after listening to story after story of rampant prostituion in 
    Dawson City then Keno City. Stories magnified by men  who had  never been  in the Yukon in
    those bawdy house years.  Stories around a smoky campfire.  Storie told to distract from the millions
    of blood sucking bastards hovering on the smoke periphery.

    After more than three months working and drinking in and around Keno City, we never
    set our glasses down in a Keno City bar.  Was that a mistake, an accident or just good luck?
    The city was dead.  The city could not be found except in the imagination.  The closest I came
    to meeting a  Yukon prostitute was the woman  in Mayo Landing bar who offered to take
    me to her room to cut my hair.  She was about 60 years old, very large, very drunk…very sad.

    Keno City was never ever a City.  Nor will it ever become a city.  When  I passed through Keno City
    in 1962, I was  stunned.   What city?  In1962 there were still some  reminders of better times.  Houses
    and buildings in need of paint and attention to detail   Some boarded up.  No real main street. I do not
    even remember any sign that there had ever been a main street except for a large false fronted
    commercial building that could have once been store.   In 1962 there were only 20 people living
    in Keno City.  Today, in 2021, I noted the population had fallen to 12.   Today they cannot even drink 
    the water in the  town because it is loaded with arsenic which has percolated down from the
    Keno Hill silver mine at the top of Keno Hill and the Wernecke Camp mine halfway up.

    Stories told of the boom times in Keno City usually spent a lot of print on the ‘sporting girls’…the
    hookers (prostitutes)  that migrated from Dawson City to Keno City in the 1920’s and 1930’s.
    Dozens of them apparently organized and  housed by famous madams like Bombay Peggy, Ruby Scott and Tiger Lil…women
    who had done well in the skin trade of Dawson.

    Most stories I heard over campfires at night were  lurid enough to make me believe that Keno City
    was once devoted only to prostitution.  Servicing the 800 or so men who got every second Sunday
    off and had no place to spend their money except Keno City which was a bit of a boom town down at 
    the bottom of  Keno Hill  in the 1920’s and 1930’s.  To stop fights for access to women and liquor the mine
    owners made sure that the day off Sundays were  staggered.

    In truth Keno Hill was never a place where there was no law and order.  Eventually an RCMP detachment
    was stationed in Keno but the officers seemed to spend most of their time trying to find illegal makers of
    moonshine…bootleggers in other words.  And they failed at that job since there were lots  of  places
    to hide stills.

    There was no need for a jail in Keno City.  Instead there was the flagpole.  Residents that needed police
    discipline were simply handcuffed to the flagpole as a feast for mosqitoes in the summer time and near
    frozen to death in the winter time where temperatures could get as low as 50 below zero.

    If  you thirst for adventure then Keno City is the place to visit.  I mean it.  A city that never 
    existed really.   Worth the drive?  I would say yes…for sure.   If  you want to find a city at
    the end of  our civilized world.


    This is the famous  street of prostitutes  in Dawson City.  When the gold was gone they moved
    to Keno City where silver had  been  found in the 1920’s and 1930’s.   Being a sporting girl
    was never glorious or very profitable for most of the girls.




                               “WHAT CAN GO WRONG, WILL GO WRONG”
    alan skeoch
    Jan   2021

     Silver Titan and Peso Silver base camp.  Best tent camp we ever experienced
    in the Yukon.   Most of the tents were used by The mining crew. While we were in this camp the old Silver Titan mine of the 1930’s was
    being pumped out.  The flooded mine was almost intact as the timbers shoring up
    the mine had been protected   from wood rot by the water.  The question on the minds
    of he mining executives was ‘How much galena ore remained?”  We were expected
    to help answer that question.

    Our campsite  construction was not as polished.  

    We had a far less attractive campsite on the banks of Haggart Creek which
    we used part of the time.


    Sunday August 5, 1962

    Cooked pancakes which we ate standing up because everything was soaked
    in the tent…rain got through…torrential rain.  Then spent time building shelves
    seat, table for the cook tent.

    Camp looks good now we have a stove …need heat …cool nights.

    Cooked supper for Bill Scott and Axel…potato patties  with cheese  and bacon,
    rice, tea and coffee…sherry before supper…cognac after supper…not a bad
    life Sunday afternoon and evening in the Yukon bush.

    The creek has turned into a raging torrent wiping out our little dam but
    sluice system is still working.  (Why did we need a sluice?  No idea.)

    Monday  August 6, 1962

    Pancakes and syrup again.  Fred arrived from Peso  and offered  us a lift
    into town. Axel, Bill and I wound up 1500 feet of cable.  Drove to Peso and
    then to  Elsa and then to Mayo.  (Correction distance from Keno City to 
    Mayo Landing is 50 km, not 60 miles. The trip just seemed like 60 miles)
    Truck had 2 flat tires on the way…one
    front tire happened at 60 mph.  Thanks to Fred no one was hurt.

    Luigi picked us up and took us to town…Gilroy’s house…then got groceries
    and borrowed Bob Gilroy’s truck to drive out and fix tires on Peso truck.
    Supper at Luigi’s cafe then to Chateau  Inn bar….port wine with Bill Wells,
    Fred, Axel, Bob Gilroy, Terry and Lorenson.   Rolling  discussion of religion
    of all things.    The  fellows Told stories of incidents in Yellowknife.

    A First Nations woman  joined us later.  Wanted me to 
    go up to her room for a haircut.   Rather silly but amusing. 

    Fred and I split cost of room for the night…last room available.    

    I had  a bad leg cramp.

    Expenses   meals   2.25
                      repellent   4.90
                     groceries   15.82

    Tuesday  August 7, 1962

    Bob Gilroy picked us  up for trip to Silver Titan mine site to look at
    diamond drill core…Comment….”granite Schist with Pyrite  disseminated at 190 to 205 foot level.”

    Had great dinner then drove to Proctor’s with the Rio Plata and Silver Titan boys.

    Bill Scott hitch  hiked to Mayo Landing for a time.   I stayed with the Rio Plata 
    boys while we waited  for job.   Spent pleasant time reading  handwriting…book
    Sons and Daughters.

    expenses   1.75  meals

    Wednesday August 8, 1962

    Alex cooked breakfast then Fred Carter dropped in for coffee.    Pile of mail
    arrived at 4 pm.  Nice  music on radio …CBC from Whitehorse.  Wrote Marjorie
    and Eric. At 10.30 got word Eric job problem.   (turned out to be both funny and

    Thursday, August 9, 1962

    Rain.  Packed up in afternoon and drove to town …powerful rainstorm….arrived 7.15

    No sign of Bill Scott.  Tragedy.  Went to Gilroy’s and was told Bill’s father was seriously ill…dying…
    in Toronto…Bill had caught the DC 3 flight to Whitehorse and then on to Toronto.
    Hard to believe this could happen.   Severe illness and death are never expected because
    most of us are young.

    Telegram arrived from Dr. Paterson

    “To  A. Skeoch.
    Paterson  Hunting Survey Corp.

    I sent reply immediately


    Friday August 10, 1962

    Poor sleep..nervous night.  Wrote letter to Bill Scott.   Bob Gilroy came . Seems we will be OK.

      Arranged wth CPA for refund of my ticket home…$194.00///
    I plan to use the money to travel by different route.  Any money above my airfare is my

    Repaired Turam was not on flight today.  Bob Gilroy offered me a day’s work at Silver Titan for
    pocket money…what a relief.,,we now have 3 camps 110 miles apart.  

    Ted Swanson, Dirk and I split a bottle of Schenley’s and traded B.S. as usual.

    Mrs. Gilroy told us how her daughter explained a ride home with me…ie. a stranger…
    “He was a friend  of  Jesus Christ”…ie. my beard and Jesus beard made us look similar.

    Expenses   5.50 meals
                       6.00  board 

    Saturday  August 11, 1962

    UP at 6.45….breakfast…went down to the old diamond drill site and  tied in two lines….got soaked in the effort.
    …returned  to camp….afternoon  plotted…did lines 52, 62, tying them in to old lines 1,2.  then 34, 40 to R. Base  Line.
    Exchange results superimposed  and found some errors.  Met Bob Gilroy and informed him…(corrections?)

    In the evening I drove to Elsa to make two iong distance phone  calls…1) A. Donlis in Mayo  2)CPA in Whitehorse.
    Had to get secretary to mine manager to open office.  Took 3 hours  and  no luck.   Bought Bill Dunn coffee and
    also got copy of  Atlantic magazine.

    Expenses    meals, phone calls.

    Sunday August 12, 1962

    6.45 up…then down to old R. Base Line (1956) and tried  lines 46,,48, 54, 56, from T Base Line to R. Base Line…all
    in general agreement.   Made my inked location map for Bob Gilroy;   Sent Bill Dunn down to Base Line #3 to haul
    cable  and load reels.

    Axel Doulis arrived at 11 am.  I had Dick prepare lunch for him and then drive him to Rio Plata.  I just hate that 2 hour
    drive.  The Land Rover was covered in mud.   

    Saw two moose on the road but did not get pictures. Drove back to camp as  fast as possible and finished location map .
    Had steak for supper at 5 pm.  Packed  bag and  drove to Mayo Landing…checked in to the Tim-o-Lou…shower then
    bed.  I am not feeling too well.

    Monday August 13, 1962

    Bad sleep…had shower and changed clothes. Telegram arrived




    Tough for poor Bill Scott.  Then things got very busy.   Ordered two pairs of  moccasins from  Mrs.  Moses  (Mackenzie First Nations)
    she is local chef’s wife. 

    Drove to airport  and picked up instrument directly from the DC 3 .  Then  got my crew organized which was no easy matter.
    Got Moses Lord from his cabin full of  females…mother, sisters, etc. then Bill Dunn from the bar. Arranged to pay
    motel  bill later as money is really tight even with the 200 from Toronto…no problem.   Then met Ray and Len
    in Chateau Inn bar…drunk as lords.   I had  a nice Tom Collins drink and great supper at Luigi’s.

    Got haircut at Mrs. McCameny’s (1.25 plus 25)  …changed my appearance  so much that I  wore my
    good  pants  all day…partly because there was no rear in  my other pair…ass showing.  

    Drove back  to Rio Plata over the worst goddamned road in North America.  Spent evening getting ready
    for hard day  tomorrow.


    Tuesday  August 13, 1962

    Got boys on job early then the #$%^  Turam refused  to function.  Spent 2 hours trying to repair but failed…drove to town.
    Met crew of  Peso Silver en route.

    Phoned Toronto…Barrie Nichols and ordered a  Ronka instrument for  the Rio Plata job.  Signed in to Tim-o-Lou.
    Terribly frustrating.   Found bit of escapism in evening at movie in Oddfellows  hall titled Dark at the Top of the Stairs.

    Had drink at Hotel.   Moses Lord arrived in bad mood which is  unusual for him.

    Expenses   Meals, motel.

    Wednesday August 15, 1962


    Copy of report to Silver Titan Mines re: Turam system sent June 14, 1962

    Telegram from Toronto.  Ronka  en route.  Must send Turam back  immediately…drove all the way to Whitehorse
    (250 miles) in Land Rover…arrived very tired…signed  into hotel that was once army barracks in WW2.

    Borrowed $100 from Bob Gilroy for travelling expenses as the  200 from Toronto is not enough. Lent Axel $30 in
    Whitehorse.   Nightmare time.  Have no idea  what is  wrong with Turam…tubes?  Did check all  connections with
    meter…seem fine.  Alternative Ronka could be better.  But unsure.  Turam is old.  I will be found  at fault I fear.

    Expenses   food 6.00, gas and oil 4.50   hotel 8.00 phone call 2.40, transportation ?? makers .70

    MAKING repairs … testing circuits.  Do not remember this site;  A real bed…Should have been unforgettable…likely in Mayo hotel room.

    Thursday August 16,  1962

    Out to CPA office  with Turam…shipped it air freight to Toronto.  Shopped A bit.  Had a beer at the Taku.
    Bought Marjorie a pair of  ear rings $11.70.   Bought pair of trousers $5.95

    In the evening we drove  down to Lake Bennett with Mike Scott and Ben Stangel … stopped at a 
    cabin filled with all kinds  of  trinkets and things (copper)used by Indians before  white men arrived.
    Moose,  Bear, Sheep, Caribou heads on walls also picture  of  Teddy Roosevelt and Sir Wilfred Laurier.

    Lake Bennett is a  beautiful emerald green colour.   But worry about the job trumps beauty of the lake.
    What else can go  wrong?

    Expenses   meals  7.50, transport 3.00, telephone 2.40

    Lake Bennett with White Pass Railway passenger train … Skagway to and from Whitehorse.   This is the route I will take when I leave
    the Yukon.  Skagway was the jump off point for access to the Yukon in the 1890’s.  

    Lake Bennett camp in 1900

    Boat building on shores of Lake Bennett. in 1900;   Plan was to float down the Yukon River to the goldfields
    of Dawson City.  Sounds more glorious than the trip really was.  People died.

    Bennett Lake.jpg
    Breathtaking Lake Bennett in winter.  Beautiful and  brutal in gold rush days.

    Friday August 17, 1962

    Axel still asleep when I went sopping.  robert service book $5.95, necklace for mom $5.95, Slide film $1.00.

    Back to hotel and sent letters to Toronto and  Vancouver offices.  Drove to airport st 1 pm and picked up the Ronka
    from CPA truck.   They were keeping it at Whitehorse for the night.  Started long journey back to Mayo…raining all
    the way.  Spectacular red  glare gave eerie effect  around 8 pm.  In Mayo we had a drink and went to bed.

    Drink, drink , drink seems to give reason for living up here.

    I am quite anxious about the future…will everything work?

    Expenses   meals 5.50, transport ??, telephone,  gas and oil 3.93

    Saturday August 20, 1962

    Telegram delivered 3 days late.    Telephoned  Norm as instructed.  He sounded rather disturbed.  Claims Turam trouble
    was only tube trouble.  Seems strange to me because all tubes tested AOK.  Norm think Ronka will not operate successfully.
    ..because of overburden effects.   Decided to use it until new  instrument arrives with Bill Scott.

    Axel and I rounded  up Moses Lord who was  drunk…everyone seems to be drunk this morning.

    Bad air disaster north here … one killed, two badly injured…flown to Mao hospital.

    Drove out to Rio Plata after talking with Dr. Aho.  Didlines 48, 46 East and West with Ronka using 300 foot spread.  
    Results  are not at all appealing…quite erratic.    

    Hugh Naylor, Ron and Dr. Aho dropped in… explained what Dr. Paterson said huge
    overburden here could effect Rpnka.  

    I am damned depressed.  Doing the best I can.  Wish  I could do more.

    Expenses   food 3.50

    Sunday August 19, 1962

    Up early and out with the Ronka. Did lines 2 and 4 North with 200 foot and 300 foot spreads.  Checked lines 26 north on Peso property
    Spent dreadfull day in the rain….poor lunch with no drinking water while rain poured down.

    Moses Lord has the flu but had to use him all the same.   Bad situation.  We came across 5 ptarmigan.  Ate low bush
    cranberries and blueberries. 

    In evening things looked up.  Plotting results.  Notice anomalies…things I cannot explain in other words..

    Very tired.  Told we must expect rain from now until freeze up.   Cheered up by results however.

    Monday August 20, 1962

    Up early…plotted some results on graph paper…quick  breakfast and the out on the trail…did lines 8, 10,  12, 14 with 
    300 for spread.  Then lines16, 18 with 200 foot spread.

    Moses Lord is very sick  and went to bed early.  I opened a can  of chicken stew for supper then began plotting
    the results for several hours.

    Listened to a play from CBC radio from Winnipeg.  Then got stove going for bed. Still feel very depressed…doing
    all I can.   Third  year with Turam so do  know something about it…can  make minor repairs
    but not major repairs I cannot.  Defective tube?  

    Axel drove out to get Bill Scott this  afternoon…expect him back  late tonight or in the morning.

    Getting anxious to go home…feel something is not right back in Toronto.

    Tuesday  August 21, 1962

    Got Moses  our of bed…he is dreadfully ill.  Spent day extending the western grounding rods then did
    lines16N, 20N, 24N,28N, 32N, 36N, 30N,  44N.  It was a hard  day  for Moses who should  be in bed.  I cooked
    supper and he went to bed immediately.

    I spent next few hours depressed. Wrote  letter and  read a little from Generation of Vipers.

    At 9 pm the Land Rover arrived with Bill Scot, John andAxel.  I was very happy to see Bill and
    the Turam which had been repaired.   Bill thought my work shirt smelled … likely true.
      He has  been through a rough time.

    Apparently Bill Dunn got into trouble by leaving s  loaded  30-06 fully loaded rifle on the bar and
    Al, the bartender, pulled the trigger.  WHAM!   Everyone hit the floor.  Bill caught hell.

    Received some happy mail from Marjorie,  mom and Wally Little…and Dr. John Stam.
    Also received my copies  of the Peso Silver and Silver Titan properties.  Pleasant evening
    with Bill and Axel.   A new man arrived…First Nations person to replace poor Moses.

    Wednesday August 22,  1962

    Joy!  We covered  4.28 line miles with the new Turam….half finished Base Line #1…Moses Lord wanted
    to work so joined new man John Peter.  Rained all day long.  

    Found old prospectors cabin plus lots of  fresh bear shit.  No danger as bears  are
    quite happily wolfing down blueberries, swamp apples  and red currents and  cranberries.

    In the evening I was inspired enough to do  my washing.  Sent my $93.00 second  instalment to the
    Ontario College of Education…total tuition is $163.00.  Cut out some more newspaper clippings from
    the old World War I wallpaper magazines.  

    Moses  Lord  has recovered. Joking about.  Really good fellow to work with.  Seems  other First Nation
    people look up to him.

    Got $100 from  Bill Scott to pay loan  from Bob Gilroy. The company really left me in the lurch
    after Bill left so suddenly.  Lucky we could get credit.

    Thursday August 23, 2021

    Out in the cold rain  by 8 am.  Poured rain all day  long. I kept the men moving and we managed to complete
    Base Line #1…no small task …3.5 line miles then coiling up cable.  steep up and down.

    Lunch was quite an experience.  we built a  roaring fire using  3 trees in an effort to dry our raincoats.
    But the rain kept falling so drying was hopeless.  Ate two peanut butter sandwiches

    Came back to camp.  t Bill and Axel were planning a trip to town. No food in camp.

    Friday August 24, 1962

    Skimpy breakfast of 2 scrambled eggs then out to work on Base Line #2…in the pouring rain of  course.
    Done.  Coiled up Base Lines 1 and 2…then put down Base Line #5.  Had to bolt 3 bridges…log across streams.

    Back at camp  at 5 and prepared ghastly supper of the last of  our bacon and sardines.

    Wheland Read and Jack Acheson dropped in with the Mammoth Tooth for me.   Brad  Pearson arrived
    anticipating a letter from his wife but he was disappointed.

    Plannned trip to  Dublin  Gulch to explore an old adit.

    We have no bread, no milk, no meat.   Hope some groceries arrive.

    Saturday August 25, 1962

    Moses made French Toast for us all.  Bill Scott is sick with the flue  as are whole crew except me.  Started Base Line
    #5 at 8 am…south side lines 0 to 20 .  Finished by noon so pulled the grounding rods and went
    back to camp.   Bill Scott made me a nice hot rum/.   Then we went back out with  Bill to coil cable.

    Drove up Dublin Gulch and bought 3 nuggets from George…$2.50, $2.25 and 90 cents…got big one for Bill
    Scott at $4.50.   Moses,  John and I then explored the old adit using our Coleman Lantern…fantastic ice
    crystals have formed in the stillness.

    Back to camp for a roast beef dinner…groceries have arrived.  Beef tough…chewy.

    Since Bill Scott and Axel were sick I had to drive Moses and John to town later in evening.  Chased a
    black bear down the road.  Arrived in Mayo at 9.30.  Visited the Gilroys.  Treated royally….2 glasses of white wine
    and wedge of lemon pie.

    Bob Gilroy offered Terry Doubt as helper since all are sick in our camp..  Moses and John are off to another job.  I will miss them.

    White Gold starts drilling at Titan project, shares upwww.mining.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/White-Gold-Yukon-300×184.jpg 300w, www.mining.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/White-Gold-Yukon-768×471.jpg 768w” sizes=”(max-width: 927px) 100vw, 927px” apple-inline=”yes” id=”7E6716A2-1F02-4DDE-B7BF-240C3A75AC2A” src=”http://alanskeoch.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/White-Gold-Yukon.jpg”>
    The Yukon Hiils were once mountains.  Time, Erosion, glaciation ground the mountains down hence
    the gold nuggets on the bed rock …Heavy.

    alan skeoch



    alan skeoch’
    Jan 2021

    Today is a day for thought.  While  surveying in the Yukon we often came  across
    old log cabins that had been abandoned decades earlier.  Most often they had collapsed but
    A few were habitable.  One of those we lived  in for a time.  Dr. Aho’s book speculates
    on the contents.  Remember the  buildings were small, maybe the size of your living room
    or Your garage.  What was considered  necessary? 

    Our cabin had the luxury of a linoleum floor.  1962.  What else would
    have been there in 1930?  1920?

    What colour is my nightshirt?


    The cabins that gold miners built were not large… about the size of a garage…some bigger, most smaller.
    Dr. Aho speculated on what the interior of these cabins contained.  He  knew.  Dr. Aho spent a lot
    of time looking at these cabins. And talking to the men who lived in them.

    “The cabins were rough and unpainted with moss-chinked walls…one or at most two rooms…small four paned windows….
    doors rough slabs. Furnished with only the bare necessities….shelves stacked with groceries, tobacco, ore samples,
    gold scales, lanterns, cans, boxes, reading material, candles and ammunition.   In the corners or hung on the walls
    were boots, clothes, dog harness, picks, axes, cobblers’ kits, tools, boxes of junk, pack sacks, moccasins, socks, 
    rifles snd moose horns.  On spruce  pole cots were  eider down or fur sleeping bags snd clothes.   A small stove
    firewood, kindling, paper,  water barrel, wash basin and soap in one corner….small kitchen with utensils…hand made
    table and  chairs.  Brooms from spruce boughs..” (Hills of Silver, The Yukon’s Mighty Keno Hill Mine by Dr. Aaro E. Aho)

    How did the  cabin smell?  Fishy (cheap, easy to get but rotted fast)…also smell of tobacco…perhaps the odd skin or two being scraped.. foul smell.  And the smell
    of human beings.  Latrine was never far away from the cabin.  Sometimes  very close as ‘on the back porch’
    This  was  a very rough way to live.

    Add to all this a 45 gallon oil drum converted into a  kind of furnace with iron legs resting on a bed of rocks.
    Any person staying around Keno City or the mines faced cruel winter temperatures.  Mayo Landing
    is the coldest place to live in North America.   That 45 gallon drum had to be converted into a furnace
    …fed every two hours from a pile of cordwood stacked close by.
    local supplies were soon consumed. Firewood more and more expensive as trees were consumed. Sleep interrupted by need to feed the fire every two hours.

    Some placer miners  like Jack Acheson shut everything down when freeze up arrived and headed south.
    Over wintering in Keno was something to avoid    But people did stay the winter…still do. Some kept dog teams for winter transportation.  Dogs
    had to eat.   One such person said he would need between 30 to 60 moose just to feed  his dogs.
    Terrible cost on the wild population.

    Our cabin was pure luxury…we  had a  linoleum floor and a screen door
    On the right side of Bill Dunn is a 45 gallon drum…the winter furnace.  Imagine
    how much of the floor space that hand  made furnace would need Imagine the
    danger if the cordwood and  kindling got just a little too close to the hot drum.

    Picture of a corner in this  cabin where the miners are panning gold from concentrate.
    Why do this  finishing inside the cabin?  Because the cold outside is  a  killer cold.
    Take a look at the log walls. Lots  of room for mice, perhaps  rats,  to squeeze their
    way inside.

    This cabin  we found on one of our trails.  Barely big enough to fit a toy car.  Now imagine all
    those items quoted by Aho fitted into this place.  No room to move.

    This was once the horse stable on Keno Hill’s Wernecke Mine.  There were 98 horses used.   The stable could  not
    possible hold them all.  Half would be stabled in Mayo Landing.  That leaves 48 horses here or nearby.  Tough animals.
    Some still existed in 1962.  Maybe even today in 2021.

    Log cabins  in Keno City…some big, most small.

    This is the interior of s cabin we used in Algoma.  Quite spacious.  Big stove.  Marjorie joined  us  on that job.  NO roads. Marjoire
    arrived by train…the ACR…Algoma Central Railwsy.  She brought our cat, Presque Neige, and her electric sewing machine.
    Gave us  all a laugh.  We had wolves  howling at night so the cat became house bound.  And we had  no electricity.  We  still have that
    feather lined  sleeping  bag…comfy.,,fits two people…warm.  Few of the protectors were married (which is understandable).  Mine
    owners provided good company  houses for families.  But small by today’s standards.  When the mine At Elss closed in
    1989 the houses were sold off and trucked to god knows where.  

    Here is another abandoned…tiny…log cabin.

    On the Yukon job I packed everything in my rucksack and my brief case.  Packed for three months… everything needed had to
    be in those two bags.  Glad I packed Pierre Berton’s Klondike and Robert Services’ poems. Wish they had been paperbacks.

    Challenge:  Imagine you have to paick for three months but only have one rucksack.  What would you take?
    …remember to take lots of heavy socks.  Forget your computer and iPhone…useless.  One shirt?  Two pairs
    of pants, 2 underwear…etc. etc.  Camera?  A luxury item but worth taking.. Film?  Hard to get.

    alan skeoch
    Jan. 2021