“Gateway” to the Alaska-Yukon Borderlands

The White Pass & Yukon Route Railway, the North-West Mounted Police, and the Klondike Gold Rush


  • Scott Dumonceaux University of Calgary




gold rush, railways, land settlement, police and policing


As the Klondike gold rush brought thousands to the Alaska-Yukon borderlands, the British owned, American operated White Pass & Yukon Route constructed a railway from Skagway, Alaska, across the far northwest corner of British Columbia, to Whitehorse, Yukon to supply the gold fields. During its early years (1898-1900), the railway faced a harsh northern environment, potentially ruinous competition, the problem of moving goods across the Alaska-Yukon border, and incorporating the line into the rest of the Yukon transportation system. The solution to these problems was to form a close relationship with the Canadian North-West Mounted Police. Working together, both groups took part in the transformation of the Alaska-Yukon borderlands, creating a functional border that allowed the police to reliably transport supplies to the Yukon and British Columbia and the railway to dominate the Yukon transportation system.

Author Biography

Scott Dumonceaux, University of Calgary

Scott Dumonceaux has a PhD in history from the University of Calgary, where he examined the role of the North-West Mounted Police and the United States Army in the Klondike gold rush and the creation of the Alaska-Yukon border. In 2021, he was a Canada Research Chair in the Study of the Canadian North Postdoctoral Fellow with the School for the Study of Canada at Trent University. He currently teaches at Mount Royal University in Calgary.