John Leonard was right there when it all happened. He personally interviewed many of the important gold seekers who today are recognized as the key players in the discovery and exploitation of the Klondike's fabulous hoard of gold. And he rushed into print a first-hand account of what the excitement was all about and what the hopeful stampeder had in store for him if he or she (almost every one of them was a he, but not all) caught the gold bug and headed north.
This book is his book. It was rescued by a turn-of-the-century Dawson resident, who passed it along many years ago to George Shaw, a merchant in Dawson and later an elected member of the fledgling government of Canada's Yukon Territory.
The story is the story of Leonard told to the world just after the first steamship loaded with unbelievable riches from the Klondike reached Seattle. It is not embellished. It is not larded with fiction. It is the straight facts, as well as he could put them together in those hectic, exciting days. It is the story everyone who survived the gold rush knew, but few recorded in such detail and so completely.
It is a good story. It explains most of the questions one may have about those years, and it does it all without pretension.
In the exciting years of the Klondike gold rush, gold was found throughout Alaska and the Canadian northwest. Borders were a mere formality and by far the largest number of gold seekers were from the lower United States.
To the gold miners, it was all the same, except for the high degree of law and order maintained by the Northwest Mounted Police, who, on the Canadian side, adopted rules that measurably increased the gold seekers' likelihood of survival the requirement of one ton of food per person headed for the pass and the ban on firearms.
At the heart of it all, Dawson City thrived. At the peak of the gold rush, it became the second larges city in the west, second only to San Francisco itself. Sometimes estimates put its population at close to 30,000 a far cry from the 800 or so who live there year round today.
Little is known about the author John W. Leonard. He provides only this brief glimpse of himself:
My own acquaintance with mining covers a third of a century, beginning with a toilsome and perilous trip to the Echuca diggings in Australia in 1864, but after all those years, during which I have been in many mining districts all over the world, I am free to confess that the Klondike discoveries outclass all of the great gold strikes I ever knew or heard of.
For the sake of authenticity, we have left the text exactly as it appeared in print errors, poor grammar, misspellings and all. The illustrations are also faithful copies of the originals, although we have changed their placement to locate them more closely to the text they enhance.
The original book contained a few photographs, but we have selected a larger number from the Yukon Archives to more broadly illustrate the story that lay behind John Leonard's words. Many were actually taken in 1897.
|Quantity:||960 item(s) available|
CDN$ 6.95 (US$ 6.76)
|Author:||John W. Leonard|
Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada
|Size/Dimensions:||8.75 x 5.5 x 1 inches|
|Binding:||Hardcover, 209 pages with 36 photos and 47 illustrations|