Yukon Register of Historic PlacesYRHP

Fort Selkirk

Fort Selkirk

Fort Selkirk

Fort Selkirk

Fort Selkirk

Fort Selkirk

Fort Selkirk

Fort Selkirk

Fort Selkirk

Fort Selkirk

Fort Selkirk

Construction Period: Pre 1895

Designation Level: Territorial

South bank of the Yukon River near the confluence of the Pelly River and the Yukon River in Fort Selkirk

Fort Selkirk Historic Site is contained within Lot 1021, Plan 2008-0123, a 50 hectare site in central Yukon, on a terrace bank of the Yukon River near the mouth of the Pelly River. The site has archaeological evidence of late prehistoric use and occupation overlain by archaeological resources, standing structures and artifacts remaining from the historic settlement dating from 1852.

Construction Period: Pre 1895        Designation Level: Territorial

Designation Date: August 06, 2010

The Selkirk First Nation Final Agreement requires that Fort Selkirk be designated as a Yukon Historic Site to commemorate its heritage significance to all people of the Yukon.

Fort Selkirk is set in a pristine, river valley rich in natural resources and surrounded by a mountainous, boreal landscape with a dynamic geological record. There is an intangible, aesthetic and emotional attraction to the site that exudes a sense of community secured within a rugged and visually striking environment. Fort Selkirk illustrates the unique contribution and combination of different cultures and natural environment that has helped form the social, economic and political fabric of the territory

The site also illustrates the historic trading economy, the transportation development of the Yukon, the sovereignty of Canada, the early expansion of the church and community life in a northern isolated area.

Fort Selkirk is central to the homeland of the Northern Tutchone and their cultural traditions such as game harvesting, trade and travel. This place has been a traditional harvesting and gathering site for thousands of years. Its importance as a place for meeting and trading between First Nations is evidenced by a network of traditional trails and archaeological artifacts. It is the first place where the Northern Tutchone people encountered and hosted colonists from afar. The site was given its English name by Robert Campbell of the Hudson's Bay Company, who established a trading post here in 1852. The aboriginal name for the place has been lost over time. Although short-lived, the post signified the beginning of an era as a Yukon centre of commerce and communication with the outside world. It continued as a hub of land, river and later, air transportation until the middle of the 20th century.

A permanent community evolved in the early1890s with the establishment of Arthur Harper's trading post and an Anglican Church mission. The community grew quickly as thousands of stampeders headed for Dawson City during the Klondike Gold Rush in 1896. The strategic location of Fort Selkirk led to its use as a base for the Yukon Field Force and a North-West Mounted Police post in 1898, and its consideration to be the first Capital of the Yukon Territory. Throughout the first half of the 20th century Fort Selkirk remained a stable, thriving community where two cultures lived, worked, played and prayed together. Abandoned in the 1950s due to the construction of modern roads and the end of sternwheeler traffic, members of the Selkirk First Nation and other Yukoners continue to think of it as their ancestral home.

The partnership between the Selkirk First Nation and Yukon governments as co-owners and co-managers of the site illustrates the continuing spirit of deep and cooperative care for Fort Selkirk.

Source: Heritage Resources Unit File #3630 32 02 04