FORT SELKIRK

Lot 1021, Plan 2008-0123 LTO YT

Construction Period: Pre 1895        Designation Level: Territorial

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

Additional Information

Fort Selkirk Historic Site withdrawn from mining, prospecting, and exploration and development of oil and gas or coal mining as described in Selkirk First Nation Final Agreement under Chapter 13.4.6.1 - Schedule A, Section 11.0.

Order in Council August 22, 2005.

OIC 2005/144 - Placer Mining and Quartz Mining Act

OIC 2005/139 -Lands Act and Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act

2005/13 - Oil and Gas Act

Character Defining Elements

Character Defining Elements include:

- 37 standing, historic structures, their components and their relationship with each other in a linear arrangement facing the Yukon River.

- Fenestration, roof styles and floor plans of the standing buildings.

- Wood frame windows and doors, interior finishing and exterior finishes such as roof and wall cladding, log wall construction

- Two well maintained cemeteries

- Archaeological evidence of prehistoric and historic use and occupation.

- A collection of prehistoric and historic artifacts

- A combination of natural and culturally modified landscape features including the open, grassy meadow surrounding the historic town site, the vestiges of the historic and pre-historic trails, and the rugged uncultivated riverbank

- Viewscapes of the Yukon River, Tthi ts'achan (Victoria Rock) downstream, Meghliu (the basalt cliffs on the opposite bank) and Nelruna (Volcano Mountain) and mouth of the Pelly River upstream

- Proximity to the Yukon River in a healthy riparian zone supplying natural resources for food, clothing, fuel and shelter

- Location where travel routes converge and where people, migratory salmon and wildfowl pass through

Description of Boundaries

Lot 1021, Plan 2008-0123 LTO YT

Historical Sources Location

Yukon Waterways Survey - Parks Canada 1972

Ft Selkirk Oral History Project - Heritage Branch 1985

Ft Selkirk Brochure - Heritage Branch

Yukon Government Historic Sites Unit: Research Information, Reports, Plans, Maps, Photographs

Documentation Location

File 3630-50-17 Historic Sites, Cultural Services Branch, Government of Yukon