Tag Archives: Canada

Enjoy your Polar Vortex

Honestly…

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why the Lower 48 insists on stealing our polar air. Send it back home when the novelty has worn off.

-Alaska


The opening of the Al-Can

The first truck through, November 1942

The anniversary of the first truck to travel the Alaska Highway was on Saturday, 20 November. The truck was the first to drive from Dawson to Whitehorse, and then from Whitehorse to Fairbanks. In 1942, that must have been one chilly ride.

The Alaska Highway Guide; 1948

In 1948, The Alaska Highway Guide was published, which listed the scant accommodations and services along the route. The Milepost, which today is the bible of Al-Can travel, would be published for the first time in 1949.


From the hockey archives:

1936 “Championship Game”: University of Alaska vs Dawson

With the Alaska Nanooks on their second consecutive week off, we dip into the archives for our hockey fix. I’m guessing this was the championship game of the 1936 Winter Carnival tournament. 1936 would have been the second annual winter carnival. Fairbanks won the game, although no score, or photog credit was given.


On the Hunt for The Bear

The USRC Bear in the ice; Location and date unknown

For over two decades, NOAA and the U.S. Coast Guard have been looking for the final resting place of the Revenue Cutter Bear. One of the most storied ships in USCG history, the Bear was launched in 1874, and would see service for the next nine decades.

The historic vessel entered Coast Guard service as a revenue cutter in 1885, spending much of its time working the 20,000 mile Alaska coastline. The Bear was a rescue ship and medical ship; served as transportation for governors, teachers, construction material, mail and reindeer; hunted for poachers, smugglers and illegal traders; and she served as census taker and floating courthouse during her time in Alaskan waters.

The Bear’s masthead

She assisted the 1906 relief efforts after the San Francisco earthquake, as well as assisting Robert Byrd on his Second and Third Antarctic Expeditions. In 1930, the Bear starred in the film version of Jack London’s The Sea Wolf. In 1939, she joined the US Navy on the United States Antarctic Service Expedition. When the United States entered WWII, the Bear returned to Arctic waters joining the Northeast Atlantic Greenland Patrol.

With her service in WWII, the Bear became the oldest Navy ship to be deployed outside the Continental United States. She was also one of the last ships originally equipped with sails to serve in a theater of war. The Bear was one of a select few Navy ships to have served in the Spanish-American War, as well as both World Wars.

The Bear’s final moments, with the Irving Birch looking on

In 1963, while being towed from Nova Scotia to Philadelphia, one of her masts collapsed in a storm, and the venerable Bear went down to the sea bottom.

In 2019, researchers from NOAA caught a break. Two targets were discovered, and one showed major promise. After two years of comparing photos of the wreck at the bottom of the ocean, and photos of the Bear in dry dock and at port, researchers have stated that they are “reasonably certain” that the wreckage is the Bear.

The wreck on the left, with the Bear in dry dock, circa 1924, on the right; Photo credit: NOAA


Frozen Load

October is American Archives Month:

October 1942

The building of the Alaska Highway. Even in October, the load of dirt has frozen to the bed of the dump truck.

Photo is from the National Archives


“Northern Lights, Alaska Highway”

Oil on canvas, by Canadian artist Alexander Young Jackson, circa 1943

Crossing the Border

The United States will open the land borders with Canada and Mexico to fully vaccinated travelers in November. This will come as welcomed news to many border communities after 19 months of having the borders closed to visitors.


The Gold Fields of 1897

Map source: University of Alaska Archives

An interesting map, showing the two routes into the “Klondyke” Gold Fields of “British America” and the “40 Mile” Region in Alaska. One could go overland via the Chilkoot Trail, or by water using the “Youkon” River.

The only established community marked on the map along the Yukon River within Interior Alaska was Fort Yukon, which started as a trading post under the Hudson Bay Company.

Circle City was a mining town that popped up with the discovery of gold in Birch Creek, which is a great float, by the way. Circle, was so named, because the miners thought they were on the Arctic Circle, but they were actually about 50 miles south. Circle City was a major jumping off point for both miners and supplies that had come up the Yukon and were heading out to the gold camps.

Intriguing that Dyea makes the map, but Skagway is left off. Dyea was the start of the Chilkoot Trail, and at the time of the Klondike Gold Rush, was a thriving community with a large wharf. Today, only a few pilings are left of the wharf, and minimal signs of any structures, although it is home to the “Slide Cemetery”. Regardless, “Soapy” Smith would not be impressed with Skagway being MIA. Stampeders would hike the trail over the pass into Canada from Dyea to Lake Bennett. Most would then build boats to carry them to the famed Lake Lebarge and finally the Yukon River. All for the lure of gold.


One Way Border

Hyder, Alaska border crossing

The U.S. – Canadian Border will be open to vaccinated residents of the United States starting today. This is what you will need to ease the strain:

  1. For anyone over the age of 12, proof of vaccination, at least 2 weeks prior to your crossing, will be needed. The Canadian Government will accept the Pfizer-BioNtech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccines. It should be noted that large cruise ships are still banned from Canadian waters, but that moratorium is scheduled to be lifted November 1. Just in time for the Holiday Cruise Season?
  2. All travelers must show proof of a negative Covid-19 test within two days of crossing.
  3. As usual, a passport is required.
  4. Travelers should fill out forms on the website ArriveCAN, and upload their vaccination information, within 72 hours of arrival at the border. Downloading the app is also suggested, since this will not be the only time many travelers will be using the site.
  5. Travelers must be asymptomatic upon arrival at the border. They will also need a quarantine plan if they develop symptoms after arriving in Canada.
  6. Random travelers will be asked to submit to an additional Covid-19 test while in Canada. Checking in with ArriveCAN will be required.
  7. Prepare for long waits. This will all take time to verify at the border, especially at first.
  8. Signing onto the site ArriveCAN if you are thinking of crossing into Canada is a must to get a feel fro what Canadian border officials are looking for. From what I have read, the site is well laid out and user friendly.

Interestingly, the U.S. Border is not open to Canadian travelers, which has small Alaskan communities frustrated. Towns like Hyder in the photo were hoping to see the border open in both directions, but that will not be the case for now.


Steamer Yukon

The steamer Yukon

The steamboat Yukon was the first paddlewheeler to venture up the Yukon River. It was July 5, 1869, shortly after the Alaska Territory was bought by the United States from Russia. In part, the trip was a reconnaissance mission, but it was also a supply mission for the Alaska Commercial Company, which took over the trade route from the Hudson Bay Company.

By 1885, when gold was discovered on the Fortymile River, there were three steamers working the river. With the discovery of gold in the Klondike, as many as 100 steamers entered the Yukon River at St Michael to make the trip to Dawson City in the Yukon Territory.