Whitehorse: Top 10

(continuer en français) – Last updated: August 26, 2022

The capital of the Yukon has a population of approximately 24,000. With the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897, it became a necessary stop on the bank of the Yukon River for prospectors heading north to the gold deposits. Later, Whitehorse became the backyard base of the mining fields, also where the more fortunate came to relax and be entertained.

01. Rapids

The city owes its name to the rapids rushing the waters of the Yukon River. Because of their similarity to the mane of a white horse, they were called the White Horse and the name was passed on to the city. Today a hydroelectric dam is changing the course of the river, but the tumultuous waters continue to surge, making life difficult for the paddlers who venture there.

02. Visitor Information Centre

As it is often the case in Canada, tourists are received with attention, the information centre is complemented by a small exhibition. Thousands of visitors on their way to the northern landscapes stop here. Tourism is the territory’s second activity and generates about 25% of the jobs of permanent residents, not to mention many seasonal workers enjoying the North.

03. Miles Canyon

The canyon is just minutes from downtown Whitehorse just south of the city. Its walls formed a bottleneck where rapids were a dangerous obstacle during the gold rush. Many prospectors lost their shipments and sometimes their lives. Forced to stop and transfer their cargo to the ground, the town grew out of it.

04. White Pass and Yukon Route

The White Pass and Yukon Route narrow-gauge railway began operations as early as 1898 to provide better access to Whitehorse. From the coast of Alaska, it crossed the mountains to reach Whitehorse, 110 miles, 177 kilometres away, through a magnificent landscape. Part of the route is now converted into a tourist train.

05. SS Klondike

To continue the journey north, up to 350 paddle boats plied the rivers, mainly between Whitehorse and Dawson City. They brought provisions and brought back precious ore from the mines. After 1950 the SS Klondike was converted into a cruise ship carrying 75 passengers for 2 to 5 day trips on the Yukon.

06. MacBride Museum

The government telegraph station built in 1900 became the MacBride Museum in 1952. It is dedicated to the history of the Yukon, displaying many relics from the heroic era. A bar is reconstructed, as well as a Mountie station from the Gold Rush era. All the animals can be seen, stuffed, as otherwise very elusive in the wild.

07. Shipyards Park

On the shore of the Yukon, once an improvised shipyard hastily built boats to reach Dawson further north. Then it was used to maintain the paddle boats. To revitalize the shoreline, a tram was built and old houses were gathered and restored, such as the Chambers house built of logs around 1925.

08. Taylor House

The Taylor House, built of wood, dates from 1937. It was the residence of a family who had established a grocery shop chain in the Yukon, they cut down the trees themselves. In 1969 the family sold it to the local authorities and in 2015 the Commissioner of Yukon, the Queen’s representative, moved his offices there.

09. Legislative Assembly

The Yukon was separated from the former Hudson’s Bay Company’s vast territory in 1898 as a result of the Gold Rush, which saw a sharp increase in population. The government was first located in Dawson City before moving to Whitehorse in 1953. There are 19 elected Members, 11 of whom are elected in Whitehorse, since 1979 they have elected the Premier leading the territory.

10. Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre

Since 2012, the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre has been paying tribute to the people who used to settle on the banks of the Yukon. An exhibition shows the cultural heritage of the First Nations, performances are organized as well as craft workshops. Reception halls can also be rented for conventions or private celebrations.

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    • It’s a pleasant stage for a couple of days, but it makes you want to go further, drive the Alaska Highway or to Dawson City. From everywhere you can see the wooded hills, there are hikes, with the usual safety rules. I hope you will be able to make this trip soon.


  1. I’ve never been to Whitehorse, but this is one area of North America that I’d love to visit. We’ve been thinking about buying a campervan and thought we’d try it out first by renting one and perhaps going on a road trip through Yukon and Alaska. Someday.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I saw a lot of campervans on the roads in the Yukon, it’s very popular during the summer. To drive on the main roads it’s enough, but on the dirt roads a 4×4 is a necessity. For instance, car rental companies do not allow you to drive on the Dempster Highway with most vehicles. I wish you to achieve this project, someday, there are great landscapes.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We went to Whitehorse in February of 2018 to see the Northern Lights (we were somewhat successful). It was a cool little town. We enjoyed the cultural centre and the shops in the complex where we stopped for coffee. We stayed north in a tiny cabin on the land of a private residence where the owner was raising sled dogs. And we also went to the local hot springs on one evening. Overall, a super fun visit to the north! I didn’t know about the origin of the name — thanks for sharing that story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, the steamer no longer operates today, it sits on the shore, but its interior features have been preserved and can be visited. From the passenger cabins to the cargo hold full of supply crates, it’s like being a century earlier.


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