The popular image of the Klondike is of a rush of white, male
adventurers who overcame great physical and geographical obstacles in
their quest for gold. Young, white, single American men carried forward
the ideals and structures of the western frontier. It was a man's
world made respectable only after the turn of the century with the
arrival of white, middle class women who miraculously swept out the
corners of dirt and vice and 'civilized' the society. These
impressions endure despite recent attempts to correct them.
Gamblers and Dreamers tackles some of the myths about the
history of the North in the era of the gold rush. Though many
inhabitants came and went, Charlene Porsild focuses on the concept of
community commitment to show that many put down roots. This in-depth
study of Dawson City at the turn of the century reveals that the city
had a cosmopolitan character, a stratified society, and a definite
permanence. It examines the lives of First Nations peoples, miners and
other labourers, professionals, merchants, dance hall performers and
sex trade workers, providing fascinating detail about those who left
homes and jobs to strike it rich in the last great gold rush of the
nineteenth century. In the process, Gamblers and Dreamers puts
a human face on this compelling period of history.
Charlene Porsild was born in the Yukon and raised in northern Alberta. She teaches Canadian and American History at the University of Nebraska and is the editor of the Great Plains Quarterly journal. She is a well known expert on the Klondike and has appeared on PBS for the "Gold Fever" episode of The American Experience (aired in Canada on May 12, 1997).
Maps and Tables Preface Acknowledgments 1. Gamblers of a Hundred Hells and Dreamers from the Seven Seas 2. The Original Yukoners and the Klondike Gold Rush 3. The Thrill of the Chase: Miners and Other Labouring People in Dawson 4. The Scarlet Ladder: Work and Social Life in Dawson's Underworld 5. `Like Flocks of Migrating Geese': Social Workers and Religious Life in the Klondike 6. Sterling Reputations and Golden Opportunities: The Professional and Business Sectors of Dawson 7. Women, Men, and Community in the Klondike Appendix: Quantifying the Klondike Notes Bibliography Index