IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says that when gold was found in Canada’s Yukon Territory in 1896, thousands of hopefuls swarmed to the area with just one thing in mind – get in, get rich and get out.
But with initially few trading stores around, the government soon found itself bailing out those who’d run out of food and other supplies while on their quest for riches. So it decreed that every miner entering Canada had to have enough food, clothing and tools to last them an entire year.
And while they could get those supplies to the Alaskan port of Dyea relatively easily, they then had to backpack them 50km to Canada’s mountainous Bennett Lake, and from there by row-boat to the site of the Gold Rush – some making over a dozen of those 100km round-trips before even starting digging.
To help, the Northern Pacific Railroad published a recommended survival list for a year in the Yukon. It included thirty tools for mining and construction, tents, mosquito nets, axes, ropes, enough fleecy clothing, Long Johns and oilskins to counter the harshest winters, rifles for hunting and rods for fishing, candles, and cooking and eating utensils.
Food-wise it suggested 800kg of staples from flour, rice, yeast cakes and bacon, to dried fruits and vegetables, salt, sugar, condensed milk, tea and coffee.
And for good measure, recommended lugging-in a wood-fired steel stove to cook it all on.