LITTLE SALMON RIVER AND VILLAGE
The old mission building and a cabin and numerous spirit houses (First Nations grave markers) are all that is left of the older buildings of this community located just below the mouth of the Little Salmon River.
Miners in the early 1880’s used the English equivalent of the local First Nations name, Little Salmon River. Schwatka named it the Daly River after Chief Justice Daly of New York. George Dawson cancelled this name and reverted back to the original.
The First Nations village was first located on the left side of the Yukon River. Velma Lung, in 1899, recorded, “Across from the Little Salmon’s mouth was located a large, picturesque Indian village. The purser said that this particular settlement, with its well-built log cabins, was almost entirely free from white settlers. Only a missionary lived there. The village was supposed to be the finest example in the Territory of pure Yukon-Indian culture and primitive living.” Later in 1899, a N.W.M.P. post was built on the right limit of the Yukon River, even with the lower end of the island.
In 1915 Heactor Beaulac and Solomon Albert each applied for 160 acre homesteads immediately below the Little Salmon River for the intended purpose of establishing a moose farm. (Albert was well known for having been rescued from his copper claim on the White River in the winter of 1906 and rushed to Dawson where all his toes, frozen beyond help, were amputated.) Their homestead locations were set back from the river so as not to interfere with the Taylor and Drury trading post (consisting of a store, warehouse, barn and woodcamp and often manned by traders George Walker or Jack Macauley) and the Episcopal Church and Parsonage which was making plans to expand its facilities here. There were approximately fifteen First Nations cabins also near the river. After a dispute with the local First Nations people which lasted almost a year, a 300 acre reserve was set aside for the First Nations people which almost surrounded the homesteads. Aside from the resident population, about sixty to eighty First Nations people came to trade here each spring.
By 1916, Beaulac and Albert had several buildings up, over twenty acres cleared and a five mile wagon road built to “Fish Lake” (today’s Frenchman Lake). The government canceled Albert’s claim in 1922 while Beaulac withdrew his application “on account of the traffic having practically diminished on the Whitehorse and Dawson Road in which I was looking forward in selling the product raised on the farm.”
The influenza epidemic of 1917-1919 basically wiped out the entire community. It was never to support a year round population again.
In 1920 the steamer M.L. Washburn sank just above Little Salmon enroute to assist the steamer Selkirk which had sunk at the mouth of the Stewart River. In 1931, Charles Zimmer had a fur farm at Little Salmon.
A short road connects the site to the Campbell Highway just west of the Frenchman Lake turnoff. The village site has recently seen a great deal of activity with a number of new First Nations buildings going up, improved road access and boat landing. Permission to check out the village or cemetery should be cleared with local residents before exploring the site.