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magazine / nd96

November/December 1996 issue


There's gold in them thar names

NOT SURPRISINGLY, no other part of Canada is as rich in gold-related place names as the Yukon. Pure Gold Gulch, Allgold Creek, even Nogold Plateau — these and many others were applied a century ago by prospectors combing the region's creeks, pups (little creeks) and valleys. And even if gleaming gold wasn't mentioned directly, sourdoughs often borrowed names that celebrated other people's successes. Ophir Creek referred to the Queen of Sheba's treasure trove, King Solomon Dome to the good king's mines. Eldorado Creek recalls the city of gold the conquistadors sought, Ballarat Creek and Walhalla Creek the sites of Australian gold strikes.

Sites were sometimes named for Klondike characters as well, prospectors like Ernest BÈliveau (Beliveau Creek) and Robert Henderson (Henderson Creek), and storekeeper-grubstaker extraordinaire Leroy Napoleon McQuesten (McQuesten River).


Of course, hard work was not always rewarded. Fortune Creek or Excelsior Creek (excelsior meaning high attainment, presumably, not packing material) was what you wished for. But sometimes it was just O.K. Creek, and sometimes Cry Creek.

And maybe those lonely nights under northern skies led to Dublin Gulch and Seattle Creek, to Australian Hill and Quebec Creek. To Kentucky Creek, California Creek, New Zealand Creek, Arizona Creek, Vancouver Creek, Colorado Creek and more. Most prospectors didn't bring gold home, but they left a bit of home in the gold fields.


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