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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

Gamblers and Dreamers

Women, Men, and Community in the Klondike

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.

264 pages

Table of Contents

Maps and Tables



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




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