Humble Dreams: An Historical Perspective on Yukon Agriculture Since 1846


  • Sally Robinson


Hudson's Bay Company traders grew the earliest Yukon agricultural crops as they tried to augment their insufficient supplies. Yukon agriculture went from meagre beginnings in the mid-1800s to peak production during the Klondike Gold Rush when farmers prospered by storing and marketing their produce through the late fall and winter. Until the mid-1950s, farms around Dawson City, Mayo, and along the Yukon River produced healthy crops of vegetables and hay, delivered economically by a fleet of sternwheelers.    A change away from horse-drawn equipment and vehicles, the loss of the riverboat fleet, and a continued decline in population caused a reduction in the number of Yukon farms. The construction and continued improvement of the Alaska Highway made easily imported produce more economical, and the growth of Whitehorse settled the majority of Yukon's population an inconvenient distance from the best agricultural land. A small number of farms continued to supply central Yukon but the more populated south grew dependent on imported produce and farmers focused more on forage crops. Cool, short growing seasons remain an obstacle but northern crops have proven to be equal in quality and quantity to southern produce. However, a low territorial population and competition from southern markets has hindered the growth of Yukon's agricultural industry.

Author Biography

Sally Robinson

Sally Robinson is historic sites interpretive planner for the Yukon Government. She completed an MA in history from the University of Western Ontario in 1997.