All About Yukon

Yukon, also commonly referred to as the Yukon, is one of the three territories found in Canada. It boasts the smallest population of any territory or province in the country, with less than forty thousand total people. With that said, it does also have the largest city found within any of Canada’s territories. The capital of the territory is Whitehorse, which is the only city in Yukon.


Prior to the arrival of European settlers, southern and central Yukon were both home to First Nations people. Unlike many areas in Canada, these parts of Yukon didn’t fall victim to glaciers, making them habitable during the coldest times in the world. In fact, archaeologists have found evidence that Yukon was home to some of the earliest human inhabitants on the continent of North America. These archaeological sites have been used to preserve the history of the earliest First Nations inhabitants of the Yukon.

In around 800 AD, Mount Churchill underwent a volcanic eruption. This mountain is located in what is currently Alaska. The eruption caused southern Yukon to become blanketed with a layer of ash so thick that it’s still visible along the Klondike Highway. A portion of the oral traditions of the First Nations people located in Yukon and southern Canada is based around the history of this eruption.

The First Nations peoples located on the coast and inland Yukon developed large trading networks. Europeans began to enter the area due to the fur trade in the early nineteenth century. After fur traders, the next Europeans to enter the land were Christian missionaries. Gold miners began settling in the area during the 1870s and 1880s. The population increased enough to warrant creating a police force, which was established just prior to the Gold Rush in 1897.

The Gold Rush caused a significant increase in the European population. This sudden increase in European activity caused Yukon to be separated from the Northwest Territories and sectioned into its own district. In 1898, the Yukon was designated as Yukon Territory.


The Yukon territory is about the same shape as a right triangle. It borders Alaska on two sides, with the Western Territories to the east and British Columbia bordering on the south. The northern coast of the Yukon is located at the Beaufort Sea. Meanwhile, the eastern boundary is ragged rather than a straight line. It is defined by the geographical divide between the Mackenzie River drainage basin and the Yukon basin.

Yukon is named after the Yukon River. The majority of the territory can be found in the river’s watershed. Many glacier-fed alpine lakes are found within the territory, the majority of which flow back into the Yukon river. The other watersheds found in Yukon include the Alsek-Tatshenshini, Peel Watershed, and the Mackenzie River. There are several rivers that flow into the Beaufort sea.

Mount Logan, the highest peak found in Canada, is located in the southwest of Yukon. It reaches a height of 5,959 meters or 19,551 feet. A large portion of the southwest Yukon is part of Kluane National Park and Reserve, which is a World Heritage Site and nature reserve. There are also Vuntut National Park and Ivvavik National Park located in the north.

Many of Yukon’s trees have stunted growth because of the severe climate, with the most notable tree species being the white spruce and black spruce.


As far as the Canadian arctic goes, the average winter temperature tends to be mild. However, Yukon becomes colder than any other part of North America during serious cold snaps. There have been multiple occasions where the temperature dropped to lower than -60 Celsius, or -76 Fahrenheit.

While most extreme Canadian heat occurs in July and August, Yukon tends to experience its most extreme heat waves in May and June. The highest temperature ever recorded in the province is 36.5 Celsius or 97.7 Fahrenheit, which occurred in June of 2004. Other than that, temperatures of 36 Celsius have been recorded just three times in the territory’s history.


Historically, the most major industry in Yukon has been mining. Much of the territory’s history is related to the Gold Rush. Because of this history, combined with the scenic and recreational opportunities, tourism is the largest modern day industry in the territory besides mining.

After mining and tourism, the next most important business is manufacturing. This includes handicrafts, clothing, furniture, and hydroelectricity. Though trapping and fishing are traditional industries, they aren’t as popular today. In 2012, about 6,300 people were employed directly by the government sector.

The territory’s Business Corporations Act was modified in 2015 to stimulate economic benefits. Some changes include the ability for a proxy to be used for voting purposes, for directors to follow corporation-declined business opportunities, and for corporations to be directors of Yukon-registered subsidiaries.

Interesting Facts/Trivia

Yukon has a tourism industry based largely around the territory’s natural wonders. Many guides and organized outfitters help tourists engage in activities like ice climbing, dog sledding, skiing, hiking, snowboarding, angling, hunting, kayaking, and canoeing.

The backcountry of the province is only accessible by snowmobile or air, since it hasn’t been developed with roads.

Yukon has one of the highest Indigenous populations in Canada, with about twenty-six percent of the residents being First Nations people. Aboriginal culture has a strong influence in local sports and celebration of heritage.

Yukon Cities and Regional Municipalities Include: