Yukon
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Flag Coat of arms
Motto: (No official motto)
YT
Canadian Provinces and Territories
Capital Whitehorse
Largest city Whitehorse
Largest metro Whitehorse
Official languages English, French
Demonym Yukoner
FR: Yukonnais(e)
Government
Type
Commissioner Doug Phillips
Premier Sandy Silver (Liberal)
Legislature Yukon Legislative Assembly
Federal representation (in Canadian Parliament)
House seats 1 of 308 (0.3%)
Senate seats 1 of 105 (1%)
Confederation June 13, 1898 (9th)
Area  Ranked 9th
Total 482,443 km2 (186,272 sq mi)
Land 474,391 km2 (183,163 sq mi)
Water (%) 8,052 km2 (3,109 sq mi) (1.7%)
Proportion of Canada 4.8% of 9,984,670 km2
Population  Ranked 13th
Total (2016) 35,874
Density (2016) [convert: invalid number]
GDP  Ranked 12th
Total (2011) C$2.660 billion
Per capita C$75,141 (3rd)
Abbreviations
Postal YT
ISO 3166-2 CA-YT
Time zone UTC-8
Postal code prefix Y
Flower Fireweed
Tree Subalpine fir
Bird Common raven
Website www.gov.yk.ca
Rankings include all provinces and territories
Yukon River at Whitehorse -b
Downtown Whitehorse along the Yukon River

Yukon (/ˈjuːkɒn/; French pronunciation: [jykɔ̃]; also commonly called the Yukon) is the smallest and westernmost of Canada's three federal territories (the other two are the Northwest Territories and Nunavut). The territory has the smallest population of any province or territory in Canada, with 35,874 people. Whitehorse is the territorial capital and Yukon's only city.

The territory was split from the Northwest Territories in 1898 and was named the "Yukon Territory". The federal government's Yukon Act, which received royal assent on March 27, 2002, established "Yukon" as the territory's official name, though "Yukon Territory" is also still popular in usage and Canada Post continues to use the territory's internationally approved postal abbreviation of YT. Though officially bilingual (English and French), the Yukon Government also recognizes First Nations languages.

At 5,959 m (19,551 ft), Yukon's Mount Logan, in Kluane National Park and Reserve, is the highest mountain in Canada and the second-highest on the North American continent (after Denali in the U.S. state of Alaska). Most of Yukon has a subarctic climate, characterized by long cold winters and brief warm summers. The Arctic Ocean coast has a tundra climate.

Notable rivers include the Yukon River, after which the territory was named, as well as the Pelly, Stewart, Peel, White and Tatshenshini rivers.

History

Long before the arrival of Europeans, central and southern Yukon was populated by First Nations people, and the area escaped glaciation. Sites of archeological significance in Yukon hold some of the earliest evidence of the presence of human occupation in North America. The sites safeguard the history of the first people and the earliest First Nations of the Yukon.

The volcanic eruption of Mount Churchill in approximately 800 AD in what is now the U.S. state of Alaska blanketed southern Yukon with a layer of ash which can still be seen along the Klondike Highway, and which forms part of the oral tradition of First Nations peoples in Yukon and further south in Canada.

Coastal and inland First Nations had extensive trading networks. European incursions into the area only began early in the 19th century with the fur trade, followed by missionaries. By the 1870s and 1880s gold miners began to arrive. This drove a population increase that justified the establishment of a police force, just in time for the start of the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897. The increased population coming with the gold rush led to the separation of the Yukon district from the Northwest Territories and the formation of the separate Yukon Territory in 1898.


Geography

Yukonwikimap
Map of Yukon

The territory is the approximate shape of a right triangle, bordering the U.S. state of Alaska to the west and northwest for 1,210 km (752 mi) mostly along longitude 141° W, the Northwest Territories to the east and British Columbia to the south. Its northern coast is on the Beaufort Sea. Its ragged eastern boundary mostly follows the divide between the Yukon Basin and the Mackenzie River drainage basin to the east in the Mackenzie mountains.

Most of the territory is in the watershed of its namesake, the Yukon River. The southern Yukon is dotted with a large number of large, long and narrow glacier-fed alpine lakes, most of which flow into the Yukon River system. The larger lakes include Teslin Lake, Atlin Lake, Tagish Lake, Marsh Lake, Lake Laberge, Kusawa Lake and Kluane Lake. Bennett Lake on the Klondike Gold Rush trail is a lake flowing into Nares Lake, with the greater part of its area within Yukon.

Canada's highest point, Mount Logan (5,959 m or 19,551 ft), is in the territory's southwest. Mount Logan and a large part of the Yukon's southwest are in Kluane National Park and Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other national parks include Ivvavik National Park and Vuntut National Park in the north.

Mount Logan
Mount Logan from the southeast

Other watersheds include the Mackenzie River, the Peel Watershed and the Alsek–Tatshenshini, and a number of rivers flowing directly into the Beaufort Sea. The two main Yukon rivers flowing into the Mackenzie in the Northwest Territories are the Liard River in the southeast and the Peel River and its tributaries in the northeast.

Notable widespread tree species within Yukon are the black spruce and white spruce. Many trees are stunted because of the short growing season and severe climate.

The capital, Whitehorse, is also the largest city, with about three-quarters of the population; the second largest is Dawson City (pop. 2,016), which was the capital until 1952.

Climate

See also: Climate change in the Arctic
Yukon koppen
Köppen climate types in Yukon

While the average winter temperature in the Yukon is mild by Canadian arctic standards, no other place in North America gets as cold as the Yukon during extreme cold snaps. The temperature has dropped down to −60 °C (−76 °F) three times, 1947, 1954, and 1968. The most extreme cold snap occurred in February 1947 when the abandoned town of Snag dropped down to −63.0 °C (−81.4 °F).

Unlike most of Canada where the most extreme heat waves occur in July, August, and even September, The Yukon's extreme heat tends to occur in June and even May. The Yukon has recorded 36 °C (97 °F) three times. The first time was in June 1969 when Mayo recorded a temperature of 36.1 °C (97 °F). 14 years later this record was almost beaten when Forty Mile recorded 36 °C (97 °F) in May 1983. The old record was finally broken 21 years later in June 2004 when the Mayo Road weather station, located just northwest of Whitehorse, recorded a temperature of 36.5 °C (97.7 °F).

Average daily maximum and minimum temperatures for selected locations in Yukon
City July (°C) July (°F) January (°C) January (°F)
Whitehorse 21/8 70/46 −11/−19 12/−2
Dawson City 23/8 73/46 −22/−30 −8/−22
Old Crow 20/9 68/48 −25/−34 −13/−29

Demographics

Yukon municipalities
Distribution of Yukon's eight municipalities by type

The population of Yukon as of February, 2016, is 35,874, an increase of 5.8% from 2011. With a land area of 474,712.64 km2 (183,287.57 sq mi), it had a population density of 0.1/km2 (0.26/sq mi) in 2011.

Municipalities by population

List of municipalities in Yukon

Ethnicity

According to the 2006 Canada Census the majority of the territory's population was of European descent, although it has a significant population of First Nations communities across the territory.

The top ten ancestries were:

Ranking Ethnic group Population
1. English 8,795
2. North American Indian 7,070
3. Scottish 7,005
4. Canadian 6,075
5. Irish 5,735
6. German 4,835
7. French 4,330
8. Ukrainian 1,620
9. Dutch (Netherlands) 1,475
10. Norwegian 1,340

The 2011 National Household Survey examined Yukon's ethnocultural diversity and immigration. At that time, 87.7% of residents were Canadian-born and 24.2% were of Aboriginal origin. The most common countries of birth for immigrants were the United Kingdom (15.9%), the Philippines (15.0%), and the United States (13.2%). Among very recent immigrants (between 2006 and 2011) living in Yukon, 63.5% were born in Asia.

Language

First Nations linguistic groups by tribes/clans
Linguistic group Tribe/clan
Gwich'in Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, Old Crow
Hän Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation, Dawson City
Upper Tanana White River First Nation, Beaver Creek
  • Small communities near Tok (Alaska)
Northern Tutchone Selkirk First Nation
  • Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation
  • First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun, Mayo
Southern Tutchone Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, Haines Junction
  • Kluane First Nation, Burwash Landing
  • Ta'an Kwach'an Council, Lake Laberge
  • Kwanlin Dün First Nation, Whitehorse
Kaska Ross River Dena Council, Ross River
Inland Tlingit Teslin Tlingit Council
Tagish Carcross/Tagish First Nation
Mother tongue, 2011 census
Rank Language Population Percent
1. English 28,065 82.9%
2. French 1,455 4.3%
3. German 805 2.4%
4. Tagalog 425 1.3%
5. Kaska 265 0.8%
6. Northern Tutchone 200 0.6%
7. Spanish 180 0.5%
8. Southern Tutchone 140 0.4%
8. Dutch 130 0.4%
10. Chinese 130 0.4%

The most commonly reported mother tongue among the 33,145 single responses to the 2011 Canadian census was English at 28,065 (85%). The second-most common was 1,455 (4%) for French. Among 510 multiple respondents, 140 of them (27%) reported a mother tongue of both English and French, while 335 (66%) reported English and a 'non-official language' and 20 (4%) reported French and a 'non-official language'.

The Yukon Language Act "recognises the significance" of aboriginal languages in Yukon; however, only English and French are available for laws, court proceedings, and legislative assembly proceedings.

Religion

The 2011 National Household Survey reported that 49.9% of Yukoners reported having no religious affiliation, the highest percentage in Canada. The most frequently reported religious affiliation was Christianity, reported by 46.2% of residents. Of these, the most common denominations were the Catholic Church (39.6%), the Anglican Church of Canada (17.8%) and the United Church of Canada (9.6%).

Arts and culture

See also: Music of Yukon

Although English is the main language used in the territory, as evidenced by the census, the Government of Yukon recognizes several aboriginal languages as part of the cultural heritage of the territory: the Tlingit, and the less common Tahltan, as well as seven Athapaskan languages, Upper Tanana, Gwitchin, Hän, Northern Tutchone, Southern Tutchone, Kaska and Tagish, some of which are rare. As noted above, the "aboriginal identity population" makes up a relatively small part of the total population, accounting for about 25 percent. Notwithstanding, the aboriginal culture is strongly reflected in such areas as winter sports, as in the Yukon Quest sled dog race. The modern comic-book character Yukon Jack depicts a heroic aboriginal persona. By far the strongest cultural and tourism aspect of Yukon, however, is the legacy of the Klondike Gold Rush (1897–1899), which inspired such contemporary writers at the time as Robert W. Service, Jack London and Jules Verne and which continues to inspire films and games from Mae West's Klondike Annie to The Yukon Trail (see Cultural legacy of the Klondike Gold Rush). Notable residents have included Leslie Nielsen, Erik Nielsen and Pierre Berton.

Events and festivals

See also: Category:Festivals in Yukon

Yukon also has a wide array of cultural and sporting events and infrastructures that attract artists, participants and tourists from all parts of the world; Yukon International Storytelling Festival, Dawson City Music Festival, Yukon Quest, Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous, the Adäka Cultural Festival, the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre, Northern Lights Centre, Klondike Gold Rush memorials and activities, Takhini Hot Springs, and the Whitehorse fish ladder.

Images


Yukon Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.