Children of the Klondike

Children of the KlondikeDrawing on letters, journals, contemporary accounts, and memoirs, Children of the Klondike looks at the lives of the youngsters who witnessed the treasure hunt of the century firsthand. The large cast of characters includes Daisy Mason, whose Tagish-Tlingit father, Skookum Jim, was one of the men who discovered gold on Rabbit Creek, sparking the Klondike stampede and changing her destiny forever; the Snow siblings, the first non-Native children to cross the infamous Chilkoot Pass, nearly perishing in a blizzard along the way; and Dawsie Schultz, the Klondike’s first gold rush baby. Published by Whitecap Books, 2010.

Advance praise from Ken McGoogan, best-selling author of Fatal Passage and Race to the Polar Sea, and recipient of the Pierre Berton Award for history:

“Writers as diverse as Robert Service, Jack London, and Pierre Berton have written about the Klondike gold rush. But none of them ever said a memorable word about the children who grew up in this exploding world of dancehall girls, wild-eyed miners, and greedy con men. With Children of the Klondike, Frances Backhouse has created a vivid, readable account that fills a gaping hole in a colourful period of Canadian history. Bravo!”

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Children of the Klondike is also available from Audible as an audiobook. Listen to an excerpt:


Winner of the 2010 City of Victoria Butler Book Prize.

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New Trail: “Although scholarly, this book — like its predecessor, Women of the Klondike (recently reissued in a 15th anniversary edition) — is an engrossing read. Backhouse can weave a story with as much adventure as Twain and as much humanity as Dickens.”

Yukon News: “With quotes from letters, memoirs and personal recordings, Children of the Klondike will take its place beside Women of the Klondike as an essential read for those interested in Klondike Gold Rush history.”

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: “[Backhouse] tells us the stories of the women and children as if they were people she knew personally, giving us an immediate sense of familiarity with them, making us care what happened to them, and sparking a bit of an obsession of our own.”

Victoria Times Colonist: Backhouse has produced a highly readable account that will open our minds to another aspect of Canadian history. It’s taken more than a hundred years for a book on this subject — and frankly, it’s been worth the wait.

Other Media Coverage:

A Detailed, Child’s-eye View” – A conversation with Focus book reviewer Amy Reiswig.

Bridges and Oranges: The Stories of Klondike Children Come to Life” – A Yukon News article about my August 2010 northern book tour (complete with the Yukon News website’s clever animated banner).