© 2010-2012 by Robert D. Wark, last revised February 8, 2012.
My grandfather is Bruce H. Wark and this site presents the diary entries, photographs and stories surrounding his journey to the Yukon gold fields during the Klondike Gold Rush. His trek started in Detroit, Michigan, on November 20, 1897, and concluded in Detroit on September 22, 1900, nearly three years later.
My grandfather and his business associates set out from Detroit, travelling by train to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. In Edmonton, the party outfitted themselves to travel by foot to the Peace River region in British Columbia to search for gold. Once in the Peace River region plans changed, and my grandfather crossed the Rocky Mountains, again by foot, in an attempt to get to the gold fields in the Klondike region around Dawson, Yukon Territory. In the end, he made it to the Klondike region, travelling via Seattle, San Francisco, Skagway and the Yukon River. Along the way, he worked as a river boatman, writer, longshoreman, railroad laborer, newspaper salesman, typewriter repairman and, finally, gold miner.
For me, besides being a fascinating piece of my family's history, my grandfather's diaries and photographs provide a little more history of the Klondike Gold Rush. I hope you enjoy.
Robert D. Wark
A short biography
Bruce Harris Wark was born on April 29, 1874, near Wanstead, Ontario, Canada. He is the fifth child of Archibald Wark and Jane McAlpine. After completing his education, he relocated (about 1891) to Port Huron, Michigan, where he was employed by a threshing machine company. In 1894, he relocated to Detroit where he was employed in typewriter sales and repairs.
"[T]he discovery of gold in the Klondike challenged his spirit of adventure to such a degree that he set forth for the new Arctic Eldorado, where he passed three years in the gold fields, prospecting and speculating and gaining a full quota of hardships and other experiences which marked the early period of gold-seeking in that country which has been described so vividly by Jack London and Rex Beach." (The quotation is taken from the entry for my grandfather in The City of Detroit, Michigan, 1701-1922, Volume V, published by The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1922, page 626, available at Google Books [last accessed October 12, 2010].)
He returned to Detroit in 1900 where he entered into the stock brokerage business, then manufacturing, and finally, real estate. He was naturalized in Detroit in 1915. During both World Wars he was a member of the local draft board. He was a captain in the Michigan State Troops. He was affiliated with a number of Detroit business organizations and the Palestine Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons.
On February 23, 1922, he married Anna Eleanora Klopp in Chicago, Illinois. He and Anna had four children: Bruce Harris (my father), Jean Louise, Betty Jane and Robert Alan. He died in Detroit on May 27, 1944.
- Martha Bates (ed.). Klondike Trek: Jim Hinkle's Life in the Gold Rush of 1898.
- Pierre Berton. The Klondike Fever: The Life and Death of the Last Great Gold Rush.
- Pierre Berton. Klondike: The Last Great Gold Rush.
- Pierre Berton. The Klondike Quest: A Photographic Essay, 1897-1899.
- Howard Clifford. The Skagway Story.
- Cynthia Driscoll. One Woman's Gold Rush.
- Kenneth J. Kutz. Klondike Gold: The Philatelic History of the Klondike Gold Rush.
- J.G. MacGregor. The Klondike Rush Through Edmonton, 1897-1898.
- J.G. MacGregor. The Land of Twelve-Foot Davis: A History of the Peace River Country.
- James Michener. Journey (fiction).- Murray Morgan. One Man's Gold Rush.
Links to other interesting sites
The Trail From Edmonton:
The Helpman Expedition to the Klondike - The story of the Helpman-O'Brien Expedition (Viscount Avonmore party).
Telegraph Creek Road Photo Album - Modern photos of the Telegraph Creek area of British Columbia.
Skagway, Yukon River and Dawson:
Skagway Historical Society - A blog devoted to the history of Skagway.
Alias Soapy Smith - An all-encompassing site devoted to Soapy Smith, maintained by the Smith family descendants.
Buildings Within the Skagway Historic District - A lot from 1898 are still standing.
Tracy's Yukon Adventure - A modern trip down the Yukon River by canoe, with photographs.
Klondike Gold Rush-Yukon Territory 1897 - Information about the Klondike Gold Rush.
Significant changes to this site
March 29, 2015 - Added advertisement that appeared in the Edmonton Bulletin in Diary for 1898 (November 15). Thanks to Ed McCullough for alerting me to this advertisement.
June 7, 2014 - Added the text of The Burning Trail.
January 4, 2014 - Added link to Perils of Driving Cattle to the Klondike in Diary for 1899 (April 17).
January 3, 2014 - Added "Misery on the Trail" to Newspaper Articles.
January 2, 2014 - Added excerpts from Moodie Expedition diary in Diary for 1898 (June 24/25 and July 7/8).
January 6, 2011 - Added link to Detroit Free Press article "On the Way to Klondike" in Diary for 1898 (January 20 text box).
December 22, 2010 - Added image of ancient piece of wood in Diary for 1900.
November 9, 2010 - Added image of Peter Jackson (heavyweight boxing champ) in Diary for 1899.
October 27, 2010 - Added a Genealogy page.
October 12, 2010 - Added a short biography to this page.
September 7, 2010 - Added image of Haller Building in Diary for 1899.
August 26, 2010 - Added links in Diary for 1899 to Monte Carlo Theatre programs (October 27 and November 23).
August 11, 2010 - Added link in Photographs From the Trail (photo 22).
August 9, 2010 - Revision to Newspaper Articles.
August 7, 2010 - Added image to Greetings Card page.