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Introduction |  
Origins of the Postal Service |  
Dog-Teams |  
Types of Dogs |  
Dog-Team Equipment |  
Weight Allowances for Dog-Teams |  
Dog Food |  
Hardships |  
Conclusion |  
Mail Routes |  
Mail Routes Map |  
West Coast Map |  
Philately |  
Endnotes |  
Bibliography |  
Credits |  


| Mail Routes Map

Two principal mail routes were established during the gold rush of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.


In winter, mail carriers using dogsleds followed the rivers between Dawson, Yukon and Dyea or Skagway, Alaska. Mail was sent in both directions using a relay system, with relief teams taking over delivery at various stops along the route.73 The stops were also where the carriers rested, changed dogs and dropped off mail if there was a post office. The southbound mail left the Dawson post office and followed the Yukon River. The first stop was usually at the confluence of the Yukon and Indian rivers and the next at Ogilvie, where the Sixty Mile and Yukon rivers met. The mail carriers then continued along the Yukon River to the mouth of the Stewart River, stopping at Selwyn River, at Fort Selkirk (Pelly), where there was a post office, at Five Fingers and at Tantalus. The mail was then taken on to Little Salmon, Big Salmon, Hootalinka and Upper and Lower Lake Laberge. The next stop was at the perilous White Horse Rapids — grave of many a gold seeker — where there was another post office. Carriers then proceeded to McClintock River, dropping off mail at Tagish House, and on to Bennett Lake, where there was another post office. At this point, the mail carriers had the choice of crossing the Chilkoot Pass to Dyea, Alaska or the White Pass to Skagway, Alaska. From these points, the mail was transported by steamer to Victoria or Vancouver, British Columbia.

North-West Mounted Police Post, Summit of Chilkoot Pass, Yukon, Winter 1898
North-West Mounted Police Post, Summit of Chilkoot Pass, Yukon, Winter 1898
© Public domain
National Library and National Archives
of Canada, C-044108

Stationed near the border, NWMP here ensured that the Government of Canada maintained control of the summit of Chilkoot Pass. Mail carriers could rest here before continuing on to Dyea, Alaska.


The Dalton Trail was used in summer, when the mail was transported by packhorses and canoes.74 From Dawson, the mail carriers ascended the Yukon River until they reached Five Fingers Rapids, at the confluence of the Yukon and Nordenskiold rivers. They then headed south to the Hootchia post. The mail was transferred at the Dalton House post to another mail carrier who brought it to the International Line post. From there, it was carried to Haines Mission, where it was sent by steamer to Victoria or Vancouver, British Columbia. Quite possibly there did exist a shorter route between Fort Selkirk and Hootchia, but it was much more difficult, and therefore not as popular. The Dalton Trail ended at Haines Mission or at Pyramid Harbour.

Sergeant J. M. Walsh wrote to Superintendent Samuel Benfield Steele:


"There is abundance of good grass,
and hay I understand, certainly good grass, at the Five Finger Rapids, and if you have any spare horses, it would be advisable to send eight or ten of them to that point so that they might be available, in case of necessity, for any special service from that end of the district."75