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Helene Dobrowolsky Launches 'Law of the Yukon' in Whitehorse

Posted: Monday, July 29, 2013 at 4:23pm

Law of the Yukon: A History of the Mounted Police in the YukonWhitehorse historian and author Helene Dobrowolsky is celebrating the launch of a newly revised edition of her definitive history of the RCMP in the Yukon - Law of the Yukon: A History of the Mounted Police in the Yukon - in Whitehorse. The book launch event will take place at the MacBride Museum of Yukon History (1124 1st Avenue) on Wednesday, August 7 from 5pm to 7pm.

Law of the Yukon tells the rich story of more than a century of policing in the North. With the flood of gold-crazed men and women that came rushing into the territory with the discovery of the rich Klondike goldfields in the 1880s, the northern wilderness that we now know as the Yukon and its aboriginal population were overwhelmed by newcomers. Yet the Yukon was no lawless frontier. Despite the challenges of blinding snowstorms, steep mountain passes, raging rapids and novice gold seekers, a small force of North-West Mounted Police managed to patrol thousands of square kilometres of wilderness to maintain order.

Whitehorse itself played a major role in the story of the Mounted Police in the Yukon. In 1900, when the construction of the railway from Skagway to Whitehorse was completed, the ‘H’ Division moved its headquarters to the new community and remained there until 1910, when the Yukon’s economy was in decline and only fifty Mounties remained in the entire territory.

However, after the bombing of Pearl Harbour in 1941, the quiet community would again become quickly overloaded, this time with American troops and a civilian force that had come to build the strategic Alaska Highway. A tent city popped up, and Mounties were faced with all the problems of a major city: public drunkenness, bootlegging, theft, assaults, and even murders. The Yukon’s Sub-division headquarters were transferred from Dawson to Whitehorse and to this day Whitehorse remains the headquarters for the RCMP operations in the Yukon.

In this revised edition of Law of the Yukon—Dobrowolsky’s fifth book about Yukon history—over a hundred archival photos illustrate the stories of the individuals who served in the force all across the territory, along with accounts of the women and First Nations people who provided essential assistance. From tragic tales of the Lost Patrol and the "Mad Trapper," to curious murders, to dramatic search and rescue missions by dogsled, behind the iconic Canadian Mounties are real people with enthralling stories that require no embroidery.

For more information on this book launch, please contact the MacBride Museum of Yukon History at (867) 667-2709 Ext. 4 or go to