By | 23 Feb 2023 at 11:35 PM
Yukon Heritage Day 2023: Date, History, Facts

Yukon Heritage Day focuses public attention on the history and culture of the smallest of Canada’s three territories on the Friday preceding the last Sunday in February. Schools and government offices in the Yukon are closed, while business owners have the option to grant employees time off.

The day is intended to coincide with The Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous, a festival held in Whitehorse, Yukon’s capital. The event is centred on the 1890s Yukon Gold Rush and features a “Queen” contest, sled dog races, air shows, and snow sculpture competitions. Sounds like a cold but enjoyable time!

The background of Yukon Heritage Day

In 1975, the Canadian government enacted one of their Collective Agreements, which included making Yukon Heritage Day a territorial holiday on which public institutions were required to be closed. In February 1976, the holiday was celebrated for the first time. The most significant aspect of Yukon Heritage Day, other than time off from work and school, is that it frequently coincides with the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous.

The Sourdough Rendezvous is held in Whitehorse, the capital. Due to the fact that the holiday occurs in February and Yukon is just east of Alaska, it is quite cold! However, Yukon residents persevere in order to participate in the massive festival. In 2020, the Rendezvous was held for the 55th time. It is sponsored by many of Canada’s largest corporations, and its scope and attendance grow each year.

Even Yukoners who can’t make it to Whitehorse still get a day off to reflect on their culture and history, the highlight of which is the late-19th-century Klondike Gold Rush, which attracted approximately 100,000 gold prospectors to the region. We do not know if there is still “gold in them thar hills,” but we can assure you that today is a truly precious occasion.

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Because the Canadian government required incoming prospectors to bring a year’s worth of food to prevent starvation, the typical prospector’s equipment weighed close to a tonne and had to be moved in stages.

Some “boom towns” that were visited by thousands of gold-seekers experienced population increases of up to 6,000 percent.

The native Han people of the region, who either did not know or did not care about the gold ore in their nomadic lands, were mistreated, and the vast majority were forced to live on reservations.

On the banks of Rabbit Creek, a tributary of the Klondike River, American prospector George Carmack and his brother-in-law Skookum Jim discovered gold for the first time.

The gold rush caused a phenomenon known as “mass resignation.” For instance, the mayor of Seattle, a dozen of its police officers, and a sizeable number of streetcar drivers left the city in search of gold and headed north.


Year Date Day
2021 February 26 Friday
2022 February 25 Friday
2023 February 24 Friday
2024 February 23 Friday
2025 February 21 Friday