Our whiskey flats home
OUR WHISKEY FLATS HOME
Whiskey Flats was home to a multi-cultural population speaking many European and First Nations languages. By the mid-1950s, nearly 350 people lived in Whiskey Flats including First Nations people from all over the Yukon. Full-time and seasonal residents included everyone from trappers and civil servants to miners and chambermaids. Dogs roamed freely on the winding footpaths and children in gumboots ran through puddles and clambered on the beached sternwheelers. Former residents recall a friendly community of unlocked doors and warm welcomes.
“There was people from all different places, they come there to get work. There was no booze or anything like that, people didn’t drink. It was a good life. They used to hold dance on Saturday. Nobody get drunk or anything, they just dance.” Ronald Bill, 2003
Three generations of Winnie Peterson’s family spent time at Whiskey Flats. In the late 1950s, Winnie’s mother Carrie Peterson moved to Whiskey Flats with her five children. Their little “sugar shack” was located near the present site of the S.S. Klondike. In the 1960s Winnie rented her own place for $30 a month where she in turn raised her family for many years. When times were hard, neighbours and extended family supported one other. She remembers the community youngsters as “free spirits” who, nevertheless, learned early to respect the river. Neighbours kept a watchful eye on all the children of the “Flats” not just their own.
“It was a beautiful place, being next to the river with the mountains and the sky. The natural northern environment was right there... It was a very unique time and place in the history of the Yukon and Canada... I’m proud that I was born there.” James Shorty, 2014