Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Some news on Captain Jack McQuesten

I am helping recreate a banner once carried by the Yukon Order of Pioneers that will hopefully be carried again at a big celebration in Dawson, this coming August.

I will be recreating the art, and a restoration expert will be recreating the actual banner. The banner was burned in the 1960s and we only had two black and white photos to go by. Luckily, someone found a color photo, shown below, and in looking at it closely, there appears to a man in the center at the top. My guess is that this is Jack McQuesten, since he founded the organization, and was such an incredible influence in the Yukon area.

Ed Jones is going to see if anyone's around that might remember. Regardless, if we do not put Jack's picture there, we will put a generic picture, which anyone is welcomed to assume is Jack. Here's the new photo -

Also, attached is a photo of Jack's store that still stands at Forty Mile. This would have been the actual physical birthplace of the Yukon Order of Pioneers. It is also the most likeliest location of the Mitchell, Alaska Post Office, even though it was located inside Canada. Postmarks from Mitchell are one of the highest prized postal collector items, because of the mystery surrounding its location. Here's the store photo -

I tried to get the Smithsonian to accept an article on Jack as Father of Alaska. They said it was too narrow of an audience, and I'm thinking "Ice Road Truckers," "Alaska Gold Rush," "Alaska State Troopers," "Sarah Palin's Alaska," the new Alaska bush pilot show, the long-time reality show "Greatest Catch," and a gadzillion other shows on survival in Alaska, touring Alaska, working in Alaska - who's not paying attention to TV lately at the Smithsonian? 

In addition to the Alaska connection, Jack also provided over 200 specimens to the Smithsonian, and recorded the first weather reports of the Upper Yukon - about 840 separate temperature readings and several hundred daily observations, all for the Smithsonian. 

I might try an "end run" on this. Had a little luck with that technique in the past.

Jack helped with the first Alaska census, grubstaked just about everyone up there, was called Father of Alaska, Father of the Yukon, Indian Papa, Yukon Jack and he should have also had the nickname "Father of the Klondike" since he sent Cormack (the guy who found the first Klondike gold) there and grubstaked him. Jack first recorded the Klondike River's Indian name, Thronduik,  in writing, three times before anyone else did. He established his first post just six miles away. He sent Joe Ladue to establish Dawson and Jack built the first Alaska Commercial Company store there. No other early pioneer had a greater connection to the Klondike/Dawson area than Jack McQuesten.

I met a very, very successful current Klondike miner (a few million a year!) who told me - "Dawson wouldn't be half the town it is without Jack McQuesten. I feel just as indebted to him as every old miner he ever grubstaked. Jack's bronze plaque faces out to the confluence of the Yukon and Klondike Rivers – and rightfully so. 


  1. Jim, when in August is the celebration. I presume you plan to attend? And if so, I suspect you will be flying through Seattle, only 1 hour from us in Stanwood.

    If possible and the date is right for my schedule, maybe I can accompany you, if you wouldn't mind.


  2. I find out more from Ed and let you know.