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Virtual Museum of Canada The Making of Treaty #8 in Canada's Northwest
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Precursor: Focus 1899

The Klondike Gold Rush


klondike hotel, dawson city Settlement of northern Alberta did not take place until after the signing of Treaty 8 in 1899-1900.  Prior to 1899 the land belonged to the Natives.  However the discovery of gold in the Yukon brought great unrest to the region in the mid-1890s, as thousands of gold seekers from all over north America headed north, via Edmonton and the Peace region to find their fortunes in the Klondike.  Not only did this massive flow of prospectors disrupt the otherwise tranquil day-to-day routine of the peoples in the north, perhaps even more bothersome, at least to the First Nations in the region, was that many never actually reached their destination.  Some Klondikers liked what they saw and decided to stay.

prospectorsThe influx of prospectors into the area was great cause for concern for the Canadian government as the Peace region had been coveted as a prime area for settlement and agricultural development.  Although others had lobbied the government for years on the importance of establishing treaty relations with the First Nations people of the area, the need now became more urgent.  Not only were the First Nations people of the region complaining that these prospectors were causing havoc in the north, stealing horses and depleting the wild game resources in the region. It was clear that, if peace were to be maintained in the region and in order to ensure that the area was settled according to the governments agenda, a treaty had to be concluded in the region, and the land set aside for settlement. 

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