Watson Lake is a town in The Yukon Territory, Canada, located at milepost 635 on the Alaska Highway, close to the British Columbia border. The town is named for Frank Watson, an American-born trapper and prospector, who settled in the area in the late 1800’s.
The Yukon Territory is the smallest and westernmost of Canada’s three federal territories (the other two are the Northwest Territories and Nunavut). Whitehorse is the territorial capital and Yukon’s only city. European incursions into the area began early in the 1800’s with the fur trade, followed by missionaries. By the 1870s and 1880s gold miners began to arrive. The increased population coming with the gold rush in 1887 led to the separation of the Yukon district from the Northwest Territories and the formation of the separate Yukon Territory in 1898.
Tidbit of Information: The major difference between a Canadian province and a territory is that provinces receive their power and authority from the British North America Act of 1867, whereas territorial governments have powers delegated to them by the Parliament of Canada.
The name Yukon comes from the Gwich’in word Yu-kun-ah meaning “great river”.
In February 1943, a sign post pointing out the distances to various points along the Pioneer Road being built (The Alaska Highway) was damaged by a bulldozer. Private Carl K. Lindley, serving with the 341st Engineers, was ordered to repair the sign. When he finished that assigned job, he decided to paint the name of his hometown on a board and nail it to the same post. The sign read “Danville, Illinois, 2835 miles.” Other soldiers followed, and the tradition has continued for 75 years.
There are now 85,813 signs in the “Sign Post Forrest”.
Actually, as of today there are 85,814, as we added our sign.
Careful with our sign:
All of us together:
Liard Hot Springs, BC to Watson Lake, Yukon Territory: 128.8 miles