Gamblers and Dreamers: Women, Men, and Community in the Klondike

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UBC Press, 1998 - History - 250 pages

The popular image of the Klondike is of a rush of adventurers who overcame great physical and geographical obstacles in their quest for gold. Young, white, single American men carried forward the ideals and structures of the western frontier. It was a man’s world made respectable only after the arrival of middle-class women, who miraculously swept out the corners of dirt and vice and ‘civilized’ the society. Like many stereotypes, this picture is only partly true.

Gamblers and Dreamers tackles some of the myths about the history of the North in the era of the gold rush. Though many inhabitants came and went, Charlene Porsild shows that many put down roots. The picture she presents of Dawson City at the turn of the century reveals that it had a cosmopolitan character, a stratified society, and a definite permanenc. Porsild begins by looking at how First Nations peoples were affected by the hordes who arrived on their doorstep. She then explores the lives of miners and other labourers, professionals, merchants, dance hall performers, and prostitutes, providing fascinating detail about those who left homes and jobs to strike it rich in the last great gold rush of the nineteenth century. In the process, Gamblers and Dreamers puts a human face on this compelling period of history.


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About the author (1998)

Charlene Porsild was born in the Yukon and raised innorthern Alberta. She teaches Canadian and American History at theUniversity of Nebraska and is the editor of the Great PlainsQuarterly journal. She is a well known expert on the Klondike andhas appeared on PBS for the "Gold Fever" episode of TheAmerican Experience (aired in Canada on May 12, 1997).

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