Hougen Group

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A panoramic view of Hoole Canyon, Pelly River August 1923. Yukon Archives. Claude & Mary Tidd fonds, #7661.

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A group of people in a scow on the Pelly River near Ross River, trying out the engine. Yukon Archives. Claude & Mary Tidd fonds, #7162".

Pelly River

There are many features of the Yukon's impressive landscape which are named for an early day governor of the Hudson Bay company.

John Henry Pelly was born in England in 1777. As governor of the Hudson Bay Company in the 1800s, he ran a fur empire stretching over the new land later to become Canada. Known as Rupert's Land, it was an empire controlled in all its aspects by the Bay.

In what was later to be known as the Yukon, Robert Campbell - a Scotsman employed by the Bay - explored the rivers and lakes leading into the Yukon river. In July of 1840, Campbell arrived at some high banks after travelling a long river. He named both the impressive banks and the river the Pelly, in honour of the company's governor. He also named two lakes at the headwaters of the river the Pelly Lakes.

Campbell also named a long range of mountains lying south almost the entire length of the river the Pelly Mountains after Sir John. But it was Canadian government surveyor George Dawson who confirmed on behalf of Canada, Pelly as the official name of the river.

In 1846, Robert Campbell built a trading post at the mouth of the Pelly river where it enters the Yukon. The post was never successful and it burned down in 1849. It was never reopened by the Hudson Bay Company, but some traders operated here for many years after 1900. Over the years, gold was mined in the gravel bars of the Pelly River.

A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin