Back in the 1920s, tourism was not a big ticket item in the Yukon. The territory was accessible only by the White Pass Railway, which carried some tourists during the summer, but it was mainly used for freight operations -- delivering goods in and or out. So it was with considerable foresight that the bridge over Miles Canyon was built in 1922 as a tourist attraction. The imposing, 85-foot-long structure was designed by Bert Paterson, who was described as the "chief wharfinger" at Whitehorse. It was paid for by the federal Department of Public Works and the town of Whitehorse. The bridge was opened by Governor General Lord Byng at a dedication ceremony on Sunday, August 13th. The governor general was on an official visit to the Yukon and had already been to Dawson for the Discovery Day celebrations. He had also visited the Mayo mining district in the days when road travel was by horse drawn wagon. Yukon Member of Parliament George Black joined about twenty citizens of Whitehorse who made their way to the canyon for the 9am ceremony. The bridge across the canyon was officially named the Robert Lowe bridge to honour a long time Yukon politician and businessman. Lowe had become the first speaker of the first fully elected Yukon Territorial Council back in 1909.
In business, he was a freighter who hauled goods to the Kopper King Mining district, and was once owner of the Commercial Hotel that later became known as the White Pass Hotel and sat on the site now occupied by the Edgewater. When the bridge opened in 1922, Miles Canyon was a much more awesome spectacle before the hydro dam at the Whitehorse Rapids slowed the river through the basalt rocks. And speaking of names, Miles Canyon was named for Nelson Miles, an American military general who led much of the US military action during the opening of the American west. So the next time you visit the scenic spot at Miles Canyon, think of that day back in 1922 when the first real attraction dedicated to tourism in the Whitehorse area was officially opened.
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin