Hougen Group

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William Ogilvie 1846 - 1912.

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A document from the Arctic Brotherhood to William Ogilvie. He was elected an honorary life member of Camp Dawson No. 4. Date: 1901. Yukon Archives. Adams & Larkin fonds. #9046.

William Ogilvie

There's no doubt when you are looking for gold, you need a lot of luck. And that's why Yukon gold miners needed surveyors who came to the territory not to search for gold, but to map the gold fields.

William Ogilvie was a Ottawa boy, a civil service surveyor whose job first took him to the prairies in the mid 1870s.

After George Dawson had surveyed US Canada boundary from east to west, it was Ogilvie who drew the north south lines. His work eventually resulted in the boundary between Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Ogilvie's talent as a surveyor was such that George Dawson chose him as the corner stone of the three member team which essentially mapped the Yukon as we know it today. This was just beginning in the north for William Ogilivie.

On their first trip in 1887, Ogilvie met George Washington Carmack, the man whose gold find opened up Bonanza Creek and the Klondike valley ten years later. Ogilvie began to understand the future of gold in the Yukon and, as a civil servant, he saw the necessity for a stable administration of a potentially unstable situation.

He laid out the boisterous town of Forty Mile and later the streets of Dawson City. His survey work in the actual gold strike area was so complete and the regulations he urged so intelligent, that it was really Ogilvie's work which kept the Klondike from becoming a gold fevered war zone. Because of Ogilvie, miners could depend on the legitimacy of their claims. He insured there was a police force to back them up.

The violence and haphazard rules of the Alaskan gold rush experience was almost completely avoided in the Yukon.

But that wasn't the end of William Ogilvie. He surveyed Dawson City in 1896 and insured the new townsite was named after his friend George Dawson. He was appointed the first commissioner of the Yukon in 1898.

A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin