In 1907, Laura Beatrice Berton, a 29-year-old kindergarten teacher, left her comfortable life in Toronto Ontario to teach in a Yukon mining town. She fell in love with the North–and with a northerner–and made Dawson City her home for the next 25 years. I Married the Klondike is her classic and enduring memoir.
When she first arrived by steamboat in Dawson City, Berton expected to find a rough mining town full of grizzled miners, scarlet-clad Mounties and dance-hall girls. And while these and other memorable characters did abound, she quickly discovered why the town was nicknamed the “Paris of the North.” Although the gold rush was over, the townsfolk still clung to the lavishness of the city’s golden era and the young teacher soon found herself hosting tea parties once a month, attending formal dinners, dancing the minuet at fancy balls and going on elaborate sleighing parties. In the background a famous poet wrote ballads on his cabin wall, an archbishop lost on the tundra ate his boots to survive and men living on dreams of riches grew old panning the creeks for gold.
While thousands of people left the Klondike each October on the “last boat out” and Dawson City slowly decayed around her, the author remained true to her northern home. Humorous, poignant and filled with stories of both drudgery and decadence, I Married the Klondike is an unforgettable book by a brave and intelligent woman.