The Force in the North

Chilkoot Pass

The detachment at Chilkoot Pass was isolated and harsh, located at the summit of Chilkoot Pass, where thousands of stampeders passed through on their way to the Klondike. Here, the NWMP established not only a presence, but sovereignty for the Canadian government as the Chilkoot Pass was the boundary between Canada and the United States.

The nearest firewood was seven miles distant so men were sent for it. Some of the men had colds and kidney trouble and the fire detail was badly frost bitten. On February 23, the horses were sent back to Bennett. On February 26, the first fine day after the storm, the Union Jack was hoisted and the collection of custom duties began. When Belcher moved into the building in the morning, he found frost so thick on the tarpaulin that the place was like a shower bath until noon. This first building on the Summit was 12’ x 12’ and was built as near the top of the summit as possible. As the snow melted in May, the cabin sank, as it must have been 20’ feet above the ground. It kept fairly straight until one corner hit a rock and the remainder of the building had to be propped up. Finally, the cabin rested at about 9 feet above the ground. On June 20, a new building was constructed using wood from the first one. The new building was 18’ x 12’ and was used by Customs until July 14th when the customs post was moved to Lindeman and then the Summit detachment took it over. (Report of the North-West Mounted Police, 1898. Ottawa: Queen’s Printer. 1899:89, 92.)

The Chilkoot Pass detachment was moved to Log Cabin in July, 1898, but by November it had ceased operations entirely.