The Force in the North

White Pass Summit

With the establishment of a customs house at Tagish Post in 1897, many Americans believed this was the border. The NWMP soon set up posts on both the Chilkoot and White Passes to confirm where the national boundary lay.

Inspector Cartwright took over the White Pass detachment from Inspector Strickland on March 28, 1898. The detachment then was four non-commissioned officers and sixteen men with four horses. There were customs and regular duties as well as two men with a non-commissioned officer on wood detail. The wood was brought from a point near Log Cabin, 14 miles away, by horse team. It was difficult work and other parties who paid to have their wood brought up were paying $110 a cord. The trail duty was, at times, most severe as the snow is a kind of wet sleet and the men have to wear oil skins nearly all the time. “…a certain party who was riding through from Skagway to Bennett, thought it necessary to take an escort, as he had a large sum of money on his person, of a corporal and two men, furnished by the United States Regulars encamped at Skagway; he dismissed said escort within sight of the [White Pass] post, and on asking if he thought it necessary to take an escort from the Summit to Bennett, he said he did not, as he had no fear of being held up once he reached Canadian Territory; this was an American citizen. (Report of the North-West Mounted Police, 1898. Ottawa: Queen’s Printer. 1899:111-113.)

The Customs and Immigration Inspector was assisted by Sergeant Mapley who has experience gained on the Town Station in Dawson. Mapley knows most of the undesirables trying to gain entry into Canada by that route. The US Immigration has closed down on the macques [sic] and prostitutes on the Alaskan coast and so these women are trying to get into the Yukon but find the immigration laws here as rigid. (Report of the North-West Mounted Police, 1915. Sessional Paper No. 28. Ottawa: Queen’s Printer. 1915:224.)

Log Cabin /White Pass City: Anticipating a rush into the Atlin Lake country in the winter of 1898/99, the railway company is cutting a sled trail from the White Pass Post (Log Cabin) via Otter Lake to the head of Taku Arm seventy miles. A large freight shed is being erected at Log Cabin and all goods will be inspected by the customs officials before they go to Atlin. (Report of the North-West Mounted Police, 1898. Ottawa: Queen’s Printer. 1899:36.)

Steele received permission to withdraw the men from the Chilkoot and White Pass summits for the winter but a patrol visits every day and the flag remains. (Report of the North-West Mounted Police, 1898. Ottawa: Queen’s Printer. 1899:35.)

The sub-collectors office was moved from Log cabin to Bennett in August 1899. One deputy remains at Log Cabin to examine baggage and seals. (Report of the North- West Mounted Police, 1899. Sessional Paper No.15. Ottawa: Queen’s Printer. 1900:28.)