The long journey
The Royal Alexandra Hotel on front Street in Dawson City. In one of her letters Mary makes reference to the hotel.
Yukon Archives: #7765
As Mary boarded the ship that would take her north, she had no idea of the romance and adventures she was about to embark on. Traveling up the coast to Skagway, Alaska, Mary was awed by the “unparalleled beauty”
of the mountains and glaciers and islands they passed en route. Skagway was the southern terminus for the narrow-gauge White Pass Railway, which would take her into Canada and Whitehorse. There she would board the S.S. Casca for the long river trip to Fort Yukon.
Mary on August 15, 1924.
Yukon Archives: #7803
One of the stops along the Casca’s route was Dawson City, where the Klondike River empties into the Yukon. It was there on the dock that Mary would catch her first glimpse of the man who would change the direction of her life forever.
"There I met a wonderful specimen of manhood – one of the Royal Northwest
Police who wore a gorgeous uniform with a coat of scarlet. We went to
a ball on Pioneer Day, a famous celebration, and this particular corporal
danced with me so often that ever since they tell me what a grave oversight
it was to be inoculated against everything almost and then succumb to 'scarlet
I ever reached Fort Yukon." (91/112 MSS 363,
Mary Tidd quoted in the Lancaster New Era. n.d.)
Claude and Mary, August 15, 1924. These photographs are evidence that Claude was on the Dome hike, in spite of Mary omitting the fact from her letters.
Yukon Archives: #7801
Claude, now stationed in Dawson City, had given up his seat in the orchestra to dance with Mary. Photographs Claude took over the next day or so suggest he and Mary were inseparable. You wouldn’t ascertain this from Mary’s letters to her mother, however, which do not mention Claude as being part of her first visit to Dawson.
"Cpt. McCaun [sic. This was likely Captain McCann
of the S.S. Casca who, while commanding the S.S. Yukon, attended Mary’s wedding
the following year] took us all around Dawson in his car that day
(almost the only auto in the town) and we had a ride I’ll never forget – went
to a mammoth Gold dredge – saw the huge hydraulics with which they go over
all the rocks for gold…."
Mary and some of her new friends also climbed the nearby hill known as The Dome and were treated to a panoramic view of Dawson City "nestled at the waters edge – with steam ships in the harbor. – The Canadian flag waved over all. We built a fire on the way down and had tea. All is very English here." (91-112 f. 1 MSS 365 Transcribed excerpts from Mary’s correspondence from Fort Yukon. August 22, 1924)