Monday, January 23, 2012

February issue going to bed

In my old newspaper days the terminology for putting the final touches on the newspaper pages, before going to press, was called "putting the paper to bed." That's where I am at with the February issue of Celtic Guide, though we don't go to press . . . we go online, instead.

In this season of cold weather and snow, this issue will focus on the tremendous contribution the Celtic race played in exploring and settling the Yukon River Valley. This river is roughly 2,000 miles long, cutting through some of the roughest and most beautiful territory on earth. Many of its early pioneers were trappers and traders – the traditional mountain men – working with the Hudson's Bay Company, a company that hired many Scots and Irish to handle this rugged task, all across Canada.

Once the United States purchased Alaska from Russia, many of these men moved their allegiance over to the Alaska Commercial Company, and then to other competitors. The search for gold had taken a back seat to the fur business for a number of years until these men started doing the hard work of exploration and sluicing for this precious metal. Once it was obvious how much gold there was to be had, the entire valley changed as thousands of men and women poured into it to get rich.

However, for the 25 years or so preceding the big Klondike rush, it was quite often a lone Irishman or lone Scotsman, perhaps with his Native bride by his side, trekking through the wilds, trapping and trading with local tribes, taking grizzly bears and moose with single shot muzzle-loaders, and braving the raging, ice-cold waters of the Yukon.

This is their story.

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