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The Spell of the Yukon

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This is the haunting story of the Klondike Gold Rush and of legendary Dawson City. When news of the world's richest gold strike reached the outside world in 1897, it unleashed a stampede of fortune-seekers from as far away as Australia. But only half the 100,000 adventurers ever finished the treacherous journey.

Archival photographs re-create the saga of the Klondike: the murderous Chilkoot Pass, over which the gold-seekers had to backpack a year's worth of provisions; boats built from green lumber sailing down the Yukon River; Dawson, where fortunes were made, and lost overnight. Mixing history with a personal quest, filmmaker Rita Roy goes in search of her ghosts--a great-grandfather and uncles who left a farm in Quebec to dig for gold in the Klondike. With a sense of wonder, she discovers a territory still vibrant with legends, and miners still panning for gold. As she mucks about the creeks with them, Roy begins to appreciate the hold of this harsh yet stunning wilderness. Robert Service's poem "The Spell of the Yukon" infuses the video with its imagery of a land that "beckons and beckons."

1996, 43 min 10 s

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