the 195Os, tourists who arrived in Dawson City on
steamships were greeted by small groups of locals
dressed in 189Os costumes. The Klondike Tourist Bureau,
as it came to be known, wanted to give people
a sense that they were entering a
special place. The appearances were such a hit with
the visitors that the group expanded its activities
to include escorted tours of the town and the Klondike
Gold Fields. Dances were held at the Palace Grand
Theatre, or the Nugget Hall, as it was called. Gambling
tables were set up and special play money was “minted” to
keep visitors entertained.
The organization continued
to grow, as did the number of visitors to the area.
In the 1960s it became officially
called the Klondike Visitors Association, and undertook
a number of projects to promote Dawson City as a
great place to spend a vacation.
The casino nights were moved into the Arctic Brotherhood
Hall, now known as Diamond Tooth Gertie’s.
The casino was the first in Canada, and continues
to be a major attraction in Dawson, a place where
visitors and locals alike gather to try their luck,
enjoy a drink, and watch Gertie and the Gold Rush
Girls perform nightly.
The Palace Grand Theatre, reconstructed
by Parks Canada in the 1960s, was home to the KVA’s
Gastlight Follies for a number of years. The KVA
maintains attractions and hosts special events, such
as the Jack London Centre, the Berton House, the
Yukon Gold Panning Championships, the Great International
Outhouse Race and a free gold panning claim on Bonanza
Creek. Through its activities, the KVA injects over
two million dollars a year into the community, and
works in partnership with many organizations to promote
and preserve the history of the Klondike, making
a visit to Dawson City an unforgettable experience.