Destination Carcross is… “A collective vision
for Carcross as a vibrant, sustainable tourism destination
with a commitment to action from all stakeholders to make
that vision a reality.” …from first Carcross
Summit, October 23, 2003
The vision for Carcross is…“a sustainable
year-round tourism destination where we celebrate and
share the beauty
and richness of our land, First Nations culture and
gold rush history.”
On January 6, 2005, Carcross/Tagish First Nation (C/TFN),
the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad (WP&YR) and
the Government of Yukon signed a memorandum of understanding
(MOU) to work together with the goal of developing the
Carcross area as a sustainable tourism destination.
The MOU is a tool to engage and build relationships and
support a comprehensive, coordinated approach to developing
a sustainable tourism economy in the Carcross area.
Carcross’ MOU forges a partnership to increase tourism
visitation and stimulate economic ventures in the Carcross
- The parties share a collective vision of a sustainable
economy and tourism industry in the Carcross region,
which is within the Carcross/Tagish First Nation’s
- The parties uphold the principles of integrity,
respect, equality, quality, service and the development
and market-ready products;
- The parties will work together to create a positive
- The parties will develop a pilot project to
create market-ready aboriginal tourism product
- The parties will co-host a follow-up to the
successful Carcross Summit to include community
input to enhance economic opportunities and community
- The parties will work with strategic stakeholders
to create a Destination Carcross work plan, with
actionable items, roles, responsibilities, timelines
and address the necessary components to support
the development of the Carcross region as a sustainable
economy and tourism
- The parties will maintain regular contact, to
share information and measure progress on the action
in this Memorandum of Understanding;
C/TFN, WP&YR and Yukon government have also
committed to working with the community to develop
a shared vision
and plans for Destination Carcross.
The past three years have seen a steady acceleration of
dialogue and progress on developing a sustainable tourism
economy in the Carcross area.
In May 2003, the Yukon government and WP&YR signed
a letter respecting areas of mutual interest and recognizing
the historical relationship between Yukon and WP&YR
and the potential for business opportunities and local
In August 2003, C/TFN and WP&YR signed a memorandum
of understanding outlining common goals in their efforts
to see a more prosperous tourism and business community
in the Carcross area and to co-host the Carcross Summit.
In 2000, C/TFN launched Four Valleys project; was
put on hold until 2002 when its assessment continued and
Mountains Resort was launched. Resort project and
of Caribou Crossing Adventure Company in 2004. Four
Mountains Resort is envisioned as a four-star 80 room lodge overlooking
Lake Bennett. C/TFN hosted design workshops (charrettes)
with the community to guide resort design.
In October 2003, the First Nation, Yukon government
and the federal government initialed the C/TFN Final and
On October 24, 2003, White Pass and C/TFN hosted
Carcross Summit in Whitehorse. Delegates from Carcross, Tagish,
Atlin, Alaska, Seattle, Juneau, industry associations
and government discussed vision and actions to support
in the Carcross area.
In March 2004, six Carcross area residents participated
in an intensive four-day wilderness tourism training
retreat at Marsh Lake’s Inn on the Lake. Participants
focused on best practices and worked with existing wilderness
In an April 2004 vote, C/TFN members did not ratify
land claim agreements.
In December 2004, C/TFN released its Tourism Code
of Conduct. The intent of the code is to shape tourism
development in the Carcross area by ensuring community benefit, and
respect for local culture and the environment.
On January 6, 2005, White Pass, C/TFN and the Yukon
government signed a memorandum of understanding to work together
with the goal of developing the Carcross area as
a sustainable tourism destination.
WP&YR continues to upgrade the rail line between
Bennett and Carcross. In January 2005, White Pass
charter train service to Carcross in summer 2005,
and the Yukon government purchased the Red Line train.
On January 13, 2005, Canada and the Yukon announced
a $3 million investment in the Carcross waterfront. The
project will cover a number of activities including
community clean up, water, sewer and road improvements, landscaping
and upgrades and construction for river structures.
Referendum on having a second C/TFN land claims vote
was approved on Feb. 12, 2005. A second land claims
ratification vote will be held from May 25 – 28, 2005.
The people of the Yukon’s Southern Lakes are veterans
of the tourism industry. Yukon’s tourism story began
when the First Nations people greeted and guided the early
explorers, traders and members of the North-West Mounted
Police. The Klondike Gold Rush drew tens of thousands of
goldseekers to the Yukon, many of whom traveled over the
coastal passes along traditional trading routes. Many First
Nations people worked as guides, packers and in other ways
to meet the needs of the travelers. The 110-mile long White
Pass & Yukon Route Railroad was built at the height
of the Gold Rush, completed with the driving of the golden
spike on July 29, 1900 in Carcross.
Four Tagish people helped spark the Klondike Gold Rush
with their gold find on Bonanza Creek. Kate Carmack,
Skookum Jim, Dawson Charlie and Patsy Henderson gained
became important historical figures for their role
in the Gold Rush. For years, Henderson met tourists from
and told gold rush tales and stories about his people’s
traditions. In the 1950s he entertained visitors with his
Uncle Patsy’s Show.
Wealthy, independent and curious tourists were drawn
to the new northern frontier, joining rail and steamer
that offered a comfortable route to the interior.
In the years following the Gold Rush, Carcross was a travel
as the railroad and Yukon River sternwheelers carried
well-heeled, adventuring visitors to once-remote
City, Whitehorse and Atlin. For more than forty years
Ben-My-Cree was a fabled garden stop along Tagish
Lake for SS Tutshi
sternwheeler passengers. The owners offered guided
tours of their extensive garden, and visitors included
Prince of Wales and President Roosevelt.
The South Klondike Highway opened in 1978, providing
an important link to the coast. The train closed
in 1982 and
reopened in 1988 to service the growing Alaska cruise
ship industry with tourist excursions to White Pass
summit. Over the past thirty years, the Chilkoot
Trail has been
developed by Canada and the U.S. as a national historic
site and backcountry destination. The trail draws
wilderness travelers to the area, though Carcross
has been largely
excluded from the Chilkoot experience because of
limited train access.
The community of Carcross suffered a major blow in
1990 with the burning of the SS Tutshi, the town’s major
tourist attraction and one of the few remaining authentic
artifacts of the paddlewheel era. In 1991, the Carcross
train depot opened as the Carcross Visitor Reception Centre,
and in the same year Frontierland also opened its doors.
Tourism planning began in the Southern Lakes area in 1990,
and a plan was completed in 1994. The South Klondike Highway
Interpretive Plan was completed in 1997. New tourism businesses
continue to take root in the Carcross area, joining some
well-established businesses and diversifying the area’s