Archival Documents

Robert Henderson fonds [textual records]

Creation Date(s): 1884-1909

Physical Description:
0.6 cm of textual records

Bio Sketch / Admin History:
Robert Henderson was born in Pictou County, Nova Scotia in 1857. He left home at the age of fourteen, prospecting for gold in Australia, New Zealand, and Colorado, before heading to the Canadian north. He arrived in the Yukon in 1894, and prospected several areas before Joe Ladue convinced him to try the Indian River area near Dawson City.

Henderson spent one winter on Quartz Creek then moved on to Gold Bottom, a tributary of Hunker Creek. Henderson was pleased with his findings in the Klondike Valley and advised others, including George Carmack, Skookum Jim and their party, to try their luck prospecting the area. Acting on Henderson's advice, Carmack and Skookum Jim tried prospecting on Rabbit Creek (renamed Bonanza) where they made the discovery that sparked the Klondike Gold Rush.

Henderson did not find out about the strike until all the richest claims were staked. This was a great source of bitterness for Henderson, who sought compensation through the Canadian Government. The Government eventually granted Henderson a small pension and officially recognized him as “co-discoverer” of gold in the Klondike, although the discovery dispute has never been completely resolved.

In 1898 Robert Henderson moved to the United States to be with his family. He had three sons, Hugh Grant, John, and Henry, and one daughter, Cassie. Henderson returned to Dawson City in the early 1900s, working in the Government Mining Engineer’s Office. He later moved to British Columbia where he died in 1933.

Scope and Content:
This fonds consists of financial papers, correspondence and official documents relating primarily to Robert Henderson's time as a miner and mining inspector in the Yukon Territory between 1896 and 1909. The records include: personal and government correspondence, certificates, promissory notes, receipts and memoranda. Much of the correspondence concerns Robert Henderson's efforts to exact compensation for claims he lost as a result of regulation changes while he was out on the creeks. There is also a letter, dated 1909, which addresses concerns over Robert Henderson's place in history and how he ought to be remembered.

Accession Number(s): 1983.69

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