By W. Craig Green, F275689
The original Klondikers set out in 1896 for the Yukon region of Canada. They struck it rich along Bonanza Creek and its tributaries. These American “Klondikers” were seekers of fame and fortune — colorful characters, with names like Skookum Jim, Dawson Charlie, and Klondike Kate.
The treacherous trail leading to the northern gold fields was called the “Back Door,” or the “All Canadian Route.” Canadian adventurers, including the redheaded “Klondike Mike,” headed north, mingling with their American counterparts to seek out the precious gold. Whether Canadian or American, they were all Klondikers, and primed for action.
The Klondikers disappeared by the early 1900s but returned once more in 2001, during the FMCA International Area Rally. The rally was held at Edmonton Northlands Park, the entrance to which is guarded by a large wooden statue of Klondike Mike.
Desirous of starting another FMCA chapter in Alberta, the rally hosts set about recruiting charter members. Eventually 23 members were signed up, and the chapter was granted its charter on June 26, 2001.
But before this could happen, a name was needed for this (about to be) newly minted chapter, one that would represent the northern part of Alberta. It is suggested that while this matter was being pondered during the International Area Rally that year, the originators were huddled in the shadow of Klondike Mike. His spirit, weary of the endless discussion and debate, whacked them over the head and said, “You will be known as the Klondikers, and your symbol will be the paddle wheel from a river boat with a plume of churning water.”
Like the original Klondikers, many fell by the trail, and new adventurers came on board. The fledgling chapter struggled along, and may very well have vanished into history except for the guidance of other FMCA members from Alberta and British Columbia, who helped them “weather the storm.”
Like the Klondikers of old, members of this group have been known to share the trail with their American cousins. The chapter now boasts 28 member families and rolls along under the guidance of chapter president Gary Fedick, F248097. Chapter secretary/treasurer Heather Bishop, F244338, controls the “poke,” while wagon master Keith Jorgenson, F191002, keeps everyone breaking new trails on the road to fun and adventure.
Alberta is a large province. It is 661,848 square kilometers of spectacular Rocky Mountains, foothills, prairies, badlands, lakes, and rivers. It is a young province, currently celebrating its 100th year in confederation. The Klondikers are actively exploring this new land, and invite all FMCA members to travel along. Every rally is an adventure.
Do you have the nerve to join us? Do you live in the Pacific Northwest? If so, contact FMCA’s Chapter Services Department at (800) 543-3622. The great Alberta adventure awaits you!