Whitehorse is The Capital of the Yukon and offers unparalleled access to the surrounding wilderness. Over two-thirds of the Yukon’s residents live in Whitehorse, which has a year-round population of about 36,000.
In the late 1800s, the wilderness on the east side of the Yukon River gave way to two settlements of cabins, Closeleigh near the present site of Whitehorse and Canyon City five miles upriver. On June 8, 1900, the White Pass & Yukon Railway from Skagway was completed on the west side of the River and Closeleigh was moved to the present town site and became Whitehorse.
Whitehorse got its name from the rapids of the Yukon River where the frothing water looked like the manes of white horses.
The sparsely populated tent-and-cabin city boomed and became the terminal for freight being transferred from railway to riverboat for shipment to Dawson City. For over 50 years Whitehorse continued in this vital role.
The second great population surge followed the agreement of the US and Canadian Governments to build the Alaska Highway in 1942. During the nine-month construction, the population swelled from 500 to 8000. With building space at a premium, one entrepreneur began building small two and three-story log cabins, or “Log skyscrapers,” which can still be seen in town.
After the war, Whitehorse maintained its importance as a transportation and communications centre for the Yukon. On April 1, 1953, the capital of the Yukon was officially transferred from Dawson City to Whitehorse. Today the mainstays of the Whitehorse economy are tourism, government and mining.