PANNING FOR KLONDIKE GOLD - a 2008 dvd release

From the "Outdoor Adventure Canada" Series

"Outdoor Adventure Canada" is a series of 26 programs celebrating Canada's outdoor heritage that were shot all across Canada. Programs for the series won an astonishing 80 international television awards, including 29 Gold & Silver medals, at leading American Film & Television Festivals.

All programs are available only from Goldi Productions Ltd

Show Me All 26 Programs in the Series
A Century of Panning Yukon Gold
Placer gold miners from all over the Yukon compete in the Yukon Gold Panning Championships and tell the story of a century of gold panning in Dawson City. (DVD Cover, left)


"I thought you did a wonderful job in "Panning for Yukon Gold" in capturing the mood of Dawson and the gold fever too!!"
- Melanie Andrews, Dawson City, YT

"The cinematography was outstanding. Please continue to portray Canada with your quality productions."
- Carol Sadler, Calgary, AB

"There are strange things done in the midnight sun, by the men who moil for gold."

These opening lines of Robert Service's famous poem are spoken over magnificent high shots of Dawson City, and the goldfields at the confluence of the Yukon and Klondike Rivers. This is where the world-famous Klondike Goldrush began a century ago, when gold was discovered on Bonanza Creek. It's a Canadian story known all over the world.


panning Canada's northern Yukon Territory was created out of the Klondike Gold Rush, and gold fever still permeates its soul today. This program explores one of Canada's greatest continuing outdoor adventures: the search for Yukon gold.

During the gold rush, most of Dawson City's 30,000 people were American. A century later only about 2,000 Yukoners live here, but most of them still make their living from Klondike gold.

Every year, the Yukon Gold-Panning Championships, are held on Canada Day. Most of the participants are professional placer miners, who work in the same Klondike goldfields where gold was discovered a century ago.

Participants in the various categories are each given a bucket of dirt with a certain number of gold flakes in it, (a number unknown to the participants.) When the judge shouts "Go", they have to recover the maximum number of flakes in the shortest possible time. The winner will go to the World Gold Panning Championships in Italy. Gold panning is done around the world, wherever placer gold is found. Placer is gold that has been eroded from the original gold vein in the rock, and re-deposited in the gravel of a creek bed.
Next, we go to Claim 33 on Bonanza Creek, where Jorn Meir is showing a group of tourists how to pan for gold. He explains that a gold pan is used to explore for gold, not to mine it, and shows them how to gently swirl the gravel in the pan, and tip out the water and gravel, until only the gold flakes are left. Because gold is heavier than other rock, it tends to be washed down through the gravel, and settles at a low point. That is the principle on which gold panning is based.
George Carmacks, Tagish Charlie, and Skokum Jim were looking for trees to float down to a sawmill, and they camped by what was then called Rabbit Creek. When George Carmacks tried his gold pan in the creek, he came up with the richest pan he had ever heard of. He rushed down river to file his claim, and started a local goldrush. Within a short time, every claim was staked on the creek, re-named Bonanza Creek. (In those days, each person could hold only one claim at a time.)

The prospectors worked all winter to take gold out of their claims. They sunk shafts in the frozen ground, and lifted the gold bearing gravel out bucket by bucket, then ran it through a sluice to extract the gold.

When they took it out to San Francisco the following summer, the press announced that a ton of gold had come out of the Yukon, and thousands rushed north hoping to strike it rich. But most were too late. However, many of the first to stake claims did strike it fabulously rich, though few held onto their money. The goldfields are still littered with many of the original shovels and mining tools.

Sharing the frustration of getting rich quick, with the miners on the same creek, 100 years before, Kurt Mitchell holds up the gold he has panned in Goldbottom Creek. "It seems," he complains, "that just about when I'm about to strike it rich.... my mom calls and says 'Hurry up, let's go."

Rona Millar (left) has owned the fabled Goldbottom Creek for years, letting tourists like Kurt pan for fun with pans in the old way while her daughter Deborah (below) runs the modern plant further up the creek. The constantly turning trommel washes the gold out of the gravel (paydirt Deborah calls it), which a loader dumps into the hopper to start the washing out process. "This," she points, "is the pot at the end of the rainbow..... I hope," she says.
The Klondike goldfields have been worked for a century, and have sustained many family companies. Technology has changed, from handmade sluice boxes, to large dredges, and now to bulldozers and large sluices. But placer mining has basically remained a family enterprise, that small groups do because they like the seasonal outdoor work, and because they are still driven by the same gold fever that drove the original miners.
Rona Millar and her lively daughter Deborah show us their family placer operation. The Millars are re-working the same gravels that were worked a century ago. We also talk to John Gould, who has been a placer miner all his life, and now works with his son. He gives us insight into the ups and downs of the gold mining life, and into the passions that have driven people in their continuing quest for gold.
The waste is dumped into piles that cover acres all along the banks of the creeks and the Klondike River. 

International Communications Film & Video Competition, Chicago IL

Worldfest Flagstaff AZ, International Film & Video Festival

US International Film And Video Festival, Chicago, IL

National Educational Media Network Awards, Oakland, CA

US International Film & Video Festival, Chicago, IL

Columbus International Film & Video Festival, Columbus, OH

Worldfest Houston TX/ International Film & Video Festival

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