Activities, Canadian History, Goldrush, History, Klondike, Teaching Resources, Yukon

Cremation of Sam McGee

Robert Service’s ballad about Sam McGee, the miner who could never get warm, was published with great popularity in 1907, and has been a classic every since. Explain to your kids that the story is an embellished and humorous look at the hardship of the Yukon gold rush.

The real Sam McGee was a successful miner from Ontario, who struck it rich and, in 1909, retired to fruit farming in Summerland, BC. He never met Robert Service, who used his name after McGee made a deposit at the bank in Whitehorse where Robert Service was a teller. On his 2nd return to the Yukon, Sam McGee found his fellow passengers on the steam-ship were buying “genuine ashes of Sam McGee”! It’s not everyday one can buy one’s own cremated ashes! McGee’s cabin is now part of the exhibit at the MacBride Musum in Whitehorse, YK.

Hear a marvelous rendition of the ballad at this link.

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