About Us

The community of Tagish is situated in the heart of Yukon’s Southern Lakes, a series of long narrow lakes (Tagish, Bennett, Marsh and Atlin) which run mostly on a south /north axis traversing the Coastal Mountains of Alaska and British Columbia. In the icefields of Atlin are the sources of the Yukon River, whose waters traverse the Southern Lakes until they become the great river which then flows almost without interruption to the Bering Sea, almost 3,200 kms (1900 miles) to the North.

Tagish itself sits on the Tagish River (also called 6 Mile) which links Tagish and Marsh Lakes. For centuries the First Nations people came here to fish and hunt. The area is home to a herd of mountain caribou which provided a sustainable source of food for the nomadic tribes. The Tagish people ( the word tagish means the break up of the spring ice) are of the Athabaskan language group but over time intermarried with the coastal Tlingit and their language has all but disappeared.

As the people of the West Coast came in contact with traders and explorers from Europe, the United States and Russia, the Tlingit acted as middlemen in the exchange of goods and controlled access to the interior of Yukon through the coastal passes. When gold was discovered in the Klondike, ironically by Tagish First Nations members, the coastal passes (Chilkoot and White Pass) were the doors through which passed thousands of gold seekers. This area would be changed forever.

The gold route to Yukon passed through Bennett, Tagishand Marsh Lakes until it became the Yukon River. It passed along the Tagish River and the North West Mounted Police established a very important post on the river to control the huge influx of prospectors. By1901 it had been closed.

With the construction of the White Pass Railway which passed through Carcross, some 35 kms from Tagish, and which continued on to Whitehorse, many of the Tagish people moved to Carcross to take up permanent residence and take advantage of the jobs available on the railroad.

Tagish remained a permanent home for some, a seasonal camp for others. It retained a post office, telegraph office, and trading post over the years until the next major influx of change brought about by the building of the Alaska Highway. In 1942, the construction of the Alaska Highway as part of the war effort came to Tagish. A road from Jake’s Corner on the Highway was driven through Tagish to link up with The White Pass railway in Carcross. A one lane wooden bridge was built over the Tagish River and for the first time in its history Tagish was linked by a formal road to the rest of Yukon.

As the population of the Yukon, and particularly Whitehorse increased over the years, the need for recreational properties was recognized. The area of the Southern Lakes, particularly Marsh and Tagish Lakes ,was slowly developed as it was in relatively close proximity to Whitehorse and had accessible waterfront property. The first recreational lots were created inTagish in the 1960’s as lease properties and Tagish slowly took on the characteristics which it continues to maintain today. Tagish currently has just over 400 properties, with a permanent year round population of about 400 people.Of these about 20% are members of the Carcross/Tagish First Nations. In the summer the population will more than double as people return from all over the world to enjoy their properties.

In the 1970’s the First Nations people of Yukon began a process to negotiate land claims and self government agreements with the Federal and Territorial Governments. These agreements have been concluded for many of the First Nations including the Carcross –Tagish, and they have a constitutionally guaranteed authority as a third level of government to govern their people and their land. This is a first in Canada and our community is part of this process.

In spite of its remote, wilderness setting and small population,Tagish is not immune from the development pressures which beset much of Canada. Oil and gas exploration within the Southern Lakes is a possibility and along with a growing population,creates a recognition that more change is inevitable. It is our hope that we can manage it in a way which will preserve the life style we have grown to cherish.