Atlin, British Columbia

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Atlin Courthouse, built 1900, is now an art gallery
Canada British Columbia location map 2.svg
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Location of Atlin in British Columbia
Coordinates: 59°35′N133°43′W / 59.583°N 133.717°W / 59.583; -133.717 Coordinates: 59°35′N133°43′W / 59.583°N 133.717°W / 59.583; -133.717
Country Canada
Province British Columbia
Regional District Stikine Region

Atlin (Tlingit: Wéinaa) is a community in northwestern British Columbia, Canada, located on the eastern shore of Atlin Lake. [1] In addition to continued gold-mining activity, Atlin is a tourist destination for fishing, hiking and Heliskiing. As of 2016, there are 477 permanent residents.


The name comes from Áa Tlein, the Tlingit language word for "big body of water". The surrounding area has been used by Inland Tlingit people for many years and the community is home to the Taku River Tlingit First Nation.

Every July, the town hosts the Atlin Arts & Music Festival in Tarahne Park. However, the festival did not take place in 2010 nor in 2020.


M.V. Tarahne, a 1920s lake boat in Atlin MV TARAHNE, ATLIN, BRITISH COLUMBIA.jpg
M.V. Tarahne, a 1920s lake boat in Atlin

Atlin was founded as a result of a demand for gold mining in the area. The Atlin Gold Rush came to Atlin Lake country in 1898 and was one of the richest offshoots of the Klondike Gold Rush. By the end of the mining season of 1899, around 5,000 people had flocked to the region and Atlin became a busy and important settlement, centre of the Atlin Mining District, and one of the flash-points of the Alaska boundary dispute. Although production was greater in its early years, the Atlin field still produces. Total placer gold production has exceeded $23,000,000.

In the 1920s, Atlin was popular as an exotic tourist destination. There was no road to the settlement, requiring tourists to travel up the Inside Passage through the British Columbia Coast and the Alaska Panhandle and via passes through Alaska and a series of lakes in Yukon and British Columbia. The journey ended when the M.V. Tarahne (and other lake boats) took the tourists across the lake to stay at the large three storey Atlin Inn (built by the White Pass and Yukon Route company). It was during this time it was nicknamed the "Switzerland of the North" because it is surrounded by mountains in much the same way as Switzerland. During the Great Depression, tourism decreased and the White Pass and Yukon Route closed their transportation routes and hotel. Atlin was largely isolated from transportation and commerce until the Atlin Road was built in 1950–51.


Atlin can be reached via the Atlin Road (Yukon Territorial Highway 7; no number in B.C.) that is maintained jointly by the British Columbia and Yukon governments. At its Yukon terminus, the Atlin Road connects to the Tagish Road and the Alaska Highway (Highway 1). It can also be reached through Atlin Airport. Prior to the 1950 construction of the Atlin Road by the Canadian Army, Atlin was reached overland by two lake steamers, the Tutshi and Tarahne, with a two-mile rail line between the lakes they plied, until the 1930s, then was isolated.

Atlin telephone service is provided by Telus Communications since the independent company serving Atlin was merged into B.C. Tel in the mid-20th Century, and B.C. Tel merged with Telus in 2000. When long distance telephone service was extended to Atlin in 1974, it passed through the territory of Northwestel; an arcane rate agreement between Northwestel and B.C. Tel meant that Atlin residents paid Northwestel long distance rates to and from Whitehorse, plus an additional rate between Whitehorse and Atlin; a CRTC order in the early 1990s forced B.C. Tel to charge its own rates and absorb the cost of passing the calls through Northwestel facilities.

There is internet but no cell phone service in Atlin.

Atlin long relied on a local diesel generator, but hydroelectric power was restored around 2012 with a micro-hydro project near where one historically operated. The output is sufficient for local use, but expansion is being studied, with possible sale of surplus to Yukon Energy.

Atlin has a radio repeater carrying CBC Radio One, and also has a community-owned television transmitter carrying CBC Television by satellite; when first established, the CBC TV signal was relayed from Whitehorse by a repeater on White Mountain near Jake's Corner.


Atlin has a subarctic climate (Köppen Dsc) with long, cold winters and short, mild summers. The westerly location and minor Pacific influence, however, makes the winters markedly less severe than in most of northern Canada, and the town is among the northernmost in Canada with a mean annual temperature above 0 °C (32 °F). Precipitation is generally light, with less than 200 millimetres (7.9 in) of actual rainfall per year, and a snowfall less than that of markedly milder Juneau on the coast.

Climate data for Atlin
Record high °C (°F)7.2
Average high °C (°F)−9.1
Daily mean °C (°F)−12.8
Average low °C (°F)−16.5
Record low °C (°F)−47.8
Average precipitation mm (inches)45.6
Average rainfall mm (inches)1.4
Average snowfall cm (inches)44.2
Average precipitation days12.
Average rainy days0.
Average snowy days11.
Source: [2]


Atlin was featured on the historical television series Gold Trails and Ghost Towns, season 1, episode 9.

See also

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  1. "Atlin (community)". BC Geographical Names.
  2. "Calculation Information for 1981 to 2010 Canadian Normals Data". Environment Canada. Archived from the original on July 1, 2013. Retrieved July 9, 2013.

Further reading