Watson Lake, Yukon

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Watson Lake
Town of Watson Lake
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Watson Lake
Location of Watson Lake in Yukon
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Watson Lake
Watson Lake (Canada)
Coordinates: 60°03′46″N128°42′39″W / 60.0628°N 128.7109°W / 60.0628; -128.7109 Coordinates: 60°03′46″N128°42′39″W / 60.0628°N 128.7109°W / 60.0628; -128.7109
Country Canada
Territory Yukon
  Town MayorJustin Brown
   MPs Larry Bagnell
   MLAs Patti McLeod
  Total6.11 km2 (2.36 sq mi)
  Density129.4/km2 (335/sq mi)
Time zone UTC-8 (Pacific (PST))
  Summer (DST) UTC-7 (PDT)
Forward sortation area
Y0A 1C0
Area code(s) 867
Website www.watsonlake.ca

Watson Lake is a town in Yukon, Canada located at mile 635 on the Alaska Highway close to the British Columbia border. The Canada 2016 Census put the population at 790, a drop of 1.5% from 802 in 2011. [1] The town is named for Frank Watson, an American-born trapper and prospector, who settled in the area at the end of the nineteenth century. [2]

Yukon Territory of Canada

Yukon is the smallest and westernmost of Canada's three federal territories. It has the smallest population of any province or territory in Canada, with 35,874 people, although it has the largest city in any of the three territories. Whitehorse is the territorial capital and Yukon's only city.

Alaska Highway Historic highway from British Columbia to Alaska

The Alaska Highway was constructed during World War II to connect the contiguous United States to Alaska across Canada. It begins at the junction with several Canadian highways in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, and runs to Delta Junction, Alaska, via Whitehorse, Yukon. When it was completed in 1942 it was about 2,700 kilometres (1,700 mi); but in 2012 it was only 2,232 km (1,387 mi). This is due to constant reconstruction of the highway, which has rerouted and straightened many sections. The highway opened to the public in 1948. Once legendary for being a rough, challenging drive, the highway is now paved over its entire length. Its component highways are British Columbia Highway 97, Yukon Highway 1 and Alaska Route 2.

British Columbia Province of Canada

British Columbia is the westernmost province of Canada, located between the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains. With an estimated population of 5.016 million as of 2018, it is Canada's third-most populous province.


Watson Lake is near the Liard River, at the junction of the Robert Campbell Highway and the Alaska Highway. The Cassiar Highway's northern end is 22 kilometres (14 miles) west of Watson Lake. The town is also served by the Watson Lake Airport; the airport was formerly served by Canadian Pacific Airlines and other local and regional airlines, but now only provides corporate and charter services. Watson Lake is the main centre of the small forestry industry in Yukon and has been a service centre for the mining industry, especially for the Cassiar asbestos mine in northern British Columbia and the Cantung tungsten mine on the Yukon-Northwest Territories border in the Mackenzie Mountains.

Liard River river in Canada

The Liard River flows through Yukon, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories, Canada. Rising in the Saint Cyr Range of the Pelly Mountains in southeastern Yukon, it flows 1,115 kilometres (693 mi) southeast through British Columbia, marking the northern end of the Rocky Mountains and then curving northeast back into Yukon and Northwest Territories, draining into the Mackenzie River at Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories. The river drains approximately 277,100 square kilometres (107,000 sq mi) of boreal forest and muskeg.

Robert Campbell Highway highway in Yukon Territory

Yukon Highway 4, also known as the Robert Campbell Highway or Campbell Highway, is a road between Watson Lake, Yukon on the Alaska Highway to Carmacks, Yukon on the Klondike Highway. It is 583 km (362 mi) long and mostly gravel-surfaced. It serves the communities of Faro and Ross River and intersects the Canol Road near Ross River. The highway is named for Robert Campbell, a nineteenth century Hudson's Bay Company fur trader and explorer.

Watson Lake Airport airport in Watson Lake, Canada

Watson Lake Airport is located 5 nautical miles west of Watson Lake, Yukon, Canada, and is operated by the Yukon government. The paved asphalt runway is 5,500 ft (1,676 m) long and is at an elevation of 2,255 ft (687 m).

Tourist attractions in Watson Lake include the Northern Lights Centre [3] and the much-imitated original Signpost Forest. The Signpost Forest was started in 1942 by a homesick U.S. Army G.I. working on the Alaska Highway, who put up a sign with the name of his home town and the distance. Others followed suit and the tradition continues to this day. As of August 2010 there are more than 76,000 signs of various types depicting locations across the world. The Signpost Forest is one of four roadside attractions featured on the first series of the Canadian Roadside Attractions Series issued by Canada Post on July 6, 2009. [4]

United States Army Corps of Engineers federal agency under the Department of Defense and a major Army command

The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is a U.S. federal agency under the Department of Defense and a major Army command made up of some 37,000 civilian and military personnel, making it one of the world's largest public engineering, design, and construction management agencies. Although generally associated with dams, canals and flood protection in the United States, USACE is involved in a wide range of public works throughout the world. The Corps of Engineers provides outdoor recreation opportunities to the public, and provides 24% of U.S. hydropower capacity.

Watson Lake and the neighbouring Upper Liard settlement are the home of the Liard River First Nation, a member of the Kaska Dena Council. The Two Mile area immediately north of the core of town is a concentrated area of First Nations residents, while the town extends five miles (8 km) out to the turn-off of Airport Road. (Originally, Airport Road extended directly to the Alaska Highway, but most of it is now part of the Campbell highway.)

The Liard River First Nation, also known as the Liard First Nation is a First Nation in the southeastern Yukon in Canada. Its main centres are Upper Liard and Watson Lake along the Alaska Highway. The language originally spoken by the people of this First Nation was Kaska and the First Nation is a member of the Kaska Tribal Council which is pursuing land claims in the Yukon and northern British Columbia. Their Indian and Northern Affairs Canada band number is 502.


Canada census – Watson Lake, Yukon community profile
2011 2006
Population:802 (-5.2%% from 2006)846 (-7.2% from 2001)
Land area:6.11 km2 (2.36 sq mi)5.16 km2 (1.99 sq mi)
Population density:131.3/km2 (340/sq mi)163.9/km2 (424/sq mi)
Median age:37.9 (M: 36.8, F: 38.5)
Total private dwellings:417424
Median household income:$60,053
References: 2011 [5] 2006 [6] earlier [7]
Historical populations
1996 993+8.9%
2001 912−8.2%
2006 846−7.2%
2011 802−5.2%
2016 790−1.5%


Like most of Yukon, Watson Lake has a subarctic climate. Watson Lake experiences annual temperature average daily highs of 21 °C (69.8 °F) in July and average daily lows of −27 °C (−16.6 °F) in January. Record high temperature was 34 °C (93.2 °F) in May 1983 and the lowest was −59 °C (−74.2 °F) in January 1947. Watson Lake has more precipitation than other parts of Yukon with an average annual snowfall of 197 cm (77.6 inches) and 255 mm (10.04 inches) of rainfall, resulting in larger trees and a more viable forest industry.

Subarctic climate

The subarctic climate is a climate characterised by long, usually very cold winters, and short, cool to mild summers. It is found on large landmasses, away from the moderating effects of an ocean, generally at latitudes from 50° to 70°N poleward of the humid continental climates. These climates represent Köppen climate classification Dfc, Dwc, Dsc, Dfd, Dwd and Dsd. In very small areas at high altitudes around the Mediterranean Basin, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Alaska and other parts of the northwestern United States and Russian South-Eastern regions the climate is classified as Dsc with a dry summer climate, such as in Seneca, Oregon or Atlin, British Columbia.

Climate data for Watson Lake Airport
Record high humidex 5.611.111.520.034.233.341.436.826.817.611.77.941.4
Record high °C (°F)8.9
Average high °C (°F)−17.5
Daily mean °C (°F)−22.5
Average low °C (°F)−27.5
Record low °C (°F)−58.9
Record low wind chill −66.0−63.0−51.0−36.0−16.0−5.00.0−5.0−19.0−43.0−55.0−64.0−66.0
Average precipitation mm (inches)30.9
Average rainfall mm (inches)0.1
Average snowfall cm (inches)40.6
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm)
Average rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm)
Average snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm)13.910.
Average relative humidity (%)75.573.759.946.341.443.547.749.656.469.179.876.960.0
Source: [8]

See also

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Carcross Place in Yukon, Canada

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The Kaska language originated from the family of Athabaskan languages. Traditionally Kaska is an oral aboriginal language that is used by the Kaska Dena people. The Kaska Dene region consists of a small area in the Southwestern part of the Northwest Territories, the Southeastern part of Yukon Territory, and the Northern part of British Columbia. The communities that are in the Kaska Dene region are Fort Ware in N.W.T.; Ross River and Watson Lake in Y.T.; Dease Lake, Good Hope Lake, Lower Post, Fireside, and Muncho Lake in B.C. Kaska is made up of eight dialects. All of which have similar pronunciations and expressional terms. The town of Watson Lake was established around the period of the second World War when the Alaska Highway was first build in 1942. A major consequence of colonization was Kaska language loss. Another major cause of Kaska language loss was due to the residential school. The effect that these schools had on the Kaska language have caused a language gap between two generations resulting in few young speakers.

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Carmacks, Yukon Place in Yukon, Canada

Carmacks is a village in Yukon on the Yukon River along the Klondike Highway, and at the west end of the Robert Campbell Highway from Watson Lake. The population is 493. It is the home of the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation, a Northern Tutchone-speaking people.

Geography of Yukon

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Dease Lake is a small community located in the Cassiar Country of the Northern Interior of British Columbia, Canada. Located a few hours south of the Yukon border, it is located on Stewart–Cassiar Highway at the south end of the lake of the same name. Dease Lake is the last major centre before the Alaska Highway, and also the junction to Telegraph Creek and the Grand Canyon of the Stikine. Dease Lake Indian Reserve No. 9 is located nearby and is under the governance of the Tahltan First Nation band government.

Upper Liard is a chiefly First Nation settlement immediately west of Watson Lake in Canada's Yukon. It is situated at historical mile 642 of the Alaska Highway. Population according to the Canada 2011 Census was 132. Most of the residents are citizens of the Liard River First Nation, who also prominently populate the Two Mile area just north of Watson Lake.

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Good Hope Lake Place in British Columbia, Canada

Good Hope Lake is a First Nations community in northwestern British Columbia, Canada, located on Highway 37 not far south of the border with the Yukon and located east of the semi-abandoned mining town of Cassiar, British Columbia. As of the 2006 Census, there are 41 people living in Good Hope Lake, down from 75 in 2001. The band government of the Dease River First Nation is located in Good Hope Lake, and is a member government of the Kaska Tribal Council.

Lower Post is an aboriginal community in northern British Columbia, Canada, located on Highway 97, the Alaska Highway, approximately 15 miles southeast of Watson Lake, Yukon. Its historical mile designation is Mile 620. It is located near the confluence of the Dease and Liard Rivers.

Watson Lake is an electoral district which returns a member to the Legislative Assembly of the Yukon Territory in Canada. The riding is one of the Yukon's eight rural ridings and is one of the oldest ridings in the Yukon.

The Kaska Dena Council is a tribal council formed of five band governments of the Kaska Dena people in northern British Columbia, Yukon Territory, and Northwest Territories, Canada.

The Dease River First Nation, also known as the Dease River Nation, is a band government of the Kaska Dena people in the Cassiar Country of the Northern Interior of British Columbia. Their offices are located in Good Hope Lake, British Columbia, which is on the Stewart-Cassiar Highway to the east of the abandoned mining town of Cassiar. The registered population of the band is 162.

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  1. Canada, Government of Canada, Statistics. "Census Profile, 2016 Census - Watson Lake, Town [Census subdivision], Yukon and Yukon [Territory]". www12.statcan.gc.ca. Retrieved 2018-02-16.
  2. http://www.yukoninfo.com/watson-lake-history/
  3. www.northernlightscentre
  4. Canada Post Details,Canada Post, July to September 2009, Volume XVIII, No. 3, p. 10
  5. "2011 Community Profiles". 2011 Canadian Census . Statistics Canada. July 5, 2013. Retrieved 2012-02-08.
  6. "2006 Community Profiles". 2006 Canadian Census . Statistics Canada. March 30, 2011. Retrieved 2012-02-08.
  7. "2001 Community Profiles". 2001 Canadian Census . Statistics Canada. February 17, 2012.
  8. "Calculation Information for 1981 to 2010 Canadian Normals Data". Environment Canada. Retrieved 9 July 2013.