What Did They Pack on The Yukon Expedition of 1898?

In 1898 the Royal Canadian Artillery along with soldiers from Royal Dragoons, and the soon to be formed Royal Canadian Regiment travelled to the Yukon in the spring of 1898. The trip was to support the RCMP (including the famous Sam Steele) and to protect Canadian interests from the Americans.

Reading through a newspaper on-line on the BAnQ website produced a list of soldiers from the Royal Canadian Artillery who were to be a part of the contingent:

Sergeants: A. Lyndon & S. Jordan

Corporal: Power

Bombardiers: Lorton, Bessatte, Thompson, Lyndon, Matthew, Marshall, Mooney, Garland

Gunners: Russell, McGillivary, McDonald, Anderson, Kingwell, Enfield, Rochette, Hudson, Kelley, Martin, Warren, Hurley, Butler, McKeen, Brunet, Laverdiere, McMillan, McMahon, Dumas

These soldiers along with soldiers from the Royal Dragoons and what is soon to be the Royal Canadian Regiment for a total of 203 men set off to lend support in the Yukon. They became known as the Yukon Field Force.

Quebec Morning Chronicle Mar 22, 1898 list of men from RCA to go on the Yukon Expedition. From the BAnQ website

What to Pack?

The Quebec Morning Chronicle newspaper also provided what is in their kits (what they were allowed to bring), the list is long but interesting. For instance included in the list is house wife listed along with all the supplies the Soldier may bring. The other items on the list include:

Boots (ankle) -1

boots (dolge felt) -1

moccasins (buff, long) -1

moccasins (elk) -1

neaps or duffles -1

socks (woolen) – 4 pairs

stockings -1

drawers – 2 pair

undershorts -2

sweaters -2

trousers, cloth -1

trousers (serge) -1

trousers canvas -1

frocks, serge -2

jackets, canvas -1

jackets, oil cloth -1

overcoats and cape -1

helmet – 1

hats, sombrero – 1

hoods, mosquitos – 1

mits, elk – 1

mits, woollen – 2

gloves, leather – 2

muffler, red – 1

mosquito net – 1 yard

blankets, 2 double

sheets, waterproof – 1 pair

kit bag – 1

house wife – 1

plates, tin – 1

cup, with handle -1

knife with clasp – 1

goggles – 1 pair

suite linen – 1

caps, oil skin – 1

tuques, red woolen – 1

caps, oil skin – 1

caps, field service -1

Quebec Morning Chronicle Mar 22, 1898; kit list for the Yukon Expedition. From the BAnQ website

I am having a hard time deciding if the house wife is a spelling error or if the wives were literally listed along with items in their kit bag. Should it have said house knife? In researching this Expedition I didn’t see any mention of housewives so my gut tells me the newspaper entry was (hopefully) an error.

It seems there was some controversy around the Military and the NWMP about authority and who was in charge at least leading up to the deployment of the soldiers.

Soldier on the Yukon Expedition 1898. Image used with permission of artist TG Hamilton

Did he go?

There is no doubt that the S. Jordan (Samuel Jordan) mentioned in the list from the newspaper article is my relative. I would like to confirm if he did go. In 1897 Samuel had lost his wife and infant son and I think this opportunity would have been a wonderful escape from his grief. If Sam was on the Yukon Expedition I have a hope that I may find a photograph of him.

I have sent an email to both the RCA Museum and the Canadian War Museum to find out if they have a list of soldiers who went on the Expedition.

Further reading and resources:

  7 comments for “What Did They Pack on The Yukon Expedition of 1898?

  1. kaythegardener
    October 29, 2020 at 12:57 am

    Dear Patricia,
    No, “housewife kits” is not a typo, but a term for military sewing or repair kits! — see https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30016350 for examples from the British army.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. October 29, 2020 at 10:27 am

    Interesting post! I hope to read an upcoming post that you’ve found the list of soldiers who went! Also, it’s good to know about the house wife kits. Ya learn something new every day! :o)

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 29, 2020 at 10:28 am

      I hope I have success with my inquiry! Thanks for reading!


  3. Linda Maitland
    October 29, 2020 at 10:15 pm

    Was I surprised to see what a housewife was! I was helping my dad pack to move to a retirement home in January and he showed me his sewing kit from when he was in the army – and this is exactly what it looked like!

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 29, 2020 at 11:45 pm

      Ahh the things I learn!


      • Linda Maitland
        October 30, 2020 at 12:10 am

        Oh, me too!


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