George Johnston Tlingit Culture Teslin Area Programs & Tours

George Johnston Car

In 1928, flush with fur trapping funds, Teslin Tlingit George Johnston purchased a new car, had it shipped by small paddle wheeler several hundred miles upstream in the Yukon River watershed to the remote village of Teslin, then located in a vast and roadless wilderness. There he had readied four miles of crude road, road that 13 years later was to become part of the fabled Alaska Highway north. The car became an icon of enterprise serving as local taxi, pulling his hunting sled, transporting locals up and down 80 miles of frozen lakeway and the vehicle for his renowned photography. The original car, in excellent working order, is on exhibit with a photographic history of its exploits.

** Find out why he painted it white each winter and black each summer, its role on Dominion Day and for hunting, and how it ran at 60 degrees C below zero in an era before anti-freeze.

George Johnston Photograph Collection

George Johnston is one of the Yukon's renowned photographers. With a brownie box camera, entirely self-taught skills and a rough dark room in the corner of a bush cabin, he produced hundreds of works depicting the life of his Tlingit people. His photo gallery shows them at church and at school, at cabin building and holiday picnics, beading and dancing, working hides and catching fish, traveling by dog sled and snowshoes, and wielding the tools of work and play. Most of all it records their fruitful lives as hunters and trappers in prosperous years of the early 20th century. It is a masterful sociological and historical record, created in an unlikely place and over 20 years.

** Find out what the people of this remote northern First Nations community looked like and what they were doing when there were no roads, fur was the chief economy and elsewhere the world was in the throes of the Great Depression.

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