A unique Yukon wedding aboard a steamer bound for Whitehorse.
When we found this photo in 2000 in our great-uncle Frank Foster’s collection in the Yukon Archives, we wondered what was going on. Frank left Yorkshire, England, and went north for the Klondike gold rush, staying to prospect, trap, and make a life. He died in Old Crow, Yukon, in 1950.
Frank was an avid photographer. Most of his photos were of his Gwich’in family and friends out on the land, but this one was a mystery. Who were these people, and what were they celebrating?
We recently found an issue of the Whitehorse Star, dated June 26, 1925, that had been kept by a family member. It contains the following notice: “Married: Foster-Mason — On the steamer
Casca enroute to Whitehorse June 22nd, A.R. Foster, of San Francisco and Bradford, Yorkshire, to W. Mason, of Fort Yukon, Alaska, Dr. A.E. Hubbard of Buffalo, NY, officiating.”
What could this mean? A.R. Foster was not Frank (who had clearly been the photographer), and the man on the left has to be great-uncle Arnie. But Arnie had never married.
An answer came from an elderly relative in England, who remembered being told as a child that the marriage announcement was a hoax! Arnie and W. Mason (also a man) decided to go through a fake shipboard marriage and got the captain to marry them. Anyone who would have known more about the occasion is now long dead.