From Our Own Correspondent: Flora Shaw on the Klondike

Stephen Usherwood recounts the lively reports sent from the goldfields of Yukon by Flora Shaw, the British journalist and writer, which began to appear in English newspapers in August 1898.

On 18 July, 1898, a short Reuter news item in The Times, date line Victoria, BC, July 15th, read:

‘A steamer arrived here with the first consignment of this summer’s Klondike gold amounting to nearly 1,000,000 dollars in value. The gold was shipped from Dawson on June 28 via Lake Bennett and Skagway. The estimate of the wash-up varies from 12m. to 30m.’

On August 10th, The Times carried another short paragraph- headed ‘From Our Own Correspondent’, date line Dawson City, July 23rd, beginning:

‘I reached Klondike this morning completing the journey from London in 31 days. The time includes four days’ accidental delay on the rivers.’

The Times rule of anonymity was in force, and few readers knew that the paper’s correspondent on the Klondike was a then rare phenomenon, a woman journalist of long experience, no less a person than Miss Flora Shaw, who had so recently won, single-handed, a battle against the Attorney General and the whole male panoply of the House of Commons committee of inquiry into the Jameson Raid of December 1895, when Liberals and Radicals, being fanatically pro-Boer, had tried in vain to convict her of complicity.

Now the assistant manager of The Times, C. F. Moberly Bell, for whom she had worked as a special correspondent on colonial affairs since 1892, had asked her to make a second tour of Canada (the first had been in 1893). The usual stories of wild behaviour in the mining camps, drinking, gambling, prostitution, thieving and murder, were already filling the popular newspapers and magazines, but this did not deter Bell. A hand-written note (a letter book duplicate is now in the paper’s archives), dated February 9th, 1896, reads:

‘My dear Miss Shaw,

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