At the start of the Klondike gold rush in 1896 the boundary lines were not clear between the United States and Canada. Canada claimed the port towns of Alaska, including Skagway, were within Canadian territory, while many Americans felt that the Klondike region was within the US. Canadian police, the N.W.M.P., were stationed in Skagway until they were forced to withdraw. Rumors of the possibility of war over the border dispute simmered.
In 1901 plans were "uncovered" that the "Soapy" Smith gang was planning an assault on the Yukon in an attempt to overthrow the government there. This is not all that far-fetched. In my upcoming manuscript I show several plans Soapy had to either aid, or overthrow foreign nations. I hope you find the following interesting.
HOW PLANS WERE LAID FOR AN INSURRECTION IN THE YUKON.—Toronto, Ont. Nov. 20.—Special dispatches from Vancouver, published here, says: The Yukon insurrection story is not altogether without foundation. Some half-brained Americans drew up plans for forcibly overthrowing the police and government in the Yukon, somewhat similar to the historical Jamestown raid in the Transvaal. Major Woods, N.W.M.P., discovered the scheme and took prompt steps to suppress it. American officials at Skagway co-operating.The discovery of the scheme is supposed to have nipped it in the bud. The Yukon police force consists of about 250 men, who are provided with Lee-Enfields. When the scheme was first discovered Maxim and Colt guns were mounted at White Horse, which was the first place to be attacked. Major Snyder, in charge of the police there, also received police reinforcements, and patrols were kept on duty night and day.It is said the scheme originated in Seattle and $250,000 was available to aid the venture. The information has been obtained from ex-police officials of the Yukon force and members and members of the gambling fraternity, who have come to the coast cities for the winter, and is guardedly confirmed by the officials who have just come down from the north.— HAD HEARD OF SCHEME.
Alaska Man Says It Was Formulated by “Soapy” Smith’s, Gang.—Victoria, B.C., Nov. 20. —C. D. Newton of the Atlin board of trade, who arrived recently from the north, speaking of the alleged conspiracy to overthrow the Yukon government, said he had heard of it before he left the north, but had paid little attention to it. The “Soapy” Smith gang, he says, is still to be found at Skaguay [old spelling] in considerable numbers, and although they have few sympathizers, they are by no means the dominant element there.It was to them that Mr. Newton attributes any conspiracy now threatened, while the same element were at the bottom of the flag incidents. Should they ever attempt to rise in rebellion he believes that the good American residents would be among the first to suppress them.
The Salt Lake Herald, November 21, 1901.