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Discovery Day is a provincial holiday in Newfoundland and Labrador and in the Yukon. It replaces the Civic Holiday observed on the first Monday of August in other areas of Canada.

In Newfoundland and Labrador Discovery Day is celebrated on the Monday nearest June 24th in commemoration of the discovery of the province in 1497 by John Cabot. Since 1997, it has also been known as Cabot 500 Day.

In the Yukon it is celebrated on the Monday nearest August 17th (the 3rd Monday in August). It is a statutory holiday in the Yukon.


Newfoundland and Labrador Discovery Day

Giovanni Caboto (Cabot's Italian name, other spellings are used as well) departed Europe on May 20, 1497 with only one vessel, the Matthew. It was a small ship, but fast and able. The crew consisted of only 18 people. He landed on the American east coast on June 24, 1497. His precise landing-place is a matter of much controversy. He went ashore to take possession of the land, and explored the coast for some time, departing on or about July 20.

Back in England, Cabot got well rewarded (a pension of 20 pounds a year), and a patent was written for a new voyage. The next year, 1498, he departed again, with 5 ships this time. Except for one of the ships, that soon after departure made for an Irish port because of distress, nothing was heard of the expedition, or of John Cabot, ever since.

The location of Cabot's first landfall is still unknown. Many experts think it was on Cape Breton Island, but others look for it in Newfoundland or Maine. The truth may never be known.



Yukon Discovery Day

Gold was discovered in northwestern Yukon territory on August 16, 1896. The discovery of placer gold on Rabbit Creek - later known as Bonanza Creek - touched off the great Klondike Gold Rush.

The discovery was made by George Carmack and his aboriginal friends Skookum Jim Mason and Tagish Charlie. While Carmack always maintained that he was the first to find gold, both Jim and Charlie agreed that it was Jim's discovery. The claim was registered the next morning on August 17.

At the height of the great Gold Rush, Dawson City -- named after George Dawson of the Geological Survey of Canada -- was the largest city west of Winnipeg and north of Seattle with a population of 30,000. Once the gold ran out, the adventurers moved on. Today, the Yukon is one of the most remote and under populated regions of the world.






Hall of Fame Inductee: George Carmack, Skookum Jim Mason, Tagish Charlie, Robert Henderson - Canadian Mining Hall of Fame


A Brief Gold Rush History - Chapter 1 of LEGACY of the GOLD RUSH: An Administrative History of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, available in its entirety at Klondike Gold Rush - National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior


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