From the whalers who played ball on Herschel Island in the late 1800s, to the kids learning to hit and catch at the Pepsi Softball Centre each summer, Yukon’s softball history is packed with interesting stories.
The sport came north in the 1890s, as a pastime for American whalers who spent their winters on Herschel Island. Then, in 1897, the Klondike Gold Rush brought thousands of stampeders to the territory, and they brought baseball to Dawson City and Whitehorse. By 1904, baseball was so popular in the Yukon that a two-game international championship was played and won
by Whitehorse over the Alaskan town of Skagway.
As mineral strikes in other parts of the territory, such as Mayo, brought new immigrants north, baseball and softball became common pastimes throughout the Yukon. The games were community events where neighbours met for friendly competitions and families came out to cheer on the teams.
In the 1940s, hundreds of U.S. military personnel were stationed in Whitehorse during the Second World War, and the community invited them to field teams and engage in friendly competition on Yukon’s ball fields. As the city’s population declined in the 1950s and ‘60s, fastpitch continued to be popular with active women’s and men’s leagues. In the 1980s and ‘90s Yukoners held territorial championships and began fielding teams for western Canadian and national fastpitch competitions. By the 1990s, fewer people were playing fastpitch and slowpitch grew in popularity.
Today, the tradition continues. More than 1,200 Yukoners of all ages play softball and the sport
continues to grow. Each summer there are softball tournaments throughout the Yukon, and many locals still travel to Skagway, Alaska each July for an international matchup.
Over the years the Pepsi Softball Centre has grown into a world-class softball facility that draws international competitions to Whitehorse.
This website was created by Softball Yukon and the MacBride Museum of Yukon History to celebrate more than 110 years of base hits and home runs in the territory. It features photographs and stories from Yukon’s softball history. If you have information, images or stories to add, please contact Softball Yukon at firstname.lastname@example.org
There is also a complementary exhibit at the Pepsi Softball Centre in Whitehorse, Yukon. Here are some images of the exhibit:
Click on the links below to explore this site:
Stories in Yukon’s Softball History
- 1897: A pastime for whalers off of Yukon’s north coast
- The early 1900s: Klondike Gold Rush Stampeders Bring Ball North
- 1904: Indoor Baseball Comes to the Yukon
- 1910-1920s: Ball is Big in Whitehorse
- 1930s-1940s: Competition in the Klondike
- John Erickson’s Softball Story
- Ball in Mayo
- Pierre Berton Plays Ball
- 1940s – The Military Moves in
- 1940-1960s: Ralph Lortie’s Baseball Days
- Fastball in Whitehorse, 1940s-1950s
- The Hilltops
- Angie Richardson’s Softball Story
- 1951: Rusty Reid’s Softball Story
- 1970-1990s: Linda Dixon’s story of the Whitehorse Women’s Fastpitch League
- 1960s-1970s: Men’s Fastpitch in the Yukon
- 1960s-1980s: Women’s Fastpitch
- Chuck Rear’s Softball Story
- Softball Yukon is formed, 1974
- 1980s: Softball Thrives in the Yukon
- Whitehorse Team Flies in George White for the Win!
- The Takhini Softball Complex Opens
- Dustball Draws Hundreds
- 1980s: Yukon Teams Go National
- Russ Smoler’s Softball Story
- 1990s: Yukon’s Teams Compete Outside
- 1990s-2000s: A Sport for All Ages
- George Arcand is Recognized as a Builder of Yukon Softball
- 2000s: Yukon Hosts the World
- 2000s: More than 1,200 people play slowpitch in the Yukon
- Softball Yukon’s Hall of Fame
- Thank you!