Leisure Letters

→ Peruse the Letters Archives

Gold Diggers: two women of altitude

(Added 6 December 2010)

Image: American Women’s Club Excursion and Picnic, c1905-1910, Courtesy of The Dawson City Museum 1983.182.2.1

“…the S.S. Leah tied up at the waterfront (of Dawson City, July 1898)after a twenty-one-day voyage from St. Michael. On board were a diverse collection of sight-seers…

The two women of altitude and, as Lynch (writer of ‘Three Years in the Klondike’, 1904) remarked, considerable girth Mrs. Mary Hitchcock, widow of a U.S. naval officer, Miss Edith Van Buren, niece of the former U.S. president. This commanding pair liked to explore exotic locations each summer, preferably in picturesque outfits. Their gold-mining garb consisted of blue serge knickerbockers, striped jersey sweaters, large sombreros and heavy cartridge belts to which were strapped fearsome handguns.

Lynch marveled at their baggage: ‘Two gigantic Danish dogs, a tent that would entertain seventy five people… a collection of pigeons and rare fowls, boxes and boxes of Pâté de fois gras, truffles, sardines, olives farcies, several kinds of musical instruments, and a bowling alley’. Mrs. Hitchcock, a grande dame with a sharp tongue and hot temper, was furious when told she had excess luggage, and refused to be parted from her Edison motion-picture projector, her ice-cream freezer, her air mattresses, or a single one of her birds (several canaries, two cages of pigeons, and a parrot).” — Charlotte Gray, Gold Diggers 2010

Less Recent:
More Recent: