Document 53: Letter from Assistant Commissioner, Royal Northwest Mounted Police, Yukon Territory to
Clifford Sifton, Minister of Interior
Reprinted in Norman Bolotin, A Klondike Scrapbook: Ordinary People, Extrordinary Times
(San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1987), p. 84-85.
January 2, 1905
Hon. Clifford Sifton
Minister of Interior, Ottawa, Ontario
In reference to your telegram of the 23rd December, I beg to submit the following for your information, regarding the presence of "disorderly houses" in Dawson.
Disorderly houses, or what are commonly known as such, do not exist within the boundaries of the city—although there are a few women, single occupants of cabins, who are prostitutes but whose residences are not considered by the Courts as being bawdy houses under the law the women of the "lower world"—that is those that ply their calling as prostitutes openly—are segregated on the South side of the Klondike River, in a suburb of Dawson, known as Klondike City, where they are practically the only inhabitants; they afford no cause of complaint and are not in any way a menace to the morals of the City. We are however afflicted with an evil much more dangerous to social life, the effects of which are more incidious [sic] and far reaching than open prostitution, and which is rampant in our very midst. I refer to the presence of the so called "dance hall women" who, under the guise of this legalized calling ply their true occupation as prostitutes and flaunt their brazenness openly to the public. During the hours of daylight and early evening they parade the streets, dressed in silks and reeking of perfume and are so conspicuous that they compel the attention of respectable women and children....while their actual character is well known to the Police, they are removed beyond our jurisdiction and control, because of the fact that their calling is licensed.
Many of these so called dance hall women are prostitutes from the Coast cities, who, perhaps being of prepossessing appearance, find it more pleasant and profitable to attach themselves to a dance hall and thus affectually ensure immunity form the interference of the Police. Many of them have rooms near the dance hall in which they belong and entice men to them, after it has been ascertained that they have sufficient money to make it worthwhile. Cases are continually being brought to our notice in which men have been so enticed, plied with liquor until rendered stupid, and then robbed of their money. Owing to the publicity entailed...the victims will neither lay information nor volunteer as witnesses, so these women escape punishment..... ...Sporting women should not be allowed to frequent licensed premises, or drink at bars, or on premises in connection therewith, such as boxes, offices or rooms; neither should they be allowed to live over licensed premises, or in rooms over buildings adjoining, when there is connection between such rooms and the licensed premises.
I have the honour to be, Sir, Your obedient servant
Comdg. RNWM Police, Yukon Territory