Gold Rush Orphan

Gold Rush Orphan, by Sandy Frances Duncan

Gold Rush Orphan

by Sandy Frances Duncan


  • Spring 2004
  • ISBN 978-1-55380-012-5
  • ebook ISBN 978-1-55380-412-3
  • PDF ISBN 978-1-55380-413-0
  • 5-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ Trade Paperback, 278 pages
  • Young Adult Novel

In Gold Rush Orphan Sandy Frances Duncan has woven a fascinating tale of hardship and adventure based on her grandfather’s gold rush journal entries of his 1898 trip to the Klondike. The arduous trek to the goldfields comes alive in the fictionalized story of Jeremy Britain, a young teen who joins James Fraser and his companions to search for the gold that would make their fortunes.

Duncan begins the story in the gold rush port of Skagway where Jeremy has a run-in with the infamous Soapy Smith and his gang. The cruelties and lawlessness of life on the streets of Skagway merge with the implacable storms of winter as Jeremy struggles with the rest of his crew to climb the White Pass, not once but many times, in order to carry all the supplies needed to survive in the wilderness. It is a never-to-be-forgotten trip as Jeremy and the men struggle to care for the horses and dogs carrying the crew’s supplies through deep snow and freezing temperatures.

Once spring breakup arrives, there is the new challenge of navigating the swollen rivers on home-made rafts and boats. When Jeremy’s group unexpectedly veers away from the usual route to Dawson and the Klondike to venture into uncharted lands, Jeremy begins furiously panning the streams they cross as they follow a mysterious account that promises the motherlode.

“Out of the meticulous details of this novel emerges a completely believable slice of the past; but most of all it is an engrossing and moving portrayal of a boy’s inward and outward journey to maturity.”
— Kit Pearson

“Sandy Duncan is a crackerjack story teller. Gold Rush Orphan says more about what it was actually like in those heady times than history books ever say. What a great addition this is to Canadian historical fiction for kids.”
— Janet Lunn

Reviews & Awards

Shortlisted for the Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize (BC Book Prizes)

“Duncan renders the spirit of the Klondike gold rush very well”
Canadian Children’s Literature

“Young readers will close this engrossing novel having learned much about the day-to-day rigours of the gold rush”
British Columbia History