Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Search for Granville

Frank, as a wee boy, lived with his mother, Francis, and his father Andrew, in a community called Granville in the Yukon. He was four years old then; that was sixty-nine years ago.

Ural at Dawson City Starting Point
On Sunday, June 3rd, 2018, we prepared the Ural with three extra gas cans plus the reserve tank. We packed a lunch, water and sensible travel clothes. Our hearts were filled with a sense of adventure and discovery.

We advised the campsite managers of our destination and asked them to call the Royal Canadian Mounted Police if we weren’t back in Dawson City by 8:00 p.m. that evening. They agreed to do so and advised us that the roads were sometimes treacherous. Although they didn’t know if Granville even existed anymore, they said that the loop was one hundred and forty-eight kilometres. We advised them that our Ural was built for all kinds of terrain and its 2-wheel drive capacity could get us through conditions meant for the Russian built motorbike.

Upper Bonanza Creek Road
Our 2007 bike managed famously over the terrain including slick muddy downhill sections that forced Frank to hold the steering steady, slow the motor and glide like a sledge on a few occasions.

It was a relief to come upon hard packed sand only to be forced to plough through deep water holes. At one point, a fast-moving truck splashed us with a wave of muck, water, and gravel on the gold mining trail. We claimed the narrow road until we saw another vehicle approaching – bigger and faster than ours.

Ural-pleasing Terrain

Frank is a confident driver. He has to be given the restrictive movements of the sports-car-like muscle bike. We began our trek at Upper Bonanza Creek Road. Our confidence and excitement grew as the Ural managed the poor conditions of the road.

King Solomon Dome
We arrived at the peak of King Solomon Dome. There we stood in awe of the magnificent wonder of the Yukon territory. The Ridge Road Heritage Trail provides you with a panoramic view of the Yukon River and the terrain on either side. We enjoyed a light lunch.

View from King Solomon Dome

We boarded the bike and came to a switchback which directed us to Sulphur Creek Road. We'd been advised that this was the road to Granville. Further along, we stopped the bike at a Y intersection and talked about returning the way we came. It was starting to rain, it was getting late, the road was beginning to cause the bike to slip and slide and without knowing the true destination to Granville, we talked about giving up our search. 

As luck would have it, a woman and her sons drove up and asked if they could be of assistance. We asked about Granville and although they didn’t know anything about the long-gone community, they directed us to Dominion Gold Company two kilometres down the road.

Dominion Gold Company Sign

The workers at the mine site replied to Frank’s inquiry and said, “You’re here! This is Granville.” Frank had arrived home. The only building remaining, a skeleton of its original self, was a structure once occupied by the North West Mounted Police. 

Northwest Mounted Police Station at Granville, YK

Because of the late hour, we couldn’t explore much of the district and were advised to travel the Dominion Creek Road back to Dawson City. We motored past a large brown bear standing in the ditch at the side of the narrow road. We arrived at the half-way point back to town where stood a dilapidated roadhouse, recognized for providing supplies and rooms for the explorers. The famous Trans-Canada Trail cut into the wilderness; a footpath to discover Canada.

Roadhouse on Dominion Creek Road

Close to our campsite destination, we were pelted with hail and ducked in for shelter at a gas station. We placed a call to the campground caretakers at 7:50 p.m. announcing we were safe.

Frank the Ural Driver


  1. Nice ride report...history, iffy terrain, suspense.....

    1. Hello 'dom chang', Your comment is much appreciated. Your profile on Google is amazing. Keep up the good work with your stories and awesome photos. Susan and Frank Black