Atlin formed during the Klondike Gold Rush. The first gold was discovered in 1898, and soon after prospectors congregated here in search of fortune.
The population quickly jumped to 10,000; the good years lasted until the Great Depression in the 1930s. After that the community slowly began to shrink until residents numbered only 75 in the 1960s. The community rebounded somewhat – today's population is approximately 400.
Taku River Tlingit
Atlin is on the traditional territory of the Taku River Tlingit, the first people to live in the area thousands of years before the European settlers. Most of the First Nations in the area live on Five Mile Band Lands, located about 10km/6mi out of town on Warm Bay Road. The Tlingit are in the process of rejuvenating their art and culture.
To learn more about the group, visit the Taku River Tlingit Center for Culture. It's open on a by appointment or by chance; call ahead to book and appointment or swing by and hope someone's there.
To learn more about Atlin's golden years, visit the Atlin Museum, situated in the community's original 1902 schoolhouse. Ask at the visitor booth there for the guided historical walking tour of downtown Atlin. Also, take a drive, just a few minutes east of town, to what was once Discovery City, the location of mining camp tents in the gold rush years.
Atlin today is full of enthusiastic citizens, who sometimes feel more of a connection to their neighbours to the north, Yukon, and to the west, Alaska, than their fellow British Columbians. Almost half of the community's residents leave for the winter, but they always come back. A mix of outdoor adventurers, artists, miners, and hard workers make for residents who admire the nature around them and rely on it for employment.
Most of the population here are at least 45 or older, but are still active. For the community to survive and thrive as much as it does, locals have no choice but to work hard and volunteer often. Most individuals have numerous work and volunteer positions within the community.