Location: Mile 804 on Alaska Highway 1; 167 miles northwest of Watson Lake and 107 miles south of Whitehorse. Population: 450. Visitor Information: Information Kiosk, Village of Teslin, PO Box 130, Teslin, Yukon Y0A 1B0; Phone: (867) 390-2530; Website: www.teslin.ca
This community on Teslin Lake was originally a summer camp and meeting place for Tlingit from coastal Alaska and British Columbia. The town’s name is taken from the word teslintoo (“long narrow waters”) referring to the 78-mile long lake. There is a day-use area and boat launch at the north end of the impressive Nisutlin Bay Bridge, which has the longest span on the Alaska Highway at 1916 feet. Eleven species of fish populate the lake, with lake trout being the most popular. In late summer, chinook and chum salmon travel up the Teslin River to spawn. The area is also good for duck, goose and moose hunting.
During the 1898 gold rush, Teslin became a stopover point on the Canadian route to the Klondike. The Hudson’s Bay Company established a trading post, which closed down by 1903 but was replaced by the historic Nisutlin Trading Post.
Teslin continued to grow with the arrival of the Northwest Mounted Police. In 1906 an Anglican Mission was built, which is still in use as a parish hall, and the Roman Catholic Mission was established in 1938.
Today the community has an airport, restaurants, RV camping and accommodations. There are also boat rentals, houseboat tours, charter fishing outfitters and an air charter service. The well-stocked Nisutlin Trading Post offers motel rooms, groceries, gear and service station.
The Northern Wildlife Gallery in the Yukon Motel houses an impressive display of area wildlife.
Teslin has the largest Tlingit artifact collection in the Yukon. The George Johnston Museum preserves the photography of the Tlingit elder, trapper, fur trader and entrepreneur who captured the life of the inland Tlingit people of Teslin and Atlin between 1910 and 1940. Johnston (1884–1972) also brought the first car to Teslin where it is now on display, along with Tlingit ceremonial robes and trade goods. Located on the highway 1 km west of the Nisutlin Bay Bridge, the museum is open daily from mid-May to September 1.
The Teslin Tlingit Heritage Centre is a commanding structure overlooking the lake, housing exhibits and interpretive displays illuminating 200 years of Tlingit culture and history. The Great Hall at the Centre is the home of clan governance for the Teslin Tlingit people. Open daily 9-5 from June 1 to September 1 and in the off-season by appointment, the Centre is located 3 km west of Teslin.