Yukon Passenger License Plates
1971 - 1975

On December 5, 1968, the Territory Legislature had passed a Motion (No. 24) "that Council discuss in Committee of the Whole the matter of changing Yukon licence plates' wording from "Land of the Midnight Sun" to "Home of the Klondike"."

On October 15, 1969, the Territory wired the Oakalla Prison Farm seeking an additional supply of 100 PSV plates for that year as supplies were running low, and the response from Oakalla provides a rare insight into the manufacturing of licence plates at the facility as well as shedding some further light on the introduction of the "Home of the Klondike" slogan in 1971. In short, the 100 PSV plates could not be filled as Oakalla advised that they had:

consumed all the prepainted metal ordered for your 1969 plates and a special order could be supplied for at least four months from the mill. For your last order for additional plates it was necessary to hand-spray each plate with a small portion of the specially formulated paint we had on hand but this too is exhausted.

It would be appreciated if your annual orders could be to maximum rather than the minimum of your requirements in each series to avoid these small orders. While it only take minutes to manufacture the plates when the presses are set up and material is available, these small order take a day to change dies for set up an part of the second day to replace the programmed dies -- the net result is a loss of production of 10,000 plates. We are presently operating around the clock to meet the January 1st deadline for the 1970 (B.C.) plates.

I was about to write you on the subject of your dies when your wired arrived. You will need a complete new die-set for the plates in the coming year (1971 series) as we are having difficulty producing your 1970 pates. I would suggest you give us your order for 1971 plates as soon as possible in the coming year and add to the list of plates "one complete die-set with inserts". We would then order a new unit for you along with our own requirements and charge it back to you at invoice price. This way the dies would be your property and if you wished to change suppliers at any time we could turn it over on request. The cost would be in the vicinity of $1,500.00 and would take 6 to 8 weeks to produce.

While available files have yet to shed any further light on the changing of the slogan, it is thought that the main impetus was the requirement to invest in new dies for the 1971 series, otherwise any recommendation from the Committee of the Whole could have sat unacted upon for many more years.

Ron Garay Collection
Ron Garay Collection
Ron Garay Collection
Issuing Statistics
1 to 7-500
Ron Garay Collection
Ron Garay Collection

In the late 1960s, the Klondike Visitors Association (KVA) had promoted the idea of a set of special licence plates to promote the 75th anniversaries of the discovery of gold in the Klondike (in 1971), and "Klondike Stampede" (in 1973). It was suggested to the Director of Travel and Information at this time that the 1971 plates could be gold-on-black, while the 1973 could be gold-on-black with special inscriptions marking each event. Ideally, the costs of this program would be covered by the sale of extra sample plates, however, for reasons unknown, the Director of Travel and Information never forwarded this proposal to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles, H.J. Taylor. So, in 1971 the KVA re-submitted the proposal directly to Taylor for consideration on the 1973 plates.

In a memo to staff, Taylor advised that "I don't think there is anything we can do with this. It would be quite expensive to change colours and manufacture new dyes, etc. At any rate, if you feel that something along this line should be done please advise as we will have to commence action immediately."

In the interim, the Director of the Tourism and Information Department had also written Taylor in support of moving to gold-and-black colours for 1973 and further suggested that their new logo of a "stylised version of three stampeders climbing the Chilkoot" - which was in the process of being registered - be used on the licence plates "instead of the gold panner."

Shortly thereafter, the Deputy Registrar, D.R. Brackenbury, contacted the Oakalla Prison Farm in order to query the additional costs involved in having "either [a] gold background with black border, miner, etc. or to a black background with gold border, miner, etc." displayed on the Territory's licence plates for 1973. Oakalla was also asked to provide a quote on "the cost of changing the die of the miner to some other symbol or approximately the same size."

Under the four-year colour scheme cycle that had been established by Oakalla in the late 1960s for Yukon licence plates, the 1973 colours were to have been black-on-yellow (as had occurred in 1969), however, in the interim British Columbia had moved to a white base with coloured letters and numerals, so the economy scale this created favoured the Yukon also using a white background. Not surprisingly, in response to the Territory's request for a gold and black plate, Oakalla advised that the most inexpensive option would be to employ a white background with any colour of ink (already on hand) as this would be approximately $5,745.57 (based upon quantities order in 1972).

To otherwise prepare a gold background with black lettering and numbers would be $6,599.74 - which was a 14.9% increase attributable to the "special mill run cost for [a] small quantity of steel." The option of a black background with gold lettering and numbers was to be $7,568.74, or 31.7% more than the first option due to the same special mill costs as well as "all inking of letters and numerals would have to be painted and baked twice because of the poor hiding qualities of gold on black." The cost of replacing the miner was estimated at approximately $500 (the cost of manufacturing the last "miner" die), but was subject to change depending upon the complexity of the new design.

In light of this advice, the Territory ultimately opted to go with the black-on-gold colour combination while retaining the "miner" symbol, but requested a sample of the proposed "gold" colouring Oakalla intended to use as the government wanted "to make sure that it is gold colour and not yellow."

This particular plate showed up on eBay many years ago, with the seller claiming it was issued to Erik Neilson, the former Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for Yukon. Unfortunately, there is no way to confirm if this was true.


Ron Garay