Kathleen Lake Lodge is one of the few remaining and operational highway lodges within the Yukon. It was built in the late 1960s to accommodate travellers on the Haines Road – the main artery between Haines, Alaska, and Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska. The Lodge takes its name from the lake that is close by. Who Kathleen was is still a mystery.
Following construction in the late 1940s, the Haines Road became a busy stretch of highway – but extremely desolate – especially in the winter. The highway lodges began to replace the trading posts that had dotted the landscape along the Dalton Trail during the 1800s, and many of the old trading posts ceased to operate. The construction of the road totally changed the way people moved to and from the coast, and brought in new types of travellers.
In 1946, Bun Beloud built a lodge at the end of Dezadeash Lake--the first lodge on the Canadian section of the road. In the 1960s, Belouds sold to Yardleys who changed the name to Dezadeash Lake Lodge.
Also in the 1960s, Brewster’s Lodge operated at Mile 92 on the Haines Road. This meant that driving from Haines, Alaska – once travellers left the lodge at 33-Mile (Alaskan side of the border), they had to drive to 92-Mile for any kind of services. From there it was to Mile 125 at Dezadeash Lake Lodge. For the next 30 miles, travellers would be fortunate to come across a couple more lodges prior to arriving in Haines Junction, Yukon. These lodges were a lifeline for the traveller.
In the early 1960s, the Cortino family built Cortino’s Lodge 10 miles north of Dezadeash Lake Lodge. Cortino's Lodge was sold again in the 1980s and became known as Dalton Trail Lodge – a private fishing destination still operating.
The original operation at these lodges generally included a garage, gas pumps, café, store, lounge/liquor outlet, and motel. All of these lodges were (and still are) self-contained entities. Electricity was produced solely by diesel generators. Today, we incorporate a combination of batteries and solar panels to assist with power production.
All of the lodges served wholesome, home-style food. Stories suggest that service may not have always been top-notch – but most were family operations and you got what you got – depending on the day and the current attitudes of the proprietors.
We are the fourth owners of Kathleen Lake Lodge. In the early 1960s, someone – currently unknown to us – built a house that is known as Kathleen Lake Lodge. In the late 1960s, Kirk and Gunn Yardley (son and daughter-in-law of the Yardleys of Dezadeash Lake Lodge) bought the property. They continued with the development of the Lodge. Between 1972 and 1975, the Lodge sold twice. The third owners – John and Janice Sturko, owned and operated the lodge until we purchased it in 2007.
Times have dramatically changed as has the highway, the modes of transportation, and the people who travel to and through the region. The completion of the Skagway Road in the late 1970s, combined with the inclusion of the Cruise Ships/Bus Tour facilities into and out of Skagway, Alaska, almost spelled disaster for this stretch of highway. However, today there is a wide, paved highway, modern technology, and a new outlook on what drives people to our doorstep – pristine wilderness surroundings.
"Soothe the soul."Stay at Kathleen Lake Lodge in this unique part of the Canadian north. Here in our vicinity you will find one of the last great pieces of true wilderness in the world.