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Best Unique and Unusual Gifts in Whitehorse, Yukon: Murdoch's Gem Shop

Updated on August 19, 2015
RedElf profile image

RedElf (Elle Fredine), photographer, published author, enjoys crafting and finding unique gifts

No trip to the Yukon, or any splendidly scenic area is complete without a visit to at least one amazing gift shop. Murdoch's Gem Shop is just the place for genuinely unique and beautiful gifts and jewelry.

Well known in the Yukon as a purveyor of beautiful and unique gift-ware, Murdoch's is the shop for virgin gold nugget jewelry. Many jewelers carry gold nugget jewelry, gold reclaimed from other pieces of jewelry that is remelted into nugget form, and then set into rings, pendants, earrings, brooches, and all manner of pieces. Murdoch's goldsmiths, however, working on the premises, create their gold nugget jewelry from virgin gold nuggets, raw gold that has never been refined.

"Old prospector", created especially for Murdoch's Gem Shop in Whitehorse, YT, by chain-saw artist, M. Harvey - photo by RedElf
"Old prospector", created especially for Murdoch's Gem Shop in Whitehorse, YT, by chain-saw artist, M. Harvey - photo by RedElf

This old prospector has long been "panning for gold" in Murdoch's Gem shop, long enough for the native yellow spruce from which he is carved to begin to split in the dry climate.

Created especially for the store by M. Harvey, this magnificent example of chain-saw art now graces their business cards and gift-enclosure tags as their official logo. Yes! This intricate and astonishing detail was accomplished using only a chain-saw.

One of the many, ever-changing displays
One of the many, ever-changing displays

Murdoch's is chock-a-block with beautiful and unique gift-ware, from hand-dipped candles and imported glassware, to locally produced leather-work.

In addition, the walls are decorated with curious artifacts - trophy-size Moose antlers, Mastodon horns, walrus tusks, a Narwhal's single tusk, and this pair of antique rifles.

Used for hunting in the Dease Lake area of British Columbia, these circa 1875, beautifully preserved flintlocks (muskets), were donated to Murdoch's by Mr. Gene Simmons of Carcross, YT. Mr. Simmons was given them by Harper Reed, former Indian Agent in Atlin BC. The powder-horn mounted below the antlers is from the same era as the muskets.

The lovely stained glass pendant fixtures shown in the photo, one fuchsia, one yellow, are only two of the many colors and styles on offer. Some are delicate, mouth-blown glass, while others are splendid examples of stained-glass artistry.

More treasures...

Mastodon Tusk
Mastodon Tusk

Over the main counter hangs a Narwhal tusk - once thought to be the horn of a Unicorn, the curly, twisted marvel is almost as magical as the myth to which it gave rise.

On the log wall, directly behind the narwhal tusk, hangs another example of Mastodon ivory. The huge, fossilized tusk curls around an artist's rendition of one of the magnificent Ice-Age mammals that once roamed the earth.

Elk-hide Vest
Elk-hide Vest
Hand-painted Gold Pans
Hand-painted Gold Pans

Among the many treasures in Murdoch's, you will find the work of local artists and artisans.

Hanging next to an antique scoop from the gold rush era hangs an exquisitely crafted Elk-hide vest sporting beaded fringes.

The workmanship and detailing elevate this one-of-a-kind item from a serviceable article of clothing into a piece of wearable art.

Always popular with tourists and locals, hand-painted gold pans, no two alike, adorn the walls.

The gold pans are actual pans used in panning for gold, their design unchanged from the original pans used by prospectors during the heady days of the Klondike Gold Rush.

Gold nugget - 11.47 ounces
Gold nugget - 11.47 ounces
Fossil ivory earrings set with gold nuggets
Fossil ivory earrings set with gold nuggets

One of the marvels of Murdoch's is a single gold nugget. Mined at Squaw Creek on the Haines Road, somewhere in the 70's or 80's, this lump of solid gold measures almost 5 inches across, and weighs in at 368.86 grams, or an impressive 11.47 ounces.

All the ivory used in Murdoch's jewelry is fossil ivory, from creatures long-dead, so one can enjoy wearing their pieces, secure in the knowledge that no animals were needlessly killed to provide your adornments.

The earrings on the right are fossil ivory, carved into the shape of the Yukon Forget-Me-Not, and set with gold nuggets,

Their gold nugget jewelry is created from virgin gold. As they explain:

The virgin nuggets used in [our] jewelry have been hand-mined in the gold fields of the Klondike and Atlin districts. Bonanza, Eldorado, Hunker, and Gold Bottom are some of the better known areas of theTrail of '98.

These nuggets are in their natural state, each an individual shape. the color does vary from different creeks, as does the purity, which will average 85%.

The jewelry has been hand-crafted, each nugget individually fitted and soldered into place. natural wear on these nuggets will burnish and brighten them, showing their natural beauty.

These virgin nuggets are then crafted on the premises into gold nuggets earrings, sluice-box rings, and beautiful, one of a kind, pendants. Often precious gems are set among the gold nuggets, making each piece even more beautiful and totally unique.

More unique gift ideas...

Murdoch's also offers beautiful silver serving cutlery - carving knives, meat forks, vegetable scoops, berry spoons and pie lifters - the handles of each piece has been set with a gold nugget. Unique to Murdoch's, these beautiful pieces make wonderful wedding or anniversary gifts, and are sure to become a treasured family heirloom.

The splendid scenery of Canada's Yukon Territory is unrivaled in the world for mountain vistas, high-arctic flora and wildlife, and amazing displays of the aurora borealis (northern lights). There is no better place to find souvenirs and gifts as unique as the northern splendors they will always represent to you - treasured reminders of your trip to one of Canada's arctic wild places - than Murdoch's Gem Shop in Whitehorse, YT.

Murdoch's Gem Shop

207 Main Street, Whitehorse, Yukon Y1A 2B2
Phone: 1.867.667.7403 Fax: 1.867.667.7716
Email: Web Site:

Whitehorse, YT, Canada:

get directions

© 2010 RedElf


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    • RedElf profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Canada

      I directed a musical for the Guild Hall theater, was there for Christmas with friends, and was back last fall for a week for Presbytery meetings. It is such a lovely place.

      Happy Holidays!

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 

      8 years ago from Canada

      RedElf, I love this store!!!! I spent a year and a half in Whitehorse, and thought it was the neatest. One year, I got my family a little gift there, too. It was so cool to see this hub about it. What is your connection to Whitehorse? Do you live there? (Now I will be checking your profile!)

      Take care, and have a good holiday.

    • RedElf profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Canada

      Thanks, Thomas. Murdoch's is an amazing store, and I have only been able to show you a small portion of its treasures.

    • RedElf profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Canada

      Thank you, friend Hh, for stopping by to comments. I hope you have the chance to see Murdoch's in person some day - you'll love it even more.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for such a wonderful tour of Murdoch's gift shop. I love bit of it.

    • RedElf profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Canada

      Good day, alekhouse! Murdoch's is one of my favorite gift shops - too bad it's so far away.

      Karanda, the earrings are only one of so many lovely "non-fatal" pieces :D

    • Karanda profile image

      Karen Wilton 

      8 years ago from Australia

      Great gift hub RedElf. You got the title right when you said 'Unusual', I've never seen anything like those ivory earrings and so pleased to know there were no animals killed in the process.

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 

      8 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Wow! What a neat place.

    • RedElf profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Canada

      carrie, there are so many great stores to see in Whitehorse, but Murdoch's is totally unique! Glad you enjoyed the photos.

    • carrie450 profile image


      8 years ago from Winnipeg, Canada

      I love browsing through unique gift shops such as this one

      RedElf. Those hand painted pans are beautiful! Thanks for sharing.


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