If the bulldozers on Tony Beets’ gold mine ever break down he could just use his bare hands. They are gigantic and caked in dirt, the way God’s must have looked the day he created the mountains. Tony came to the Yukon in 1982 for the same reason thousands before him did during the Gold Rush of 1896–1899, but the old stories don’t interest him much.
‘The history is the least of my concerns, to be honest with ya,’ he drawls. ‘It’s nice, but they could have left a little more.’
Despite a century’s worth of miners striking it lucky, there is still enough gold in these hills to have made Tony a rich man. His straggly hair and beard may disguise it but his net worth is estimated at over $5 million. ‘We strictly came here for the money,’ he says. ‘Let’s say that worked. We’re a little spoiled now, but like I always say…’ He holds up those dusty articulated fists. ‘It was earned.’