LastOneJust saying the name—Yukon—stirs up feelings of romance and adventure. Jack London, the Klondike Gold Rush, Hudson Bay Company, Diamond Tooth Lil, prospectors and fur trappers, explorers and Indians. . .

And few people. Canoeing alone across Canada’s vast and nearly-empty Yukon Territory, I encountered no other human beings for days at a time. A canoe on a wild river offers an excellent platform from which to view the world. I wanted the journey to go on and on, forever. It was a simple and satisfying existence. I lived for what the moment brought. Tomorrows do not exist in the wilderness. You eat, you sleep, you travel.

I spotted abandoned Fort Selkirk high on a flat bluff overlooking the junction where the Pelly River Joins the Yukon River. It was one of the most remarkable of all ghost towns and deserted settlements documenting man’s unsuccessful efforts to tame the wilderness. Viewed from upriver, it was a scene as placid and picturesque as a New England post card.

After beaching my canoe, I climbed the high bank and, somewhat awed, strolled through the town in eerie silence. Being alone in the wilderness is different from being alone where man has lived and worked and built on his dreams for a century, only to surrender it all in the end. There was something disquieting about it. I felt like an intruder prowling where people had just stepped out for a decade or so and would be returning shortly.

First occupied in 1848 as a trading post for the Hudson Bay Company, Fort Selkirk had been used by miners, trappers, steam boaters, soldiers, and traders until the last family departed in 1951. About 30 buildings remained—a church, a Hudson Bay store, a one-room log schoolhouse still furnished with hand-hewn desks and a blackboard made from a stretched moose hide, a livery, some houses. . . The houses looked as though the occupants had just departed, leaving behind furniture and tools from the turn of the century.

So attuned had I become to being alone that a wisp of smoke trailing upward from one of the outer cabins gave me a momentary start. I soon discovered that the town wasn’t quite consigned to ghosts. Danny Roberts was still there. He was a little old man with an Indian face and a pair of high rubber boots.

“I’m the last one,” he explained. “I was born and raised here. My wife died three years ago, and all the others left long ago. I’m the last one.”

He wasn’t waiting for the others to return; he knew they never would. I wondered how it felt to be the last living resident of a town.

Danny Roberts thought about it. He said, “It feels like. . . the last one.”

COMING SOON: Crushing The Collective: The Last Chance to Keep America Free and Self-Governing, by Charles W. Sasser. “Socialist body snatchers are bent on moving toward a highly regulated one-world socialist government of limited individual freedom. Can they be stopped before America is engulfed in tyranny?”