When Andy Gilpin and Ross King were transferred to the RCAF station in Whitehorse in 1947, the last thing on their minds was the roller-coaster ride upon which they were about to embark. Both were young hockey players with promise. Forward Gilpin had played Junior A in Montreal. Goalie Ross King had been a star with Portage LaPrairie when they won the Memorial Cup.
What King and Gilpin didn’t know when they arrived in Whitehorse in March, 1947, was that the small town was hockey crazy. Both the Army and Airforce teams in the Senior Men’s League were made up of players who knew as much about hockey as they did about their military assignments.
A fine forward named Len Beech was already in Whitehorse and had played for the RCAF Flyers the previous year. He impressed upon the newcomers just how competitive hockey was in this northern outpost.
In the fall of 1947, the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association invited the Canadian Airforce to form Canada’s Olympic hockey squad. Beech, King and Gilpin were invited to a tryout camp in Edmonton. Meanwhile, all three played for the local Airforce team during part of the 1947-48 season. The Town Merchants team won the trophy that year.
In January, 1948, all three airmen were selected to be members of the RCAF Flyers, the hockey team that would represent Canada at the 1948 Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
Still, things did not go very well, especially when the Flyers lost their first exhibition game to a University team, the McGill Redmen. Manager Sandy Watson and coach Frank Boucher had to make some changes - fast. They cut Len Beech from the team, but Gilpin and King remained with the improved roster. Others were added.
Still, as they left for Switzerland, the press vilified the Canadian team. There was no way this ragtag bunch could win on the world stage in 1948. Czechoslovakia was the favourite, followed by Sweden and Switzerland. Canada would do well to finish fourth, predicted the press. However when the games ended, Canada had won the Olympic gold medal.
Canada and Czechoslovakia finish with identical 7-0-1 records, with Canada winning the gold medal on total goals scored: 64-62. Neither Gilpin nor King played in the eight-game Olympic tournament since the rules then allowed teams to dress only twelve players.
Still, they had been part of the team that won Canada’s first gold medal in hockey since 1932. Then the RCAF Flyers went on an extensive exhibition tour of Europe, playing in front of as many as twenty thousand people in Paris. King had become the regular goalie and Gilpin played in all 42 exhibition games. The Flyers won thirty-one and became the new heroes of Europe’s fledgling ice hockey craze. When they returned to Canada, there was a ticker-tape parade in Ottawa and, when they arrived home in Whitehorse with their Olympic gold medals around their necks, there was an official civic reception and military parade.
Both Andy Gilpin and Ross King played for the RCAF Flyers in the 48-49 season in the Whitehorse Senior Men’s League. Len Beech was still with the team. Nevertheless, even with these Olympians, the airmen again lost in the final round to the talented Town Merchants.
Whitehorse was, indeed, a hockey town of renown.
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin.
See also: Hockey in the hangar
The Klondike was the realm of the male miner. But there were some resourceful women who headed to the gold-fields. One was Ethel Bush, who married Clarence Berry when he returned from his first trip to Yukon in the fall of 1895. Two years later, both would be Klondike millionaires.
Ethel and Clarence Berry celebrated their honeymoon while travelling over the Chilkoot Pass with a dog team in 1896. After they arrived, Ethel spent two months alone in a tiny cabin in Forty Mile while Clarence worked out on the creeks. Ethel spent the winter of 1896-97 housekeeping, Klondike-style, in a house which had no door, windows or floor. Having no luck at prospecting, Clarence was tending bar in Bill McPhee's saloon in Forty Mile the August night George Carmack arrived to boast of his discovery at Rabbit (Bonanza) Creek. The Berrys immediately headed for the new discovery.
When the Berrys got to the gold-fields, Clarence staked a claim on number five Eldorado. Later, it was discovered that claim was 40 feet too long. Moreover, this was the section of the claim which held all of the paydirt dug out over the winter. That meant that the Berrys didn't own that fraction of land and they couldn't stake it either, because their staking rights were used up. Berry lucked out, however, when he got a friend to stake the claim and then transfer the rights to them.
On that claim the Berrys were able to produce $140,000 in 1897 alone. The claim was so rich that whenever Ethel needed money, she would just go outside, smash some clumps of dirt, and pull out the nuggets. The couple was on the now famous, ship the 'Portland', when it docked in Seattle. When they arrived, 23-year-old Ethel was wearing men's clothing. Her bedroll was so heavy she couldn't lift it. Inside the bedroll was nearly $100,000 in gold. Ethel Bush Berry was rich! Newspaper headlines announced the arrival of the ship, with its "ton of gold". Reporters interviewing Ethel called her "The Bride of the Klondike". Her story was featured in papers all over the world.
Despite the hardships of that first year, Ethel and Clarence returned to mine again in the spring of 1898. Ethel climbed the Chilkoot Pass a second time, this time with her sister Tot, along with thousands of Stampeders whose dreams of riches were inspired by her own story. While many, if not most, of the "Klondike Kings" squandered their money, Clarence and Ethel Berry continued to work hard and invest their fortune wisely.
They developed rich claims near Fairbanks. In 1907, the Berrys began a large-scale dredging operation in the Circle Mining District. For display at the 1909 Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition in Seattle, Ethel loaned $70,000 worth of gold nuggets that she herself had picked up on their various gold claims. Ethel, who in 1897 said she would never go north again, couldn't stay away. She traveled each year up the Yukon River to visit their claims until Clarence died in 1930. The wealthy widow lived in Beverly Hills, California, where she died in 1948.
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin
If anyone knew the Alaska Highway better than Jimmy Quong, I would like to meet him. For most his adult life, this unassuming gentleman worked on and for the highway.
A Vancouver native, Jim Quong started working on the Alaska Highway in May, 1942, with the U.S. Public Roads Administration in Fort St. John. As a draftsman, Quong provided engineering drawings of everything needed to make a highway work properly. And he was meticulous about the job.
Quong’s name is associated with bridges through the entire length of the highway. He was there in 1943 when the first Peace River bridge at Taylor, half-way between Fort St. John and Dawson Creek, collapsed - and he helped design its replacement. This introduced the young draftsman to the challenges of creating a steel structure from his scale drawings.
Jimmy Quong was known to his colleagues as the man who put everything on paper. Not only drawings of bridges and culverts and road beds, but also photographic images. His professional life was engineering design, but his love was taking pictures and developing them himself.
Quong was a key engineer in designing bridges on the Dempster Highway, the Donjek River, Nisutlin Bay (the longest on the Alaska Highway) and the bridges over the Yukon River at Marsh Lake. He also helped design the complicated roadway we know as the Skagway Road. All the while, he kept a photographic record of the work.
Not surprisingly, Jimmy Quong was one of the very few engineers admitted to the profession without a university degree, choosing instead the laborious examination route while working on the job.
During his career, he worked for the American and Canadian militaries and, finally, with the Department of Public Works. All the while, Jimmy Quong packed his camera, recording construction projects as well as other aspects of life in the Yukon - church gatherings, family events, everyday Yukon scenes. Many of his photos are now important museum artifacts in the Yukon and beyond.
At his retirement they gave him a Life Membership in the Association of Professional Engineers of Yukon in recognition of his dedication to the profession.
Jimmy Quong passed away in Vancouver at the age of eighty-six.
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin
The Army barracks is seen in the foreground of this photo of Whitehorse. It later became the Baptist Residential School. Whitehorse General Hospital can be seen to the right. The road up the clay bank to the airport is on the left. The air terminal was located on the east side of the runway in 1948. The Whitehorse Inn is the large building in the centre. The river boats and the White Pass and Yukon Route warehouse are just visible in the background.
Main Street, Whitehorse. To the left is Northern Commercial Co. Ltd. Ford-Monarch Dealership, located on 3rd and Main. With its head office in Seattle, Northern Commercial can trace its heritage back to when the Russians owned Alaska before 1867. Northern Commercial was the largest retailer in Alaska and had stores in Dawson City, Mayo & Whitehorse. They owned the Yukon Ford and Caterpillar dealership. Note the gas pumps on the sidewalk. Also shown in the photo are Arens Menswear, Burnie's Ladies Apparel, Wise Insurance, Norm Chamberlist's Electrical Shop, Sunny's Delicatessen and the Bank of Commerce.
This photograph of Chief Jim Boss of Lebarge and Chief John Fraser of Champagne was taken during the Whitehorse Winter Carnival in 1948. During the carnival, a large group of Indian people danced on the stage in the Capital Theatre.
The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks "B.P.O.E." was formed in 1948. This picture shows: Back Row: Aubrey Simmons, Howie Brunless, Karl Bryden Centre: ---, Dick Carswell, ---, 'Chappie' Chapman, ---, Jim Fox, Douglas W.K. Stoddart, ---
In 1948, the Elks was located on Second and Main in the former Whitehorse Theatre Building.
|January 9, 1948||The Kiwanis Club installs new officers. They are: President, W. Hamilton: Jim Gentleman, Vice-President: Charlie Taylor, Secretary-Treasurer.|
|January 16, 1948||The Whitehorse Branch of the Canadian Legion elects new officers. Honorary President, Lt. Col. J.R.B. Jones: President, W.M. Emery: First Vice-President, R.G. Mellway: Second Vice-President, George Maddocks.|
|January 30, 1948||The oil pipeline from Skagway to Whitehorse, constructed by U.S. Army during the war, and unused since the middle of July 1946, is re-opened by the White Pass & Yukon Route on lease from the U.S. Government.|
|February 4, 1948||A petition seeking incorporation of Whitehorse has been prepared by the Corporation Committee of the Board of Trade.|
|February 21-22, 1948||Days of ‘98 are revived with “wide-open roulette, craps, ace away, crown and anchor, bingo and a complete midway” at the DOT hanger at the airbase. $100 in stage money is sold for $1.00 in “real money.” The beard judging contest is held Friday, February 21 and the Queen contest finalists are announced Saturday, February 22. There are prizes for the best Days of ‘98 costume for both men and women.|
|February 26- 29, 1948||The annual Winter Carnival begins with a fashion show in the Army Theatre on Main Street. The International Dog Derby featuring ten teams, three of which come from Alaska, begins on the river in front of the White Pass depot. On the weekend, there are children’s dog races, a ski meet at the Ski Bowl across the river, and hockey at the RCAF Arena. Days of ‘98 continue at the DOT hanger. The RCAF provides bus service from downtown Whitehorse to the Arena. A ride costs 15 cents.|
|March 5, 1948||It is announced that White Pass & Yukon Route have donated a site between Third and Fourth Avenues for use as a civic centre.|
|March 26, 1948||The Benevolent Protective Order of the Elks (BPOE) is officially organized in Whitehorse. Officers are: Exalted Ruler, E.F. Pinchin: Leading Knight, W. Stoddard: Loyal Knight, J. Fox: Lecturing Knight, J. Moran: Secretary, W. Williamson: Treasurer, Dick Carswell: Inner Guard, Jack Earle: Tyler. Phil Delaney: Esquire, Ray Read: Chaplain, Stan Dunbrack, Historian, H.E. Moore: Organist, E. Veale.|
|April 1948||The expansion of the Whitehorse Inn is complete and the ballroom is officially opened. Saturday night supper dances are a popular item.|
|April 9, 1948||It is reported that Klondike Kate is to be remarried to W. I. Van Duren, an accountant from Bend, Oregon, whom she has known for the past 18 years.|
|April 16, 1948||An Alaska-Yukon travel club is inaugurated in Juneau. Its purpose is to publicise the north and improve travel service within the region.|
|April 23, 1948||Fire destroys Jacquot’s store and beer parlor at Kluane.|
|May 1948||Northern Commercial Company opens its new Ford facility at Third and Main.|
|May 14, 1948||New officers are elected at annual meeting of Board of Trade. President, J. Aubrey Simmons; Vice President, Jim Norrington; Secretary, R.J. Rowan; Trustees: Bill Drury Jr., E.C. Kerry, John McIssac, J.J. Elliot, W.W. Doherty, R.G. Lee, Leo Proctor and Rolf Hougen.|
|May 14, 1948||The timing clock failed in Dawson's ice pool for the second successive year.|
|May 21, 1948||Sid Poulton establishes his office on the vacant lot adjoining the Whitehorse Star office. New and larger windows have been installed in the Fashion Shoppe premises on Main Street. On the south side of Main Street, on Third Avenue, Pete Petiot is building new premises that will be occupied by the Vet's Barber Shop and Laura's Beauty Salon. On Front Street, extensive alterations have been made to Besner Shoe and Shoe Repair Shop.|
|June 4, 1948||Inspector H.H. Cronkhite leaves Whitehorse at the end of June as he is transferred to Ottawa.|
|June 4, 1948||On May 26, 1948 K.B. Hannan is appointed General Manager of the White Pass & Yukon Route.|
|June 11, 1948||For the first time in Canada, a helicopter is used for topographical and geological survey work. The survey is done in the Yukon.|
|June 25, 1948||A fire destroys Graham's Garage at the old Elliot premises near the railroad track. Damage was estimated at $30,000.|
|July 2, 1948||The President of Canadian Pacific Airlines Ltd. announces the inauguration of nonstop “Sleeperette” service from Whitehorse to Vancouver with a flying time of six hours. This is the first of its kind in Canada.|
|July 13, 1948||Jack E. Gibben is appointed Commissioner of the Yukon.|
|July 16, 1948||The American Automobile Association publishes a detailed report on the condition of the Alaska Highway. The width and generally good conditions are emphasized.|
|July 23, 1948||The Whitehorse oil refinery has been removed from Whitehorse and is now in production at Edmonton. Official opening is July 17, 1948.|
|August 13, 1948||The world famous magician Mitchell Cain appeared at the Capitol Theatre in Whitehorse.|
|August 13, 1948||Sourdoughs who took part in the '98 gold stampede into the Klondike meet in Vancouver to celebrate the 50th anniversary of that historic event. Robert Service is among the participants.|
|August 17, 1948||Imperial Oil opened its refinery at Clover Bar, near Edmonton. The refinery had been shipped to Alberta from Whitehorse.|
|August 20, 1948||The Dawson News reaches the half century mark. The first issue came off the press on July 31, 1899.|
|October 15, 1948||Residents in the Yukon were pleased to learn that a regular mail service is now in operation on the Alaska Highway. This means that they will receive mail every five days instead of every fortnight as before.|
|October 15, 1948||The Honnourable Captain George Black P.C., M.P. is retiring from political life. Captain Black had represented the Yukon in parliament for twenty-two years.|
|October 15, 1948||John R. Fraser, Dawson City Councillor, dies at the age of 80 (estimated) in Dawson.|
|October 21, 1948||The last river boats of the season, the SS Keno and the SS Nisutlin, finish their runs and are placed in winter quarters.|
|October 22, 1948||Mr. W.A. Wardrop is appointed Territorial Treasurer at Dawson City.|
|October 22, 1948||Chapman's Shoe Store opens their doors in Whitehorse. The shoe store is located on Main Street, west of Fourth Avenue.|
|October 22, 1948||Works start on the hydro-electric plant for Whitehorse.|
|November 5, 1948||The Marbeck Flower and Gift Shop opens its doors in Whitehorse. The shop includes a complete florist service, gift shop and lending library. It is located across from the Whitehorse Inn on Main Street.|
|November 12, 1948||After years of operation, Diana May Candy Store moved to larger premises. It was the first candy factory in the Yukon or the N.W.T. and the only one north of Edmonton.|
|November 19, 1948||The Pacific Northwest Trade Association urges a railroad linking the United States and Alaska, through British Columbia and the Yukon.|
|November 26, 1948||Work was started on fifty new Air Force homes to be completed next summer. The new subdivision is located across the Alaska Highway, adjacent to the airport.|
|December 10, 1948||New Benevolent Protective Order of Elks officers are installed. Exalted Ruler, D.W.K. Stoddart; Leading Knight, J.H. Fox; Loyal Knight, H. Damon; Lecturing Knight, W. Miller; Secretary, W. Williamson; Treasurer, Dick Carswell; Inner Guard, Frank Mikush; Tyler, C.A. Chapman.|
|December 17, 1948||R.E. Garrow was elected president of the Yukon Fish and Game Association at their annual meeting. Vice President is George Aylwin. Charles Rosenberg is Secretary and J.B. Watson is the Treasurer.|
- Bill Drury, Bill Taylor, and Charlie Taylor hold a major auto show at Taylor and Drury’s car dealership announcing the 1949 line of General Motors Products.
- Brigadier-General Connelly is appointed Commander of the Northwest Highway System.
- All travel restrictions on the Alaska Highway are lifted.
- Keith Johnson of Pan American Airways announces a $67.50 fare from Whitehorse to Seattle.
- Aubrey Simmons is elected President of the Whitehorse Board of Trade.
- The Yukon Rose, a small sternwheeler once operated by Taylor and Drury, departs Whitehorse for the first time under the flag of the BYN Company. In 1948, the company buys several smaller river vessels, including the “Loon” and the “Yukon Rose” for use on the Stewart and other rivers smaller than the Yukon.
- By 1948, there were government operated liquor stores in Dawson City, Mayo and Whitehorse. In the early days, Liquor Vendors in Dawson City and Mayo worked side by side with the Government Agents. As the Yukon Population increased and became less transient, the Agent's duties were combined with the vendors giving them Territorial Agent status.
- RCMP Inspector Cronkhite is transferred to Ottawa. Inspector Spanton is his successor.
- In 1948, Yukon vehicle license plates are orange on black.
- Doug Cavaye, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce manager, succeeds A.E. Hardy.
- John Scott and John Phelps begin construction of the Fish Lake hydro plant.
- Christ the King School at Fourth Avenue and Wood Street is opened.
- Rolf Hougen returns from his first business trip to Eastern Canada.