Hougen Group



View looking south down Broadway from 4th Avenue in Skagway. Visible are D.C. Brownell's Hardware store, the People's Store, the Rainier Hotel, and Hegg's studio. Date: June 23, 1899. Yukon Archives. H.C. Barley fonds, #5016.

How Ethel Anderson Becker saved the Klondike’s History

One day in 1921, young Ethel Anderson visited Eric Hegg's photography studio in Bellingham, Washington. She wanted his permission to try and gather together his photos of the Klondike that he had taken back in 1898-99.

"It can't be done", said the photographer. "They are scattered far and wide."

Twenty-five years went by. Ethel married a Mr. Becker and raised a family. But she always had in the back of her mind those Klondike photos. Hegg had taken so many on a journey to the Klondike, with her father P.B. Anderson, during the height of the gold rush. Ethel was born in Bellingham, but spent her first six years in a cabin on Eldorado Creek with her parents - one of the few children of the gold rush.

The photos must still exist somewhere, thought Ethel Anderson Becker. Then, like some sort of miracle, she discovered two thousand of Hegg's negatives at Webster and Stevens Photographers in Seattle. The firm had come into possession of the photos from Mrs. Hegg when she and her husband split up a long time ago. Ethel Anderson Becker bought them all.

When she showed them to Eric Hegg in 1946, he was astounded. The old man had not seen them for more than forty years. Hegg told Ethel that there could be many more. He said that when he left Dawson City for Nome in 1899, he left his glass-plate negatives with a photography studio operated by Larrs and Duclos, because he could not carry them.

When Larrs and Duclos closed up shop in Dawson, they decided to hide the large glass negatives behind veneer sheets covering the inside of their log cabin home. There they lay, safely hidden from curious eyes, for many years.

Then, in the Fifties, a young woman, working as a clerk in a Dawson store, bought the Larrs Duclos cabin. One day she reached up to see what made the sawdust drip out of the top over the veneer. To her amazement she pulled out a glass negative showing boats going down Lake Bennett. There were many, many more glass negatives behind the veneer.

Now she could have what she wanted - a greenhouse. However, her employer offered to give her real glass for a greenhouse in exchange for the glass negatives. She agreed.

In 1961, Ethel Becker travelled to Dawson City to refresh her memory for background on a novel she was working on. There she met the person who owned those two thousand glass negatives of Hegg's photos.

Two years later, in 1963, Ethel Becker bought the negatives. She now had about four thousand Hegg photos of the gold rush. The collection was complete. Many of the photos feature the signature of Eric Hegg on the bottom, though some are marked Larrs and Duclos and others, Webster and Stevens. But so far as Mrs. Becker knew, they were almost all taken by Eric Hegg.



Because of her work in tracking down this long-lost photographic treasure, the epic story of the Klondike Gold Rush - from the line of stampeders on the Chilkoot pass to the home-built boats on the lakes, to men mucking for gold in the creeks - remains an unforgettable panorama of the Yukon's colourful history.



A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin

Flores - Klaben Rescue

When a small single-engine plane, with two people on board, stopped in Whitehorse to refuel on a cold mid-winter day in 1963, no-one could have forseen the incredible saga which was about to unfold.

Pilot Ralph Flores and his passenger Helen Klaben were returning to the south-western United States from Fairbanks in a single-engine Howard aircraft. They picked up fuel in Whitehorse and took off, bound for their next stop - Fort St. John.

Somewhere near Watson Lake, however, the plane went missing. A massive air search turned up no sign of the plane or its occupants. When the search was called off in mid-February, the temperature was -40 to -50°F. They were given up for dead.

In the bush south of Watson Lake, the little plane lay crumpled. It had clipped some trees as Flores flew low in a heavy snowstorm, looking for the Alaska Highway. Klabens left arm was broken and she had severe cuts and bruises. Flores had a broken jaw, cracked ribs and many cuts.

On the plane they had four cans of sardines, two cans of tuna, some fruit cocktail and some crackers. They had no axe, no rifle and no sleeping bags. Flores built a lean-to out of a small tarpaulin and used seat cushions from the plane as bedding. The outlook was bleak.

About two weeks after crash, Flores constructed some home-made snowshoes, and painfully trekked for four days to a frozen beaver pond where he stamped out a huge SOS in the snow.

Near the end of March, 49 days after the crash, Frank George, on board a small plane piloted by Chuck Hamilton, looked out the window and spotted the SOS in the clearing. Amazingly, Flores had had the presence of mind to stamp an arrow in the snow pointing in the direction of their make-shift camp.

The next day, Hamilton and Jack McCallum flew a rescue team to the site. They landed on the beaver pond and followed the arrow through the bush a few miles, where they discovered a miracle. Klaben and Flores were alive. Both had serious frostbite and injuries. Both had lost a great deal of weight. Yet they were alive. Forty-nine days of numbing cold, lack of food and life-threatening injuries had not broken their spirit or will to live.

They were taken to hospital in Whitehorse where they recovered nicely from their injuries and their ordeal. It was truly one of the most incredible survival stories in the annals of Canadian history.

A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin


A partial panorama of Old Crow looking along the river. Some of the cabin roofs have been covered with flattened gas cans. Date: 1946. Yukon Archives. Claude & Mary Tidd fonds, #8197.


Peter Moses, the chief at Old Crow, stretching muskrat furs over wire frames. Date: June 1946. Yukon Archives. Claude & Mary Tidd fonds, #8242.


A large group of First Nations people sitting at a table and on the ground having a meal at Old Crow. Date: 1946. Yukon Archives. Claude & Mary Tidd fonds, #8249.

Edith Josie

When I first read her stuff in the Whitehorse Star, I though it was kinda cute. Not very deep or insightful...just...well...just cute. But more than 30 years later, Edith Josie's columns have become an important record of lives of the people of Old Crow.

Her columns began appearing in the Whitehorse Star under the banner "Here are the News". Generally, the news consisted of when the plane came and what it brought...who was out on the trapline...where the caribou were running...and what the berry season was like. Pretty mundane stuff until you realize that for a people with only an oral tradition, this material is really as complete a record of their times as possible.

Edith Josie joined the Star as a community correspondent in 1963. She wrote the way she spoke...in straightforward Gwichin-influenced English. Soon, the Edmonton Journal began running the News from Old Crow and, soon after that, the Fairbanks Daily News Miner took up her columns, all hand-written.

Edith Josie was born in Eagle, Alaska. In 1940, her parents moved to Old Crow. She was 16. Edith is devotedly religious and her columns reflect her attachment to the Anglican Church. Details of baptisms, funerals, marriages, church socials, and especially the Christmas season, have all formed part of "Here Are the News" for more than 30 years.

Over the years, Edith became a bit of a traveller, joining Old Crow politicians as they travelled to Ottawa and Washington lobbying against oil exploration in the Old Crow Flats. Her greatest fear is that exploration would harm the caribou and thus alter forever the way of life of the Gwichin. In 1995, she travelled to Ottawa to meet with the Governor General, Romeo Leblanc.

This was not a political meeting. She was there to receive the Order of Canada for her lifelong dedication to her own special kind of journalism. When asked when she might retire, Edith Josie said, "I wouldn't retire. Just when I pass away, that's the time my news will cut off."

A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin

RCMP Air Crash

Sunday July 13, 1963, was one of those delightfully warm Yukon summer evenings. That would all change at 8.10 p.m.

The RCMP Beaver aircraft CF-MPO with four Mounties on board had left Whitehorse bound for Mayo to pick up a prisoner. Fifty-six-year-old Phillip Desormeaux was being brought back to Whitehorse after appearing as a witness in a court case in Mayo.

The Beaver was a reliable workhorse, and Sergeant Morley Laughland a skilled pilot. On board that fateful day, with the pilot and prisoner, were Corporal Robert Asbil, Constable William Annand and Constable Laurence Malcolm.

Bob Asbil, who joined the force in 1956, was making a name for himself in the Yukon as a top-notch criminal investigator. He cracked the puzzling case of the missing French student, Henri Meriguet, though the suspect was never brought to trial and eventfully hanged himself.

In '63, he was to travel to Ottawa to compete against other RCMP sharpshooters in the annual revolver competition for the Connaught Trophy.

William Annand had joined the Mounties in 1955 and, over the years, had made a name for himself as an outstanding athlete. Arriving in Whitehorse in March, he was looking forward to the coming hockey season, having heard that the Whitehorse Senior league featured a pretty fast-paced game. Proctor Malcolm joined the Mounties in 1954 and had only been in the Yukon since April, so this trip to Mayo was part of the familization for newcomers to the detachment.

On the return flight from Mayo, the weather was clear and the wind calm as the Beaver made its approach for a landing in Carmacks. According to witnesses, the aircraft was making a second circle of the river near the Carmacks bridge.

Then, Fred Stretch, a forest ranger, saw the plane strike the riverbank just below the Mayo road. A territorial government employee, Norm Woodcock, said he too heard the aircraft as it made a second approach, and then heard a loud crash.

He ran outside his house and saw smoke coming from behind the territorial garage. By the time he reached the scene, the demolished aircraft was engulfed in flames.

Four Mounties and the prisoner had died on impact.

The inquest that followed the tragic event found no evidence of an aircraft malfunction that would cause the crash.

Residents at Carmacks told the inquest that unusual wind patterns often occur in the Carmacks basin near the Yukon River, even when it appears to be calm.

In bringing back its findings, a jury of six men from Whitehorse, including well known local pilot Lloyd Romfo, recommended that the Department of Transport install a windsock in Carmacks, giving credence to the theory that a sudden unexpected gust of wind threw the Beaver aircraft into the riverbank only a short distance from a final touchdown.

At the time, the loss of four members in a single incident was the biggest tragedy to occur in the Mounted Police in the century.

A funeral service for Sergeant Laughland was held in Whitehorse, while the bodies of Sergeant Asbil and Corporal's Annand and Malcolm were flown to their home towns outside the territory.

In November of 1963, more than 150 Whitehorse residents joined with members of the Mounted Police and the armed forces in -25°F weather to dedicate a plaque to the four members, a memorial which stands at the base of the flag pole in front of the main detachment.

A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin


The First Train in the Yukon, June 7, 1900.

First Train in the Yukon

On June 7, 1900, the first train arrived in Whitehorse. This photograph was taken by E.J. Hamacher who established a photo studio and sold photographic supplies. He died in 1937. In the 1940's, Rolf Hougen acquired over 1100 of Hamacher's glass plates from Horace Moore, editor of the Whitehorse Star. Margaret and Rolf donated these photo plates to the Yukon Archives in 2002.

On the Hougen Santa Train, 1963.

Hougen Santa Train

A White Pass rail car crowded with children on a trip from McRae to the train depot. Santa, accompanied by Clown Klaus Hoenish walked through the 10 car train giving out bags of candy.


Largest raft ever to go through Miles Canyon.

Largest Raft travels though Miles Canyon

Flashback: This Hamacher photo captures the largest raft ever to go through Miles Canyon. Al Larose is the pilot. Length of raft 132 feet.

The Whitehorse Star Reports in 1963

January 7, 1963 Father Mouchet is awarded the Golden Hammer by the scientific magazine Mechanix Illustrated. The award winning project is the kayak Northwind, used by Mouchet to visit Indian tribes along the Porcupine River.
January 17, 1963 Former Commissioner F.H. Collins speaks on January 11, 1963 at the opening of the new Whitehorse school named after him. Commissioner Cameron officially cuts the ribbon.
January 21, 1963
 → February 11, 1963
On January 17, 1963, Judge Parker declares the election of city alderman Shortt void because Shortt held a contract with the city as the time of his nomination. Ken Shortt is returned by acclamation to his council seat, after the end of his contract.
January 24, 1963 Commissioner G.R. Cameron officiates on January 25, 1963 the opening of the Porter Creek Elementary School by cutting the ribbon.
January 28, 1963
 → February 11, 1963
"Seven Old Crow skiers , with their instructor Father Mouchet, prepare for the Olympics. On February 11, 1963, Ben Charlie and Martha Benjamin, the two top skiers from Old Crow fly to Ottawa to participate in major international ski competitions. Martha Benjamin of Old Crow, mother of 5 children, wins the Senior Canadian Cross Country Ski Championship.
January 31, 1963 Effective February 1, 1963, Indians in the Yukon have equal drinking rights with white people. The new ruling is made possible by an order-in-council from the cabinet at Ottawa, at the urging of Erik Nielsen.
February 11, 1963 Yukon statistics reveal that in 1962 there were 7 times as many births as deaths. Births totalled 578 ; there were 83 deaths.
February 14, 1963 Parents in the territory are asked to bring their children to the Whitehorse General Hospital to check their teeth for the nuclear material Strontium 90. A recent report from Alaska had suggested there was an increase in the percentage of Strontium 90 found in the carcasses of game. This was related in the report to atmospheric nuclear testing.
February 14, 1963 Clyde Wann, after 38 absence, is back mining on the Keno Hill.
February 21, 1963 Vic Wylie is elected on February 19, 1963 leader of the Yukon Liberal party.
February 21, 1963 Socony-Mobil Oil of Canada Ltd. announces February 19, 1963 it has entered into an exploration agreement with Western Minerals Ltd. On a 4.3 million acre area in the Eagle Plains in the northern Yukon.
February 21, 1963 The Yukon Historical Society unveils January 8, 1963 plans for a new museum for Whitehorse. The need for a new museum results from the shortage of space and the present fire hazard in the old building.
February 25, 1963 Erik Nielsen is elected February 24, 1963 leader of the Yukon Progressive Conservative Party.
February 28, 1963 A new dial phone system goes into operation February 27, 1963 in Teslin.
March 26, 1963 Ralph Flores, 41, and Helen Klaben, 21, are rescued 49 days after their plane crashed on February 4, 1963 southeast of Watson Lake.
April 11, 1963 Erik Nielsen is reelected Member of Parliament for his fourth term, with a near 700-vote edge over his nearest opponent. He defeats Vic Wylie, Liberal and Ray Wilson, Social Credit.
May 2, 1963
 → August 8, 1963
The territorial council announces April 29, 1963, that the St. Anne Hospital in Dawson will close during summer 1963. However, on request of the territorial government closure is delayed until the end of August (August 8, 1963).
June 3, 1963 Whitehorse city council approves a bylaw giving green light to installation of natural gas lines under city streets and alleys. The right was granted Yukon Gas Limited. (see also October 12, 1961)
June 3, 1963 A new store, the Yukon River Trading Post, opens in Carmacks. Owners are Clarence and Bev McKay.
June 3, 1963 B.C.'s provincial cabinet stops the Yukon Railway project by rescinding the railway's special borrowing powers, its proposed right-of-way, and its authority to use crown land for the right-of way.
June 24, 1963 Miss Canada of 1962, 19 year old Nina Holden of Victoria, is married in Whitehorse on June 19, 1963.
June 24, 1963 Soapy Smith's Old Parlour is moved to a new location in Skagway to be rebuilt.
June 24, 1963 Erik Nielsen suggests in the House of Commons a special income tax exemption for the north.
July 8, 1963 Brigadier G.H. Spencer will be appointed Commander and Chief Engineer of the Northwest Highway System on August 15, 1963. He succeeds Brig. Webb as Commander.
July 15, 1963 The long awaited agreement covering the sale of Lot 19 is signed by the City of Whitehorse and White Pass & Yukon Route. The agreement opens squatters to purchase building sites in the area.
July 22, 1963 A sun eclipse over Whitehorse on July 20, 1963: low clouds and fine drizzle lower the visibility.
July 29, 1963 Joe Warner becomes the new manager of Burns.
August 1, 1963 An order by the Canadian Army prohibiting the sale of Whitehorse Dairies products in Camp Takhini is lifted. The dairy products did not meet the acceptable standard required by the Department of National Defence.
August 12, 1963 The S.S. Keno paddlewheeler at Dawson City is reopened to the public. (see also August 28, 1960)
August 12, 1963 Seaforth Creek Bridge at Mile 849 on the Alaska Highway is opened August 9, 1963.
August 22, 1963
 → August 26, 1963
The Hector-Calumet mine of United Keno Hill Mines Ltd. collapses August 21, 1963. One missing miner is rescued 3 days later, August 24, 1963.
August 26, 1963 Northern Affairs Minister J. Arthur Laing visits the Yukon.
August 29, 1963 Police Magistrate A.C.L. Adams retires and leaves the Yukon September 1, 1963. (see also October 3, 1966) WM Trainor is appointed Yukon Magistrate.
September 5, 1963 Northern Affairs Minister J. Arthur Laing announces that from this day forward, the road known as the Chapman Lake - Aklavik Road would be known now as the Dempster Highway.
September 23, 1963 Whitehorse city council studies the downtown parking situation following Hougen's Ltd. suggestion that some no-parking zones along Main street could be used for parking during certain periods in the day.
September 30, 1963 Prior to his move, former mayor Gordon Armstrong, first mayor of Whitehorse when the city was incorporated in 1950, is honoured during a civic banquet.
October 24, 1963 The Haines Cut-Off Road connecting Haines with Haines Junction is kept open during the winter 1963/1964 for a year's trial basis.
October 24, 1963 Ann Sindon Clarke becomes the bride of Leslie Lorne McLaughlin September 14, 1963.
October 28, 1963 It is announced that the army withdraws from the Canadian portion of the Alaska Highway. The Highway will be taken over by the Department of Public Works. (see also April 2, 1964)
November 25, 1963 Whitehorse city council announces its plans to establish a Centennial Committee to consider ideas and projects which might be done in the city for 1967.
December 9, 1963
 → December 16, 1963
Municipal elections to elect a mayor and aldermen are held in Whitehorse on December 12, 1963. Mayor Ed Jacobs is re-elected mayor of Whitehorse defeating Norm Chamberlist and Ken Shortt. Brian Daniels and Jan Montgomery are elected as aldermen and Paul Lucier and George Smith continued for second year of a two year term.
December 12, 1963 Canada reaches an agreement with the state of Alaska to pay $127,000 for American crews to keep open the Haines Cutoff.

Other News From 1963

  • Ron Davis is manager of Northern Commercial Store.
  • Following the success of his first LP "Yukon Gold", Al Oster releases "Yukon Ballads" featuring history and legends of the North.
  • With the keen interest in the large iron ore discovery north of Mayo, Dr. Aro Aho creates the concept of the Northern Development Conference in Whitehorse. Guest speakers included Nobuhiko Ushiba, the Japanese Ambassador to Canada, V.P. Wadsworth of CIBC, and Al Pike of United Keno Mines.
  • Ted Colyer, a grade ten student at F.H. Collins, wins the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Poster Contest.
  • President of Porter Creek Association Stan McCowan speaks at the opening of the four room school in Porter Creek.
  • Bea McLeod succeeds husband George as President of the Yukon Fish and Game Association.
  • Socony-Mobile enters into an exploration agreement to work in the Eagle Plains area.
  • The first Polio Oral Sabin Vaccine Program is successfully implemented with 40% of Yukoners taking it.
  • In February, Gwen Carswell is crowned Sourdough Rendezvous Queen.
  • Dave Porter is named Whitehorse Board of Trade President with Dr. Bill Buchan as 1st VP and Bob Cousins Sr. as 2nd VP.
  • NVK Wylie is appointed Crown Prosecutor succeeding Ralph Hudson.
  • Yukon's first annual Drama Festival is chaired by Bonnie Garvis and ends with honours shared by Whitehorse and Fairbanks.
  • Four RCMP Officers are killed when their plane crashes in Carmacks. On board are Pilot K.M. Laughland, Cpl. Asbil, Cst. Malcolm, Cst. Annand.
  • Northern Affairs Minister Arthur Laing visits the Yukon by way of the coast to Skagway and then by the White Pass and Yukon Route train to Whitehorse¬∑ Carcross oldtimers, Patsy Henderson and his wife greet Arthur Laing when he visits Carcoss.
  • Glenn Harris, who was head of Dawson and Hall Contracting, leaves for Vancouver.
  • Yukon Territorial Council asks Ottawa for the creation of a new position in Yukon---that of Senior Legal Advisor---so legislation could be drafted in the Yukon. C.P. (Perry) Hughes is appointed Legal Advisor.
  • Jim Cameron is elected Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Chairman---succeeding Rolf Hougen.
  • The Hougen Santa Train takes hundreds of youngsters to McRae and returns with Santa.
  • 86 year old Harry Leamon dies. In 1962, he had unveiled the cairn at the Discovery Site on Bonanza Creek. He came to the Yukon from England in 1897.
  • Marg and Rolf Hougen's 5th child Greta is born.
  • Under the leadership of Rolf Hougen, the Yukon Research and Development was formed. In the absents of any economic development department in the Yukon Government, the institutes first function will be "to promote the economic development of the Yukon and to predict the likely economic and political development ahead, enabling us to set goals".