Hougen Group


Eskimo schooners from Banks Island and Mackenzie Delta at Pauline Cove, Herschel Island, Yukon. One of early whalers' warehouses in distance. 1930. Yukon Archives. Finnie Family fonds, #390.


Old buildings at Herschel Island, Arctic Coast, Y.T., 1930. Yukon Archives. Finnie Family fonds, #392. (Photo cropped).


Mission House - Herschel Island - 1925 - [Rev. Arthur Creighton McCullum's] first mission. Yukon Archives. Rev. Arthur Creighton McCullum fonds, #3.

Herschel Island

Herschel Island was named, in 1826, by the British Arctic explorer, Sir John Franklin, after the famous English astronomer William Herschel, who studied the planets and the stars in the 17th century. He was the first to spot the far-off gas giant Uranus, which had been predicted to exist, but had not been seen until Herschel pointed his telescope in the right direction. The island was the only safe haven for ships operating between Point Barrow, Alaska and the Mackenzie delta. As the riches of the Beaufort Sea became known, whalers arrived in droves from the United States.

The crew of the US navy ship, the Thetis, surveyed the island in 1899 and named many of its features. The same year, the first of many whaling ships over-wintered here. The island was almost unknown to Canadian authorities, and its population of Inuit was subjected to untold debauchery by the American whalers.

As many as 100 ships were anchored at Herschel Island at one time. In 1896, the Canadian Church Missionary Society found out about the awful conditions faced by the native people. Isaac Stringer, later to become Bishop of the Yukon, was sent to the island to build a mission.

Stringer insisted that Ottawa do something to help, but it wasn't until 1903 that a NWMP detachment was set up. By that time, the whalers had pretty much depleted the stocks and moved out. The island continued to be a trading centre and, in 1925, a post office was established.

As trade decreased, the population dwindled and in 1938, the post office was closed. By 1968, no permanent residents were left, but it remained a favourite summertime visiting and whaling ground for the native people of the Mackenzie delta.

A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin


Mining and prospecting have always been a gamble. When the gamble pays off, good things happen. Still, in the mining business, nothing lasts forever.

Since the 1880's, small amounts of gold had been taken from the creeks and sandbars along the Pelly River, but most were pretty small operations. However, the area is rich in minerals.

In 1953, prospector Al Kulan and seven Kaska prospectors staked the claim that would eventually become the Faro mine. The discovery had been first made by a prospector named Jack Sterriah while hunting in the VanGorder Creek area several years earlier.

In 1960, Kulan and Dr. Aaro Aho formed Dynasty Explorations to work the claims. It didn’t take long to realize they had hit upon a world-class deposit of lead-zinc.

By 1965, one hundred men were working in the area. Dynasty joined with Cypress Mining of California to form the Cyprus Anvil Mining Corporation. The mine officially opened in 1969 and, by the mid 1970's, it was largest lead-zinc mine in Canada .

Construction of the town of Faro, named for the card game, started in 1968. By 1969, with a number of houses built, disaster struck. On Friday, June 13th, a forest fire swept through the newly built town destroying most of the homes.

Cyprus Anvil cleaned up the mess and rebuilt the town. In 1979, the population of Faro was about 800 people, but grew over the years as the mine expanded, until 1981, when nearly two thousand people called Faro home.

But mining is a tenuous business. With ever-changing world metal prices, the population fluctuated. Then in 1984, Cyprus Anvil shutdown, and by 1985, there were only ninety-seven people living in Faro.

In 1986, Curragh Resources was formed and resumed mining operations until the mid-1990s. Due to low world metal prices and the Westray mine disaster, however, Curragh was forced to declare bankruptcy.

The mine again closed, and reopened under the name Anvil Range Mining, operating until 1997. Today the mine is closed permanently and reclamation of the mine site is in progress. The town of Faro has about four hundred people who love the land and the lifestyle in a Yukon region that has much to offer, and the future looks bright.

A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin


The Store, 1968 "a new 30,000 sq. ft. added".

Hougen’s Department Store

The new Hougen's Department Store now totalled 40,000 sq. ft. on three levels. Contractor was General Enterprises of Whitehorse. The celebration which marked 24 years of service was held in conjunction with the grand opening.

Win a Trip to Mexico!, 1968.

Hougen’s Grand Opening

On March 29, Hougen's celebrated the Grand Opening with a Mexican fiesta atmosphere featuring a Mexican band, a draw for two to have a one week vacation in Mexico, 500 prizes, etc. This event marks the opening of another 30,000 sq. ft. added to the 10,000 sq. ft. built in 1959. The Dennison & Metcalfe Homes were demolished. The old "bowling alley" building next door was sold to the Taku Hotel for their expansion plans.

Hougen Family at Mile "0", 1968.

Hougen Family at Mile 0

With a station wagon loaded with supplies, the six Hougen children and Marg and Rolf took off down the Alaska Highway. A stop at Liard Hot Springs; a stay visiting Marg's family in Edmonton; through the Rockies and then a visit with the Dr. Des Morrow's family and Dr. Doug Yates' family in the Okanogan; Vancouver; and finally a drive up the Hart Highway and home. The trip took about one month.

Robert Stanfield, 1968.

Robert Stanfield (P.C.

Robert Stanfield (P.C. Party) defeated John Diefenbaker as Leader of the Opposition in 1967. Seen here, left to right, Virginia Pugh, Margreta Gaundreau, Erik Nielsen, M.P., Jean Jamieson, at the airport to welcome Mr. Stanfield, centre.

Goose Hunt, 1968.

Nisutlan Bay

Nisutlan Bay is a popular goose shooting area where the Nisutlan River enters Teslin Lake. This picture shows Rolf Hougen and Fred Stretch following a successful hunt.

The Whitehorse Star Reports in 1968

January 6, 1968 It is announced that the Canadian Forces base at Whitehorse will be officially closed on July 1, 1968. The Whitehorse Star issues a special edition on January 8, 1968.
January 13, 1968 After renovation, the log skyscraper is being used again. The property was purchased by Paul White and Earl Bennett and one-room appartments with modern conveniences have been installed.
January 18, 1968 The election of Bert Wybrew as Mayor of Whitehorse are declared void by Mr. Justice John Parker. It was proven that at least two voters were not eligible to cast their ballots (see also December 1967).
January 20, 1968 Goldrush pioneer Charles Herbert Hamilton, passes away in Calgary at the age of 95.
February 1, 1968 John Allan MacDonald is appointed Deputy Minister of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
March 4, 1968 Gorden A. McIntyre is appointed to the newly created position of Regional Director of Resources for the Yukon Territory. He was born in Dawson City in 1910.
March 7, 1968 The first annual Polar Games are held in Whitehorse with 200 hundred high school students from Alaska, NWT, Northern BC and the Yukon participating.
March 7, 1968 Commissioner James Smith announces that Walter Troberg is named Administrator for Dawson City. The municipal election at Dawson City were declared void by Mr. Justice John Parker in December 1967.
March 11, 1968 Commissioner James Smith and owner Bill Sheffield of Alaska cut the ribbon to open the new Travelodge Hotel in Whitehorse.
March 18, 1968 Bert Wybrew takes the oath of office as Mayor of Whitehorse on March 15, 1968. He won the municipal by-elections held on March 14, 1968.
March 28, 1968 The Whitehorse Star issues a special edition on the occasion of Hougen's grand re-opening on March 29, 1968.
April 11, 1968 Retiring Mayor Howard Firth is honoured at the city council. He is the only man in the world who has been mayor of both Dawson City and Whitehorse.
April 25, 1968 The first 70 miles of the original Canol Road (Yukon Highway Number 8) are to be re-opened. Approval by Ottawa is however still pending.
April 25, 1968 At request from Ottawa, the Engineering Department of the Yukon Territory appoints number to the Yukon Highways.
May 6, 1968 Erik Nielsen is nominated as the Yukon Progressive Conservative Party's official candidate on May 4, 1968.
May 9, 1968 The old Whitepass Engine No. 51 is moved to a place beside the old MacBride Museum on First Avenue.
May 16, 1968 Approximately 230 visiting Lions attend a three day convention in Whitehorse.
May 16, 1968 Prime Minister Trudeau arrives for a visit in Whitehorse on May 11, 1968.
May 30, 1968 The 77 foot river boat "Hootalinqua" is transported on wheels through Whitehorse, on its way to Carcross. The sternwheeler is the last of its kind. Built in 1946, the Hootalinqua hauled freight up the river, after which she was named.
June 10, 1968 The Ministers of Northern Development and Industry, Arthur Laing and C.M. Drury, issue a bulletin June 7, 1968 according to which all surplus housing units at the Hillcrest subdivision above the Whitehorse airport are to be sold.
June 13, 1968 White Pass & Yukon Route announce the construction of a second 6000-ton container ship for the Vancouver Skagway service. It is named the M.V. Frank H. Brown.
June 20, 1968
 → October 28, 1968
Mayor Bert Wybrew announces that he would seek approval from Whitehorse City Council for a plebiscite on the parking meter system. Whitehorse City Council decides on October 28, 1968 not to hold a plebiscite.
July 11, 1968
 → July 18, 1968
 → August 26, 1968
 → August 29, 1968
Erik Nielsen is elected Member of Parliament, defeating Chris Findlay in a close race. The Progressive Conservative won with 63-vote majority. Shortly after (July 18), The Liberal party contests the results and asks for a recount. On August 26, 1968, Erik Nielsen is sworn in Ottawa as the Yukon's Member of Parliament. The Liberal Party announces to proceed to file a petition to controvert the election results. The petition filed on August 29, 1968 cites 99 persons as improperly casting their votes.
July 22, 1968 Prime Minister Trudeau is on his second visit to the Yukon during the summer 1968.
July 25, 1968 An aerial survey for a railroad to move Yukon's mineral resources to the continental market is announced by the Department of Northern Development.
July 29, 1968 Construction starts of a new Toronto-Dominion building at the corner of Second and Main.
August 1, 1968 Jean Chretien is appointed Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development in the newly elected Trudeau government.
August 8, 1968
 → August 12, 1968
Arctic Gold & Silver Mines Ltd., located eight miles from Carcross, is officially opened August 10, 1968. Jean Chretien, on his visit to the Yukon, participates in the official opening of the Arctic Gold & Silver Mines Ltd.
September 5, 1968 Earl K. McArthur, former manager of the Transport Division for Cassiar Asbestos Corporation and United Keno Hill Mines, leaves the Yukon for a new job in Quebec city.
September 9, 1968 The historic Bank of Montreal closes its doors in Dawson on September 30, 1968 after 70 years of service. Reason is the declining population.
September 12, 1968 WHTV announces a second black and white television channel on the cable system. The $15 rate remains the same. The CBC Frontier package is also added bringing the total channels available to cable subscribers to three.
September 19, 1968 J.O. Hutton's announces his resignation as city manager. City council is not sure whether or not to continue this position.
September 30, 1968 Dr. William Carr and Associates complete an economic study for the Yukon Government that forecasts a Yukon population of 57,000 people by 1985.
October 3, 1968 The German president Dr. Eugene Gerstenmaier arrives October 4, 1968 for an official visit to the Yukon.
October 17, 1968 The Porter Creek School is named for Jack Hulland, the former school superintendent, who served in that capacity from 1938 to 1955. He saw the school system grow from 200 students in six schools to 1414 pupils in 15 schools.
October 21, 1968 Jean Chretien is in the Yukon again, this time to consult with local Indians. Among them Chief Charlie Abel of Old Crow and Chief Frank Sidney of Teslin. There will be sixteen Indian delegates to discuss changes to the Indian Act. Elijah Smith is elected to represent them at future meetings in Ottawa.
October 24, 1968 Yukon Indians agree to form a new Native Brotherhood. Elijah Smith is the first president. The Brotherhood's goal is to work for equal rights for status and non-status Indians, payment for Indian land, and the teaching of the Indian language and culture.
November 12, 1968 CBC's Northern Service celebrates its 10th anniversary.
November 18, 1968 George and Angela Sidney celebrate their (delayed) 50th wedding anniversary.
November 18, 1968 A feasibility report gives green light for the Venus Mine.
December 16, 1968 B.C. Premier Bennett releases the brief his government will present at the federal-provincial constitutional conference. In the proposal B.C. would annex the Yukon and parts of the N.W.T.
December 30, 1968 CRTC approves Rolf Hougen's application for a commercial radio station.

Other News From 1968

  • Newly elected Aldermen Jean Banks and Leo VanVugt are sworn in. Bert Wybrew won the Mayoralty race defeating contenders Duke Collins and R.B. Cousins Wybrew replaced retiring Mayor Howard Firth but the election is challenged. Judge Parker will rule on the validity of the election. Jim Light is appointed as an Alderman to fill the vacancy created when Duke Collins resigned to run for Mayor. In mid-March, Bert Wybrew is sworn in as Mayor following a new election.
  • Ken McKinnon is named President of the newly formed Arctic Winter Games Society. The first games will be held in Yellowknife in 1970.
  • The Yukon Flag, designed by Lynn Lambert of Destruction Bay as a Centennial project in 1967, is officially adopted by the Yukon Territorial Council.
  • John Frame is consecrated a new Anglican Bishop of the Anglican Church.
  • A ten thousand horsepower addition to the Whitehorse Power Plant is announced. The plan will bring the total capacity to 25,000 horsepower. The increase is needed to supply power to the newly opened Anvil Mine near Faro.
  • The newly completed Lynn Office Building on Steele Street is leased to the Yukon Territorial Government.
  • The Army, Air force and Navy are no more. Integration of the three services results in the creation of a single Canadian Armed force.
  • Rolf Klug is elected President of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce succeeding Arnie Phillipsen.
  • Sixteen teams are entered in the Yukon Sourdough Dog Races. Wilfred Charlie of Carmacks is the winner with the fastest time over three days. Stephen Frost of Old Crow had the fastest time one day time and is second overall.
  • Parking meters are installed on Main Street.
  • Shirley Firth of Inuvik wins the U.S. Junior Cross Country Ski Championship.
  • Pierre Elliott Trudeau is elected Leader of the Liberal Party defeating Robert Winters and Paul Martin Sr.
  • On April 11, Rolf Hougen engages a broadcast engineering firm from Vancouver to advise on the establishment of a commercial radio station in Whitehorse.
  • Prime Minister Trudeau calls a federal election for Tuesday, June 25.
  • Three candidates Chris Findlay, Liberal, Erik Nielsen, Progressive Conservative and Rover McLaren, N.D.P. are named to run in the coming federal election.
  • Yukon Magistrate, William Trainor is leaving the Yukon after five years.
  • After serving ten years in the Yukon, Judge John Parker is named Chairman of B.C. Mediation Commission.
  • Mike Stoner, General Manager of United Keno Mines in Elsa, leaves the Yukon after five years.
  • Senator Robert Kennedy is assassinated in Los Angeles. He had climbed Mount Kennedy in the Yukon two years ago.
  • Jean Chretien is named Minister of Northern Development in the newly elected Trudeau government.
  • After forty-eight years in the Yukon Geoff Bidlake, along with his wife Mary, a long time staff member of Hougen's, are retiring to Victoria.
  • Mayor Bert Wybrew debated Mayor Vince Danzer of Edmonton over the Klondike Days controversy. The hour-long debate was shown on WHTV.
  • Father Andre Renaud is guest speaker at the annual Teacher's Convention.
  • 140 passengers went on the Legion charter trip to England via Pacific Western Airlines.
  • John Varcoe is sworn in as the new Yukon Magistrate succeeding William Trainor.
  • Ken Shortt has sold the Yukon Daily News to Dave Robertson. Don Sawatsky has been named editor.
  • Fire destroys the Kootenay Hotel in Atlin.
  • Canadian Pacific Airlines introduces 737-jet service to Whitehorse.
  • The Hougen Santa train once again takes hundreds of children to McRae and back to meet Santa.
  • 19th Alaska Science Conference held in Whitehorse August 26-28. The local committee consists of Bob Campbell, Bob Choate, Rolf Hougen, Allen Innes-Taylor, John Parker, Herb Wahl and Paul White.
  • The Minister of National Defence announces closure of the Yukon regiment.
  • Rolf Hougen is elected to the board of directors of Yukon Electrical Company Limited and Yukon Hydro Limited.