Forest fires are nature's way of clearing old growth, which allows organic matter to decompose rapidly into minerals which - in turn - supply fuel for speedy plant growth.
Some trees cannot survive without forest fires. Lodgepole and jack pines, seeds germinate after they have been exposed to fire. Both have resin-sealed cones that stay on the trees for many years.
The heat of a fire melts the resin and the cones pop open. Thousands of seeds scatter onto the ground and some grow into sturdy stands of pine. Aspen vigorously sprouts from underground roots after a fire - good news for moose and elk that feed on the new growth.
Many plants and animals are adapted to fires and the conditions they create. After a fire, birds such as the woodpecker may actually increase their population many times over as they feast on bark beetles and other insects that colonize the newly burned trees.
Predators like the lynx benefit from fires that maintain the forest mosaic. They use mature conifers for cover and hunt in recently burned areas that support large populations of its favourite prey - the snowshoe hare.
Parks Canada says that forest fires seldom trap large mammals, although they do kill some small animals and birds. However, over the long term, most species benefit from the habitats created by fire.
The type of fire and how quickly the vegetation comes back determines how fast the animals come back.
Many areas regenerate quickly as grasses sprout within two or three weeks after a fire, to the delight of Yukon gophers.
Then, there is a rapid re-colonization by small mammals like snowshoe hares and birds such as the sharp-tailed grouse. These are quickly followed by predators like foxes, marten, and owls.
Yukon forest fires also trigger a type of fungus to burst into full bloom, thus producing a bumper crop of highly-prized mushrooms. Precious, expensive morel mushrooms make their mysterious debut.
Dried morels can sell for more than $100 dollars per pound, and mushroom pickers can be seen at the road sides searching for these treasured fungi.
Mycologists, scientists who spend their careers studying mushrooms, are not sure why morels are produced in such abundance after forest fires. It could be that the rich nutrients released by forest fires somehow trigger the crops.
Still, at the peak of the season, high quality morel mushrooms are flown out of the Yukon. Thus forest fires help ensure that a tasty bit of the Yukon ends up on dinner plates in expensive restaurants around the world.
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin
40 years ago, if you wanted to hear private radio in the Yukon you had to tune in radio stations from big cities in Southern Canada or the U.S. That usually took an expensive receiver, a copper wire antenna and some luck on a crisp cold night. But all that changed on November 17, 1969 when radio station CKRW hit the Yukon airwaves. Imagine that:40 years ago.
In December of 1968, Klondike Broadcasting was awarded a broadcast license beating out a bid by another local group headed by Vic Wylie. That spring in 1969, Rolf Hougen, president of Klondike Broadcasting, announced that “Comfall” the most northerly private radio station would be serving the public. He also described plans for a new building on Main Street to accommodate the state-of-the-art radio operation. Al Jensen would be the station’s first manager. For forty years, CKRW radio has reported on, participated in and added to Yukon culture. By keeping favourite features since the station’s beginning and adding hits of yesterday, today and tomorrow, online contests and cutting edge features, CKRW has always combined a modern flare with small-town charme. Through both the on-air programming and the website, CKRW continues to sponsor many local events, from music festivals to the longest sled-dog in the world, in keeping with the slogan “Your community radio station”.
Through the years there have been changes. On May 10, 2004, Klondike Broadcasting added an FM transmitter at Whitehorse to provide an FM stereo service to the city and surrounding area while continuing to provide service on the AM band to residents who weren’t able to receive the new FM signal. CKRW officially launched “The Rush 96.1 FM” on September 14, 2004. Today CKRW transmits to listeners in Watson Lake, Teslin, Haines Junction, Faro, Mayo, Carmacks and Dawson City and reaches outside the Yukon boundaries with transmitters in Atlin, British Columbia and Inuvik, Northwest Territories.
So, a big happy birthday RW and may you celebrate many more in the years to come.
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin
Ford was first introduced in the Yukon by W.A. Puckett, a hardware dealer, in 1927. Volney Richmond of Northern Commercial acquired it in 1936 and continued to operate it until 1969.
On Nov. 17, 1969, CKRW Radio went on the air. In 1968, Rolf Hougen and a group of Whitehorse residents applied to the CRTC for a commercial AM radio license. It was granted in December, 1968 but only after another group led by Vic Wylie applied as well. At one session of the hearing, Vic remarked "We don't think the license should be granted to Mr. Hougen as he already controls the media in Whitehorse, the cable company and the Whitehorse Star Newspaper."
After the hearing, over a glass of wine, Rolf said to Vic, "Why did you make that statement? I have no ownership in the Star." He said, "I always thought you did." Anyway, they lost and the Hougen group won.
|January 16, 1969||A Yukon landmark, the Dawson Wholesale, burns down.|
|February 6, 1969||Al Raine, former manager of the Royal Bank in Elsa, announces engagement to famed Canadian down hill skier, Nancy Greene. Al started skiing at the Calument Club under the tutelage of August Pociwauschek. He then went to Austria for two years and became chief coach of the Canada’s national ski team. Haakon Arntzen won the Gordon Taylor ski trophy with Inuvik skiers, Paul Andrew and Ernie Lennie, among the top contenders. Three Old Crow competitors, Shirley Frost, Neta Benjamin and Glenna Frost swept the women's event.|
|February 17, 1969||Johnnie Smith is elected Chief on the Whitehorse Indian Band. He is the son of former Chief, Billy Smith.|
|February 17, 1969||Helen Horback is elected head of this Yukon Historical Society.|
|March 3, 1969||Jean Chretien, the federal Minister of Indian Affairs, attends the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous. Pat Daws is elected Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Queen.|
|March 6, 1969||The end of an era. The RCMP in Old Crow set out with two tog teams on patrol for the last time. Snow machines will replace the dogs.|
|March 10, 1969||Harry C.B. Maddison is appointed Judge of the Yukon succeeding John Parker. Maddison is sworn in March 12, 1969.|
|March 13, 1969||The second annual Polar Games are opened in Whitehorse March 14, 1969.|
|March 20, 1969||Whitehorse City Council agrees on a plebiscite about drinking age to be lowered from 21 to 19.|
|March 31, 1969||Fire destroys Old Crow’s four room school. Kindergarten to grade nine is taught in the school.|
|April 3, 1969||Part of what is believed to be the most complete collection of photographs taken in and around the actual Klondike gold discovery area is now catalogued in Seattle.|
|April 10, 1969||A Northern Conference is held in Whitehorse. Among the guests are former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, Jean Chretien and Gordon Cameron. The Right Honourable John Diefenbaker is guest speaker at the Third Northern Resources Conference in Whitehorse. Jean Chretien, Minister of Northern Development, addresses the 500 delegates at the closing banquet.|
|April 10, 1969||White Pass announces its upgrading and expansion program totals $22 Million.|
|April 10, 1969||The Savoy Hotel and Masonic Lodge at the corner of First Avenue and Lambert Street is torn down. The building was built in 1900.|
|April 21, 1969||P.J. Nielsen, wife of Yukon MP Erik Nielsen, "dies suddenly" in Ottawa. Carbon monoxide poisoning is given as the cause of death and later sources talk of suicide.|
|April 24, 1969
→ June 19, 1969
|Rolf Hougen, president of the Klondike Broadcasting Company Ltd., announces CKRW - a new Whitehorse radio station for fall 1969. It is the most northerly radio station in Canada. Plans are also made for a new building on Main Street to house the operation. Al Jensen is the first manager of the new radio station. (June 19)|
|April 24, 1969||A new bus service is introduced in Whitehorse. Husky Transit is operated by Gagnon and Heine of Porter Creek.|
|April 24, 1969||Hougen's celebrate their 25th anniversary.|
|May 1, 1969
→ May 8, 1969
→ June 19, 1969
|On May 1, 1969, Rolf Hougen and Associates purchase the Whitehorse Motors division of Northern Commercial Company to become the Ford dealer in Whitehorse. Moe Grant, General Manager, and Bob Parent, Parts Manager, will continue with the new company. The dealership is located at Third and Main Street. Albert Friesen is named President of the White Pass and Yukon Corporation. Frank Brown remains as Chairman. A week later, on May 8, 1969, after 42 years in Whitehorse and more than 100 in the north, the Northern Commercial Ltd. announces the closure of its Whitehorse department store as of May 10, 1969. On June 19, 1969, Taylor and Drury Ltd. Announces that the company has an option to purchase the Northern Commercial Company Ltd.|
|May 5, 1969||Albert P. Friesen is elected President of the White Pass & Yukon Corporation Ltd.|
|May 12, 1969||Federal officials study the economics of a 1,000 mile resource railway to tap the mineral and forest wealth of northern B.C. and the Yukon.|
|May 26, 1969||Yukon's first musical festival concludes with a big success.|
|May 29, 1969||330 Whitehorse citizens file a petition asking to develop Fourth Avenue into the city's second major thoroughfare.|
|June 2, 1969||Northern Affairs Minister Jean Chretien announces the construction of an airport in Old Crow in 1974/75.|
|June 5, 1969||Commissioner James Smith announces that low cost housing will terminate in 1969.|
|June 12, 1969||13 roads through the Yukon forests are closed due to record high temperatures and fires.The fire ravages particularly badly through Faro.|
|June 23, 1969||B.C. premier Bennett announces that B.C. won't build a Yukon railway until the Yukon becomes part of B.C.|
|June 23, 1969||Rolf Hougen is appointed to the Board of Directors of The Yukon Electrical Company Ltd. and Yukon Hydro Company Ltd.|
|July 7, 1969||Mount Logan is climbed for the first time from the northeast ridge on June 19, 1969.|
|July 17, 1969||End of an era: Bud Fisher resigns.|
|July 28, 1969||Taylor and Drury’s garage on First Avenue burns to the ground. The company announces plans to rebuild.|
|July 28, 1969||Hougen's announces to open its first store in Faro in fall 1969.|
|August 21, 1969||For the first time in Yukon history, French is taught at the elementary school level.|
|August 28, 1969||Venus Mines has arranged financing to do further work on the mine near Carcross and plans to build a 300 ton per day mill.|
|August 28, 1969||Fabian Salois wins the Dawson city mayorality elections.|
|August 28, 1969||Whitehorse City Council approves the proposal to develop north Whiskey Flats into a public park - Rotary Park.|
|September 2, 1969||Airport Chalet officially opens as Whitehorse's newest hotel accomodation.|
|September 11, 1969||The first load of Anvil concentrates is hauled to Whitehorse, beginning a giant new contract for White Pass and Yukon Route.|
|September 29, 1969||It is announced that Father Mouchet's TEST ski program will be extended.|
|October 6, 1969||Earth tremors shake Carcross on October 3 and October 5, 1969. Locals are convinced that the tremors are caused by the one megaton explosion under Amchitka Island in the Alaskan Aleutians.|
|October 6, 1969||Jean Chretien announces plans to repeal the Indian Act, which would enable Indians to acquire title and control of lands with full and equal participation for the Indian people in cultural, social, economic and political life of Canada.|
|October 16, 1969||Fire destroys the White Pass & Yukon Route shops in Skagway on October 15, 1969.|
|October 16, 1969||A new bridge for Carcross between Lake Bennett and Nares Lake is announced for 1970.|
|October 16, 1969||The new Tourists Services Motor Hotel in Whitehorse is officially opened by Commissioner James Smith on October 15, 1969.|
|October 27, 1969||Canadian National Telecommunications moves its Alaska Highway-Yukon District headquarter from Dawson Creek, B.C. to Whitehorse.|
|November 13, 1969||During his visit in the Yukon, Northern Affairs Minister Jean Chretien presents plaque to Victoria Faulkner and Mrs. Tom Retallack for their generous contribution to the preservation and enrichment of Canada's historical heritage.|
|November 13, 1969||Breathalyzers are for the first time used in the Yukon.|
|November 20, 1969||The House of Commons dedicates an entire day - November 21, 1969 - to debate constitutional reform for the Yukon Territory.|
|November 20, 1969||The new Whitehorse Motors facilities on Fourth Avenue, between Black and Wheeler Streets officially open on November 21, 1969. The Whitehorse Star issues a special edition.|
|December 1, 1969||Mayor A.J. Wybrew is declared elected by acclamation since no other candidates were nominated.|
|December 1, 1969||Northern Affairs Minister Jean Chretien again rejects on November 28, 1969 provincial status for the territories.|
|December 4, 1969||The Delicatessen Center (aka as The Deli) at 203 Hanson opens December 10, 1969.|
|December 11, 1969||Jim Murdoch is appointed the manager for the 1970 Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Festival.|
|December 11, 1969||Watson Lake residents vote on December 8, 1969 against the incorporation of Watson Lake as a village.|
|December 15, 1969||Four Yukoners who have lived the required 20 years in the territory become members of the Yukon Order of Pioneers: Barry O'Neill, Massa Sakata, Al Prince, and John Backe.|
|December 22, 1969||Taylor and Drury Motors become Taylor Chevrolet Oldsmobile Ltd.|
|December 29, 1969||Deaconess Hilda Hellaby celebrates 50 years of service.|
- The Yukon Chamber of Commerce elects Bob Choate President, Don Lamont, First Vice President and Bert Norrie, Second Vice President.
- About two hundred Old Crow residents set out on foot and with dog teams for the Old Crow Flats for muskrat trapping.
- Max Ferguson, of CBC radio’s Rawhide, attends the Rendezvous.
- Wilfred Charlie of Carmacks is Rendezvous dog racing champion. Bill Royds is named Chairman of the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous for 1970.
- The Yukon and NWT, with a joint entry, will enter the Canadian Men’s curling championships, the McDonald Brier, for the first time.
- After four and a half years as General Manager of New Imperial Mines, Ross Kenway has resigned. He is succeeded by Bill Dean.
- WHTV installs cameras in the Yukon Legislature Council Chambers and will carry the sessions live.
- The Alaska Highway is paved from McRae to the Mayo cutoff.
- 5600 visitors attend the Yukon Trade Show at the vocational school.
- The annual RCMP Ball, a black tie affair, is held in the Whitehorse Recreation Centre. Inspector and Mrs. R.S. Wood host.
- Volney Richmond Jr., President of the Seattle-based Northern Commercial Company, announces that the company has sold its Whitehorse store to Hougen's Limited. N.C. has conducted business in Whitehorse for forty-two years and has operated for nearly one hundred years in the Yukon. In 1872, it operated a trading post at Fort Reliance six miles down the Yukon River from Dawson City.
- Oil exploration permits are issued for land near Whitehorse.
- Taylor & Drury purchases the building of the former Northern Commercial Store.
- Jack Hoyt, General Manager of White Pass, retires after forty years with the company.
- Edge King, President of the Alberta and Northwest Chamber of Mines, leads a delegation of ninety people to visit the Yukon.
- White Pass takes delivery of the first of seven diesel locomotives required for the Anvil ore hall that will begin in the fall.
- Bob Choate is transferred to Edmonton to assume a new position as Vice President of Canadian Utilities. He is succeeded at Yukon Electrical by Andy Morin.
- Two astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin land on the moon.
- Arthur Laing, the federal Minister of Public Works, tours the Yukon.
- One hundred Yukon athletes participate in the Canada Games in Halifax.
- Jack London's cabin, originally located at Henderson Creek, is officially opened in Dawson City on Discovery Day. The Mayor of Oakland, California, John Reading, attends. Half of the logs of the original cabin are to be installed in Oakland.
- Dr. Don Branigan, from Manning, Alberta, opens a medical practice in Whitehorse.
- Gordon Bartsch, President of Great Northern Airways, says Yukon could be the main base for the whole Western Arctic.
- W.A.C. Bennett re-elected Premier of B.C.
- Al Wickens is President of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce.
- Bud Harbottle is named Base Manager of Great Northern Airways.
- The Manhattan, Humble Oil's ice breaker tanker, completes her voyage from east to west through the Northwest Passage to Prudhoe Bay.
- Mrs. Marie Ange Cyr cut the ribbon to open the expanded Taylor and Drury Supermarket in the former N.C. Store.
- Richard Rohmer, founder of the Mid-Canada Corridor Concept, leads a group of professional members on a northern tour.
- Jean and Mrs. Chretien visit the Yukon in November.
- Yukon Member of Parliament and lawyer, Erik Nielsen won on appeal the right for Indians to hunt for food at any time. He represented Tom Smith of Haines Junction who had shot a moose out of season.
- CKRW, the first private radio station North of 60, begins broadcasting on November 17, 1969. The staff includes Rolf Hougen, President, Al Jensen, Station Manager, Ron McFadyen, Program Director, along with News Director Ken Williams and announcers Ched Millar and John Ellison.
- Erik Nielsen and Progressive Conservative party leader, Robert Stanfield back the Yukon Territorial Council’s effort to have more responsibilities transferred from Ottawa to the Yukon.
- Judy Gingell is a founding director of the newly formed Yukon Native Brotherhood.
- A federal government White Paper rejects aboriginal title claims and proposes ending of treaties.
- Bert Wybrew is returned for his second two year term as Mayor of Whitehorse by acclamation. Kurt Koken and Jim Light continue to serve their two year term as Aldermen. Two seats are added to council bringing the total from four to six. Candidates are Jean Banks, Jan Montgomery, Jim Howatt, Paul Lucier and Dave Robertson.
- Al Kapty is elected President of the Yukon Liberal Association.