Though I never saw him catch a softball or deliver a curling stone, the Yukon sports scene would not be what it is today had it not been for Cal Miller. While athletes get most of the attention, and rightly so, but without builders like Cal, the sports scene would be a lesser place.
Cal arrived in Whitehorse in 1951. Maybe he was an athlete back then. But in later years, when I got to know him, he was the gregarious owner of the Capital Hotel. Cal held court behind the bar of the famed watering hole, where he'd delight customers with his home-spun philosophy on subjects ranging from the latest mining strike to political shenanigans of the Territorial Government.
His eyes would really light up when the topic turned to sports. In those early days, Yukon recreation teams could count on Cal for support. The Old Crow dog mushers needed financial assistance. Cal could and did help.
When the newly formed Yukon soccer league needed a trophy in the 1960s, Cal and his connections with Carling Brewery made sure the new five-team league played for a classy soccer trophy.
Midget and juvenile hockey teams needed a sponsor? Enter Cal Miller. It seems the first place any sporting association went looking for help was to the Capital Hotel bar.
And so it is no surprise that Cal has a connection with the Canada Winter Games that goes far beyond support of Yukon athletes and their participation in the early years of the games.
He was there as an executive with the Yukon team at the first Canada Winter Games in Quebec city in 1967. What he witnessed dismayed him. The Yukon team was trounced at every turn. Because of the small population base and the general lack of facilities and training, the Yukoners were outnumbered and out-classed. Needless to say, there were no medals that year.
As Cal watched the debacle, he had an idea. The time had come, he said to have northerners compete against each other. From Quebec City, Cal got on the phone to Yukon Commissioner, Jimmy Smith, and asked for his support.. We need our own games where our athletes have a fighting chance to win something, said Cal. Smith agreed. The Commissioner of the NWT, Stuart Hodgson was also representing his Territories at the Games in Quebec City . Hodgson agreed with the assessment of the problems faced by Northern athletes and phoned Alaskan Governor, Walter Hickel with an idea which would see Northerners develop their own set of Games.
The Arctic Winter Games were born. In 1970, the first northern winter games were held in Yellowknife . Since then, the Arctic games have grown in stature and support. They have created a base from which northern athletic associations can draw players to take part in national events like the Canada Winter Games. The games gave northern athletes a pride of place. Cal Miller once said that the Arctic Winter Games were the best idea since the invention of 7-up - high praise from a man who holds a rightful place in the Yukon Sports Hall of Fame and who would be proud of the Yukon contingent taking part in the 2007 Canada Winter Games in Whitehorse.
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin
Top Photo: The Whitehorse Copper Mine Pit
Bottom Photo: Rolf and Marg with Mr. & Mrs. Skillman, V.P. Ford Canada
|January 22, 1970||Gordon Irwin Cameron retires from the Yukon Territorial Public Service after 45 years of government service.|
|January 26, 1970||The Yukon Court decides that parking meters are illegal.|
|January 29, 1970||The Anvil mine officially opens with a ceremony on TV. Federal cabinet ministers Jean Chretien and Arthur Laing, Yukon Commissioner James Smith, A.P. Friesen, President of White Pass, Robert Sabini, President of Cyprus Mines are in attendance.The Whitehorse Star issues a special edition.|
|February 12, 1970||Yukon Commissioner James Smith calls for the establishement of a new economic union in the Canadian north-west consisting of northern British Columbia, northern Alberta, the Yukon and part of the Northwest Territories to facilitate the development of the area.|
|February 19, 1970||The federal Department of Public Works conducts a survey of facilities at Yukon's Herschel Island with a view to using the northern port as an oil transfer depot.|
|February 19, 1970||The Yukon outlaws speed pills.|
|February 23, 1970||The old Regina Hotel is torn down. The new Regina Motel has been built next door on First Avenue.|
|March 9, 1970||Hudson-Yukon Mining Company Ltd. Owned by Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Co. Ltd. plans to open a copper-nickel producing mine for sale to Sumitomo Metal Mining Company Ltd. of Tokyo.|
|March 16, 1970||Yukoners bring home 7 gold medals from the Arctic Winter Games.|
|March 26, 1970||The City Council bans boats from Schwatka Lake as the lake serves as the city's water supply.|
|April 13, 1970||A six-storey high gold dredge, the famous Bear Creek "Gold Room" (aka as Dredge No. 4) will be an element in an exhibit spanning 75 years of Yukon gold mining history to be established in the Bonanza Creek area of the Klondike Gold Rush International Historic Park. The Y.C.G.C. dredge was built in 1911 and operated until 1958.|
|April 23, 1970||The Bay officially opens its new addition to the Bay's department store on Fourth Avenue.|
|April 23, 1970||Whitehorse City Council approves another townhouse project for the Riverdale area.|
|May 14, 1970||As announced by Northern Affairs Minister Jean Chretien, the Yukon Council gets its first two cabinet minister when Yukon voters go to the polls to elect the city council in September 1970.|
|June 25, 1970||William L. Drury, President of Yukon Motors, announces closure of his Pontiac Buick dealership located at Forth Avenue and Jarvis Street.|
|July 20, 1970||A mountain in the Yukon's St. Elias Range is named for the famous Canadian Humourist Stephen Leacock.|
|July 27, 1970||One of the first men to orbit around the moon, veteran of Apollo 8 mission William A. Anders and his wife visit the Yukon.|
|July 27, 1970||The White Pass celebrates its 70th anniversary. The Whitehorse Star issues a special edition.|
|July 30, 1970||A three summer season program for the restauration of the S.S. Klondike is under way.|
|August 6, 1970||Prime Minister Trudeau comes to Whitehorse for an informal visit.|
|August 13, 1970||According to official statistics, Whitehorse has 5,075 inhabitants.|
|August 20, 1970||Bill Hamilton, a member of the first Whitehorse city council and long time White Pass official, dies in North Vancouver on August 15, 1970.|
|August 20, 1970||Governor General Roland and Mrs. Michener visit the Yukon.|
|September 10, 1970||Transfer of all land rights around northern municipalities from federal government control to the administration of the Northwest Territories and the Yukon Territory has been initiated as announced by Northern Affairs Minister Jean Chretien. Effective immediately are transfers of 240 square miles around Whitehorse.|
|September 24, 1970||Venus becomes the Yukon's fifth producing mine with the first shipment of lead concentrates to the railroad at Carcross.|
|September 24, 1970
→ October 29, 1970
|City Alderman Jim Light dies September 21, 1970 at the age of 42. A month later, city council proposes to re-name the Whitehorse Civic Arena Jim Light Memorial Arena in commemoration of the late city alderman.|
|September 28, 1970||Commissioner James Smith opens the new Carcross Bridge leading to Venus mines. The $ 372,000 wooden decked structure spans Nares Lake.|
|September 28, 1970||Old Crow Indians are planning to obtain an injunction prohibiting entry by others than themselves into Old Crow Flats. The action is being taken to forestall further exploration by oil and gas companies.|
|October 1, 1970||Ottawa declares the announcement from September 28, 1970 "a problem in communication" and says the Old Crow people had agreed last winter [1969/1970] to let the companies carry on.|
|October 5, 1970||On October 5, 1970 the Old Crow Indian people publish in the Whitehorse Star a 1 page statement that emphasizes their cause and denies Ottawa's statement.|
|October 5, 1970||Chuck Halliday is the new Kiwanis president.|
|October 8, 1970||Rolf Hougen asks the city council for support to preserve riverboats. He wins a two month reprieve from Whitehorse City Council to save the two remaining river boats, Whitehorse & Casca, from destruction. One City Councilor remarked “ The best thing that could happen is someone put a match to them”.|
|November 2, 1970||Jim Murdoch is named Rendezvous Manager for a 2nd term.|
|November 12, 1970
→ November 30, 1970
|Hilda Watson and Norm Chamberlist are named to the first cabinet posts in Yukon history. They are sworn in November 30, 1970.|
|November 23, 1970||The Vancouver Centennial Museum hosts an exhibition of the Klondike Days of '98.|
|November 26, 1970||Northern Affairs Minister Jean Chretien announces November 24, 1970 that work on a portion of the Fort Simpson-Fort Liard road on the NWT will cease to permit speeding up construction of the Yukon's Dempster highway.|
|December 29, 1970||Magistrate John Varcoe announces that as of January 1, 1971, any driver convicted in court of impaired driving charge will automatically have his driving privileges suspended.|
- The Hon. Jean Chretien, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, announces an oil discovery by Imperial Oil forty miles northeast of Tuktoyaktuk.
- The Liberals run a slate of candidates for election to the Yukon Territorial Council. Liberal candidates are: Clive Tanner, John Hoyt, Don Branigan, Hilda Watson, and Fabian Solois. Other candidates include Jack Burrows, Harvey Kent, John Watt, Ken McKinnon, Ralph (Buzz) Hudson, Norm Chamberlist, and Mike Stutter. Clive Tanner, Norm Chamberlist, Hilda Watson, Mike Stutter, Ken McKinnon, Don Taylor, and Ronald Rivett are elected. Appointed to the new Executive Council are Hilda Watson and Norm Chamberlist.
- On February 1st, the Canadian Forces establish a three man detachment in Whitehorse to improve liaison and coordination with local authorities. Following the creation of the Northern Command on 15 May 1970, this Detachment and its sister unit in Yellowknife became part of the Northern Region with the Canadian Forces Northern Area Headquarters located in Yellowknife. Major Stu Deacon is Commander of the Yukon detachment.
- Charlie Abel is named the Justice of the Peace in Old Crow.
- A winter road is constructed to Old Crow and on to an exploration site forty miles past the settlement. Geophysical tests are carried out.
- Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous dog team races are held on the Yukon River but farther down stream than in the past since the Whitehorse Hydro Dam has affected freezing of the Yukon River in front of the White Pass train depot. Fourteen teams compete. Seventeen year old Stanley Njootli of Old Crow is champion.
- Sybil Hackney of Whitehorse is named Rendezvous Queen. U.W.E. Meyer, working at Hougen’s Photo store, is the flour packing contest winner. He carries seven hundred and fifty pounds.
- The first Arctic Winter Games are held in Yellowknife. Two hundred and thirty Yukon Athletes compete and bring home forty-six medals. Hudson Bay Mining announces plan to build a six hundred tonne per day concentrator at Quill Creek, near Kluane on their nickel property. Start-up is expected in 1972.
- Gavin Relly, President of Anglo American Corporation, a subsidiary of Oppenheimer’s DeBeers Corporation, visits the Yukon. The company controls Hudson Bay Mining with mining interests in the Quill Creek area and twenty percent of White Pass Corporation.
- Bert Norrie is President of the Whitehorse Board of Trade with Bill Royds, V.P.
- "Black Mike" Winage of Dawson City celebrates his 100th birthday.
- Bill Wiegand and Mrs. Paul Germain are named to the Yukon Liquor Board.
- Legalized gambling is permitted in the Yukon.
- Mrs. Marie Ange Cyr dies at age 85.
- G.I. Cameron retires after forty-five years of government Service in the Yukon.
- Mary Frost of Old Crow is the Canadian Cross Country Junior Ski Champion.
- The third annual Polar Games is held in Whitehorse with eight hundred competitors.
- Hon. Jean Chretien announces that two elected territorial councillors will join Commissioner James Smith and two civil servants, R.A. Hodgkinson and Keith Fisher-Fleming to form a five person executive council.
- White Pass plans survey for rail extension north to Carmacks.
- Through the efforts of Cal Miller, "Yukon Day" is held at the horse racing track in Vancouver.
- Yukon Territorial Council holds sessions in Watson Lake.
- One hundred and two Airstream trailers of the Wally Byam Group arrive in Whitehorse.
- Whiskey Flats has been planted with grass and renamed Rotary Park.
- The annual Canadian Legion European charter leaves on Wardair 727 on July 1st with 114 Yukoners on board.
- Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau accompanied by cabinet ministers Arthur Laing, Don Jamieson and Jean-Luc Pepin visits the Yukon.
- The City of Whitehorse appoints Robert Byron to position of Economic Development Officer.
- Alex Berry is named "Pioneer of the Year" by the Yukon Order of Pioneers.
- The first meeting to form a University of Canada North is held in Inuvik.
- The first Yukon Indian Days is held in Whitehorse. The Teslin Dancers in traditional clothing performed.
- Commissioner James Smith welcomes twenty-one ambassadors from Ottawa on their annual northern tour.
- Jack Butterworth, long time Dawson City businessman, dies in October.
- Colin MacDonald retires from Anvil Mines. He joins Venus Mines as General Manager .
- Keith Belliveau resigns as City Manager. He is succeeded by Bob Byron.
- Mike Comadina is elected Mayor of Dawson City.