An exceptionally beautiful part of the Yukon River system is found at the mouth of the Pelly River. Here, in 1848, Robert Campbell built the first Fort Selkirk. It didn’t take long for this Hudson Bay trading post to become embroiled in a trade war.
Robert Campbell, an explorer and trader for Hudson Bay, knew the Yukon interior pretty well by 1848. He’d explored the entire Pelly River system and decided the best place to control the fur trade in the central Yukon was on the east bank of the Yukon and Pelly rivers. In June of that year, he built the first post and called it Fort Selkirk, after Thomas Douglas, the fifth Earl of Selkirk, who was a major shareholder in the Bay. But the land on the east bank was frequently flooded and the Fort was moved to its present location.
Campbell was right in thinking this spot would be the place to control trade with the Wood Indians of the interior. However, the Chilkat people from the Alaskan coast considered the whole region as their trading area. For the next few years, the Fort was visited by parties of Chilkats determined to oust Campbell, the Bay, and their growing trade monopoly.
In August of 1852, a Chilkat raiding party, of perhaps 27 men, arrived at Fort Selkirk determined to shut it down. Following a pitched battle, the Bay traders and Wood Indians were routed and the Fort was burned down. Campbell described the battle in his diary as fierce, and marvelled that no-one was killed. Campbell left Fort Selkirk in the fall, bound for Fort Simpson, a 1200-mile journey. Here, he demanded permission to hunt down the Chilkats and get revenge. Permission refused, he made an incredible snow-shoe trip to Fort Garry, Manitoba, headquarters of the Hudson Bay Company. Here, he again demanded the Chilkats be hunted down. Again he was refused.
Robert Campbell never returned to the Yukon, and the Hudson Bay Company didn’t return to Fort Selkirk until 1938. In the intervening years, there were many posts built here, including one by Arthur Harper in 1889. In 1898, Fort Selkirk was home to the Yukon Field Force sent by the federal government to guard the Klondike goldfields.
From the '20s to the late '40s, it was a thriving community with stores, churches, a post office, and a mounted police post. It was a major supply spot for riverboats operating between Whitehorse and Dawson. With the coming of the roads, however, riverboat traffic ceased, and Fort Selkirk was virtually abandoned by 1950.
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin
The White Pass station which now stands on the waterfront at the end of Main Street in Whitehorse is not the original building. It was lost to a fire which destroyed most of the commercial buildings in the new town.
Whitehorse was a new and growing town back in the spring of 1905. From Front Street to Second Avenue, and between Elliott and Steele, stood the hub of a fairly prosperous place. There were at least five hotels, hardware, jewellery and grocery stores, cafes and restaurants, a confectionary, a drug store, a bank - why you could get almost everything you needed in downtown Whitehorse back then.
But on May 23, 1905, all that changed. At about 4 am, a small fire started in the barber shop in the back of the Windsor Hotel on the corner of first and Main. The firehall was just across the street. The single fire engine in town answered the call and seemed to have contained the blaze to the Barber Shop.
Then, as the fire was nearly out, the fire truck ran out of water. The fire in the barber shop flared and soon engulfed the Windsor Hotel. The raging flames leapt across the street and began to consume the Whitney and Peddlar department store. The flames then leapt across First Avenue, and the original White Pass station was set ablaze. The fire roared down First Avenue to Steele Street toward the Post Office on Elliott, and up Main Street to Second Avenue.
The single fire engine sat idle, out of water. Townspeople rushed to the scene carrying small buckets of water. It was a hopeless battle. One of the impromptu firefighters was Robert Service, who, along with many others, managed to save the Bank of Commerce building at Second and Main. The Post Office was spared, as was the Telegraph Office at First and Steele.
When the fire was finally contained, dozens of business establishments were reduced to ashes. The smouldering town was a grim scene to those who had worked so hard to build a business district for a growing town.
Damage totalled more than 300 thousand dollars, which by today's standards, would be in the millions. But the townsfolk were determined to re-build, led by the White Pass, which started construction of a new train station the next day.
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin
See also: Dawson City Fire 1899
On a cool morning of November 7th, 1971, a Cessna 172 aircraft took off from the Whitehorse airport. Four young people on board were going on a sight-seeing tour of Carcross and Tagish. That tour took on dramatic proportions when a snowstorm moved in, covering the entire region with heavy cloud.
Pilot Doug Phillips was at the controls that day back in 1971. With him were passengers Red and Shirley Lewis and Doug Young. Cruising over Carcross, the weather socked in. Phillips could see only the Big Thing mountain sticking up through the cloud bank. He was lost. He radioed the Whitehorse tower, and though able to communicate with the plane, air traffic control could not help him find the airport.
Phillips was told to continue circling the area around Carcross using the mountain as a point of reference. He was also told how to prepare for the worst - a crash landing. Hoping that the weather would clear, Phillips and his three passengers circled, while watching the fuel gage slowly move toward empty.
It was getting dark. Meanwhile, the regular CPAir flight from Vancouver was approaching Whitehorse. Captain Ron Wood began picking up the communication between Phillips and the tower. On the radio, Wood told Phillips to keep circling. When the 737 landed and the passengers deplaned, Wood asked the Vancouver office if he could try an unusual rescue mission. He and first officer, Brian McMahon then took off in search of the tiny Cessna.
They spotted the plane and asked Phillips how fast he could fly. About 100 miles an hour was the reply. The slowest the jet could travel was 140 miles an hour. The Cessna got behind the jet and followed its lights. When he got too far ahead, Wood circled around, overtook the Cessna and continued leading it toward Whitehorse. This was done four times. Finally, the big jet dipped beneath the clouds as Phillips followed.
Down through the snowstorm they plunged. The jet could be of no more assistance. As they came through the snowstorm, a glorious sight greeted the four in the Cessna. The Whitehorse airport lay dead ahead. When they touched down, more than five hours after taking off, the fuel gage read ... zero.
Truly a remarkable bit of luck, and a lot of courage on behalf of the Cessna pilot, Doug Phillips, and Captain Ron Wood of CPAir.
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin
Below Carmacks, they stopped at a First Nations fish camp – where some smoked salmon was obtained.
Top Photo: A First Nations Woman showing Rolf Hougen how to prepare
fish for drying
Bottom Photo: Fish being dried
At the table, Dick Hill, NWT Chairman, Rolf Hougen, Yukon Chairman,
and Richard Rohmer the “driving force” behind the idea
A reception was held at the home of Margaret and Rolf Hougen in honour of the French Trade Commissioner. Great French wine and cheese was served. Among those attending were brothers, Leslie and Erik Nielsen.
As leader of the opposition, Robert Stanfield, P.C., had been very active. He came to Quiet Lake on the invitation of Erik Nielsen prior to his trip to Japan and other parts of Asia. He relaxed, dove into the lake off the Hougen’s dock –7 times- Rolf remarked about the cold water to which he responded
“You must remember, I’m from Nova Scotia, the water’s cold there, too!”
|January 7, 1971
→ January 18, 1971
|An innovation is introduced to the Sourdough Rendezvous Festival: Mr. and Mrs. Yukon. January 18, 1971, Hazel Meloy and Jack Hazel are announced as the first Mr. and Mrs. Yukon.|
|January 7, 1971
→ January 11, 1971
|White Pass & Yukon Route open bids to the removal and destruction of the two riverboats SS Casca and SS Whitehorse. In a last minute reprieve, White Pass & Yukon Route stop the planned destruction of the sternwheelers SS Casca and SS Whitehorse. Headed by Rolf Hougen, a committee had been formed to save the boats. Discussion between the committee, White Pass and National Historic Sites about the future of the boats start. (see also April 30, 1972)|
|February 22, 1971||The Old Crow skiers Glenna, Shirley and Mary Frost bring back a bronze medal from the Canada Winter Games at Saskatoon.|
|March 2, 1971||Judy Crayford of Dawson City is Sourdough Queen 1971.|
|March 11, 1971||The Polar Games are opened in Whitehorse.|
|March 22, 1971||April 1, 1971 is announced as the day when the Yukon Territorial Government takes over the administration of justice from the federal government.|
|March 22, 1971||In a promotional action in 1955, the Quaker Oats Co. gave away 21 millionen 4 by 6 square inches of land in the Yukon. In 1971 the topic appears in the Whitehorse news again as owner of these deeds threaten with legal suits Quaker Oats Co. about the value of the deeds.|
|March 29, 1971||The territorial council approves a motion according to which Taverns and cocktail bars throughout will be able to remain open all day Sunday.|
|April 1, 1971||Postal codes are successively introduced in Canada, starting April 1, 1971 in Ottawa. The new code will reach the Yukon in spring 1973. The first letter chosen for the Yukon - representing the province - is "Y".|
|April 8, 1971
→ April 12, 1971
|Five Yukoners, Rolf Hougen, Robert Byron, Garth Graham, Dr. Art Pearson and Ralph Hudson, attend the first meeting of the executive committee of the University of Canada North, at Inuvik. They elect Richard Chairman as chairman, with Richard Hill and Rolf Hougen as vice chairmen of N.W.T. and Yukon respectively. The historic meeting lays the first preliminary plans for determining the goals of the University of Canada North.|
|April 12, 1971
→ April 15, 1971
|Sharon and Shirley Firth win gold and silver medals in the Junior Women's cross country ski race at the World Ski Championships at Inuvik. Two days later, April 14, 1971, four more Yukoners take gold medals in the event: Gary and Datey Bailie and Lisa Levefvre of Whitehorse, and Marie Bruce of Old Crow.|
|April 15, 1971||The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Jean Chretien, announces April 13, 1971 that an 870 square mile area along the South Nahanni River in N.W.T is investigated for its suitability as a national park.|
|May 25, 1971||Yukon Territorial Council meets May 26, 1971 for a special session to put into effect the municipality of Metropolitan Whitehorse. A previous plebiscite approved the amalgamation of Whitehorse, Hillcrest, Takhini and Porter Creek, (from the Carcross cut-off road to the Takhini River on the Mayo Road) rendering Whitehorse the largest municipality in Canada.|
|June 10, 1971||Operations at Venus Mine are suspended due to continous operating losses.|
|June 10, 1971||Tim Koepke is the new president of the Whitehorse Kiwanis Club.|
|June 14, 1971||Old Crow receives its own weather station on May 24, 1971.|
|June 17, 1971||Matthew Watson, founder of the Watson store in Carcross, passes away June 11 in Vancouver at the age of 83.|
|June 17, 1971||Ivan Kirkby is the first Regional Director of the new Yukon Region, Department of Indian Affairs, established April 1, 1971 by the Minister of Indian Affairs.|
|June 17, 1971||The new Van Gorder School is opened in Faro. Del Van Gorder was manager of the Taylor and Drury trading post at Pelly Banks and Ross River. Commissioner James Smith officially unveils a plaque. Newt Cornish represents the Anvil Mining Company.|
|June 28, 1971||Lorraine Stick is the Yukon Indian Princess for 1971.|
|July 2, 1971||Operations at the open pit mine and mill at New Imperial Mines Ltd., seven miles south of Whitehorse, is suspended as of June 30, 1971. Current copper prices make the mining of the Keewenaw open pit orebody uneconomic.|
|July 8, 1971
→ August 19, 1971
|Whitehorse City Council approves a request by Kelly Douglas and Company Ltd. for the re-zoning of the land, presently owned by White Pass, from residential to commercial. Kelly, Douglas and Company Ltd. plan a shopping center between Second and Fourth-Avenues, next to the Whitehorse Elementary School. Construction of the new $2.6 million shopping centre is August 19, 2007.|
|July 12, 1971||Panarctic Oils signs a $75 million agreement with four U.S. distribution and utiliy companies that earns the U.S. companies interest in gas supplies yet to be proved in the Canadian Artic Island.|
|July 15, 1971||The U.S. army announces July 13, 1971 it will close down a 432-mile portion of the petroleum pipeline from Haines to Fairbanks. A proposal for use of The Haines-Tok pipeline in a combines commercial-military operation has been submitted.|
|August 2, 1971||Gary Anderson, a 23 year old survivor of a plane crash in the St. Elias mountains is found after 40 days.|
|August 9, 1971||New Imperial receives $6 million from a financial agreement with Anglo-American Corporation of Canada and the Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Corporation Ltd. For development of New Imperial's Little Chief and Middle Chief underground ore bodies.|
|August 9, 1971||The first contract for construction of the Skagway road is awarded to General Enterprises Ltd. Of Whitehorse.|
|August 12, 1971||America's Ambassador to Canada, James Smith, visits Whitehorse.|
|September 7, 1971||The George Allen Jeckell Bridge over the Ogilvie River on the Dempster Highway is completed and handed over from the CAF to the Department of Indian Affairs on September 3, 1971.|
|September 7, 1971||An Alaska-Airlines jet plane crashes into a mountainside 20 miles west of Juneau, killing 111 people.|
|September 13, 1971||Hollywood actor Leslie Nielsen and his wife Sandy and daughters, Thea & Mora, visit the Yukon. A wine and cheese party is held at Rolf Hougen's home.|
|September 20, 1971
→ September 23, 1971
|The federal government announces to build a new Territorial Administration Building on 2nd Avenue in Whitehorse, from the Library South to the White Pass tracks.|
|September 20, 1971||Traffic is stopped at the intersection of Fourth and Main in Whitehorse on September 18, 1971 when special ceremonies mark the start of home mail delivery service.|
|September 27, 1971||Whitehorse General Hospital loses its accreditation. The medical staff organization is given as the main reason for the reduction of the hospital's status. (see also October 20, 1972)|
|September 27, 1971||The National Historic Sites of Canada buys a collection of over 700 pictures on the Klondike Gold Rush.|
|October 25, 1971
→ December 2, 1971
|Rolf Hougen, president of Northern Television Systems, applies to the Canadian Radio Television Commission for an amendment to it's license. If the application is accepted, Whitehorse has five television channels and three radio services, provided by WHTV. Hougen receives partial approval from the CRTC on December 2, 1971. (see also July 3, 1972)|
|November 4, 1971||The Yukon territorial council approves the takeover of the maintenance functions of the Alaska Highway by the territorial government, effective April 1, 1971.|
|November 4, 1971||Ralph D. Baker follows Frank H. Brown as chairman of White Pass & Yukon Route. Under Brown, the White Pass conceived and built the world's first container ship in 1955.|
|November 8, 1971||On November 6, 1971, 2 p.m. the U.S. detonates an underground nuclear bomb in the Aleutian island of Attu, 240 miles west of Amchitka. The blast is recorded at "seven" on the Richter scale. In Whitehorse, the Yukon Emergency Measures Organization and the personnel at the Hydro Dam are on emergency call. Reportedly, no radioation leaks.|
|November 15, 1971||The YWCA residence, the most modern in Canda, is opened on Fourth Avenue November 15, 1971.|
|November 18, 1971||It is announced that 40 units of public housing in Whitehorse will be built in spring 1972.|
|December 16, 1971||Yukon pioneer Bert Cluett of Burwash dies December 16, 1971 at the age of 96.|
- Following civic elections, the Whitehorse City Council includes Jim Howatt, Paul Lucier, Alder Hunter, Clive Boyd, John Watt, and Steve Henke. Three Aldermen reside within the old city boundaries while three from the new. Bert Wybrew is returned as mayor.
- Territorial Councillors are Don Taylor, Norm Chamberlist, Hilda Watson, Ken McKinnon, Clive Tanner, Ron Rivett, and Mike Stutter.
- The proposed Alaska Highway Oil Pipeline is under discussion.
- Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous chairman is Bill Royds. Fifteen dog teams compete in the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous annual race. Nick Molofy of Edmonton is the winner.
- Bob Hilker has been named Rendezvous manager for the 1972 celebration . The Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous (1972) committee includes: Frank Mooney, Bert Wybrew, Carole Keddy, Bob Byron, Ron Chambers, Jim Phelan, and Ron McFadyen.
- The Minister of Northern Affairs and Mrs. Jean Chretien attend the Rendezvous. Digby Hunt, Jean Fournier, Northwest Territories Commissioner & Mrs. John Parker, Brigadier Ramsay Withers are among the special guests. A special rendezvous charter from Vancouver includes well-known CKNW talk radio host, Jack Webster.
- Yukon Commissioner James Smith will accompany the Minister of Indian Affairs, Jean Chretien on a tour of New Zealand and Australia to study "native" affairs.
- John Bruk is appointed a director and President of New Imperial Mines.
- The Whitehorse Medical and Dental Building is officially opened by Commissioner Smith.
- Harvey Dryden, Director of Yukon Government Travel and Information, resigns.
- Gas is discovered in the southeast Yukon.
- Wellgreen Mine at Quill Creek near Kluane to start production of nickel and copper.
- Kurt Koken and Dutch Veinott are sworn in for a two-year term as city aldermen.
- David Gairns assumes post of Whitehorse Development Officer succeeding Bob Byron who has been appointed Whitehorse city manager.
- The British Columbia Government presents the Yukon with a BC Centennial totem pole, erected in front of the Yukon Territorial Government building.
- The Whitehorse Frantic Follies features Gillian Campell at its nightly shows in the Inn Ballroom.
- Pierre Berton visits Dawson City and other points along the proposed Klondike Gold Rush Park from Skagway to Dawson.
- New Imperial Mines changes its name to Whitehorse Copper Mines Ltd.
- A committee of federal and BC government officials has been formed to study the extension of the PGE Railroad north to the Yukon and Alaska.
- Graeme Connel has been named editor of the Whitehorse Star, succeeding Flo Whyard who has been editor for seven years.
- An additional 9000 square feet has been added to the Yukon Regional Library.
- The Faro Hotel, owned by Al Kulan, is officially opened.
- Dutch van Tassel is re-elected President of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. Mike Phillips and Ron Granger are elected Vice-residents.
- The Lions Swimming Pool on Third Avenue will be covered with a building.
- Anvil Mines announces the appointment of Robert Haffner as general manager. He will live in Faro. Bob Thurmand, senior Vice-president, resides in Vancouver, Jim Oak is assistant Vice-president.
- Captain Ron Wood, a C.P.Air pilot, flies a 737 jet skyward from the fog shoulded Whitehorse airport and leads a lost Cessna 172, piloted by Doug Phillips, through a heavy cloud cover to a safe landing.