I met Jim Robb when he came to Whitehorse in the late fifties. Our first encounter was at the end of a shovel. We were both labourers with the Canadian army, moving dirt piles from point A to point B in Camp Takhini.
Neither of us knew why. It was a summertime job for me while I was going to school, and an introduction for Jim to a Yukon make-work project.
He was a quiet guy. At least I can’t remember any lasting conversations. Our focus was on moving dirt. He showed no hint of his later brilliance for capturing Yukon scenes and characters. Our paths rarely crossed after that. To me, he became this strange guy who carried art supplies and a camera under his arm as he strolled the back alleys of Yukon communities. Who knew why!
Years later, we all knew why. He had captured the Yukon as it had never been seen before. His work took time to catch on. Great art and artistic interpretations usually do. Picasso’s strange faces and lopsided caricatures were not an instant hit around the world.
Neither were Jim’s scenes of Wigwam’s table dance, or shacks at Moccasin Flats, that seemed to tilt far more than science would allow. Mining camps no one had seen for years became grist for the ceaseless pen and ink sketches of Jim Robb. Faces of characters long since gone took on new life and meaning.
For whatever reason, and no one knows the reason for the acceptance of artistic endeavour, Jim’s work came into vogue. Pretty soon everyone wanted a Jim Robb. Everyone ! Today, the entire Yukon looks like a Jim Robb sketch.
Our conversations today are more focused than they were in the fifties. The last time I saw him, he greeted me with the observation that I must now be older than all the rocks on Grey Mountain.
My comeback was that he had been in the Yukon longer than the Tintina Trench. He drew a sketch of me. I looked like Mr. Magoo. He said it was an accurate portrait. I drew a sketch of him. He looked like a hobo. An accurate portrait, I said.
He showed me his collection of Yukon artifacts - things that long since would have ended up in some dirt pile had he not picked them up. Jim’s persistence in sketching and collecting and picture-taking finally paid off when Canada recognized his immense contributions by awarding him the nation’s highest honour, the Order of Canada.
I’ll bet that when the Governor General fastened the pin on his suit, he must have recalled those days with a shovel on a Takhini dirt pile and recognized that the Yukon really does hold out the promise that with persistence and dedication, a person can be what they want to be.
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin.
It's hard to imagine a life filled with more adventure than that of Percy De Wolfe. Like many young men from eastern Canada, when he heard about the Klondike Gold Rush he and his partner, Peter Anderson, headed for the Klondike.
They arrived in Dawson City in June, 1898, but, as it was for other late comers, the pair could not find any ground worth staking.
Both had done some fishing on the east coast, and decided to try their luck with a fishing business on the Yukon River. With a net bought on credit, they set up camp ten miles down the river from Dawson and brought back the first fresh salmon to the booming town.
The fishing business in the summer time was good. In the winter, the pair did freighting to the Fortymile mining camp. During this time, they built the 16-mile Road House and Halfway House on the Yukon river.
In 1920, De Wolfe and Anderson ended their partnership and Percy got a contract to carry the mail from Dawson to Eagle, Alaska. It was the beginnning of a remarkable career, at times risking his life to get the mail through.
On one trip, his horses broke through the river ice. Percy was able to throw the twenty bags of mail off the sleigh before the three horses and sleigh went under the ice.
In 1935, Percy De Wolfe received a silver medal from King George, in recognition of his public service.
Percy De Wolfe carried the mail between Dawson-Fortymile and Eagle, Alaska, from 1910 to 1949, when they finally ended the mail contract to Eagle. His last contract was to Fortymile.
The post office at Fortymile was closed in 1951. Percy De Wolfe died in St. Mary's hospital in February, 1951, after several months of illness. He had carried the mail for forty years in all kinds of weather and conditions, travelling more than 100,000 miles by dog team.
In 1976, to commemorate the contributions of Percy De Wolfe, the KVA sponsored the Percy De Wolfe Memorial Mail Dog Sled Race.
Still going strong, the route follows the Yukon River trail, from Dawson City to Eagle, Alaska, and returns on the same trail to finish.
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin
|January 5, 1976||Teslin admits that it had been using the TV earth receiving station before it got granted a license from the CRTC commission.|
|January 14, 1976||The Yukon's population in October 1975 is the following. Out of 22,396 Yukoners, 14,606 live in Whitehorse, 1,471 in Faro, 1,073 in Watson Lake, 887 in Dawson City, 800 in Clinton Creek, 683 in Elsa, 470 in Mayo, 330 in Haines Junction, 315 in Teslin, 274 in Carmacks, 237 in Carcross, 196 in Ross River, 170 in Old Crow, 129 in Beaver Creek, 97 in Pelly Crossing, 66 in Destruction Bay, 42 in Burwash Landing and 28 in Keno.|
|January 16, 1976
→ April 7, 1976
|It is announced that Elijah Smith, chairman of the council for the Yukon Indians, is appointed to the Order of Canada for organizing Yukon Indians "who had been divided by the Indian Act". He is admitted to the Order April 7, 1976.|
|January 19, 1976||Anik 2 is in Orbit. The communication technology satellite houses a radio-television transmitter 10 to 20 times more powerful than the Anik series of commercial satellites.|
|January 26, 1976||The Yukon government's Executive Committee proposes guaranteed Indian participation in an almost-provincial government as part of a land claims settlement.|
|February 11, 1976||Senator Walter Mondale and 23 other U.S. Senators introduce legislation to authorize construction of a natural gas pipeline from Alaska through Canada to the southern United States.|
|February 13, 1976||Walter and Leta Israel of Carmacks are named Mr. and Mrs. Yukon 1976.|
|March 1, 1976||Linda Church is Rendezvous Sourdough Queen 1976.|
|March 17, 1976||Mayo's Silver Inn Hotel, a landmark in the area built as a roadhouse at Field Creek in the 1920's and later moved to Mayo, burns down March 14, 1976. The building had first been constructed by Ed Kimble and Mrs. Kinsey. It was later bought by Bob Palmer who tore it down and moved it in sections to Mayo in 1936, known as Palmer's Hotel.|
|March 19, 1976||Effective April 1, all Yukon weather information is provided in metric units.Wind speed, atmospheric pressure and distance in weather information is provided in metric units to the news media and general public. Wind speed is given in kilometres per hour, atmospheric pressure in kilopascals and distances in kilometres. This completes the program which began with the switch to Celsius in April 1975 and continued with the designation of snowfall and rainfall amounts in centimetres and millimetres in September 1975. (see also March 31, 1975).|
|March 24, 1976||A study commissioned by the Yukon government proposes the extension of the railway from Whitehorse to Faro and the Pelly River.|
|April 2, 1976
→ July 5, 1976
|Northern Development Minister Judd Buchanan appoints Art Pearson as Yukon Commissioner. Dr. Art Pearson is sworn in as the Yukon's 18th Commissioner on July 1, 1976.|
|April 2, 1976||Yukon Magistrate Dennis O'Connor announces his resignation for August 1, 1976.|
|April 7, 1976||Carmacks holds a plebiscite to determine whether or not television is wanted in the community. The main issue is that the community is not sure whether it can afford the $1,750 required to install the receiving station.|
|April 9, 1976||The Canadian Radio-Television Commission approves a renewal of Northern Television System's broadcast licence, subject to new CRTC regulations. One is that if a private AM radio is carried on one cable channel, the system must also carry CBC radio. Cable TV in Whitehorse therefore starts to carry CBC radio in addition to its current broadcast of CKRW.|
|April 9, 1976||Erik Nielsen is named caucus committee chairman for the solicitor's general's department by Conservative leader Joe Clark.|
|April 12, 1976||Skookum Jim Hall Friendship Centre is pleased to announce the hiring of Peter Sidney Sr. as an executive director trainee.|
|May 19, 1976||In Dawson, the log building built in 1898, known variously as the Melbourne Hotel, the Pearl Harbor Hotel and recently, the Bonanza Hotel is completely destroyed by fire. The Bonanza was being restored by the Historic Sites Branch at the time of the fire. Firemen concentrated on saving the Palace Grand Theatre which is adjacent to the hotel.|
|May 26, 1976||About 1,000 people turn out for the official opening of the new $10.7 million territorial administration building on May 25, 1976.|
|May 26, 1976||Governor-General Jules Leger and his wife visit the Yukon on a 10 day tour.|
|June 7, 1976||Yukon Magistrate Dennis O'Connor is honoured June 5, 1976 by being introduced into the Beaver Clan. Johnnie Johns bestows O'Connor with the name Old Crow.|
|June 11, 1976||Commissioner James Smith officially opens the new Watson Lake Cottage Hospital on June 10, 1976.|
|June 16, 1976||Ron Sumanik, Grade 11 student at F.H. Collins and one of the country's top cross-country skiers, is chosen as the Yukon representative for the Olympic flame carrying ceremony in Ottawa on July 15, 1976.|
|June 21, 1976||The Kluane Museum of Natural History in Burwash is opened by Commissioner James Smith.|
|June 25, 1976||Commissioner James Smith is named to the Order of Canada as an officer.|
|June 30, 1976||Haines Junction's new territorial administration building is opened June 28, 1976 and named in honour of retiring Commissioner James Smith.|
|July 5, 1976||Alan Innes-Taylor is named to the Order of Canada.|
|July 26, 1976||The Yukon's population in June 1976 is 23,335. 15,305 live in Whitehorse. Figure for the other communities are: Beaver Creek, 116; Burwash Landing, 43; Carcross, 243; Carmacks, 270; Clinton Creek, 729; Dawson City, 958; Destruction Bay, 57; Elsa, 745; Faro, 1549; Haines Junction, 353; Keno, 29; Mayo, 502; Old Crow; 169; Pelly Crossing, 88; Ross River, 209; Teslin, 320; Watson Lake, 1,167.|
|July 30, 1976||Yukon council decides the paving of 5th Avenue.|
|August 18, 1976||Lawrence Edward Seely, son of pioneers Alex and Mabel Seely, passes away on July 23 at the age of 62.|
|August 23, 1976||Edith Mary Henderson passes away August 18, 1976 at the age of 90. Henderson is the closest surviving link to the Indian family that discovered gold in the Klondike in 1896. Her husband, Patsy Henderson, was a nephew of Skookum Jim and of Kate Carmack.|
|August 25, 1976||It is announced that the new French language centre at F.H. Collins secondary school will be available as of fall 1976 for French learning courses for the general public.|
|September 8, 1976||As a result of the territorial government's television receiving program 8 more Yukon communities will have television service. Earth receivers will be installed in Beaver Creek, Haines Junction, Pelly Crossing and Carmacks. Stewart Crossing, Destruction Bay, Burwash Landing and Carcross get television service through repeated stations which pick up and amplify the signal of a nearby earth receiver station.|
|September 17, 1976||Tagish Anne Graham passes away September 16, 1976 at the age of 61. Graham had been operating a small café on Tagish Lake known as "Tagish Anne's Coffee Bar".|
|September 20, 1976||In recognition of the proposed major Historic Site development plans for the Dawson City Area, Parks Canada announces the appointment of a Yukon Historic Sites Project Manager. Randy Mitchell is responsible for the Dawson City and Goldfiels Historic Sites.|
|October 15, 1976||Yukon Senator Paul Lucier tells the Senate in his first speech to the Parliament on October 13, 1976 that lack of a permanent population makes him unprepared to endorse provincial status for the territory. "It is possible that Yukoners would be electing members of a legislature with only 75 votes. [..] This would mean that any influential pressure group such as the mining industry, labour or conservationist could with a minimum of effort control the province."|
|October 20, 1976||James Smith and Alan Innes-Taylor receive the Order of Canada.|
|November 19, 1976||Longtime Yukon resident Charlie Fox passes away at the age of 76.|
|December 6, 1976||A White Pass bridge near Skagway is set on fire.|
|December 10, 1976||A Yukon Museums and Historical Association is being formed to unite and co-ordinate all individuals and groups interested in preserving and furthering Yukon history and culture.|
|December 12, 1976||The Old Crow community votes to have TV brought in under the territorial government's rural program. Only one TV will be allowed in town, the 200-person village decided and it will be located in the community hall.|
- Judge Frank Smith of the NWT swore in newly elected Whitehorse Mayor Ione Christensen and Aldermen Bob Pitzel, Margaret Heath, Susan Burns, Doug Bell, Ray Cummings and Art Deer.
- Porter Creek Citizens Association proposes the ice arena be named The Stan McCowan Arena after the former association president. City council agreed.
- The President of the Steel Workers, Stu McCall serves strike notice on Anvil Mines. Anvil shuts down the mine. The mine has been plagued by frequent strikes.
- CRTC approves a license for Teslin to receive television via satellite.
- Joe Clarke wins the Progressive Conservative leadership defeating Claude Wagner and Brian Mulroney.
- Gordie Tapp and his wife are guests of the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous. He is a writer, singer, comedian and star of Hee Haw.
- Canadian Pacific Airlines raises the Edmonton and Vancouver fare by $8.00 to $109.00.
- Klondike MLA Fred Berger is the new leader of the N.D.P.
- Yukon sends two hundred and twenty athletes to the Arctic Winter Games in Schefferville, Quebec.
- Dome Petroleum is given a go ahead to drill for gas in the Beaufort Sea.
- On April 19th, the Anvil Mine strike is in its fifth week. The strike of office workers follows the mine worker’s strike earlier in the year.
- Roy Minter is keynote speaker at the annual meeting of the Yukon Visitors Association in Dawson City.
- In May, the Marsh Lake Lodge burns to the ground.
- Gas companies file an application to build a gas pipeline from Prudhoe Bay to Alberta.
- Governor General Jules Leger and Mrs. Leger tour the North. They were presented with Yukon's, recently adopted official gem stone, lazulite. It was discovered by prospector Al Kulan.
- Susan Burns resigned from Whitehorse City Council. Orvin Chippett defeated Geoff Lattin and Bob Cousins Sr. to fill the vacancy.
- Jim and Dorothy Smith hosted a farewell Commissioners Ball in Dawson City.
- Premier Bill Bennett of B.C. visits the Yukon to attend meetings.
- Progressive Conservative party leader Joe Clark visits the Yukon in early July. He promised Yukoners full control of it's affairs when he becomes Prime Minister.
- Brian Stanhope and family became seriously ill and were flown from Haines to Juneau after eating clams dug on the beach.
- Danny Nowlan announced that his 750 acre game farm is for sale.
- In July, the Hougen family, Marg, Rolf, Craig, Kelly, Karen, Erik, Greta and Maureen leaves for France for one year. Originally they planned to go to Paris, but take the advice of Father Renault (formerly of Whitehorse) who was with the United Nations, who strongly recommended Grenoble. That became the destination and with the aid of the Canadian Embassy in Paris (specifically Raymond Chretien) final arrangements were made.
- Yukoners celebrate with Alec Berry on his 80th birthday. Alec is a prospector, miner, known as Mr. Conwest.
- Territorial Supply, long associated with United Keno Mines and Cassiar Asbestos, and the International truck dealer has closed it's doors.
- Ray Jackson, President of the Yukon Native Brotherhood, will seek the presidency of the National Indian Brotherhood.
- Warren Allmand is appointed Minister of Indian Affairs.
- Fire destroys Wigwam Harry's trailer home.
- Doug Dickie, on behalf of four businessmen, announces that the Capitol Theatre at Third and Main will be replaced.
- Farrago Folk Festival is a great success. Workshops and three evenings of music, folk, country, rock with locals and visitors made this second year event outstanding. The organizing committee says it will continue every year.
- Education Minister Dan Lang is denied a seat at a federally sponsored Ministers conference. He walks out of the meeting with his NWT counterpart in Ottawa.
- M.L.A. Don Taylor dedicates the new council chambers at the first sitting of the legislature in the new Territorial Building on Second Avenue.
- Northern Affairs Minister Warren Allmand tells the M.L.A.'s, there will be no provincial status until land claims are settled.
- Mr. and Mrs. Yukon, Walter and Leta Israel vacation in Hawaii, a gift given annually by C.P. Air.