Hougen Group

Elsa & Keno

Elsa, Keno, and Calumet are sometimes the forgotten communities in the grand scheme of Yukon history. They are, however, no less important to the history of the land. They are - or were - communities along the so-called Silver Trail.

Miners had prospected the area between Mayo and Keno City since the 1880s. Elsa was established in 1914. In 1918, large deposits of silver were discovered and large-scale mining began. In 1920, Keno Hill Limited, a subsidiary of the Yukon Gold Company of Dawson, staked six hundred silver claims on Keno Hill alone. A few years later, discoveries were made on nearby Galena Hill. At one time Keno City had five hotels. In the 1920s, the area's silver mines were famous around the world.

By 1932, deposits on Keno Hill were thought to be depleted. However, prospects on Galena Hill looked good so the company moved the mill from Keno to Elsa during the winter of 1932-33. Elsa gained importance in 1935 when the Treadwell Yukon Company moved its mill from Wernecke to Elsa because of the discovery of the Calumet mineral deposits.

By 1938, Elsa had a school, a hockey rink, stores, churches and a community hall. The mine employed almost two hundred workers on a year-round basis. Then, with the outbreak of World War II, the U.S. Government decided it would no longer buy foreign silver. Treadwell Mines closed their Mayo District operation.

In November 1945, the Keno Hill Mining Company was formed around the old Treadwell properties, financed by the Frobisher Exploration company and Conwest Exploration Ltd.

In 1947, the Treadwell Yukon Company reorganized under the name United Keno Hill Mines Limited, and revived the mines and town of Elsa. A tram line delivered ore from Calumet to the mill in Elsa whose population grew rapidly between 1950 and the mid-'60s, in part because the Calumet workers moved to Elsa so that services could be consolidated. By 1953, United Keno Hill had become Canada's second largest silver operation, and perhaps the fourth largest in the world.

Whitehorse was a busy place partly because of the endless truck loads of ore from the Keno Hill region to the waiting White Pass trains. However, in 1989, after years of losses and low silver prices, United Keno Hill Mines closed down its operations.

The residents of Elsa moved away and most of the houses and buildings have been dismantled. No one remains except for caretakers. But Keno City, population 20, still thrives, nestled in the mountains at the end of the Silver Trail.

A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin

Lilias Farley

One of the delights in attending the Whitehorse Elementary High School on Fourth Avenue, back in the fifties, was taking art class. Strangely, as I recall, art was a mandatory subject until about grade ten. I can’t imagine why because I doubt there many students that would decline to take art class.

After all, the art teacher was one of the Yukon’s great treasurers, Miss Farley. Oh, how we all loved Miss Farley. Now there was a teacher who cared if we cared. And in the spring, she made sure the arts classes were held outside the classroom. What a delight to spend part of the school day down by the river under the watchful eye of Miss Farley, as we tried to capture on paper the Yukon’s flora and fauna.

Lilias Farley’s background in art was something we never knew until we were long graduated and gone. She was born in Ottawa in 1907. She moved to Vancouver with her family in 1924, when she was seventeen, and attended the Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied arts. In her own right, Miss Farley was an accomplished painter and sculptor who studied with the best in Vancouver and counted among her friends, famed Group of Seven artists Fred Varley and J.W. MacDonald.

In the mid-1930s, she taught at the BC College of Art, which was founded by these two men. She also worked in theatrical design. It is said that in 1937 she designed the first uniforms for stewardesses for Trans-Canada Airlines (now Air Canada). During WWII she worked for Neon Electric Co., which was manufacturing depth sounders for the British navy.

She moved to the Yukon in 1948 and taught school until her retirement in 1972, while continuing to exhibit her sculpture in Vancouver. In 1967 she was awarded the Centennial Medal for service in the arts.

When she passed away in 1989, many a Yukon student of an earlier time fondly recalled the impact Miss Farley had on their careers even if they did not become artists of renown. The memories of outdoor art excursions were enough.

A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin


Rolf Hougen, Chairman Canadian Chamber of Commerce 1989-1990.

Canadian Chamber of Commerce

Living in Whitehorse, Rolf Hougen says he sees everything "on top of the world looking down". This kind of perspective will be a valuable asset as he takes on the Chairman's job on the Chamber on September 18th. (click photo to view article)

The floating market 50 km from Bangkok, 1989.

Travels to Thailand

Thailand is full of exciting adventures - from the exciting city of Bangkok that has two of the worlds top 5 hotels, to Chiang Mai in the north tribal area, to the beach resort of Pattaya, to Phuket and Phi Phi Island in the south. Ambassador Smith in Bangkok ask Marg and Rolf Hougen to return to Bangkok after a Phuket holiday, to speak to the Canada-Thailand Business Club on behalf of the Canadian Chamber.

A stop on the ice road from Inuvik to Aklavik.

NorthwesTel Board Meeting

Following a NorthwesTel board meeting in Tuktoyuktuk at the mouth of the McKenzie River on the Arctic Ocean, the board drove from Inuvik to Aklavik to meet with the community. Aklavik means "Place of the barren land grizzly bear" in Inuvialuktun. Aklavik historically was the place where the Loucheax Dene Indians met and sometimes clashed with the Eskimo people. Population 763 44% Dene, 45% Inuit, 11% other.

The footings of a root cellar with Rick Nielsen and Kelly Hougen, 1989.

Quiet Lake Cabin

1989 saw the building of a root cellar at Marg and Rolf Hougen's cabin at Quiet Lake. The planned digging into a small hill was promptly halted when solid permafrost was encountered. Construction was continued, however, by covering the roof with soil, sawdust and sand.

Esther Jomaas on road to Skagway, 1989.

Norway Visit from Esther Jomass

The Hougen family had the pleasure of a visit from Norway. Esther Jomass, sister of Rolf's mother Margrethe, came to the Yukon to see where her sister had lived. She was accompanied by her daughter in law Grete and grandson Anders. She was the first Norwegian relative to ever visit. By good luck it was a time when the 25 ambassadors from Ottawa were touring so she had the opportunity to sit with the Norwegian ambassador for dinner.

Yves Guerrad, Chairman of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, 1989.

Canadian Chamber of Commerce

The Board of Directors of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce held their western meeting in Whitehorse on June 23-26. Yves Guerrard at a reception and barbecue at Takhini Hot Springs was "welcomed" by a cancan dancer (see photo). Following the meeting, a bus to Skagway, a train ride to Fraser, a reception in Marg and Rolf's wine cellar ended an exciting few days.

View of the Red Dog mine site - located north of Kotzebue, Alaska, 50 miles inland from the Chukchi Sea north of the Bering Straights, 1989.

Red Dog Mine

The Red Dog Mine stands out as a model for the responsible development of mineral resources through the consensus, cooperation and mutual respect between a mining company and indigenous people. A business agreement and relationship was formed which has benefited both organizations and their members. The NANA saying, "I walk in two worlds with one spirit" can be said of Red Dog. The Inupiat employees are getting the best skills and training, along with economic benefits, while at the same time, maintaining their traditional subsistence lifestyle. Through committees and mechanisms set up in the agreement, the environmental effects of mining have been minimized. Cominco is fulfilling its objective to produce and market concentrate from the Red Dog deposit. It brings considerable experience, technical skills and financial resources, with a commitment to develop in an environmentally and socially responsible way. Mining and aboriginal people are working together for the benefit of all.

Skinning a seal at Pelly Bay, 1989.

NorthwesTel Board

The NorthwesTel Board as part of getting the know the customers and the communities, visited settlements from time to time. A five day trip starting on August 19 traveledto Yellowknife, population 11753; Norman Wells, population 397' Inuvik, population 3389; Holman, population 303; Coppermine, population 888; Pelly Bay, population 270; Gjoa Haven, population 647; Cambridge Bay, population 900. The population figures are based on 1986.

As part of the meeting of the Asia Pacific Foundation meeting in Whitehorse, the board were bussed to Skagway, rode the White Pass train to Fraser and ended their stay with a glass of wine with Marg and Rolf Hougen prior to dinner, 1989.

Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada

The Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada is an independent, non profit organization established to advance knowledge and understanding among the peoples and institutions of Canada and the Asia Pacific region. The specific mandate is to create cultural, educational and economic policies and programs that strengthen Canada's involvement in Asia and the Pacific. Rolf Hougen is a member of the board.

The Whitehorse Star Reports in 1989

January 3, 1989 Erik Nielsen and Ellen Harris receive the Commissioner's Award for Public Service.
January 6, 1989 Ottawa backs down on its plan to build a short-range radar station on Herschel Island.
January 9, 1989 The Elsa mine closes, laying off 170 people.
January 9, 1989
 → January 10, 1989
Dave Porter announces his resignation from his job as the Yukon's minister of Tourism and Renewable Resources after being apointed as the new executive director of the Yukon Human Rights Commission (January 9, 1989). Dave Porter is replaced by Art Webster (January 10, 1989).
January 12, 1989 Outstanding RCMP officer James B. Fitzgerald dies.
January 16, 1989 Former mayor Flo Whyard is appointed administrator for the Yukon. She is sworn in on January 24, 1989.
January 17, 1989
 → June 13, 1989
 → June 26, 1989
Government leader Tony Penikett announces the government owned sawmill in Watson Lake lost $ 4.5 million from April 1988 to March 1989. In June it is announced that payment cheques of Watson sawmill workers have been delayed for more than 60 days. A few days later the Watson sawmill suffers a second major blaze in 14 months (June 26, 1989).
January 17, 1989
 → February 21, 1989
Government leader Tony Penikett announces government election for February 20, 1989. The NDP wins the government elections and takes 9 seats out of 16.
January 17, 1989
 → March 16, 1989
 → May 29, 1989
The Yukon Government officially accepts the Yukon Indian land claim agreement-in-principle (January 17, 1989). The federal government approves the agreement on March 16, 1989 . The Yukon land claims framework agreement is officially signed by Mike Smith, chair of the Council for Yukon Indians, Yukon Government Leader Tony Penikett and federal Indian Affairs Minister Pierre Cadieux on May 29, 1989.
January 23, 1989 Despite strong resident protests, Whitehorse city council announces its plans to go ahead with the upgrading of 12th Avenue in Porter Creek.
January 27, 1989 A board of the Yukon Human Rights Commission rules that Madeline Gould is legally entitled to join the Yukon Order of Pioneers that previously was reserved to men only.
January 30, 1989 Pierre Cadieux is named new minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, succeeding Bill McKnight.
January 31, 1989
 → April 7, 1989
 → April 21, 1989
 → July 6, 1989
January 31, it is announced that the Ketza Mine is sold for $3 million. April 7, 1989 Belmora Mines Ltd. backs out on buying the Ketza River gold mine - a day before the scheduled closing of the deal. April 21, 1989 Carnamax reaches a deal to become the sole owner of the Ketza River gold mine. The deal is concluded on July 6, 1989.
February 2, 1989 George Dawson, hereditary chief of the Ta'an Kwach'an Council, dies February 1, 1989 at the age of 86.
February 8, 1989 Two hostages are taken at the Kopper King Tavern. Nobody is injured.
February 15, 1989 The White Pass and Yukon Corp. announces to build a new $ 2.6. Million dock in Skagway attempting to attract 60,000 to 75,000 additional annual visitors.
February 16, 1989 The City of Whitehorse lays first charges under its 2-year-old woodsmoke bylaw.
March 10, 1989 Dr. Joseph Lazarovich and Robin Glass are named honorary citizens of Faro.
March 22, 1989 Yukon chief medical health officer Dr. George Walker dies of cancer at the age of 56.
March 24, 1989 A total of 240,000 barrels of crude oil are dumped in Alaska's Prince William Sound when the tanker Exxon Valdez runs aground.
March 30, 1989
 → June 8, 1989
Mike Smith resigns from his job as the Council for Yukon Indian's top official on March 30, 1989. On June 8, 1989 Judy Gingell is the first woman to be elected as chair of the Council for Yukon Indians.
April 3, 1989 Television Northern Canada (TVNC) plans to get a new television channel for aboriginal and northern Canadians to air by November 1991.
April 6, 1989 The City of Whitehorse approves the development for a new subdivision across the Alaska Highway from the Wolf Creek subdivision.
April 14, 1989 The Whitehorse board of variance overturns the city planning board's decision to approve the location of a polyureithane block factory along Second Avenue.
April 14, 1989 The Yukon government declares April 28 as an official Day of Mourning for workers killed or injured on the job.
April 20, 1989 The City of Whitehorse announces to spend $100,000 to extend Ray Street, adding another connection between Fourth and Second Avenue.
April 21, 1989 Roy Minter, Father Veyrat and the Klondike Visitors Association are the recipients of the 1988 heritage awards from the Yukon Historical and Museums Association.
May 15, 1989 NorthwesTel pleads guilty to one charge of illegally shipping PCB-laden radio-equipment from a Distant Early Warning Line site near the Yukon border.
May 16, 1989 Yukon artist Ted Harrison takes New York by storm with his first American show.
May 24, 1989
 → December 4, 1989
Audrey McLaughlin announces to run for NDP leadership. On December 4, 1989 she becomes the first woman in Canadian history to lead a federal political party with her victory at the New Democratic Party leadership convention in Winnipeg.
May 24, 1989
 → July 10, 1989
MV Anna Maria is put into water for the first time. The vessel reaches Dawson City on July 8, 1989 - a year later than planned.
June 1, 1989 Federal Northern Development Minister Pierre Cadieux announces to offer new exploration rights in the Beaufort Sea for the first time in 20 years.
June 5, 1989 A Ford pickup truck collides with the SS Klondike.
June 6, 1989 Former Yukon Tourism minister Dave Porter wins the Tourism Award.
June 9, 1989 Mayor Don Branigan is found not guilty of 61 fraud related charges by the territorial courts.
June 15, 1989 The "Klondike Sun" goes on sale on May 25, 1989 replacing the 35-year old "Klondike Korner".
June 19, 1989 Respected elder and storyteller Kitty Smith dies. She is believed to be well over 100.
June 21, 1989 The Nakai play "Daydream" represents the Yukon at the Canadian Theatre Festival in Victoria.
June 22, 1989
 → June 23, 1989
 → September 20, 1989
A new Whitehorse waterfront plan, supported by the Yukon government, the City of Whitehorse , and the White Pass and Yukon Corp., prompts objections from the public (June 22 and 23, 1989). Public submissions to Whitehorse city council almost unanimously condemn waterfront development plans to move the White Pass depot from its present Main Street location (September 20, 1989).
June 28, 1989 The territory's first Mitzvah is celebrated on July 1, 1989.
June 30, 1989
 → October 19, 1989
Whitehorse teacher Sandra Henderson is appointed as a member of the Order of Canada (June 30, 1989). She, as well as former Supreme Court of Canada justice Jean Beetz and Dene Tha' Indian band chief Harry Chonkolay receive the Award on October 18, 1989.
July 10, 1989 The Carmacks Indian Bank enters its first business venture by taking over the local general store.
July 13, 1989 The White River band becomes the 14th First Nation, receiving official recognition by the Council for Yukon Indians (CYI).
July 17, 1989
 → August 28, 1989
Record-breaking temperatures cause record fires requiring help from outside the territory.
July 20, 1989 Dawson City's sternwheeler S.S. Keno is closed to vistors due to the deterioration of the 67-year-old vessel.
July 31, 1989
 → August 30, 1989
WHTV announces to offer three different cable packages in September.
August 3, 1989 Yukon artist Lilia Ar de Soif Farley dies at the age of 82.
August 8, 1989 57-year-old vessel Dorothy is relaunched into the waters of Marsh Lake after a major refit.
August 9, 1989 The Dempster Highway turns 10.
August 22, 1989 Erik Nielsen publishes his autobiography "The House is not a Home". Filled with political and private revelations it turns into a bestseller immediatly.
August 22, 1989 NorthwesTel announces to provide phone service for the Marsh Lake-Judas Creek by december.
August 24, 1989 Mayor Don Branigan presents the Whitehorse Heritage Award to the organizers of the storytelling festival.
August 28, 1989 Sean Sheardown's silver medal in cycling is the Yukon's first medal at Canada Summer Games.
August 30, 1989 Respected Burwash elder Joe Jacquot dies at the age of 62.
September 7, 1989 The Gwich'in nation sues the U.S. Secretary of the Interior over his decision to open the ANWR for oil development.
September 9, 1989 The Yukon government and the Nacho Nyak Dun Band form the first renewable resources council.
September 14, 1989 The Yukon Arts Council announces that Pierre Berton's $55,000 donation to the Council will be used to buy Berton's childhood house in Dawson and to turn it into a home for writers.
September 18, 1989 Because of a Yukon whooping cough epidemic, children aged seven and under are barred from schools and daycares if they are not fully immunized. Not immunized kids can return to school October 6, 1989.
September 20, 1989 As part of a new agreement with Skukum Gold Inc., Placer Dome Inc. pumps $ 12 million into Skukum Gold Inc.'s claims in the Wheaton River Valley.
September 21, 1989 Yukon College president Lynn Ogden resigns from his job less than a year after his controversial appointment by a three-member committee led by Premier Tony Penikett.
October 4, 1989 The Guild Society, the Nakai Players and Separate Reality theatre groups announce the possibility of a merger.
October 11, 1989 Tony Penikett changes his title of "government leader" into "premier".
October 27, 1989 The Kwanlin Dun Indian Band is the last of the 13 Yukon First Nations to receive interim protection for its land selections.
October 31, 1989 Foothills Pipe Lines Ltd. Applies to build a $4.4 billion MacKenzie Valley pipeline.
November 2, 1989 A government-Inuvialuit committee approves oil-drilling in the Beaufort sea.
November 3, 1989 The Yukon government creates two new advisary bodies: the Waste Management Advisory Committee and the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment.
November 7, 1989 One of the largest mining companies in Canada, Cominco, buys a 17-per cent share of the Windy Craggy project.
November 8, 1989 Three Yukon Indian bands - the bands of Teslin, Champagne-Aishihik and Old Crow - sign an agreement to develop a tribal justice system.
November 17, 1989 Dave Porter announces his resignation from his job as executive director of the Yukon Human Rights Commission for a job with the government of the Northwest Territories.
November 24, 1989 The Yukon government opposes any oil tanker traffic in the Beaufort Sea.
November 28, 1989 Statistics show that placer mining in 1989 had its best season since 1917.
November 28, 1989 The Kluane Tribal Council elder Sam Johnson Sr. dies at the age of 80.
November 29, 1989
 → December 7, 1989
One of the year's loudest public uproars begins with the government's announcement it will change the licence plate design and remove the gold panner from it.
December 1, 1989 Rolf Hougen returns from Moscow, where he and some 200 other Canadian entrepreneurs joined Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in a business development exchange.
December 1, 1989 The Yukon government announces its Yukon Development Corp. has lost $8 million in the last two years.
December 13, 1989 Community Services Minister Maurice Byblow rejects Conservative Opposition demands for a Yukon 911 emergency telephone system.
December 14, 1989 The Yukon government announces to introduce mandatory seatbelt use in 1990.
December 27, 1989 Yukon elder Annie Ned of Whitehorse is awarded the Order of Canada.
December 28, 1989 Former Yukon commissioner Doug Bell is awarded the Order of Canada.