When I knew him back in the 1960s, he was a soft-spoken elderly gentleman who usually occupied a special place at Cal Miller's Capitol Hotel bar. Back then, that's where anyone who was anyone in the mining industry gathered. That's where mining prospects were appraised and deals were struck.
If you wanted to be part of the Whitehorse mining scene in the sixties, the Capitol Hotel was the place to be, and Alec Berry was often there. In the Yukon , the best place to find prospectors was in the bar. Berry would often sit alone, pretending he was listening to his transistor radio. Nobody bothered him but Berry would be tuned into conversations. Later, he often laughed and said that he learned more by listening than by talking. He was the super scout for Conwest Exploration, which had a small office on Main Street . There you could sometimes find Alec Berry pouring through maps of the Yukon looking for the next Eldorado.
Alec Berry was born in 1896 in Nelson, British Columbia . In 1914, he volunteered for First World War military service. When he returned, he worked in an underground mine. Berry first came to the Yukon in 1920s to sell mine drilling equipment. He was then hired as chief assayer and mill superintendent for Treadwell Yukon in the Mayo area.
When metal prices tumbled in 1941, Treadwell Yukon closed its operation. Then after the war, Conwest Exploration co-sponsored the Keno Hill Mining Company to re-open the old underground silver mines. Berry became a lifetime employee with Conwest. Through the years, Berry negotiated deals for Conwest for mines at Mt. Nansen , Cassiar Asbestos and the Clinton Creek.
Alec Berry died in Whitehorse in December 1982. He was 86. An Alec Berry Memorial Fund was established with the Yukon Foundation, to be used for mining-related projects and scholarships in mining and geology. He was inducted into the Yukon Prospectors' Association's Honour Roll in 1988.
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin