Hougen Group

1928gj_car

George Johnson's car.

George Johnson’s Car

You have to wonder why someone would start a car dealership in a country where roads were - at best - thinly disguised wagon trails. Just as curious is why someone would buy one. Both events happened in the Yukon back in 1928.

Isaac Taylor and Bill Drury met on the Chilkoot Pass in 1898. Both had the same vision. Mucking for gold wasn't for them - but selling goods and services to miners was. They began by buying and selling mining supplies at Lake Bennett. Then they moved to Whitehorse and set up Taylor and Drury's department store on Front Street.

It didn't take long for the business to expand, and they were soon operating 15 trading posts along the various rivers of the Yukon. They had three riverboats plying the rivers and supplying their posts. One, the famous Thistle, now sits on the bottom of Lake Laberge.

By 1927, the two shrewd businessmen were looking for new opportunities. Then, Alex Eastwood, a sales representative for General Motors, arrived in Whitehorse. After careful consideration - especially consideration about the lack of decent roads - Taylor and Drury signed on as the General Motors dealers for the entire Territory.

But who would buy a car? George Johnson - that's who. George was an accomplished native businessman who lived in Teslin. In 1928, he bought a shiny, new four-door Chevrolet. No roads to Teslin. No problem. Taylor and Drury loaded the vehicle on the Thistle and sailed it down the Yukon River, up the Teslin River, and across Teslin Lake to the proud new owner - George Johnson.

 

George built himself a road in and around the village, and sold rides to local folks in the summer. In the winter, he painted the car white and drove it up and down Teslin Lake checking his traplines. In the fall, he painted the car in camouflage and used it to go hunting.

 

There are many pictures of George and the people of Teslin standing proudly in front of his 1928 Chevy Sedan... a testament to a pioneering people with a forward-looking vision. As for Taylor and Drury - they incorporated as Taylor and Drury Motors in 1947, and sold a lot of Chevys since that day back in 1928, when George Johnson bought his.

A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin