Rolf Hougen, O.C.
Rolf Hougen is a Yukoner through and through. His father first came to the Yukon in 1906 following the trail of '98 to the gold fields of Dawson City. His parents settled in the Yukon for good in 1914, to raise their growing family. Rolf worked in the family business through his childhood, taking over management at just 18 years old. He had big plans from the start, both for the family business and the Yukon. He is a true entrepreneur of the North, but unlike others who came to this fascinating land, with its anticipatory sense of adventure, Hougen has always planned to stay. He likes it. No, he loves it. When Hougen was made the Chairman of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce he was quoted as saying that living in Whitehorse, he sees everything "on top of the world looking down."
He has worked tirelessly to ensure the rest of Canada sees his beloved territory the same way. The consummate host, he learned early the value of treating visitors to our territory like royalty. Show them the place, invite them into your home, create good memories and positive associations. Make a real, human connection and the dividends will come back to you tenfold, both personally and in business. And it paid off. In a storied career, Hougen has rubbed shoulders and shared meals with people of influence in business, arts, and politics, from ministers of government to doctors abroad to renowned artists to First Nations elders and chiefs to foreign ambassadors and on. The Yukon has often reaped the benefits of these meaningful encounters.
A man of many layers, Rolf’s commitment to public service has been life long. He has served on numerous boards of directors in corporations, voluntary organizations across Canada, received the Order of Canada, and held the chairman position of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. His passion for evolving business and improving life for northerners eventually took him into space—as the visionary and co-founder behind the satellite delivery network Cancom, the first company in the world to provide a unique system to deliver radio and television to remote and underserved regions of Canada. And through all of these endeavors, Rolf has remained a committed and generous contributor to the arts community in the Yukon and to the preservation of the territory’s unique heritage.
If he has a head for business, and a vision for the Yukon, Rolf’s heart has always been firmly with his family—his beloved wife Margaret whom he married in 1955, his six children and their partners, and his 18 grandchildren. No matter the work demands of his busy career, family has always come first.
Rolf has managed not only to develop an enduring commercial legacy that has been maintained and broadened by his children, but to touch many aspects of daily life in the Yukon. His contribution to the territory’s daily well-being may be unmatched by any other individual in Yukon history. Whether people are shopping at a Hougen store, watching television, listening to radio, researching Whitehorse history, attending Yukon College or enjoying artwork, they are experiencing part of the legacy of a remarkable man, Rolf Hougen, supported and inspired by his life partner, Marg.