The Hougen Group of Companies - A Yukon Tradition
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When living in France in 1976-1977, the Hougens made many friends. One family, the Blaises, owned the home they rented while M. Blaise, an atomic energy scientist, lectured in Oxford. The Hougen children returned to France. From time to time and the Blaise children came to the Yukon.
Anouk & Sophie Blaise on a visit to Whitehorse, 1978
Anouk & Sophie Blaise on a visit to Whitehorse, 1978 Click for larger view.

Niel Colville first became known as a national hockey league player who was enrolled in the Hockey Hall of Fame. He was an early investor in Northern Television (WHTV) and later managed it for a few years. He remained a shareholder in the company after majority ownership changed to Rolf Hougen.
Marg Hougen, Niel Colville & Rolf Hougen, 1978
Marg Hougen, Niel Colville & Rolf Hougen, 1978, Click for larger view.

A long time resident of Atlin, B.C. and a bush pilot, Herman Peterson was a man of many talents. In addition to making violins he built his own airplane.
Herman with his hand built plane "Suzy", 1978
Herman with his hand built plane "Suzy", 1978, Click for larger view.

Until the Alaska Highway, built in 1942 and available for commercial use 3 years later, all freight came up the coast to Skagway, Alaska & by the WP & YR Railroad to Whitehorse. Left to Right in photo - the Whitepass depot, Northern Commercial Company Store, the Telegraph & RCMP offices. The "local" freight warehouses, where Whitehorse received it's freight, is to the left of the tracks and the warehouse to the right stored freight that was loaded on the paddle wheeler. Boats bound down the Yukon River to Dawson City and Mayo.
Flashback:  the White Pass rail & warehouses on Front Street
Flashback: the White Pass rail & warehouses on Front Street, Click for larger view.

Sterling Lyon, premier of Manitoba, getting out of Erik Nielsen's plane while on a visit to Quiet Lake. Premier Lyon was first elected a Progressive Conservative M.L.A. in 1958. He became Premier in 1977 defeating N.D.P. Ed Schreyer.
Sterling Lyon, Premier of Manitoba
Sterling Lyon, Premier of Manitoba, Click for larger view.

Joe Clarke

There was always a lot of action at Clarke Stadium in Edmonton when the Eskimos faced their opponents in the CFL. Not surprisingly, the action on the field reflected that of the stadium's namesake, Joe Clarke.

Joe Clarke was born and educated in Ontario. He was not the Joe who at one time was Canada's Prime Minister. No, the Joe Clarke I speak of was a much wilder guy, but no less a politician. Clarke left Ontario in 1892 to join the Northwest Mounted Police in Regina.

He didn't last long as a Mountie, deserting the force and high-tailing it back to Ontario a few months after his initation. The force charged him with desertion and only the fact that his uncle was the magistrate hearing his desertion case prevented jail time. He was fined 100 dollars.

From that episode, it seems Clarke got a quick lesson in law and enrolled at the Osgood Hall law school in Toronto. On graduation, he joined the Klondike Gold Rush. In June 1898, the Yukon was created as a district separate from the Northwest Territories, and politics immediately became a favourite sport of locals - after boxing and hockey, of course.

In 1902, the first election for the Yukon's member of parliament took place. Joe Clarke ran as a Conservative against the Liberal, James Ross, who had been the Yukon's Commissioner.

In his first election attempt, Clarke was supported by a local lawyer, George Black, who would go on in later years to glory in the House of Commons as the Yukon MP, for 22 years. He was not supported, however, by the Whitehorse Star. The paper vilified Clarke for announcing in Whitehorse that he supported a smelter near the town, only to say back in Dawson City that a smelter near Whitehorse was impractical and more likely to succeed "on the moon". In a headline, the Star claimed there were three kinds of liars, and Joe Clarke is the greatest.

Clarke lost the federal election but he was far from finished on the Yukon's political scene. The following year - 1903 - he ran for and won a seat on the first elected Territorial council, and was also admitted to the Yukon bar as a practicing lawyer.

By 1908, Clarke was finished in the Yukon. The Star even hinted that he had been run out of the Territory. His running stopped in Edmonton, where his colourful Yukon past had not changed his political outlook very much.

In 1912, Clarke became an Edmonton City Alderman and quickly earned the title "Fightin' Joe Clarke" because of his quick temper. Always one to fight for the underdog, he was not above using his fists to make a point. On August 6, 1914, he and the Mayor Billy McNamara, rolled down the city hall steps and out onto the street, and eventually battled to a draw.

Fighting didn't seem to deter Joe's electoral chances. He was elected alderman eight times and mayor five. In 1930, Joe was instrumental in getting his long-time friend Prime Minister MacKenzie King to lease the city an old federal penitentiary site for ninety-nine years at a dollar a year, to be used as an athletic park.

In 1937, when a 3000-seat stadium was built on the site, the city called it Clarke Stadium.

The stadium eventually gained Canada-wide renown as home of the Edmonton Eskimos, and when the original Clarke Stadium was torn down and replaced with the ultra-modern Commonwealth Stadium in 1978, the entire area was called Clarke Park.

A fitting memorial to a politician who survived Yukon political woes, at the turn of the century, to enter the history books as one of Edmonton's most popular mayors.

 

A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin

 

 

Chris Pearson

Christopher William Pearson arrived in the Yukon in 1957. He worked for the Territorial government until 1973, and then went into private business. In 1978, Chris became a politician and was elected to the Yukon Legislature. For the first time, the election was run along party lines, fielding candidates from the three major political parties. The Yukon Conservative party won the general election with eleven of 16 seats.

Party leader Hilda Watson, however, lost her seat, and Chris Pearson was then chosen to lead the party. Thus, in his first attempt in Territorial politics, he became Yukon government leader and took the reigns on the road to Yukon self-government.

On October 9, 1979, Jake Epp, Minister of Indian Affairs, answered Chris Pearson's letter of June 18th by issuing new instructions to Commissioner Ione Christensen. The famous Epp letter effectively removed the office of Commissioner from day to day governing of the Yukon, and allowed the government leader to call him- or herself, Premier.

The long and winding road to full Yukon autonomy got a little smoother that day. Under Chris Pearson, the Yukon government successfully obtained the transfer of many powers from the federally appointed commissioner to the Territorial government.

The Pearson government also battled for more responsible government and more control over resources. They also argued for the Yukon’s place as a full participant in federal-provincial conferences rather than just an observer.

In 1982, Pearson’s government was re-elected with a majority. But it now had to deal with an economic recession, which was worsened by the collapse of the mining industry and the closure of the Faro Mine.

Pearson left politics in 1985, but his successor, Willard Phelps, was not able to turn the government's fortunes around, and the New Democratic Party won that year's election.

During his years in the Yukon, Chris Pearson served as the President of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce and was actively involved in the Rotary Club, as well as in many sports organizations.

After elective politics, he entered the Canadian diplomatic service and served in the Canadian Consulate in Dallas, Texas, for a number of years. Chris Pearson is now retired and lives in Radford, Virginia.

 

A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin

 

 

 

Clinton Creek

The Clinton Creek asbestos mine, near the junction of the Yukon and Fortymile Rivers, was operated by the Cassiar Asbestos Corporation from 1967 until 1978. Asbestos was hauled from the mine site down the top of the world highway, across the Yukon River at Dawson City by ferry in summer, ice road in winter, and by a tram system in the spring and fall. At its peak, 500 people called Clinton Creek home.

During the life of the mine, Art Anderson was renowned as the #1 employee on the payroll. For good reason. Art's father, Pete, a Dane, had boated down the Pelly River to the Klondike in July 1898. Too late to stake good gold-bearing ground in the Klondike, he prospected around the Fortymile district. Pete Anderson married Mary Charles, who died giving birth to Art, on March 27, 1912.

Growing up in the remote corner of the Yukon, young Art Anderson intimately knew the Clinton Creek terrain. He made regular dog team trips from Fortymile to Dawson City to sell furs and buy supplies.

Art was twenty-one when he and his father left Fortymile in 1933 to farm the fertile Clinton Creek Valley soil. It provided a bounty of vegetables.

He and his father also found piles of fluffy fibres. Twenty years later, this fibrous matter, known as asbestos, was a coveted product. About 1955, Conwest Exploration, which owned the Cassiar Asbestos Corporation in northern British Columbia, was attracted to the Yukon asbestos find.

It is sometimes called the Caley deposit because Dawson City resident, Fred Caley, had funded Art Anderson in his search to locate the asbestos deposit.

In 1965, Conwest decided to go into production at Clinton Creek. During the mine's lifetime, an annual 100,000 tons of industrial-grade asbestos fibres were produced in the round-the-clock operation.

Transportation was a complicated affair. The skyline at Dawson required a lot of loading and unloading time, along with the maintenance of two-truck fleets on either side of the river. Six weeks were required to build an ice bridge. In the spring, when warm temperatures threatened to decay the bridge, drivers crossed with truck doors open - always ready to jump if the ice collapsed.

The mine's limited lifespan prevented the Yukon government from building a permanent bridge. However, now that the mine no longer exists, there is talk again about building a bridge across the Yukon River at Dawson.

Art Anderson, discoverer of the Clinton Creek asbestos find, died at age eighty-four, on October 4, 1996.

 

A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin

 

 

 
THE WHITEHORSE STAR REPORTS IN 1978 *
 
January
• January 3, 1978 Yukon pioneer Robert Porslid passes away at the age of 79.
• January 4, 1978 The town of Skagway loses a living landmark when a fire guts the famed "White House" hotel on December 20, 1978.
• January 12, 1978 Dome Petroleum Ltd. announces new oil finds in the Beaufort Sea.
• January 12, 1978 Bellanca Development and Solar Construction Ltd. announce to tear down the donut shop and several houses on Second Avenue to begin construction of a new six-story building.
• January 26, 1978 Clifford J. Rogers, one time president and chairman of the board of directors of the White Pass and Yukon Corporation Ltd., dies at Seattle, January 25, 1978 at the age of 90.
February
• February 2, 1978 Mr. And Mrs. Alex Hill are named Mr. and Mrs. Yukon 1978.
• February 15, 1978 Northern Affairs Minister Hugh Faulkner announces that portions of pipeline revenues and all other new territorial taxes will be exempted from annual federal deficit grants to establish a Yukon Heritage fund.
• February 16, 1978 Long time Yukon resident Edith Krautschneider passes away in Ottawa February 11, 1978 at the age of 84.
• February 24, 1978 Alan Innes Taylor is awarded the Yukon Heritage Award on February 20, 1978.
March
• March 6, 1978 Preparations are underway to reactivate the Haines Junction asphalt plant which has been dormant for more than a decade.
• March 6, 1978 1978 license plates are issued with a new number and lettering system. The old system was running out of numbers.
• March 29, 1978 The old log skyscraper in Whitehorse is up for sale. The asking price of $150,000 puts the sale beyond the range of most historical associations.
April
• April 7, 1978 Ted Geddes of Teslin, founder of Yukon's Trapper Association, passes awayof a heart attack at the age of 60.
• April 11, 1978 One of the oldest native Yukoners, Elsie Isaac of Aishihik, passes away. She was in her late 90s.
• April 13, 1978 Dr. Kay MacDonald is named 1977 citizen of the year by the Whitehorse Kiwanis Club.
• April 17, 1978 27 year old Joe Jack is elected the Yukon New Democratic Party candidate for the upcoming federal elections.
• April 20, 1978 The Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce expresses its disapproval of possible food price controls in the Yukon as suggested by the Yukon government.
• April 21, 1978 Old Crow wants its airstrip moved. The 5,500 foot airstrip is in the way of building seven homes in the community.
May
• May 18, 1978 American travellers are no longer able to carry their guns through Canada, as a strict prohibition of in-transit possession of restricted weapons by non-residents will go into effect June 15, 1978.
June
• June 2, 1978 A fire burning inside the Tantalus Butte coal mine closes the Carmacks mine. No injuries are reported.
• June 2, 1978 The Watson Lake branch of the Bank of Montreal closes July 31, 1978 and transfers all its business to the main branch in Whitehorse.
• June 9, 1978 It is announced that the Whitehorse Inn will be torn down during the winter to make room for a new Bank of Commerce.
• June 12, 1978 A vote to bring cable TV to Faro ends in a tie, delaying the decision.
• June 16, 1978
 →  September 6, 1978
The Kluane Tribal Brotherhood announces to set up a native-oriented school for kindergarten to grade three students in Burwash Landing. The school is officially opened September 5, 1978.
• June 16, 1978 G.I. and Martha Cameron celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.
• June 28, 1978 Executive Committee member Dan Lang resigns his position because of an "irreparable … breach of trust" between the Commissioner Art Pearson and ExCom.
July
• July 4, 1978 A French red wine specially selected, bottled and shipped is put on the shelves of Yukon Liquor stores. The new wine is labelled "Selection du Yukon" and will not be available anywhere else in Canada.
• July 6, 1978 Minister of Northern Development Hugh Faulkner announces a resource development freeze on 15,000 square miles of land in the northern Yukon to begin protecting the 110,000 caribou Porcupine Herd.
• July 7, 1978 Deaconess Hilda Hellaby celebrates her 50th year in the Anglican Church.
• July 13, 1978 The "New Whitehorse Northern Times Daily" applies for Canadian Press wire service. If the daily paper joins the Whitehorse Star and the weekly Yukon News, Whitehorse would join Montreal and Toronto as a three-newspaper town.
• July 14, 1978 A new law is proclaimed in Dawson City which prohibits drinking in public in the town as of July 15, 1978.
• July 18, 1978 The First Annual Midnight Dome Race is held July 20, 1978 in Dawson City.
• July 21, 1978 One of the last real oldtimers, Bill Johnson, passes away July 19, 1978 in Carcross. He was 102.
• July 26, 1978 A beautification scheme for downtown Whitehorse which would make Main Street a road for shoppers and the waterfront a historical attraction is approved in principal by the Downtown Whitehorse Businessmen's Association. The White Pass train station would be upgraded to become the focal point of Main Street and First Avenue would be renamed Front Street.
• July 27, 1978 Patients at Whitehorse General Hospital are evacuated as the personnel goes on strike. The strike is over August 2, 1978.
• July 27, 1978 The ministry of Northern affairs announces that lack of money delays completion of the Dempster Highway until the fall of 1979.
August
• August 3, 1978 Labour minister John Munro comes to Whitehorse for the official opening of the department's northern office.
• August 7, 1978 Flo Whyard, minister of health and human resources, decides not to run in the coming territorial election.
• August 10, 1978 Carcross old-timer Johnnie Johns celebrates his 80th birthday.
• August 15, 1978 Two engraved brass survey stakes are driven into the ground to officially open the Shakwak project to rebuild and pave 516 kilometres of the Haines Road and the Alaska Highway in northern B.C. and the Yukon.
• August 16, 1978 Commissioner Art Pearson resigns from his job as Yukon commissioner.
• August 16, 1978 Foothills Pipe Lines (Yukon) Ltd. announces the Alaska Highway Natural Gas Pipeline has been delayed at least nine months due to the indecision by the U.S. Congress in passing President Carter's energy bill.
• August 24, 1978 Hugh Faulkner, minister of Indian and northern affairs, announces that the next Yukon commissioner will not be an elected member of the territorial government, but a federal appointee.
• August 28, 1978 The desire for a commercial cable television service for Faro results in the merger of competing cable companies into Satellite Communications Incorporated (SATCO) of Whitehorse. The company was formed by TNTA, Total North Communications, Northern Television Systems and Northern Satellites Systems, in order to end the competition which had delayed the building of a cable system in Faro since early June.
September
• September 8, 1978 Yukon Honda is officially opened.
• September 11, 1978 Yukon MP Erik Nielsen suffers a defeat September 9, 1978 when Kluane MLA Hilda Watson wins the race for the Progressive Conservative party's candidate for the upcoming federal elections.
• September 14, 1978 Rolf Hougen attends the annual meeting of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Halifax September 17-19, 1978.
• September 18, 1978 Klondike M.L.A., Fred Berger is chosen leader of the Yukon New Democratic Party by acclamation for the fourth year running.
• September 22, 1978
 →  November 15, 1978
Sternwheeler Plaza announces to build a new shopping centre at Klondike and Lewes Blvd. in Riverdale with retail stores and two theatres. On November 15, 1978, Whitehorse City Council block the permission for the two theatres.
• September 29, 1978 Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Ltd. announces it has been successful in its bid to take over Whitehorse Copper Mines.
• September 29, 1978 Clinton Creek, lots and equipment, is sold to buyer from Canada and the United States for $2.4 million.
October
• October 2, 1978 Former Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce Iain MacKay becomes the first leader of the Yukon Liberal party.
• October 2, 1978 The British Columbia Indian community close to the Yukon border is suffering from a tuberculosis outbreak whose origin is unknown.
• October 3, 1978 Residents of Old Crow vote overwhelmingly on Saturday 23, 1978 in favour of banning alcohol from the community.
• October 16, 1978 The Alaska Highway gas pipeline project gets its final approval from the U.S. Congress.
• October 18, 1978 A new law coming into effect November 1, 1978 in Teslin prohibits public drinking in the community.
• October 19, 1978
 →  December 20, 1978
Art Pearson officially leaves - but does not resign from - his position as commissioner October 18, 1978 in the face of possible criminal charges. The RCMP have been investigating Pearson and Yukon Senator Paul Lucier in connection with mining claim transfers. On December 20, 1978, Art Pearson pleads guilty and gets 6 months probation.
• October 31, 1978 Frank Fingland, long-time Yukoner and federal civil servant, becomes the chief executive officer of the Yukon for a period of up to three months pending the appointment of a permanent commissioner (from November 1978 to January 1979).
November
• November 15, 1978 The Porter Creek road designed to lessen traffic congestion on Two-mile Hill, is recalled as estimated costs to build the road haven risen 400 per cent.
• November 21, 1978 The Yukon Conservative Progressive Party wins 11 out of 16 seats in the Yukon elections.
• November 30, 1978 CBC celebrates its 20th anniversary of operation in the Yukon on December 1, 1978.
December
• December 6, 1978 Foothills Oil Pipe Line Company and White Pass & Yukon Route announce their partnership in a proposed venture to pipe oil from the port of Skagway to the Yukon and on to Edmonton.
• December 8, 1978 Hilda Watson resigns as leader of the territorial Progressive Conservative Party.
• December 13, 1978
 →  December 15, 1978
In the territorial election, the number of Yukon ridings is increased from 12 to 16. The Progressive Conservatives take 11 seats, the Liberals 2, the NDP 1, and Independents 2. Progressive Conservative party leader Hilda Watson loses. The new Progressive Conservative governement nominates interim leader Chris Pearson and two other newly elected members, Howard Tracey and Grafton Njootli, along with former education minister Dan Land, to form the new Executive Committee. Ken McKinnon, who ran as an Independent, is defeated. The new Executive Committee creates a new portfolio called economic development. Chris Pearson is responsible for the portfolio.
• December 21, 1978
 →  December 28, 1978
Whitehorse mayor Ione Christensen is officially appointed Commissioner of the Yukon by Hugh Faulkner, Minister of Northern Development. On December 28, 1878, Ione Christensen steps down as mayor of Whitehorse. Deputy mayor Art Deer takes over as interim mayor. Elections are called for February 1, 1978.
 
* The dates on the left indicate when the event was reported in the newspaper and might differ from the actual date of the event/ the date mentioned within the text on the right.

 

OTHER EVENTS 1978
  • Ken McKinnon, an Executive Committee member of the Yukon Territorial Government, is appointed the Yukon’s Pipeline Minister.
  • White Pass which had been trucking asbestos from Cassiar, B.C. to Whitehorse and then by train to Skagway, has lost the contract. Shipments will now go south to Stewart, British Columbia for transport to world markets.
  • Justice Thomas Berger, the McKenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry Chairman, releases his report which states: "Land claims before pipeline".
  • Foothills Pipeline is confident the Alaska Highway Pipeline can be built by the private sector without government guarantees.
  • Gorden McIntyre, M.L.A. for Mayo, wins $100,000.00 in the Western Canada Lottery.
  • Peter Gzowski, on arrival to attend the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous, announces: "We're here to capture the good times of Whitehorse and the Rendezvous on film" for the CBC's "90 Minutes Live."
  • The Yukon Government’s budget exceeds 100 million dollars.
  • Bob Porsild, who participated in the reindeer herding from Alaska to the McKenzie Delta, and founder of the Johnson Crossing Lodge, died.
  • Yukon Highway mileage signs are switching to metric.
  • Willie Joe, President of the Yukon Native Brotherhood, is replaced by Gerald Isaac.
  • Jack Kreitzer wins first prize in the CKRW-Kiwanis Fishing Derby at Tagish Lake, landing a 36.2 pound trout.
  • Alan Nordling of Dawson City wins the gold panning competition at Edmonton's Klondike Days.
  • The three months long RCMP investigation determines that Dawson City Mayor, Vi Campbell did not use her office for personal gain.
  • Old movie films are discovered buried in Dawson City.
  • Company President, Jack Fraser, said the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway will fold without a six million dollar infusion of money from the federal government.
  • On Friday, September 8th, Hilda Watson announces that she will run for the leadership of the Yukon Progressive Conservative Party. Shortly thereafter, Ken McKinnon announces his candidacy. Then, Erik Nielsen announces he will seek the leadership at which time McKinnon withdrew.
  • Arrow Transportation Systems of Vancouver, the company that won the contract for hauling of asbestos from Cassiar to Stewart, B.C. has received approval to haul freight from Vancouver to Whitehorse.
  • The Chairman of the Anglo American Corp of South Africa, Harry Oppenheimer visits the Yukon. Whitehorse businessman Rolf Hougen has dinner with him but he said "it was strictly social".
  • The H.M.C.S. Yukon docks in Skagway. The crew visits Whitehorse.
  • Alderman Margaret Heath is named acting Mayor following the resignation of Ione Christensen.