Yukon Nuggets

1958 Yukon Nuggets

1958 in review


Ian Tyson is one of my favourite singing story tellers. Always has been. He wrote a wonderful song called "50 Years Ago".

If I could roll back the years,
Back when I was young and limber,
Loose as ashes in the wind,
I had no irons in the fire.

If we could roll back the years to the Yukon of fifty years ago, what would we find? Well, in January 1958, a young Cal Waddington became President of the Young People’s Association. An elderly Yukoner, George Black, married Sadie King of Vancouver. The former Commissioner was eighty-five.

The White Pass Railway announced it had sold the SS Klondike to a Vancouver restauranteur, and the fabled river boat would sail to Vancouver in the summer, in time to mark BC’s centennial year.

On March 27, Erik Nielsen was re-elected as the Progressive Conservatives, led by John Diefenbaker, won the largest majority to date in Canadian history. The Diefenbaker government announced it would begin construction of a road to the arctic. It would be called the Dempster Highway.

On April 3, 1958 a fire destroyed the Elks Home at Second and Main Street. The historic building was one of the oldest in Whitehorse and once home to the Bank of Commerce where Robert Service wrote the Cremation of Sam McGee.

The Department of Northern Affairs approved a street-paving program for the city of Whitehorse. The first asphalt would run from the foot of Two Mile Hill along Fourth Avenue and down Main Street to the White Pass train station.

In May, a new Yukon Liquor Ordinance allowed banquets to serve liquor on Sundays and extended "drink up" time in bars from fifteen minutes to half an hour. In June, work began on construction of the bridge over the Yukon River at Carmacks. In July, forest fires burned out of control in many parts of the Yukon. On July 24, 1958, forestry officials said there would have been little hope for saving Whitehorse if the rain hadn't saved the town. The 30-mile front of fire came within five miles of the White Pass tank farm and was seen plainly from city streets.

The Yukon weather service reported that the month of June was the hottest and driest on record in Whitehorse . The mean temperature for the month was six degrees above normal. Fittingly, the new Lions Swimming Pool opened.

Famous Yukoners were passing in 1958. In July, the ashes of Klondike Kate Rockwell were scattered over the wilds of the Cascade Range of central Oregon . On September 11, 1958, Robert Service died in southern France .

On November 10th, after many years of operation on a volunteer basis, the CBC took over radio station CFWH. Not to be outdone, WHTV was now offering cable service to downtown Whitehorse, but evenings only - with one black and white channel. Coverage included live TV focused on the liquor store entrance.

And that’s the way it was in 1958.

A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin.

Les McLaughlin

Les McLaughlin

As storyteller, radio man, and music producer, Les proved a passionate preserver of Yukon heritage throughout his life — nowhere more evident than as the author and voice of CKRW’s “Yukon Nuggets,” from its inception until his passing in 2011.