1978 Yukon Nuggets
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.