Yukon Nuggets

1954 Yukon Nuggets

Harry Boyle


He was as colourful as the characters he wrote about.

Harry J. Boyle was the editor and owner of the Whitehorse Star from 1954 to 1963. The office was in a shack on Main Street, but the editorial office was in a dilapidated, uninsulated garage in the lane out back. It was cold and crowded, housing Harry's desk, and an oil space-heater that stopped when the temperature outside dropped.

When they entered the editorial office, visitors were treated with a strange sight. A large banner on the wall read: "RESPECT OUR GIRLS." Next to the banner were three photos: Queen Elizabeth, Harry's mother, and Marilyn Monroe.

Harry was a character. He wrote many editorials, and often included a light piece at the end - just for laughs. However, one day he couldn't think of one. Rusty Erlam remembers that it was Rendezvous Week in Whitehorse. Then, Boyle had a brain-wave.

"I have got it!", Harry said, and came up with a story about a little boy dragging his dog into the Rendezvous office and asking to register him for the one-dog race.

"What is his name?" the lady asked.

"I don't know," the boy answered. "I just found him!"

Harry was responsible for hiring one of the most famous community correspondents in the Yukon. In 1962, he began printing Edith Josie's column, Old Crow News, thus preserving a history of this important Yukon community.

According to Bob Erlam, Harry had a knack for finding strange stuff. Once, he found a floor-length coonskin coat. Then someone gave him one of the first electric toothbrushes.

One day in the middle of winter, Harry and Bob took the coat and brush along with Helga, from the Star's stationary store, and headed for the Yukon River.

Helga liked to paint, so they set up her easel on the ice and Erlam took a picture of her "painting" with the electric toothbrush. The caption explained that it was too cold in the Yukon to use an ordinary paint-brush. It seems that electrical trade magazines used the picture for months afterwards.

Harry Boyle had little time for bureaucracy. Once when some federal officials were visiting from Ottawa, the Star's front-page headline read: "Better class of drinkers in town."

No wonder the Star's motto was Illegitimus non Carborundum, which means "don't let the bastards wear you down."

When the United States fired a chimpanzee named "Ham," into space, and safely brought the chimp home, it became an international celebrity. Harry sent a telegram to Ham the chimp, at Cape Canaveral.

It read:
"Can you type? If so, we offer you the presidency of the Sourdough Press Club."

Shortly, in the mail came a reply and a signed photo of Ham, who, it turns out, was a female.

Harry wasted no time putting the picture of Ham on the office wall along with the Queen, Harry's mother and Marilyn Monroe.

When he sold the Star to Bob Erlam, Harry Boyle moved to B.C. to study law, earned a degree and eventually sat as a judge of the B.C. Supreme Court.


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.