Yukon Nuggets

  • On the silver anniversary of the incorporation of Whitehorse, June 1975: The 5 mayors are (from L to R): Paul Lucier, with Bert Wybrew, Ed Jacobs, Gordon Armstrong, Howard Firth.

1999 Yukon Nuggets

Paul Lucier


When the young man arrived in Whitehorse in 1949, he was looking for adventure – or maybe just a job. Over the years, he found both - and more.

Paul Lucier was nineteen when he made his way from Windsor to Whitehorse. His first job was as a deck hand on the SS Klondike, the riverboat that still provided a vital transportation link between Whitehorse and Dawson City.

In the mid-fifties, he became a driver with the Army Service Corp. and had by then become a close friend of our family. Sunday dinner on Strickland Street was often graced with the presence of this delightful, humble young man.

When I was a volunteer at the community-operated CFWH, Paul was often the driver sent by Service Corp. to deliver me to my job at the radio station, then located in a Quonset hut roughly where the Airport Chalet is today. Thank goodness for Service Corp. since most of the volunteers, like me, lived downtown and had no means of getting to work - except on foot.

I got to know Paul well from his days as a driver, and later as a man who was deeply involved in the Whitehorse sports scene. He coached the Town Merchants team during my last year as a senior men’s hockey player. I know it pained him to tell me that my days as a useful forward had somehow past even though I was still young, but somewhat out of shape.

His job with Service Corp. ended when the Army left the Yukon. Then he became a Whitehorse firefighter, and his involvement in community affairs began to get noticed.

In 1964, he successfully ran for Alderman and was re-elected in 1965. In 1966, he ran for mayor but was defeated by Howard Firth. That interrupted his political career until 1970, when he was again elected as an Alderman, a position he held until 1974 when he was elected Mayor of Whitehorse.

In the fall of 1975, he was getting ready to campaign for a second term as Mayor, but in October he received a phone call from the Prime Minister that changed his life. Pierre Trudeau was on the phone to offer him the job as the Yukon’s first Senator.

It was a task he took seriously. Not always did he toe the Liberal party line. He opposed gun control legislation because he said it would adversely affect Yukon native people who relied on hunting for their subsistence. He vigorously opposed the implementation of the GST tax and successfully helped hold legislation up with an effective, but finally losing filibuster on the Senate floor.


Paul was also a tireless worker for Yukon land claims and opened many doors for negotiators through the 1990s, when land claims talks were in danger of falling apart.


The turbulent 1990s were a time of political upheaval. He conducted an effective lobby during this time of proposed constitutional change, including ensuring the north had a say in changes that could come about if they had passed the Meech Lake Accord. He was also a supporter of an elected Senate.

The turbulence of the nineties was also a time of personal turbulence for Paul Lucier. He was diagnosed with cancer. But he kept up with his Senate duties for ten years until he finally succumbed to the disease in the summer of 1999, just days before his 69th birthday.


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.