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The naming of Morley River, Yukon

A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin


Arctic & Northern Biographies

Index of CKRW Yukon Nuggets



    There was always something magical about the Morley River Lodge on the Alaska Highway. We always felt good when we reached the place after a long drive from Dawson Creek over the then-dusty, unpaved road.

    It probably had a lot to do with the milepost at Morley River. It was 777.7. Lucky eh? Clyde Wann was the Yukoner who started the lodge at Morley River. In fact, until his death in 1967, Clyde had been one of the Yukon's busiest businessmen and lodge owners.

    In 1927, he formed Yukon Airways and the post authorities in Ottawa gave the company permission to fly mail. He also owned the Swift River Lodge at Mile 733, built the Beaver Creek Lodge at Mile 1202 in 1958, and operated the Destruction Bay Lodge at 1083. He also owned the first Chrysler dealership in Whitehorse. Clyde Wann was a busy guy.

    Maybe he was too busy to wonder or worry about how his lodge at 777.7 - Morley River - got its name.

    Well, let's worry about it for a moment. Morley River is perhaps one of the few places in the Yukon named for a person's first name. I can't tell you why that is, but I can tell you who.

    Morley was Morley Ogilvie, son of the famed Yukon surveyor and politician William Ogilvie. In 1897, the young Ogilvie had a job on a dominion land survey as they were laying out the boundary between BC and the Yukon. They were also surveying a wagon road from Telegraph Creek to Teslin Lake.

    When the survey party reached Teslin, Morley Ogilvie was given the task of surveying the east shore of Teslin Lake, and then ordered to continue his work down the Teslin River to the Yukon River.

    For his formidable task, survey boss, St. Cyr, recommended that a nameless river at the start of Teslin Lake be named for him. So it became Morley River.

    Then, between the 1930s and 1950s, the names Morley Lake, Morley Mountain and Morley Bay were added to the list of Canadian place names that honour the son of the famed William Ogilvie.


Morley River - April 13, 2008
Morley River - April 13, 2008

Morley River Lodge, June 24, 2008
Morley River Lodge, June 24, 2008