2018 Yukon Heritage Awards

Last week, in the middle of my rescue puppy adventure, I was honoured by being presented with the Annual Yukon Heritage Award. The ceremony, held at the start of Heritage Week, was at the Yukon Archives on Monday, February 18. Most of this post is copied from the press release about the awards.

The awards are given by the Yukon Historical & Museums Association (YHMA). “These annual awards honour those who have made exceptional contributions to Yukon heritage, enriching our community for all Yukoners,” said YHMA Executive Director Lianne Maitland. “This year we are excited to present these awards to five diverse recipients, each of whom has contributed in a very different way.”

The program began with a presentation by JJ, Dustyn, and Joshua Van Bibber, celebrating the legacy of their great grandfather, JJ Van Bibber, a prominent First Nations hunter, trapper, photographer, and storyteller. It was an excellent way to begin, as JJ Van Bibber’s stories and extensive collection of photographs exemplified this year’s national theme, “Heritage: The Tie that Binds”.

JJ, Dustyn, and Joshua Van Bibber at the 2018 Yukon Heritage Awards

Photos by JJ Van Bibber, a prominent First Nations hunter, trapper, photographer, and storyteller, at the 2018 Yukon Heritage Awards

Yukon Heritage Award – Murray Lundberg

The Annual Heritage Award was presented to Murray Lundberg. Murray has traveled far and wide throughout the territory, always with camera in hand, visiting the sites of many historical features, taking pictures, and documenting them, then sharing the information with the public through a variety of resources. Murray is the author of three books featuring Yukon history; creator of the ExploreNorth website, which consists of almost 7,000 pages of information and more than 40,000 files on Yukon and Alaska History that are regularly used by countless researchers and interested people; and founder of the immensely popular Yukon History and Abandoned Places Facebook group. A dynamic forum for people interested in Yukon history to exchange information and share experiences, this group saw dramatic growth in 2018, closing the year with well over 10,000 members. Murray’s work continues to preserve and promote Yukon heritage for the enjoyment of all.

Historian Michael Gates at the 2018 Yukon Heritage Awards

Historian Michael Gates nominated me for the award, and started the presentation by describing why.

Historian Murray Lundberg at the 2018 Yukon Heritage Awards

Then I had a few minutes to talk to the people who had come to the event. As usual, there was far more I wanted to say than I had time to say it 🙂 I never have a written script – I prefer to just have the important things in my head and then say whatever comes to mind. This photo was shot by Tony Gonda, who was shooting for the YHMA. Karla Scott shot an 8-minute video of Michael’s nomination speech and my acceptance – thanks, Karla!

Historians Michael Gates and Murray Lundberg  at the 2018 Yukon Heritage Awards

The award itself is a small plaque on a framed copy of an old Yukon map. Originally published in 1891 by the GSC, it shows the routes of the 1887-1888 Yukon Expedition. My map is #189 of a limited edition of 500, published by the YHMA and Association of Map Libraries in 1980. It’s now hanging above my desk.

History Maker Award – History Maker Award

A posthumous History Maker Award was presented to Jamie Toole for this father Gordon Mervin Toole, a long-time Yukoner who helped make the Yukon what it is today through his outstanding contributions to meteorology, aviation, wilderness tourism, big game outfitting, trapping, and farming. Gordon is perhaps best known for recording the lowest official temperature ever measured in North America, -81.4°F (-63°C), on February 3, 1947 at Snag, Yukon, in his role as meteorologist for the Canadian Department of Transport. He later became a founding partner and pilot for the Watson Lake Flying Service; the owner/operator of Thunderbird Fishing camp, then the only registered fly-fishing camp in the Yukon; a big game outfitter; the owner/operator of several traplines and a farm near Watson Lake; and Justice of the Peace and Coroner for Watson Lake. While he passed away on November 9, 2018, Gordon’s legacy as a History Maker remains.

Helen Couch Volunteer of the Year Award – Bruce Barrett

Bruce Barrett received the Helen Couch Volunteer of the Year Award. Bruce has dedicated many years of his life to the heritage community in Yukon, both throughout his career and by generously giving his time in a volunteer capacity, whether as a photographer, advocate, or even actor. He has acted as the unofficially official photographer for YHMA, chronicling many of the organization’s special events over the years. In addition, Bruce spent time volunteering with ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) Canada, sharing northern perspectives with the national heritage community. Bruce has also been an avid participant in the Yukon music and theatrical scenes, and in 2017 loaned his acting talents to an interactive performance fundraiser for the Old Log Church Museum. He continues to volunteer for a variety of organizations.

Bruce Barrett at the 2018 Yukon Heritage Awards

Innovation, Education, and Community Engagement Award – Association franco-yukonnaise

This year’s Innovation, Education, and Community Engagement Award was presented to Association franco-yukonnaise for “De fil en histoires: les personnages d’un territoire”/ “Stitches in Time: Yukon History Makers”. Through this project, AFY has paid tribute to the Francophones who helped shape the Yukon, connecting participants and the public with both the territory’s Francophone history and the traditional craft of dollmaking. Led by local artist Cecile Girard, 19 community members created a total of 21 handcrafted dolls representing real French-speaking Yukoners, past and present. The dolls and their stories were then highlighted through three bilingual exhibitions, in Dawson City, Haines Junction, and Whitehorse, as well as a bilingual website, video, and printed catalogue. AFY is currently working to adapt the project for use in schools. “De fil en histoires” highlights the diversity of Yukon’s history and culture, and demonstrates AFY’s commitment to raising awareness about Yukon’s Francophone heritage.

Association franco-yukonnaise at the 2018 Yukon Heritage Awards

Heritage Conservation Project of the Year Award – Yukon Church Heritage Society

The Heritage Conservation Project of the Year Award was presented to the Yukon Church Heritage Society (YCHS) for the conservation of the Old Log Church and Rectory in Whitehorse. Constructed in 1900 and 1901 respectively, these buildings are among the oldest buildings in Whitehorse and are landmarks in the community. The Old Log Church served as a place of worship in Whitehorse for 60 years before being repurposed as a museum in 1962. In 2014, the Old Log Church and Rectory were designated a Yukon Historic Site and municipal historic site. The YCHS was formed in 1982 to restore and preserve the buildings and to operate the Old Log Church Museum. They have shown great stewardship of the buildings through respectful use, care, and maintenance, and through various conservation projects. In 2018, work focused on the rectory, upgrading the heating system and replacing the roof’s cedar shingles. The YCHS undertook a similar re-roofing project in 2006 for the Old Log Church. Work completed by the YCHS has followed the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada and will ensure that the historic value and architectural integrity of the buildings are preserved. This award is sponsored by the Department of Tourism and Culture, Government of Yukon.

Award winners at the 2018 Yukon Heritage Awards

All of the award winners.


2018 Yukon Heritage Awards — 10 Comments

  1. Well deserved…we are all greatly enriched by your love of history, places, travel, photography etc.

    As they’d say in the old days, “HUZZAH, HUZZAH!!!