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William Stephenson "Bill" Drury (1870-1953)

Highlights of History from The Whitehorse Star

The Whitehorse Pioneer Cemetery

The Taylor & Drury story

The Whitehorse Star - Friday, September 25, 1953

William S. Drury, Prominent Pioneer Merchant Dies Suddenly, 1953

    William Stephenson Drury, well-known merchant in Whitehorse and the Yukon, died in the Whitehorse General Hospital Monday morning, September 21. Mr. Drury was taken ill last week-end and entered the hospital Sunday evening.

    Funeral services were held Thursday afternoon.

    William Drury was born in Lincolnshire, England, in 1870 and came to Canada as a young man. He first settled in Ontario and in the spring of 1898 started out with a group of young men for Ashcroft. B.C., where the adventurers organized a trip to the Klondike Gold Fields, William Drury and his friends took the "poor man's route" to the Yukon. This was through the mountainous terrain of interior British Columbia. In the fall of 1898 he arrived at what is now Telegraph Creek, B.C., and that winter moved on to Atlin, B.C., and the "Discovery" gold camp.

    It was here at Atlin that William and Isaac Taylor first met and formed the beginnings of what is now the famous Yukon company, Taylor and Drury Ltd. After a year at Diseovery and Atlin the two partners moved to Bennett and opened a general store. On completion of the White Pass and Yukon Railway, Taylor and Drury's moved their base to Whitehorse and opened a shop on First Avenue, near the site of the present Post Office.

    Gradually the store's operations branched out and trading posts were established at various Indian settlements. William Drury's main interest was in the fur trade and in the earlier part of this century he shipped furs to London and New York. From these centres the furs were distributed widely. The name "William Drury" became well known and respected in the fur trade throughout the world.

    In 1917 he met Lucy Evans in Whitehorse and they were married shortly afterwards. Bill Drury continued to spend his winters in the store but summers found him travelling to all the company's trading posts in the Yukon. He became a familiar figure to the missionaries and R.C.M.P. in the outposts; Indian trappers, prospectors and the rich and poor throughout the Territory. He knew well George W. Carmack, "Skookum" Jim, "Tagish" Charlie, the discoverers of the famous Klondike Gold Fields and enjoyed relating stories about the old Yukon characters.

    Bill Drury loved to brag that he was "the slowest man in getting to the Klondike Gold Fields." He used to say that it took him from 1898 until 1935 to make the trip when he finally visited Dawson City. Immediately on his arrival in Dawson in 1935 he went to the Territorial Government Offices and stated that he wished to report in as "the last man" for the Klondike Gold Rush.

    Mr. Drury was a member for 51 years and Past Master of the Masonic Lodge in Whitehorse. He attended also the Kiwanis and was a member since the club's formation in the town. He took an active part in the Board of Trade and was on the executive of the first Board organized in Whitehorse. He was interested in the Boy Scout movement in Whitehorse.

    William Drury was active in business until his death. He is survived by his wife Lucy and two children, Bill and Mary.



    The people of Whitehorse and the Yukon mourn the passing of a grand old man, Mr. William S. Drury.

    Mr. Drury was one of the early settlers in Whitehorse, coming here in the Gold Rush days.

    No acknowledgement by words is needed to show Mr. Drury's industry and integrity in the business world of the Yukon.

    The flourishing Taylor and Drury Company of today, of which he was a founder, exists as a silent tribute to his honesty and the conduct of his everyday living.

    William Drury was 82 when he died. He lived a rich and full life and will be long remembered by the citizens of this Territory.