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Emil Joseph Forrest (1889-1960)

Highlights of History from The Whitehorse Star

The Whitehorse Pioneer Cemetery

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The Whitehorse Star - Thursday, August 25, 1960

Death Takes Old Riverboat Pilot. Emil Forrest Dies at Casca Launching, 1960

    Emi] J. Forrest, 71, died of a heart attack at 11:35 am. August 20, while helping launch the paddlewheeler Keno.

    Mr. Forrest, retired from active navigation since 1947, was to pilot the sternwheeler on its historic voyage to Dawson City August 24. It was to be his first time piloting a craft as large as the Keno, and likely the last voyage one of the old BYN paddlewheelers would make on the Yukon River.

    Mr. Forrest began his career on the river in 1910, at the age of 21. He served as an assistant pilot on a motor launch, charting the tricky channels between Circle and Fort Yukon.

    From 1914 to 1922 he carried mail from Dawson City to the mouth of the Yukon. After 1922 he did some prospecting in the Mayo and Carmacks area, and had considerable mine interests in the Mayo region. He was employed as an airplane mechanic from 1929 to 1937 at Mayo.

    The river called him back in 1941. He was made engineer aboard the Neecheah and later skipper of the Loon. The Loon, a BYN motor launch, was used to make soundings on the river to make it safe for the giant paddlewheelers to follow through. When the Loon was pulled into Whitehorse drydock in 1947, Mr. Forrest stayed on with White Pass as a night watchman.

    Mr. Forrest came to the Yukon from Alberta with his family in 1901, at the age of 12, and went to school at Dawson City. Mr. Forrest came to the Yukon from Alberta with his family in 1901, at Funeral services were held in Whitehorse 2 p.m. Wednesday, at the Old Log Church.

The Whitehorse Star - Thursday, September 15, 1960

Tribute Paid Emil Forrest, Yukoner who died at Keno launching, 1960

    (A tribute to Emil Forrest, who died at the launching of the steamer Keno, has been written by his friend W. J. Langham of Carmacks. Mr. Langham's remarks are published here:)

    The many friends of the late Emil J. Forrest throughout Yukon, Vancouver, Seattle, points in California, Alaska and Hawaii were shocked and grieved to learn of his sudden passing due to a fatal heart attack suffered on August 20th, 1960.

    A letter received from Emil's oldest friend, Mr. George Wallace of Weems, Virginia, states in part: "Emil was my oldest friend. We played together as kids in Dawson sixty years ago. We played together on the River as kids - he worked on the River as a man and, when the River died - he died."

    Mr. Forrest had a life-long interest in the Yukon River and he had looked forward to piloting the Steamer "Keno" down to Dawson on its last trip. He had been employed many years, off and on, with the White Pass Company and was so employed at the time of his passing.

    In 1921-22 Mr. Forrest drove the first Holt caterpillar into Mayo from Whitehorse. The tractor hauled behind it a sleigh load of gasoline and a wannigan in which Forrest and his helper cooked and slept.

    He was thoroughly conversant with internal engines of all types, both gasoline and diesel and had secured his airplane mechanic's license after being sent to the Fairchild factories at Long Island, N.Y., and Quebec, by Livingston Wernecke of Treadwell Yukon Co. at Mayo. He serviced planes at Mayo, Whitehorse and Carcross. He had solo flights for thirty hours but gave up flying.

Mining Man

    Emil was a great believer in the mineral possibilities of Yukon and invested in many properties: The Yukon Silver Lead Co., the Beaver River area and, since 1931, in the Laforma property on Mt. Freegold, Carmacks area. Ormsby Mines Limited of Toronto will begin development work on the Laforma property next year and it is sad Emil could not have survived to see this property brought into production.

    With the death of Mr. Forrest, the Yukon loses one of its old time respected citizens. His outstanding characteristics were honesty, integrity and loyalty - loyalty to his employers and to his friends.

    Funeral services were held at the Anglican Church in Whitehorse, Reverend Privett officiating. Many of his old time friends were present to pay their final respects.

    The pall-bearers were Messrs. George Smith and R. C. Beaumont of the White Pass Co., Messrs. G. I. Cameron and J. A. MacDonald of the territorial government and Messrs. Jeff Bidlake and Bon Kunze.

    With the passing of Mr. Forrest and the departure of the "Keno" for Dawson, an epoch in Yukon River transportation reached its end.

    Mr. Forrest is survived by his sister, Mrs. Evelyn F. Fontaine of La Tuque, Quebec, and by his nephew, Leonard Forrest of Everett, Washington.

    Emil Forrest was an enthusiastic amateur photographer, and a collection of 655 of his photos, as well as films, scrapbooks and other material, were donated to the Yukon Archives. Dating from 1898-1960, these photos of communities, sternwheelers, mines, roadhouses and people throughout the Yukon and Alaska are valuable records of a time when there weren't many people here taking photos.