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Rev. Harold Iden Lee (1915-1952)

Highlights of History from The Whitehorse Star

Indian Residential Schools & School Residences in the Yukon Territory

The Whitehorse Pioneer Cemetery

The Whitehorse Star - Friday, March 7, 1952

City Shocked by Death of Rev. Harold Lee, March 1952

    Rev. Lee became the victim of a tragic highway accident, which occured at mile 785.9 about five o'clock, Saturday evening, when the car which he was driving collided with an oncoming Canadian Army ration truck. He was taken back to Morley River Lodge at 777.7 to await medical aid.

    Seriously injured, he realized that death was near and left the following message for his wife, should he not live to see her: "Tell Lydia I love her dearly, tell her to take good care of the children and to carry on in the Mission School the best she can", and later in speaking to his wife, he said, "If it is the Lord's will, He'll pull me through, but it's His will that matters. His will will be done." Medical Authorities, Flt. Lt. Buchan, Major Croskery, as well as Padre Currie and Constable Anderson, were speeded to Teslin airport where Rev. Lee was flown to Whitehorse about two o'clock a.m. Sunday. He died in the Army Hospital about 3:45 the same morning. Today a large number of relatives, friends and school children mourn his loss.

    The youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. S. S. Lee, Harold Iden was born at Lacadena, Saskatchewan, on August 31, 1915. The family moved to Lousana, Alberta where the parents still reside. Following public and high school, the deceased trained with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Regina. "Woe is unto me, if I preach not the Gospel." (1 Cor, 9:16) was the verse that led Rev. Lee to full time service for his Lord and master - a service that proved fruitful not only in his home field but across the bleak stretches of the Yukon. Thus, he studied for the ministry in Three Hills and Calgary, where, during that time, he met his wife, former Lydia Brown of Leduc, Alberta, who was also taking Bible School training. They were married on July 14, 1940, and to that union were born three children, Wayne, Betty and David.

    After leaving Bible School, Mr. and Mrs. Lee took charge of the Soldiers', Sailors', and Airmen's Christian Centre in Calgary, and continued in the work from September until the end of hostilities.

    In May 1946, the couple answered a call to the Yukon and came to Whitehorse under the Alaska Evangelization Society. At first their ministry centered mainly around the white population, which work led to the first "Close of Day" radio broadcast in June and the dedication of the Whitehorse Gospel Chapel in September of the same year.

    The minister became a prominent figure in the town and his zeal coupled with his cheerful and friendly disposition won him many friends.

    Realizing the great spiritual lack among the natives of the town, Rev. Lee turned his attention to this field. "If this counsel or this work be done of men, it will come to naught. But if it be of God, we cannot overthrow it." (Acts 5:38,39), he declared, as he set out to claim the Indians for God. The need of education became more evident as the missionary work progressed and thus an Indian Day School was opened in January, 1947, with some twenty pupils enrolled. As the burden of the work grew heavier, Rev. Lee asked to be released from the duties with the white congregation and gave his fulltime service to independent work among the natives.

    In June, 1947, the school was moved to its present location and the hostel was opened in September. The enrollment increased until to-day 170 pupils are in attendance with four children in the orphanage.

    Both the missionary and educational work grew rapidly and Rev. Lee became well-known in many areas - Minto, Carmacks, Klukshu, Teslin, Ashihik, Ross River, Pelly, Atlin and other districts became familiar territory to the pastor whom they welcomed. As time went on, the natives grew to place a stronger faith and trust in the white man whom they had learned to love. In him they found the understanding, interest they craved. Little children, before neglected in the wintry northland, came to know the joy of a white man's home and became, their parents partakers of the white man's God and His blessings.

    Mothers and fathers, beaming with a thrill of pride, stirred as their little ones traced out their names, or read aloud the mastered lines of school. However, the heart of the beloved pastor saw deeper than the reading book. In his heart was a prayer of greater import - a prayer for strength and understanding - to point the Indian brother to the One Eternal Way - a prayer that all the vast greatness of the Yukon might hear the Word of God and respond to the message of His love.

    The years passed and the Indian began to take his place in a changing and thoughtless world. In the spring of 1951 the Indian Baptist Church was dedicated to the Lord and several Indian Young People, expressing their desire and intention to follow Christ, were baptized. Rev. Lee dared to look to the future, he saw no longer the Indian children as neglected inhabitants of the Northland, but as one great and glorious clarion sounding forth the everlasting message of the Gospel.

    So, to-day, as a vast number of friends throughout the Yukon, and Alberta, where Mr. Lee was widely known in his ministerial duties and radio work, mourn his death, a richer reward is added, as tears flow down the cheeks of the dark-skinned natives who found their Saviour through the message of a white man who dared to answer the call of God. May we, who knew and loved the one who has passed from us, be challenged by his dying message to his wife - to carry on the work which God has blessed.

    Beside his wife and children, Rev. Lee leaves to mourn his loss, his parents, Mr. and Mrs. S. S. Lee, of Lousana, Alberta; seven brothers, Sanford of White Bear, Saskatchewan: George of Lacodena, Saskatchewan; Selmar, Oliver, Homer and Laurel of Lousana, Alberta; and Leforrest, who assisted Mr. Lee on the Mission School staff; three Sisters, Mrs. J. Jacobson, Lousana, Alberta; Mrs. R. Trenemen, Delbourne, Alberta; and Mrs. L. J. Smith, Lousana, Alberta. He also leaves thirty-seven nieces and nephews, three nieces and two nephews of which are also on the Mission School staff.

    As a closing tribute, we can find no better words than these of a sorrowing Indian chief, "The Indians have lost the best friend they ever had."

The Whitehorse Star - Friday, March 7, 1952

Record Attendance At Rev. Lee Funeral, March 1952

    Three hundred friends of Rev. Harold Lee attended his funeral services at the Army Theatre yesterday at 2 p.m.

    The service was conducted by Rev. Donald Smith of the Whitehorse Gospel Chapel and assisted by Padre Currie of the R.C.A.F.

    One hundred and seventy Indian children, all enrolled in the Whitehorse Indian Mission, of which Rev. Lee was the founder, paid their last respects to a man who had loved and encouraged them.

    Their friend had passed away.

The Whitehorse Star - Friday, March 14, 1952

Card of Thanks - Rev. Lee, March 1952

    We wish to express our heartfelt thanks to the Teslin and Whitehorse RCMP, RCAF Officials, Padre Currie, F/Lt. Buchan, Sgt. Little, Major Croskery, Dr. Stewart, Rev. Donald Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Rose, Sgt. and Mrs. Waugh, WO2 and Mrs. Harley, Sgt. and Mrs. Barnett, Everett Ball, Mr. C, Taylor, Misses Aileen and Nora Moen; to those who loaned cars, sent floral tributes, letters and cards, and everyone who in any way helped to comfort and strengthen us in our time of bereavement.

            Mrs. Harold Lee and Family

The Whitehorse Star - Friday, March 14, 1952

Memorial Fund For Late Rev. Lee, March 1952

    In memory of the late Rev. Harold Lee a memorial fund has been set up. Contributions to this fund may be made to Mr. McKay at the Bank of Commerce, WO2 H. Harley, RCAF Station, Rev. D. Smith of the Whitehorse Gospel Chapel or Mr. R. Knapp at the Indian Baptist Mission School. The committee wishes to make clear that the donation will be used for a permanent investment or project of the school and not for current operating expenses or family needs. The public will be notified when final decision is made. Cheques to this fund should be made payable to the Indian Baptist Mission School.