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Isaac Taylor (1865-1959)

Highlights of History from The Whitehorse Star

The Whitehorse Pioneer Cemetery

The Taylor & Drury story

The Whitehorse Star - Thursday, June 18, 1959

Local Pioneer Store Head Dies, 1959

    Isaac Taylor, who died Friday in his 95th year, was a true pioneer. As a young man, he left England for Australia and there proved his business ability by owning a sheep ranch within a few years. When news of the Klondike gold rush broke, he came to Canada.

    Little more than a year from his arrival in Vancouver March 1898, foundations were laid for the merchandising empire of Taylor and Drury.

    At about the same time Isaac Taylor was on his way to the north, his future partner William Drury was also setting out from Whitby, Ontario for the Klondike. Born in Lincolnshire, Mr. Drury emigrated to Canada several years before the gold rush, intending. to settle in Ontario and follow his trade as a shoemaker.

    The two men met on the Ashcroft Trail just outside Telegraph Creek on September 3, 1898. They parted company that fall, Mr. Taylor going on to Skagway and Mr. Drury staying to spend the winter in Atlin. During a stampede out of Atlin the following spring, the pair met once more and finally decided to become partners in June 1899.

Tent, First Store

    Their first store was a tent in the gold rush town of Discovery, near Atlin. The two-man firm profited in their first year of operation by paying $5.00 for gear from disillusioned stampeders leaving the north and selling the same outfits for $25 to new hopefuls on their way in. Later, stores were also set up in Atlin and at Bennett City.

    The stampede was over when the White Pass railroad reached Whitehorse in 1900. Because there was no more business at Lake Bennett, the versatile company of Taylor and Drury moved to Whitehorse in August 1900, once more setting up business in a tent.

    The next year the firm started their first fur post at the confluence of Hootalinqua and Yukon rivers. In later years there were 13 fur posts, the farthest at Pelly Banks, 600 miles from Whitehorse. A small fleet of river boats, including the Kluahne, Thistle and Yukon Rose, were used to deliver merchandise to the posts. At this time too, there were issued T&D trade coins which the Indians regarded as "real money" because it didn't wear out as did paper bills. There was only one issue of coins or $10,000 and in 1942 the company stopped using "Ross River money."

    Among the many adventures of the pioneer store keepers, even the big Whitehorse fire in 1905 was remembered as incidental. "We never went out of business," recalled Mr. Taylor not long ago.


    Partners and friends for more than 50 years, the founders of the T&D store were also brothers-in-law. In 1908 Mr. Taylor married the former Sarah Drury in Lincolnshire, England. Mrs. Taylor died February 1945 in New Zealand wihle the couple were on a cruise to Australia.

    William Drury continued to be an active partner until his death in September 1953 at the age of 83. The late Isaac Taylor remained alert until very near the end of his long life, even flying over the pole on a European tour when he was 90. He would have been 95 on July 9 this year.

    Full Masonic honours were accorded the late Mr. Taylor who had been a Mason for 57 years. Funeral services were held Monday at the Old Log Church with the Rt. Rev. Tom Greenwood, Bishop of Yukon, officiating. Pall bearers were R. Bailey, S. Dunnett, J. Hoggan, W. Emery and G. Aylwin. Wallden Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.

    Isaac Taylor was buried in the Masonic Plot, beside his life-long friend and partner William Drury, as he had requested.

    Surviving the pioneer merchandiser are daughter Florence, sons William, Charles and Albert and six grandchildren.