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Phil Todd, 1924-2008

Arctic & Northern Biographies

Phil Todd, 1924-2008 22. November, 1924 - 31. March, 2008

    Phil was born in Ashington, England, in a coal miner's family. They immigrated to Canada in 1928 and lived on a homestead in Alberta, near South Cooking Lake. Phil went to school in Uncas. His mother died when he was 13, Phil had to quit school and work on a farm to help support the family. At the age of 19 he enlisted in the Army and served in World War II in England and Italy. In December 1944, he was wounded in an explosion. The shrapnel pieces embedded in his body became a good excuse for his life long affair with scrap metal.

    In 1946, he took a heavy-duty mechanic training in Red Deer and was posted as an equipment operator on the North West Highway System. In October 1946, his work brought him to Whitehorse and Haines Junction, and Phil made the Yukon his home forever. He drove and maintained equipment on the early Alaska Highway and on the Haines Road. He fondly remembered that era. Eventually, Phil got tired of working for the government ("Could not stand the inactivity"). In 1955, he opened, with his first wife Lil, the first truck stop in the Yukon - McCrae Hiway Services. Worked day and night and fixed many tires and trucks, welded many broken pieces, and fed many truck drivers. In 1978, they sold McCrae ("Got fed up with the public"). Lil moved south and Phil to Carcross Corner ("Tired of the City taxes"). 25 years later, retired truck drivers in their RVs still looked for Phil, to say hello.

    At McCrae, Phil formed a trucking company, Aksala Enterprises. They were hauling freight in and out of the Yukon; Ore from Anvil Mine in Faro, and fiber from Clinton Creek to Cassiar. When trucking slowed to a crawl, Phil went full time into operating Golden Horn Salvage and Repair, a rather colourful scrap yard at the Carcross Corner, and later an organized recycling business 1/4 mile away. In 30 years he shipped out well over a thousand tons of processed metals. He was also involved in dismantling industrial buildings and in mining, but processing of scrap metal became his lifestyle. In April 1992, he briefly took his coveralls off to get married again, stripping wires in the yard until half an hour before the ceremony. Phil and Jasna raised two fine boys, Philip (grade 10) and Ondrej (classical musician).

    Phil was one of the founding members of the Golden Horn Volunteer Fire Department. He proudly drove and maintained the fire truck and served as a Fire Chief. He was also a member of the Yukon Order of Pioneers. Phil loved the outdoors and explored the backcountry on his snow machine and on ATV until his mid seventies. But he was most content in his yard, working at his pace, watching birds and wild flowers, rainbows and sunsets... He liked drinking coffee and playing solitaire, visiting with friends, taking pictures of nature and cooking his famous stew. He liked to take truckloads of neighbourhood kids to the Hot Springs. He did not like to waste time on paperwork and disliked all governments, which often landed him in a pile of troubles.

    Phil was a quiet, gentle, kind man. He helped many people. Got things done and never talked about it. He was independent and tough. Never complained. Didn't lose his dry wit even during his illness ("Phil, how is your breathing?" "Still doing it..."). He was a good man, happy with his life. He loved the Yukon. His heart, worn out by a life span of hard work, stopped in Whitehorse General Hospital before noon, on March 31. However, Phil left on his last journey in his coveralls, with work gloves in his back pocket, ready to help with whatever they might need there.

    Phil is survived by wife Jasna, son Philip, stepson Ondrej Golias, sisters Evelyne (Ted) Sinclair and Eileen Morgan; nieces and nephews, good friends, and by his little dog Lida. He is predeceased by parents, Watman Harrison Todd and Elsie Ann Todd; brothers John Todd and Henry Johnson, and by deceased good old friends.

    Phil's family would like to sincerely thank the doctors and nurses in Whitehorse General Hospital who took care of Phil during his illness; to Dr. Densmore, to the kind people at Heritage North Funeral Home, to friends who promptly helped out, especially Ken, Liesel and Rosemary, Mike and Jean, Suzanne, Davina, and to all who cared and called.

    A Memorial Service for Phil Todd will be announced at a later date.