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2018 Yukon Heritage Awards

Arctic & Northern History

Previous Yukon Heritage Award winners

2018 Yukon Heritage Award winners

Photo by Vince Fedoroff

ENRICHING YUKON HERITAGE - The 2018 Yukon Heritage Awards were handed out Monday evening. The recipients are, left to right: Murray Lundberg, who received the annual Heritage Award; Jeanne Beaudoin, representing the Association franco-yukonaise, receiving the Innovation, Education and Community Engagement Award; Bruce Barrett, the Helen Couch Volunteer of the Year Award recipient; Jamie Toole, receiving the History Maker Award on behalf of his late father, Gordon Mervin Toole; and Len Beecroft and Marjorie Copp, accepting the Heritage Conservation Project of the Year for the Yukon Church Heritage Society.

By Whitehorse Star on February 20, 2019

    Five individuals and groups were recognized Monday evening with the Yukon Historical & Museums Association's (YHMA's) 35th annual Yukon Heritage Awards. As in previous years, the event coincided with the start of Heritage Week (Feb.18-24).

    The annual Heritage Award was presented to Murray Lundberg. He has travelled far and wide throughout the territory, always with camera in hand, visiting the sites of many historical features, taking pictures, and documenting them. He has then shared the information with the public through a variety of resources.

    Lundberg is the author of three books featuring Yukon history and the creator of the ExploreNorth website. That consists of almost 7,000 pages of information and more than 40,000 files on Yukon and Alaska history that are regularly used by many researchers and interested people.

    Lundberg is also the founder of the popular Yukon History and Abandoned Places Facebook group. A forum for people interested in Yukon history to exchange information and share experiences, the group saw dramatic growth in 2018, closing the year with well over 10,000 members.

    "Murray's work continues to preserve and promote Yukon heritage for the enjoyment of all," the YHMA said.

    A posthumous History Maker Award was presented to Gordon Mervin Toole. The long-time Yukoner helped make the Yukon what it is today through his contributions to meteorology, aviation, wilderness tourism, big game outfitting, trapping, and farming.

    Toole is perhaps best known for recording the lowest official temperature ever measured in North America: -81.4°F (-63°C), on Feb. 3, 1947 at Snag, western Yukon. He did so in his role as a meteorologist for the Canadian Department of Transport.

    Toole later became:

  • a founding partner and pilot for the Watson Lake Flying Service;
  • the owner/operator of Thunderbird Fishing camp, then the only registered fly-fishing camp in the Yukon; a big game outfitter;
  • the owner/operator of several traplines and a farm near Watson Lake; and
  • the justice of the peace and coroner for Watson Lake.

    While he died on Nov. 9, 2018, Toole's legacy as a history maker remains, said the YHMA.

    Bruce Barrett received the Helen Couch Volunteer of the Year award. Barrett has dedicated many years of his life to the heritage community in the Yukon. He has done so throughout his career and by generously giving his time in a volunteer capacity, whether as a photographer, advocate, or actor.

    He has acted as the unofficially official photographer for the YHMA, chronicling many of the organization's special events over the years. In addition, Barrett spent time volunteering with the International Council on Monuments and Sites Canada, sharing northern perspectives with the national heritage community.

    He has also been an avid participant in the Yukon music and theatrical scenes. In 2017, he lent his acting talents to an interactive performance fundraiser for the Old Log Church Museum. He continues to volunteer for a variety of organizations.

    This year's Innovation, Education, and Community Engagement Award went to the Association franco-yukonnaise (AFY) for "De fil en histoires: les personnages d'un territoire/ Stitches in Time: Yukon History Makers".

    Through this project, AFY has paid tribute to the francophones who helped shape the Yukon, reconnecting participants and the public with both the territory's francophone history and the traditional craft of dollmaking.

    Led by local artist C├ęcile Girard, 19 community members created a total of 21 handcrafted dolls representing real French-speaking Yukoners, past and present. The dolls and their stories were then highlighted through three bilingual exhibitions, in Dawson City, Haines Junction, and Whitehorse, as well as a bilingual website, video, and printed catalogue.

    AFY is working to adapt the project for use in schools.

    De fil en histoire's highlights the diversity of the Yukon's history and culture, and demonstrates AFY's commitment to raising awareness about Yukon's Francophone heritage.

    The Heritage Conservation Project of the Year Award was presented to the Yukon Church Heritage Society for the conservation of the Old Log Church and Rectory in Whitehorse.

    Constructed in 1900 and 1901 respectively, these buildings are among the oldest buildings in Whitehorse and are landmarks in the community. The Old Log Church served as a place of worship in Whitehorse for 60 years before being repurposed as a museum in 1962.

    In 2014, the Old Log Church and Rectory were designated a Yukon Historic Site and municipal historic site.

    The society was formed in 1982 to restore and preserve the buildings and to operate the Old Log Church Museum. They have shown great stewardship of the buildings through respectful use, care, and maintenance, and through various conservation projects.

    In 2018, work focused on the rectory, upgrading the heating system and replacing the roof's cedar shingles. The society undertook a similar re-roofing project in 2006 for the Old Log Church.

    The society's work has followed the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada and will ensure that the buildings' historic value and architectural integrity are preserved.

    This award is sponsored by the Department of Tourism and Culture, Government of Yukon.

    To mark Heritage Week, JJ, Dustyn, and Joshua Van Bibber gave a special presentation celebrating the legacy of their great grandfather, JJ Van Bibber, a prominent First Nations hunter, trapper, photographer, and storyteller.

    As they reflected upon JJ Van Bibber's vivid stories and extensive collection of photographs, his great grandsons demonstrated how he exemplified the national theme, "Heritage: The Tie that Binds". They did so by connecting his past with the future and creating a sense of belonging and understanding for his family.

    The YHMA is a territorially-incorporated society and registered charitable organization that works to strengthen heritage in the Yukon through leadership, advocacy, and education.

    "These annual awards honour those who have made exceptional contributions to Yukon heritage, enriching our community for all Yukoners," said Lianne Maitland, the YHMA's executive director.

    "This year we are excited to present these awards to five diverse recipients, each of whom has contributed in a very different way."