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Yukon River Sternwheeler Yukoner sold, 1957

The Yukon River Sternwheeler Yukoner

Highlights of History from The Whitehorse Star

The Whitehorse Star - Thursday, May 30, 1957

    A familiar landmark for over fifty years, the steamer "Yukoner" will soon be gone from the Whitehorse skyline. Together with the barges "Onekeno" and "Tookeno," the old ship was sold last week to William "Al" Wengryn for the reported amount of $450.

    Two days after the agreement for sale was signed in White Pass offices, Al and his crew of two sons and a couple of friends had already begun dismantling the paddle wheeler.

    A carpenter with Dawson and Hall, Mr. Wengryn intends to spend all his spare time this summer taking the Yukoner apart. Besides selling some of the lumber for firewood, he hopes to salvage some of it build a boarding house here. "I am a cook and so is my wife," he says, "and Whitehorse sure could use a good boarding house."

Many Trades

    Originally from the Prairies, Al Wengryn was born in Edmonton of Polish and Swedish parents and he still has a trace of a Swedish accent. Amid his varied occupations he lists such useful trades as cook, carpenter and leather worker. He had a leathercraft business in New Westminster at one time, but the sky—rocketing luxury taxes during the Second World War soured him on private enterprise. Before coming to Whitehorse a year ago, Al was in Dawson Creek working as a carpenter.

    Another job was in Port Alberni, where he tore up old barges. What he learned there should help in figuring out how to tear down the Yukoner, says Al. Apparently not worried about the size of the job, he is confident he will have the site cleared within the six-month limit imposed by the conditions of the sale. White Pass officials say they want to clear the whole waterfront eventually and for that reason place a time limit on sales of barges or steamers.

Steamers For Sale

    It is understood that all the old steamers are for sale, although it appears likely the "Klondike" will go first. Interested parties from Vancouver have been considering the purchase and removal Outside of the "Klondike", but it is not known definitely when the deal will go through.

    The two barges to be torn down by Al Wengryn are both about 25 years old, while the steamer "Yukoner" has been resting her old beams in Whitehorse since 1903. Barges "Onekeno" and "Tookeno" were both registered in Dawson and completed many years of active service on the river. Not so serviceable was the old paddlewheeler "Yukoner", built in 1898 and taken out of operation five years later after an eventful history.

    After her maiden voyage in 1898, the ship was sold for $45,000. On her second trip, she was frozen in at Russian Mission on the lower Yukon and did not reach Dawson until June 1899.

Mutiny On Ship

    This voyage was memorable for a mutiny which arose over an argument between the crew and passengers and Captain Morine. A vote was taken among passengers and crew with the result that the Captain was told he was to be relieved of his command or else everyone would go ashore. The First Officer Barney Larson took over the ship and on arriving in Dawson, Captain Morine laid a charge of mutiny and piracy against the crew. A long court case followed. Eventually the steamer was thrown into bankruptcy court and sold.

    After this, the British Yukon Navigation Co, bought the "Yukoner," but only used the ship a short time because her draft was too deep for economical use on the upper Yukon. Her last recorded voyage was from Dawson City August 25, 1903. When she arrived in Whitehorse five days later it was the end of her life as a river boat.