A Commemoration of the Yukon’s WWI Fallen Soldiers

Front cover of the book, Yukon Fallen. Dawson’s Victory Gardens, showing flags, cenotaph and German field pieces

This slender volume contains brief biographies and photographs of the men from the Yukon who fought and died for Canada between 1914 and 1918. Seven of the enlisted died in 1919, but are recorded as still being in active service.

Many of their names are recorded on cenotaphs or memorial plaques in Dawson City or Whitehorse. Some were missed. The authors ferreted them out through a variety of other sources. In one of the introductions, the authors note that the “Yukon Fallen can be found in fifty-six locations … on four continents.”

Many are buried in memorial cemeteries in France and Belgium. Some are buried in parts of England. Some bodies were returned to Canada. For a number of the entries in the book, there is no known burial location and their deaths are simply noted on monuments and in record books. Remembering that today’s Yukon capital was just a fraction of its present size, and relatively unimportant during this period, it will come as no surprise to read that many of these soldiers were living in Dawson, then the territorial capital, when they enlisted.

From a more complete story of the Yukon’s part in the so-called Great War, read Michael Gates’ From the Klondike to Berlin (Harbour2017and the Northern Review’s special 2017 issue, The North and the First World War (2017). It contains the papers delivered at the 2016 conference, The North and the First World War. It was during the lead-up to this conference that the original list of names of the Fallen began to be compiled.

Whitehorse Legion #254 is the copyright holder of this book. The introduction notes that a number of people were essential to the creation of the book. Those individuals include Peggy D’Orsay, a former archivist with the Yukon Archives; Tim Popp, a historian with a special interest in memorabilia from the First World War; and Max Fraser, formerly with Lost Moose and now a filmmaker with a special interest in Joe Boyle. (One of the big names in Yukon’s First World War history.)

It is Fraser’s photo of Dawson’s Victory Gardens that graces the cover. Each of the soldiers between pages 27 and 114 has a page devoted to himself, showing rank, regimental number (where available), regiment and date of death, along with either a photograph or regimental insignia at the top of the page. This is followed by a brief account of his place of birth, employment and residence in the Yukon and service record. A line or two at the bottom of the page indicates where he is buried or commemorated.

The entries are in alphabetical order, but there is a listing in chronological order at the back of the book. There is also a list of 12 men whose names were found during the project, but whose service records couldn’t be found to match. It is not known exactly what happened to them. Perhaps this information will surface as a result of this book.

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