What a glorious Saturday afternoon!
I wandered the path in Bert Law Park, on Temptation Island. The sun was warm on my skin, but there was a hint of the changing season; autumn beckoning on the wind.
An interpretive sign informs the visitor of numerous berry species to be found—soap berry, northern black currant, high bush cranberry, bunch berry, bear berry, prickly rose, bastard toe flax (pumpkin berry) and alpine blueberry.
This beautiful spot is accessed by a foot bridge built in 2005 near Robert Service Campground.
Bert Law – who was he?
Jane Gaffin writes about him in Bert Law: He Helped Prospectors Fulfill Their Dreams, a history of the Law family.
Bert Law was a city councillor in Whitehorse. Bert Law Park was his project and he encouraged the City to preserve the small island in the Yukon River for its flora and fauna.
He arrived in Yukon in 1948 with Ellen (nee Astad) and three children.
Originally on their way to Alaska from California, they stopped in Morley River. Convinced by a “big red-headed chap” to part with savings, they became the owners of an abandoned army camp.
This owner had sold the property many times in the past but this was not shared with Law. Nonetheless, the family moved to the property in 1948 and began what would become a life of hard work and family love.
Bert Law was born in Hamilton, Ontario on December 26, 1914. He drifted to the U.S. in 1934, during the Depression. He served in the U.S. Army and was awarded American citizenship.
He was working in Berkeley, California when he met Ellen. It was love at first sight for Bert.
He owned a gas station in California, but the hours were long and family time short. Wanting more time with his family, Law packed up and moved north.
Law converted a 1942 International panel into a “travel trailer” and the journey began.
American citizens at the time could not work in Canada unless they chose self-employment. The family could homestead or run a lodge without special permits. The young family had that pioneer spirit.
The Law family worked tirelessly to transform the army camp into a home. They refinished the main building interior and found beautiful pine walls.
They bartered with neighbours and scrounged others’ treasures to build furniture and install plumbing and electrical wiring.
In 1949 the Laws proudly opened Silver Dollar Lodge.
That year the family secured an account with Tourist Services Supermarket in Whitehorse and had a steady supply of food. Travellers along the highway stopped by regularly for food and lodgings.
Ellen ran the lodge as well as home schooling the three children—Frances, Tommy and George.
In 1952 the Laws’ fortunes changed again. A chance meeting with Al Kulan resulted in a long-time friendship and business relationship.
Kulan was a prospector with a great love and energy for the mining business. Law became his grub staker.
On his last foray into the bush in 1953, Kulan struck it rich. On Vangorda Creek, 30 miles downstream from the village of Ross River, Kulan discovered a lead-zinc deposit. The rest, as they say, is history.
In 1955, the Laws moved to Whitehorse, where Bert became a successful realtor, businessman and politician. He passed away on April 21, 1988.
Remember this family and their contribution to Yukon history on your stroll through Bert Law Park.