The smoke has begun to clear in Beaver Creek, but hot embers still smoulder along the highway. We haven’t had a fire like this one for many years, not this close to town. Sid has the morning off so we are heading down to Livesey’s near the Creek. It’s no more than a three-minute drive from the Visitor Information Centre. Sid pulls over onto the shoulder near the bank of the creek. Down the hill from us sits Livesey’s—an old wooden building that is starting to blend into its surroundings.
“It’s kind of grown around him, all the trees. It’s not safe to go in there anymore,” said Sid.
The building is now owned by a local couple, but before that, it was owned by local politician, John Livesey.
Sid brought with him two campaign posters of Livesey’s, one dated 1975.
“He was a local politician for many years. He was the Speaker for a long time too.”
John Livesey was born in England but resided in the Yukon for much of his adulthood. He was elected for the Carmacks-Kluane district in 1958, 1961 and 1967. He was the Speaker for the Yukon Legislature from 1967-1970.
“He opened Beaver Creek’s first store and garage. It used to be called the Beaver Creek Trading Company then it became Livesey’s Highway Service. He started it in 1949,” Sid says.
Looking down towards the structure, I ask if Livesey built the store.
“It was an old camp for when the [Alaska] Highway was being built. He bought it and converted it. Him and his wife Freda in ’49 … he had a store, he had everything—post office, groceries, hardware, clothing, ammunition, guns, everything. Ann amazing general store. And if he didn’t have something, he would order it for you.”
The way Sid describes Livesey’s general store reminds me of his own interpretation of a general store at Bordertown Garage and Museum. I wonder if the memory of Livesey’s store inspired some of Sid’s decorative choices.
“He ran the store until about the mid-80s. Freda died here and he stayed for about a year and then moved away. He died a few years ago [in 2005] in Comox, British Columbia at 94.”
I ask Sid how long he knew Livesey.
“I’ve known him since 1961. When the kids were small, we always went there and he had candy for them. It was just him and his wife running the store. I still have lots of paper on the company from when it was the Beaver Creek Trading Company.”
We head back to town in Sid’s yellow Jeep with the orange sun beside us. There are so many wondrous and mysterious old buildings in the forests of the Yukon. Some remain in living memory and others with stories lost. You can’t help but wonder who occupied those dwellings and who occupies them now. Visit Sid today to hear more on Yukon’s abandoned buildings and to uncover John Livesey’s campaign platforms of the 1970s.