On February 7, 1945, thirteen residents got together in the Whitehorse Parish hall to discuss the fish and game situation in the Yukon, and the desirability of starting a movement to protect our wildlife. It was decided to form an organization to be known as the Yukon Fish & Game Association, for the purpose of propagating and protecting fish and wildlife in the Yukon”. The anxiety to form the Association was the fear of the potential impact of the influx of the opening of the Alaska Highway of people and the pressure on the resources.
The first President was G.R. Bidlake, Vice president was F.H.R. Jackson and the Secretary Treasurer was W. D. MacBride. Membership fees were set at $1.00. Credit for founding the organization goes to Gene Garrow, who had been working for the US Corps of Engineers on the Canol Road. Gene was instrumental in getting the organization operational in the early days, but did not feel he should be on the executive as he was a US citizen. Policy of the day dictated that Indians could not be members of social organizations. It was decided that Indians could be members as Gene was part Indian, and a motion was made to allow women full membership in the association as well. Gene’s dedication and enthusiasm contributed to conservation and enhancement activities that carry on today.
- Within 12 months of founding the organization, the membership numbered 148 persons. The association was active in lobbying for changes to the fish and game regulations, some of which included:
- That the sale of game meats and fowl by hunters, and the licensing of game dealers be cancelled, at least in the town of Whitehorse
- That a daily limit of 20 trout and grayling in the aggregate.. be set for the Whitehorse electoral district and/or Yukon Territory
- That steps be taken to import for propagation purposes mule deer, black tailed deer, white tailed deer, elk and buffalo
- That the bounty on wolves be raised to $20 and the bounty on coyotes be raised to $10
- An effort be made to provide additional game guardians to secure adequate enforcement of the game laws.
- That resident hunting licenses be raised to $2.00
- That fishing licenses be inaugurated at $2.00
” Long before charcoal and gas BBQ’s became popular, members of the YFGA were treated annually to an outdoor wild game barbecue second to none. Deep freezes were either unknown or uncommon in the early 1950’s, but the outfitters of the day provided meat from their caches or from early season hunts”.
“The BBQ’s I recall were held near Fish Lake in the summer. Mike Nolan, outfitter and owner of Marsh Lake Lodge, was one of the chief cooks. A pit trench many feet long was dug and filled with wood. Spuds and roasts of moose, caribou, and sheep were wrapped in foil and added to the coals, and sides of moose ribs hung on willow stakes along side the fire, basted with Mike’s BBQ sauce and turned to cook evenly. The ladies provided bread and buns, coleslaw and pies for dessert. The results were spectacular — to a young mind and appetite! But everybody had fun.”
“Outfitters that I recall being involved in some way were Johnny Johns, Mike Nolan, Alec Van Bibber, Curly & Belle Desrosiers, Joe Jacquot, Alec Davis and of course the regular members such as my dad Geoff Bidlake, Stu McPherson, Tom Portlock, and a host of others. As a kid I was fortunate to meet the men — and some women — who formed the young conservation association that has evolved to become the active, dynamic group the YFGA has become.”
Lifetime member, Larry Bidlake Brandon , MB
Today we have grown considerably and membership is up around the 700 mark. Our membership is made up of mostly Yukoners including First Nations people and people who are not of First Nation ancestry.
- We have a Board of Directors consisting of 12 Directors and 4 Executive.
- Our part time staff consists of one Office Manager and an Executive Director.
- We hold monthly Board of Directors meetings.
- We run, and or assist with the running of, a variety of highly educational activities.
The Yukon Fish and Game Association does have direct and significant input into the development of Yukon Hunting and Fishing Regulations. With a membership of approximately 850 people we represent a large portion of hunters and anglers in the Yukon. In addition, we work with and listen to many hunters and anglers who do not have memberships but who do have concerns, questions and or suggestions.