Bill Brewster

Bill Brewster with Alaska Highway sign in 1991

 Bill Brewster stands alongside an Alaska Highway sign in 1991. Photo by Whitehorse Star.

William George Brewster
Born: October 24, 1924 (Banff, Alberta)
Died: November 13, 2014 (Delburne, Alberta)

Member: Yukon Sport Hall of Fame (1980)

Bill Brewster, who operated an outfitting company in Haynes Junction, Yukon, began coaching hockey in 1962. For 16 seasons, he was an indefatigable volunteer who promoted hockey in the territory, even serving as president of the Yukon Amateur Hockey Association.

Bill Brewster as young manIn 1972, he acted as a key fundraiser for a rink in Haines Junction, a village on the Alaska Highway that originally began as a construction camp during the Second World War. When the rink opened in 1986, it was named the Bill Brewster Arena. It is the heart of winter recreation in the village and hosts many tournaments.

Brewster was inducted into the Yukon Sport Hall of Fame in 1980 for his work in promoting hockey.

Born in Banff, Alta., he first came to the Yukon as a youth employed as a horse wrangler for the Geological Survey of Canada. After the outbreak of war, he enlisted with the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, serving overseas in campaigns liberating France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.

He moved to the Yukon in 1950, operating businesses along the Alaska Highway, including Brewster’s Yukon Pack Train and Brewster’s Lodge in Haines Junction.

Brewster was elected to the Yukon legislature in 1982 and won re-election three times in the Kluane constituency. In his 14 years as an MLA for the Progressive Conservatives and, later, the Yukon Party, he served as a deputy Speaker and as a deputy government leader, as well as holding several cabinet posts. He returned to Alberta in 1999 to live closer to his grandchildren.

In a tribute to him in the Yukon legislature on Nov.27, Brewster was described by highways minister Wade Istchenko as being a “humble, crusty, cantankerous, plain-talking, principled, straight-shooter of sterling character.”

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