Remembering Nowlan

I write to say what a pleasure it has been to have known Danny Nowlan. I met him some 45 years ago when he worked for, and drove to distraction, the forestry department (or some equivalent) of the territorial government.

I write to say what a pleasure it has been to have known Danny Nowlan. I met him some 45 years ago when he worked for, and drove to distraction, the forestry department (or some equivalent) of the territorial government.

I left the territory for a short stretch out on the coast, then returned and met Nowlan again in early 1980.

By then he was running the game farm.

Most demanding of time and attention, he was raising peregrine falcons in an elaborate aviary of his own design with separate quarters for each nesting pair.

In the wild, all falcons require and pursue a constant diet of fresh-caught small birds or rodents. To replicate this, Nowlan maintained a quail hatchery from which, every day without fail, he would slaughter the necessary crop of chicks then pass them through a side door to each nest in the aviary.

I had returned to the territory with time on my hands and a surplus of energy and decided I might make an honest dollar building Russel fence. There was a huge stand of fire-killed, rail-size stock up behind the Takhini Hot Springs from which I cut enough rails to build a small sample of the fence at a feed store on the Mayo Road.

As I was building this little stretch of fence (it’s still there these 32 years later), Nowlan came to pick up the huge delivery of feed he needed to raise the quail chicks to feed his falcons.

He looked at the fence then looked at me (I was all sweat, grime and energy in those years) and said, “I could use some of that fence.”

And so it began. I built a modest bit of fence around the near fields and some more for nearby people who saw the fence and liked it.

Then winter set in and I went back to my tent at Shallow Bay to cut house logs for the cabin I planned to build there.

Then one day I got a message to phone Danny, which I did. And he declared, in his emphatic way, that we were going to build a fence around the whole blessed game farm and I had to get over right now so he could show me the right of way.

The snow already was piling up, but with his long legs, built like a moose, he charged ahead and, though he smoked and I didn’t, I had to work to keep up with him.

So I put my house logs on hold and set to cutting fence rails. My daughter and son-in-law, Lydia and David, came north at that time and could join the crew, so along with Gary Elliot, a splendid man, we went to work.

And we did it.

By late winter we had the rail stock hauled out to the fence line and then we tied it all together into standing fence. Nowlan had rented a Cat and pushed the snow out of the way ahead of us.

And most every day I would call by his house on the hill that overlooked the game farm to report progress and deal with any anxiety he might have about the fence. Fortunately, Nowlan learned early that whatever I said I would do I did, and on his part he paid on the barrel head whatever was due.

There was never any paper signed between us. I gave my word, he gave his. I kept my word, he kept his.

I like best to remember about Nowlan the occasion when Princess Cruise Lines belittled the Yukon, including the game farm, as a destination not worthy of its attention.

Nowlan respond eloquently:

“These people, all they really need is a neorectomy. If they would like a neorectomy, I could send them to my surgeon and he is very good.”

What is a neorectomy?

“That’s when they take the president of Princess Tours, and they take out the nerve between his eyeballs and his ass, and he loses his shitty outlook on everybody else.”

That is quintessential Nowlan. A little coarse perhaps, but that’s how I found him and that’s how I liked him.

Alan Fry


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