This is the story of a Yukon pioneer who played a part in the development of our territory in spite of tremendous obstacles and tragedy.
A creek was named after him. On older maps Dezadeash Lodge was named Beloud Post.
“Bun” (Golden) Beloud was born in 1891. At his gravesite in Haines Junction, I pondered his many achievements and sacrifices during his some 30 years in the Yukon. Bun was a prospector, miner, farmer and lodge developer. Above all, his legacy was that of a tireless achiever on a non-stop mission, battling the obstacles of his time.
In 1935, Bun journeyed alone from his home and family in Vancouver to the Kluane/Dezadeash area. It was into pure wilderness; there was no Haines Road, or Alaska Highway. Transportation was from Whitehorse on the wagon trail to Champagne, then up the Dezadeash River to the lake and then the 24 kilometres to the south end.
He was an extreme optimist with ambition and talent to match. Those who knew him said that he never stood still. When he moved about, he trotted. How Bun chose the St. Elias Mountains as a destination is not clear.
Ultimately he discovered gold at the confluence of Victoria Creek and what was later named Beloud Creek. He operated a placer mine there in the late ‘30s. The logistics of supply and transportation would tax willpower and imagination. He manufactured rough lumber by hand. Chainsaws didn’t exist.
Bun built a large barge to ship his supplies up Mush Lake. He built a winch to tow barrels up steep slopes. He improved 20 kilometres of trail from Dezadeash Lake to Mush Lake to suit his needs.
From Mush Lake north, he had to fight his way through virgin wilderness to his mine site. This struggle was compounded by late spring snows. There are times, however, when superhuman efforts are not enough.
Bun’s 18-year-old son Roland and his father had just arrived weeks earlier from Vancouver. Roland was working on the claim with his father. Another man, Harry Lines, and his son were also present. One can imagine what a thrill it must have been for Roland to be working side by side with his father in this adventure.
On May 25, 1939 disaster struck. As they were working close to a bank, a torrent of snow and rock from above slid down, burying both Bun and his son Roland under two and a half metres of material. Frantic efforts by the small work force managed to free Bun. However, by the time his son was uncovered he had died.
This disaster was no one’s fault. Bun must have been devastated beyond description. He and his associates, with loving care built a casket for Roland and buried him on the height opposite the site. Because of the remote location of the mine it took many days for Bun to reach Whitehorse to report what happened. An account of the tragedy appeared in the June 2, 1939 issue of the Whitehorse Star. Bun quit active work at his Victoria Creek mine after 1939.
After the Haines Road was built in 1945, Bun went on to develop Beloud Post, later known as Dezadeash Lodge. His family from Vancouver joined him, including his daughter Joan and son David. He took advantage of army buildings left at the highway construction camp.
A photo exists, which shows two motel customers standing in front of their room with the inscription “Rooms, 50 cents with your own bedding.” He also developed the hay ranch across from the lodge, as well as the only lakeshore residence nearby.
In 1947 a geological survey team led by a Dr. E. Kindle passed through Victoria Creek and Beloud’s mine. At this time, the famed Alex Van Bibber, whose services they used, hauled a 16-kilogram copper nugget from Bun’s mine on his saddle out to the Haines Road. The specimen was then shipped to Ottawa. A photo of the nugget appears in government publication #2508, “Dezadeash Map Area, 1952.”
After selling Beloud Post, Bun moved on to Haines Junction where he built the Blue Mountain Motel and Cafe, more recently known as Glacier View Lodge.
Bun was a hard worker. He was not intimidated by anyone or anything. An incident in point happened during his struggle at Beloud Post against the harsh winter conditions there.
The RCMP in Haines Junction made it a habit of blocking the highway to traffic during severe weather conditions with a gate chained and locked. This also cut off Bun’s potential motel business. His son David, now 83, tells this story, as he was along for the ride. His dad drove into the Junction with a pair of bolt cutters, cut the chain, swung open the gate and drove home.
Bun Beloud passed away in 1970.
In August of this year, Parks Canada, with the help of wardens Lloyd Freese, Maryjane Johnson and associates, arranged a helicopter flight to the gravesite of Roland Beloud. David Beloud, younger brother of Roland, also flew with the party to install a new marble gravestone. This was a demonstration of the respect that government and the Beloud family had for the historic event.
In 1939, David, age nine, and his sister Joan, age seven, were living with their mother Dorothy in Vancouver when the telegram came. The devastation for her must have been unimaginable. David said his mother cried and cried and cried; she never got over the heartbreak of losing her son.
As I stood at Bun’s grave in the Haines Junction Cemetery, I thought, “How sad that an engraved stone, itself, cannot reveal the accomplishments of a man.”
Merle Lien is a 40-year resident of Dezadeash Lake and Haines Junction.