a tribute to fred the barber

Fred Collins was mostly known as "Fred the Barber." He cut my hair for years, and I liked his old-time, friendly ways. Just lately, soon after Fred passed away, I walked past his shop and saw the large wreath in his shop's front window, or door.

Fred Collins was mostly known as “Fred the Barber.” He cut my hair for years, and I liked his old-time, friendly ways. Just lately, soon after Fred passed away, I walked past his shop and saw the large wreath in his shop’s front window, or door. It made me think, with the wreath and the window’s lettering, “City Barber Shop,” the illustrated barber poles, the open sign, etc., that the whole composition and artifacts sort of told a story.

I phoned a photographer friend of mine, who happened, at the time, to be in Dawson City, so I left a message asking him to photograph Fred’s front window – actually the whole front of the shop. But by the time he got back to Whitehorse, the wreath had been removed. The wreath was an important part in the telling of the story of a life.

I don’t have a digital camera so I hardly take photos anymore. I’ll probably get a digital someday. I would have liked to have a good shot of Fred’s shop with the wreath, signs, poles, etc., to use as a tribute photograph to Fred, in my Colourful Five Per Cent newspaper column. It told a story – Sharon Collins wrote the following ….

Dear Jim:

Fred Collins was known as “Fred the Barber” both in Whitehorse and in Hope, BC, where he also spent many years of his life. Fred was born in Rothwell, NB, and in his early 20s headed out west to start a new life. In 1965, he began his barber apprenticeship with the Prince George Hotel Barber Shop. He moved to Hope, BC, a few years later and spent the next 20 years in Hope before moving to Whitehorse in 1993.

Fred was one of the last few old-time barbers, $20 a haircut and “no appointment necessary.” Fred lived his life in much the same way, if it required an appointment, Fred generally didn’t do it.

Both here and in Hope, Fred knew everyone and everyone knew and loved Fred. He could always be counted on for the latest gossip, the current buzz in business and politics. Fred always had the scoop, often before the local newspaper did.

He became the most famous barber we know, with his shop appearing in two major films: his shop in Hope featured in the film First Blood, and then in Whitehorse his shop was used in the filming of The Last Trapper.

His customers were varied. From a kid with a green Mohawk to a senior with a comb-over, his bench was always full. Fred’s shop could be closed for days with no notice, and yet the minute he opened up, the line would start to form immediately. Fred kept things simple and that is what most people loved about him.

Sharon Collins Anyone with information about this subject, please write Jim Robb: The Colourful Five Per Cent Scrapbook—Can You Identify? c/o the Yukon News, 211 Wood Street, Whitehorse, Yukon,

Y1A 2E4, or e-mail through the News website, www.yukon-news.com.