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Chatting with the mayor

Nancy Moore can be confusing, depending on where and how one is meeting with her. She is an imposing and competent figure, sometimes impatient…

Nancy Moore can be confusing, depending on where and how one is meeting with her. 

She is an imposing and competent figure, sometimes impatient with those she views as wasting her time, or she is the quiet, reticent person at any gathering that has no expectations of her.

Even as the latter, there is no mistaking a woman who is fully present, alive to what is going on around her, and able to take on whatever she chooses with a passion and conviction for which we showed our gratitude by electing her mayor of Watson Lake.

Like the northern raven, Nancy has been blessed with more intelligence than she needs to survive, and she is fearless in her use of that intelligence.

Nancy was born in Arnprior, Ontario, and grew up in Brockville, Ontario.

She was a competitive swimmer for eight years. She describes herself as “a pretty wild teenager.”

Asked to describe her parents: “Father, hard core big-C Conservative capitalist, practicing pharmacist for 51 years. Thirty-first degree Mason.

“Mother, hard core NDP with a huge social conscience. Is there any wonder I’m conflicted? Just kidding, I like to think I am a unique combination of the two.”

Q: What brought you to Watson Lake?

A: I was in my second year at university and came north for a weeklong visit with a high school friend who had been living at the north end of Francis Lake, but was, at that time, in Watson Lake. I arrived from Toronto in the bitter cold of February, my friend was living in a basement apartment at the back of what is now the Holt building. 

There was a hind of moose hanging in the hall outside the apartment door and it just got better and better. The whole experience was so far removed from my reality that I just didn’t want to leave. I extended my stay a couple of times, but then finally took my depressed self back to academia in Toronto. 

I couldn’t forget my northern experience and that summer packed everything I owned in my car and started my journey to this new exciting life.

Q: How did you come to the role/job you have here?

A: Since I had no previous office experience (read here office skills), I memorized the legislation in the hopes I could dazzle them with my knowledge. It must have worked because that was in 1980 and I’m still here in the mining recorder’s office. As for the role of mayor, my husband and I raised many children here and as we all know in a small community if you want things to happen you jump in with both feet and work for it. I’ve been involved as a volunteer in the community in many different capacities. I’m proud of my contributions to the schools, sports and rec and to the women’s shelter. I guess I just took that a step further. Who would have guessed back in high school that the infamous “Bear” would end up mayor of her community?

Q: What do you like best about living here?

A: The gift of being able to choose to hibernate one day and then go full tilt at some community event the next. I used to relish “no cell service,” but just like computers and Touch-Tone phones I have learned to adapt, but please let’s not talk about Blackberries. I like being able to go for a walk with my dogs and see almost no one and then to come to town and see lots and lots of friends and neighbours.

Q: What do you like the least?

A: After my answer to No. 3, paradoxically enough, the lack of anonymity. Also, vicious gossip makes me angry.

Q: Will you retire here?

A: My husband says no, he’s been here since 1950 and wants some warmer climes. However, I have convinced him that we must build a cabin on a property we have adjacent to our current home on Watson Lake, so … the door will always be open to return.

Q: Does Watson Lake have an image problem?

A:  I believe we do, but the cause may not be as simple as many would think. We know that it’s the norm to over report bad news and relegate good news to the back pages — its brings in the readers and listeners. We need to be more diligent in putting out our good stories. We are working very hard as a community to concentrate on positive healthy initiatives. I really appreciate the effort you are making to report on people from our community who do ordinary things and live ordinary lives and I’m looking forward to getting to know my neighbours better.

Q: How do you think the rest of the Yukon sees Watson Lake?

A: I think that depends entirely on where they’re looking from. As far as I can tell all small communities struggle with the same issues and problems.

I think that other small communities would agree that frequently Whitehorse has a problem seeing anything beyond its borders.

Q: Are we a racist community?

A: I am sorry to say that on some issues and in some circumstances we are.

My children, four First Nation and three non-First Nation, have grown up here and they have told me that although they have rarely experienced racism directed at them, they have witnessed it directed at others, both First Nation and non-First Nation.

Too often I think there is systemic prejudice fostered by governments in the difference in the delivery of services and programs.

I do believe, however, that sadly all communities are racist, it is just the demographics that define that racism.

Q: How do global concerns relate to you and your community?

A: Personally I am very concerned with global issues — the treatment of refugees and immigrants by our government.  Women’s rights here and abroad, global warming, etc.

In our community we have many individuals and organizations who are working very hard on family violence issues, on spiritual healing and reconciliation, on substance abuse issues, on literacy and the list goes on.

As a municipality, we are currently planning a total reworking of the way we handle our solid waste. 

We will be the greenest community in that regard in the Yukon.

Q: What would you like to see happen in Watson Lake?

A: That’s easy, prosperity, harmony, health and safety — it is all attainable … one step at a time.

Q: How do you think you are seen by your community?

A: I think it changes day to day and week to week. I hope that whether people agree with my management and ideas or not, they at least respect my conviction.

Q: Your friends?

A: They may worry from time to time, but they accept me for who I am — that’s what friends do.

Q: Your family?

A: You know what they say, you can pick your friends but you can’t pick your family.  My siblings and I are all very different which works well for us.  My children know I will always try to be supportive and available for them.

Q: What is your best quality?

A: Many may not understand this answer, but I think my best quality is my anger. It motivates me to get involved and to work for change. It’s a great catalyst and it energizes and pushes me past my normal tendency to avoid the spotlight (don’t laugh).

Q: What is your worst?

A: Impatience.

Not being able to articulate my thoughts and beliefs well enough to help people “get it” and to motivate them.

Q: What natural gift would you like to possess?


More realistically, self confidence and that easy charm so many have when speaking in public. Some sort of artistic/creative talent would be nice as well.

Q: What is your present state of mind?

A: Anxiety — this self-examination is hard.

Most of the time I’m a little stressed, but I tend to function better and am more productive with a little stress.

Q: What quality do you most admire in a woman?

A: Strength of conviction. Committed involvement with their family and their community (by community I don’t mean just a town or a city or even just a neighbourhood; it could also be a like-minded group or a group with common interests and goals, it could be their church).

Q: In a man?

A: Loyalty, fidelity, compassion, sense of humour and, of course, generosity.

Q: What is your favourite virtue?

A: Fortitude.

Q: Your least?

A: Patience and Prudence (they are always nipping at me).

Q: What makes you angry?

A: Complacency, lack of conviction.

Shirking responsibility.

Taking credit for someone else’s initiative or work.

Q: What makes you happy?

A: Being by or on the water. Friends, family, a peaceful evening reading a book. Someone else’s gardens.

Q: What do you do with your anger?

A: Use it.

Q: What do you do for fun, for pleasure?

A: It probably sounds pathetic, but I find pleasure in pushing myself to succeed, to make a difference. I find pleasure in preparing a huge dinner for friends and family. For fun I like to withdraw to my Jacuzzi tub and read. (just like that old TV commercial — Calgon, take me away).

Q: Where are you spiritually?

A: Tough question.  I believe that any day where you can genuinely find awe or marvel in something you see or someone’s actions, their compassion, their talent, even an unexpected comment - that is a spiritual day.

Q: What do you want people to know about you?

A: I’m not as tough as I like people to believe. (Maybe I shouldn’t tell that one.)

I want people to know that I am working as hard as I can for the community of Watson Lake and to remember that change comes slowly and for some it is a source of uncertainty and anxiety but we are doing what we can to alleviate that anxiety.

Q: What fears do you have?

A: Disappointing myself. Failing to meet my expectations and, let’s face it, the expectations of others as well.

Q: What do you think most people do not know about you?

A: As a fairly new arrival from Toronto, my first formal date with my husband was driving around on a loader on a timber property of Netta and John Desrosiers. For a girl from the city it was quite an attention getter.

I have a fairly fragile ego.

At school I studied calculus and physics and one summer I worked in a strip bar.

I love to solve math problems and to work with numbers.

I rarely watch TV or movies, but I do have some old favorites — The Princess Bride, Buckaroo Bonzai, Young Frankenstein, Legend, to name a few.

I am a CBC radio junkie and listen mostly to new country, but I enjoy old R&B and Zydeco.

To relax and let my mind drift I read four or five books a week — romance novels, yeah I’m a sucker for romance.

I asked a friend if she thought I had any eccentricities and she commented that the fact I like to do math for fun is definitely eccentric (I have to disagree).

However, I should point out that the meaning of an eccentric in math is the ratio of the distance of any point on a conic section from a focus to its distance from the corresponding directrix.

This ratio is constant for any particular conic section. In physics, it is the distance between the center of an eccentric and its axis.

On a more whimsical note, I always wish on the first star I see and I still have a piece of my baby blanket.