Few people waved the Whitehorse flag as proudly as Doug Gallup, says Mayor Dan Curtis. That’s why flags around the city were lowered to half-mast this week.
Gallup, who served four consecutive terms as a city councillor from 1984 to 1994, passed away on March 27 after a heart attack. He was 69.
In interviews this week, friends remembered a man who worked hard at whatever he did, whether that was researching topics for city council, installing siding or having fun.
“He could con the pants off of you, and you wouldn’t know it,” said Duke Connelly, who served with Gallup on council. But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t honest. Far from it.
Gallup was always prepared to speak his mind, said Connelly. The two of them rarely disagreed on issues. The number of things the two fought their fellow councillors on was “unreal,” he said.
“It wasn’t good to be on the other side of the debate, but sometimes that’s where we were,” said Truska Gorrell, who served one term with Gallup in the mid-‘80s. He was always one to note how the city could spend money more wisely, she said. He had strong opinions. But he always did his homework and would research topics on his own, said Connelly.
And whatever he decided, he always had the city’s best interests at heart, said Gorrell. Even when he travelled – later years saw him take a trip to Beijing, China for the Olympics – he would hand out Whitehorse city pins, she said.
Gallup cared a lot about what tourists thought about Whitehorse, Curtis said. He was even prepared to take the city to court over it. Once, he got a ticket for parking in a spot reserved for tourists outside of the MacBride Museum. But because Gallup had been driving tourists around, he didn’t think the fine was fair. Eventually, the city let it go, said Curtis.
Gallup wanted to bring council to the people, said Connelly, adding the two of them pushed to have the meetings televised. Citizens “always knew there’d be something come up,” when the two of them were around the table, he said. It became known as “the Duke and Dougie Show.”
Once, when Connelly was deputy mayor, then-mayor Kathy Watson called a break to use the bathroom. While she was gone, Connelly called a longer break. He and Gallup went and tied her bathroom door to another door so she couldn’t open it.
“It was a long meeting, why have it carry on?” asked Connelly.
“After everybody left, we untied the rope and ran like hell,” he said. “We were contemplating leaving her all night, but that wouldn’t have been fair,” he remembered, laughing.
Gallup wasn’t afraid to have people laugh at them. The two inspired many political cartoons in the local papers, more “than you could shake a stick at,” said Connelly.
He wasn’t perfect. The two did enjoy drinking together, said Connelly. “We liked to party,” he said, noting that often got the two of them into trouble.
Things weren’t always easy for Gallup, or for those who knew him, said Gorrell.
“Life had been quite tumultuous for Doug from beginning to end,” she said. He could be a challenge. Often, whether as friends or councillors, they often had to agree to disagree, she said.
Gallup was born in Calgary. After being adopted as an infant, he was raised on a farm in Rosemary, Alta. He left the farm early – working in Manitoba and the Northwest Territories before finally setting in the Yukon in the early ‘60s.
He became a true Yukoner. “In some ways, I think, when he came to the Yukon, he was reborn,” said Gorrell. But he was a bit of a loner – every year, on his birthday, he would go to a place outside of town and sit by himself, she said.
“I think he was trying to find where he belonged, who he was, and what his voice was,” she said.
And he found that in Yukon.
Here, he worked as a labourer at odd jobs before starting Gallup Contracting in the ‘70s. He installed vinyl for homes and businesses, and often worked late into the night. His motto was simple: “We don’t walk or trot, we Gallup.” He built a china cabinet for Gorrell’s family, one that her daughter still uses to this day, she said.
“He was always willing to put his hand to do anything. There was nothing really that would overwhelm him,” she said.
Her relationship with Gallup ebbed and flowed over the years, Gorrell said. He made strong connections with the people he was with, whether they were from the city, or people he met in business.
“If he liked you, and you were his friend, he would give you the shirt off his back. He was very, very generous,” said Gorrell.
Connelly agreed. Gallup was one of the closest friends he ever had. He was an honest man, who would give you the last nickel in his pocket, he said.
Before he died, he had been living at Duke Street Senior Housing. He really enjoyed the community there, said Gorrell. He counted daily visits from a fox one of the highlights of living there, she said.
A celebration of life will be held on Friday, April 26 at the Roadhouse from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Contact Meagan Gillmore at