Kevin McGowan had moved up to Dawson City from British Columbia in mid-April, eager to start his new job as a cook at Billy Goat’s Pub.
Originally from Port Coquitlam, B.C., the 41-year-old was no stranger to travelling for work, holding chef and cook positions at resorts, lodges and other establishments across British Columbia and Alberta.
But after just 10 days on the job in Dawson, McGowan was found dead downtown in the early hours of April 30, his death now being investigated as a homicide by Yukon RCMP.
“It’s just tragic and devastating. I can’t even believe it, what happened, because it’s so messed up,” Billy Goat’s Pub manager Reija Warren said in an interview May 7.
Warren said McGowan had quickly made an impression at the pub as a “very positive, happy-go-lucky guy” and someone who was nice to have around “especially after a long, hard winter.”
“He was definitely happy, bubbly, always looking at the positive,” Warren said. “Like, in the kitchen, if everybody was stressed out, he’s like, ‘Oh, don’t worry, we’ve got this, we’ve got this, we’ve got this.’ He was just (a) very positive guy.”
Warren said his coworkers and friends have since set up a memorial for McGowan at the corner of King Street and Second Avenue. A community prayer circle was also held at the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre May 3.
Speaking on the phone from Lytton, B.C., childhood friend Jamen Zacharias said McGowan’s passion in life was cooking — especially when he could use “wild” and local ingredients — and that he appeared to love being in the North.
“He loved it up there, actually, which we thought about as being good that he found somewhere he really liked to be,” Zacharias said.
Like Warren, Zacharias also remembers McGowan as a very positive person who enjoyed making others laugh.
“Kevin is a beautiful soul. He loved to smile, he always did, and I think anyone would agree that he loved to smile and make other people happy,” he said.
In an email, McGowan’s parents Dave and Dianna said they are “completely devastated” by the news.
“What makes it even more painful is that it was caused by a senseless homicide,” they wrote, but added that they were “grateful” for the prayer circle held in Dawson last week.
“Kevin was a loving and caring son, brother, father, nephew, uncle and friend and will be missed immensely…. Kevin loved life, was outgoing and made friends everywhere he went. His beautiful smile was contagious and he was the life of the party.
“All our family wants now is closure and justice for Kevin.”
McGowan is survived by his parents, an older brother, and his daughter. A celebration of life will be held in British Columbia later this month.
Anyone with information related to McGowan’s death is asked to contact police at (867) 993-2677.
Contact Jackie Hong at firstname.lastname@example.org