Yukon Carpenters Local 2499 member Levon Lacoste, second from left, takes home the top prize in the United Brotherhood of Carpenters Canadian Carpentry Apprenticeship Contest. The council of carpenters is now searching for the Bill Smith, who last won the competition for the Yukon in 1989. (Travis Tambone/British Columbia/Yukon Regional Council of Carpenters)

Do you know Bill Smith? Carpentry union searching for Yukon apprentice from 1989

Bill Smith was the first Yukoner to win the National Apprenticeship Contest for carpentry in 1989

Do you know a Bill Smith?

Specifically, a Bill Smith born in 1965, who apprenticed as a carpenter in Whitehorse in the ‘80s and into the early ‘90s?

If so ⁠— the Yukon’s carpenter union wants to hear from you.

Smith was the first carpenter from the Yukon to win the annual National Apprenticeship Contest back in 1989, explained Yukon Carpenters Union Local 2499 representative Jeff Sloychuk in an interview Feb. 25. The territory’s second-ever winner of the award, Levon Lacoste, earned the top spot last September, and Sloychuk wants to bring together the only two carpenters to have ever brought the title to the territory.

However, it hasn’t been easy. While the union has records of Smith’s membership, Sloychuck said, they don’t include any photos of him, and Smith’s last address before he left the union in 1992 was a post office box in Whitehorse.

Sloychuck said he’s also spoken to some older carpenters who said they remember the name but have no idea what happened to him.

“Nobody has any idea where he is or what he’s doing or when he left us in 1992, where he went from there. It could have been Alberta, it could have been Ontario, you know, wherever.”

Compounding the difficulty of the search is Smith’s relatively common first and last name.

“It’s pretty problematic,” Sloychuck acknowledged. “This is a wild Bill Smith chase and I don’t know, it’d just be kind of neat to get the two of them together because we’ve only won it twice.”

In a separate interview, Lacoste said he only learned of Bill Smith after winning the national competition, but is now curious about the carpenter whose footsteps he followed in 30 years later.

Lacoste said he’d been reluctant to even enter the provincial apprenticeship competition — he’d been going to school in Victoria at the time — but finally gave in after persistent encouragement from his school. That gave him a ticket to the nationals in Ottawa, where he also earned first place.

“I couldn’t believe I made it as far as I did, so it feels pretty awesome to actually come back to the Yukon, where I was born, with you know, some kind of accomplishment like that,” he said.

Should Smith be tracked down, Lacoste said he’d be curious to talk to him about what the national competition was like in 1989 compared to 2019.

“When I competed, you know, I had a cordless mitre saw and I had a cordless circular saw and I had all these power tools and you know, it was a totally different experience (in 1989) I’m sure,” Lacoste said.

“… They probably had all corded tools and all hand tools, and it was probably totally different and I’d love to know what they built and what the constraints were for the competition.”

Like Sloychuk though, Lacoste acknowledged that finding someone with as common a name as “Bill Smith” and whose trail went cold in 1992 likely won’t be easy.

“I feel like we’ve got a kind of Carmen Sandiego situation going on,” he said.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Smith is asked to send an email to jeffs@bcrcc.ca.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

skilled trades

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