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King remembered for humour, activism

On Thursday, the coroner confirmed that the body found in Lake Laberge on Canada Day was 52-year-old Robert Arthur King.

On Thursday, the coroner confirmed that the body found in Lake Laberge on Canada Day was 52-year-old Robert Arthur King.

Foul play is not suspected in his death.

 “Robbie loved the Yukon,” his brother Chris said from Edmonton.

“He used to say that once you get the North in you it’s tough to get it out of you.”

Chris remembers Robert’s “off-the-wall” sense of humour.

“He’d take the most ordinary thing and turn it into a huge adventure with all sorts of mishaps and everyone would be on the ground rolling with laughter,” said Chris.

One of the stories involved Robert walking into a store and then hearing funny sounds coming from outside, where he’d left his beloved dog in his car.

“He looked and saw Tuffy sitting there with his head stuck in a car window because Robbie left the car running and the dog stepped on the automatic window.

“He’d have everyone in tears telling what happened,” said Chris.

The King family has brought Tuffy, Robert’s dog and constant companion, back to Edmonton where he has a field to roam and a pond to swim in.

Robert had polio when he was in Grade 9 and spent several months at home recovering.

After, he turned into a “natural athlete,” said Chris.

Robert was a Canadian motorbike road race champion in the late ‘70s.

That was when he first got a head injury, said his sister Cathy.

“He got another one on the job years later that was much worse.”

Robert was also a championship curler. As skip, his team — with brother Chris — won the 1974 junior championships and competed in the junior world championships twice.

“We spent our high school years on the curling ice,” said Chris.

Cathy is a three-time Canadian curling champion and has competed in the Scott’s Tournaments of Hearts seven times.

On top of his athletic achievements, Robert had a great effect on labour issues in the territory.

“Robbie is the main reason that so many injured workers have been helped,” said his friend Eldon Organ.

“He put pressure on the WCB and government and different stripes of politicians — it didn’t matter as long as he could get people help.”

Friend and worker advocate Mike Travill met King in 1995 while doing advocacy in Edmonton.

“He was fun-loving and when he wasn’t being affected by his injury he was very sharp and witty,” said Travill.

“His workplace accident frustrated him.”

In 1995, King was instrumental in forming the Yukon Injured Workers Alliance.

“He brought the concept up and had conversations with other injured workers,” said Travill.

“They got together and had a tremendous lobbying voice and made some changes at the Workers’ Compensation Board.”

Robert also helped form the territory’s independent workers’ advocate office, which opened in 1997.

“He was incredible,” said Organ.

“If you would have met him, you would have liked him.”

King’s family will host a celebration of his life in the Grey Mountain room at Mount McIntyre on Tuesday at 2 p.m.

All friends are welcome.