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Veteran of the arts scene honoured

Scott Wilson has worked on so many artistic projects over the years that he's momentarily forgotten when he retired.

Scott Wilson has worked on so many artistic projects over the years that he’s momentarily forgotten when he retired.

After a brief pause, he comes up with it - 2002 - and keeps going down the list of contributions he’s made to the Yukon arts scene since his arrival in the territory in 1989.

On the phone from Haida Gwaii last week, Wilson spoke to the News about being this year’s recipient of the Conrad Boyce Award.

The award recognizes people who have made a significant contribution to Yukon’s arts community over an extended period of time without ever being formally acknowledged.

The former family physician might be retired, but you wouldn’t know it by his schedule.

He’s played in countless bands, managed an electronic mailing list, been involved with the Yukon Bluegrass Music Society and the Golden Horn Music Society, helped reinstate the jazz society as Jazz Yukon, was a judge for the Western Canadian Music Awards, a founding member of the Big Band and the editor of a magazine.

And that’s just off the top of his head.

Wilson said he grew up in Truro, N.S., a “really musical town” where he became involved in a band program at a young age.

Playing the saxophone and clarinet, he continued playing throughout university and medical school.

“I kind of got away from music until I came to Whitehorse from Truro in 1989,” he said.

“There was such a great cultural scene here and there was a call up to start a community big band. There was a gig for a circumpolar health conference and all these people came out of the woodwork to audition.”

Roughly 20 years ago, Wilson and the award’s namesake, Boyce, had a few interesting interactions.

Wilson played in a few pit orchestras with the Golden Horn Music Society, which Boyce directed.

Boyce had arrived in the Yukon in 1977 and was very involved in all things artistic until his departure from the territory in the mid 1990s.

One opening night for Annie, Wilson was getting ready for the show when Boyce burst onto the stage and addressed the audience.

He asked if there was a doctor in the house, to which the audience laughed, thinking it was a joke.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Cast member Mark Smith, playing the role of Daddy Warbucks, had aggravated a bad shoulder by putting his costume on.

Wilson was rushed backstage to attend to the injured man and eventually popped his shoulder back into place, while the actors ad-libbed on stage.

“I knew that he was a real mover and shaker in the arts world in the Yukon,” Wilson said of Boyce.

“We overlapped by just a bit in the community. It’s pretty thrilling to have received that award.”

Ted Garland, one of the judges on the committee, said Wilson was highly deserving of the award, which was first presented in 1996.

“Scott has been very active in the music scene for years, a driving force behind jazz and a very popular choice,” he said.

“The whole point was not to give anything particularly to performers or professionals. Conrad Boyce would do everything - he acted, directed, ran lights, soundboards, was a stage manager. So when he left, some of us thought it would be fitting to honor him by striking an award that would recognize the people who made the magic behind the scenes.”

Wilson was honored during a pre-show ceremony at the Yukon Arts Centre in mid-May.

Andrea Simpson-Fowler won the award in the builder’s category that evening for her work in the dance community.

Both names are featured on a plaque at the centre.

Contact Myles Dolphin at