Wilf Hogue, with his wife Sharon, are the owners/operators of As You Wish, the most general of general stores in Watson Lake.
In their building you can buy an entire outfit, complete it with a handbag or a backpack and then go shopping for personal products like shampoos and cosmetics or household products such as bath towels and toasters. There are foodstuffs, pet supplies, toys and a myriad of other goods, all making for a good place to browse.
However, it was not as a store owner that Wilf arrived in Watson Lake, but as a gas fitter for ICG. He’d worked for them in Terrace, BC, taken a three-year stint in the Queen Charlotte Islands and returned to BC before applying to come to Watson Lake.
Wilf had worked for ICG for three years here when Sharon decided she needed a job. He suggested she start a store, which she did, in the strip mall beside the post office. Another three years later and Wilf quit ICG to join her in the business. They bought land and expanded, building a larger store and adding groceries to their stock.
Two years ago, Wilf suffered a heart attack that led to his having quadruple bypass surgery. Sitting in his upstairs office for this interview, however, he is the picture of a happy, healthy man.
It’s a long way from Wiarton, Ontario, where he was born and raised, but Wilf has found his home in this small Yukon town.
Q: What do you like best about living here?
A: I like that I can build an open fire in my backyard almost whenever I want; I can feel like I’m camping without leaving my property.
Q: What do you like the least?
A: I really dislike the look of the town; the trash in the front yards and the garbage lying around everywhere.
Q: Will you retire here?
A: Of course we will; why do you think I’m doing so much work on our property? The business is for sale; if we sell it we’ll live here, but have holidays.
Q: Does Watson Lake have an image problem?
Q: How do you think the rest of the Yukon sees Watson Lake?
A: I’ve noticed, in Whitehorse, when I say I am from here people look like they feel sorry for me.
There is too much attachment here to maintaining the old ways of doing things; not enough looking to the future.
Watson Lake is viewed as being deprived — of pride, especially.
Q: Are we a racist community?
A: Probably no more so than any other place, but we do have prejudice around lifestyles, I think.
Q: How do global concerns relate to you and your community?
A: The increase in the cost of fuel means that the surcharge I am now paying on fuel is 43 per cent of freight rates.
Q: What would you like to see happen in Watson Lake?
A: I would like to see more people move here, obviously; I am a businessman.
The town has to be made more appealing to industry for that to happen.
Q: How do you think you are seen by your community?
A: A businessman who gives an honest price and a fair deal.
Q: What would your family say about you?
A: They would say I work too hard; they would call me a workaholic.
Q: What is your best quality?
A: I can get along with people.
Q: What is your worst?
A: I tend to have a short fuse.
Q: What natural gift would you like to possess?
A: I would like to be able to sing like Conway Twitty.
Q: What is your present state of mind?
Q: What quality do you most admire in a woman?
A: The ability to forgive.
Q: In a man?
A: A good work ethic.
Q: What is your favourite virtue?
Q: What makes you angry?
A: When I am sitting up here watching the monitors and I see someone stealing something.
Q: What do you do with your anger?
A: I scream and holler, or go for a walk.
Q: What makes you happy?
A: Country music.
Q: What do you do for fun?
A: I do landscape design on my property.
Q: Where are you spiritually?
A: I believe in God and the Bible, but I don’t believe in organized religion.
Q: What would you like people to know about you?
A: I am here for the long haul. I’m here to stay.
Q: What do you think people do NOT know about you?
A: I am part Chippewa. I wanted to be a pilot. I watch a lot of HDTV.