Yukon hockey great remembered

Yukoners are mourning a hockey pioneer this week. Jim Fowler, 73, died over the weekend after he slipped into the cold Marsh Lake water Sunday night. He went out for a skate around 7:30 p.

Yukoners are mourning a hockey pioneer this week.

Jim Fowler, 73, died over the weekend after he slipped into the cold Marsh Lake water Sunday night.

He went out for a skate around 7:30 p.m. When he didn’t return home three hours later, his wife became concerned and search and rescue was called in, Yukon’s chief coroner Kirsten Macdonald said.

His body was found early Monday morning.

Macdonald said she believes Fowler accidently skated off the edge of the ice and into open water.

A portion of the ice appears to have cracked and floated away earlier in the day, she said.

“When he goes out at 7:30 and it’s pitch black – what I was told is that the ice had no snow on it. So there would be no way to distinguish between ice and water and I think he just went off the edge.”

When his body was found, his headlamp was still functioning and his skates were still on, she said.

Macdonald called what happened “awful.”

“They don’t come much better than (him) is what I’m hearing,” she said.

It’s a sentiment shared by the people who knew Fowler and remember him as a man who loved his community, loved the game of hockey and loved passing his enthusiasm on to other people.

Doug Graham was on the first team Fowler coached in the Yukon.

Graham said his 16-year-old self was always trying to emulate Fowler and the way he played on the ice.

Fowler had played on the powerful St. Mike’s hockey team in Toronto before he arrived in the territory in 1965.

“He was a rugged hockey player. He really was. And his skill was over the top. When he came here he probably was the best hockey player in Whitehorse,” Graham said.

“The quality of play in Whitehorse was elevated just having him here.”

Fowler took his love of the game off the ice as well.

He developed a hockey school for beginning players that he ran from 1969 to 1989.

He coached a variety of rep teams between 1965 and 1986.

In 1974 he was one of sixteen coaches from across Canada to attend the famed Canada/Russia hockey series in the former U.S.S.R., according to a bio written by Sport Yukon.

While he was there, he attended hockey clinics and seminars with Russian coaches and game officials.

He would eventually be inducted into the Sport Yukon Hall of Fame in 1990.

Fowler was one of the founding members of the Yukon Amateur Hockey Association in 1979.

Creating an official association allowed Yukon hockey players to take advantage of the benefits available through BC Hockey and Hockey Canada, Graham said.

That meant things like refereeing clinics and the player development events and coach training.

On top of that, it wasn’t until after the association was created that the territorial government was willing to help fund hockey programs or events outside the Yukon, Graham said.

“Up until then our parents did most of it.”

In the 1970s, the two friends were neighbours in Porter Creek. They would often talk hockey.

Graham said Fowler was very passionate about the need to teach kids hockey skills and not just put them out on the ice without any preparation.

The current crop of Yukon hockey players owe a lot to the legacy Fowler left behind, Graham said.

“The development we have in hockey in the territory now is due to that early training and that early development that he did.”

Fowler leaves behind a wife and two children.

Contact Ashley Joannou at


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The aesthetics and economics of highway strips

One of the many cultural experiences you enjoy while driving from Whitehorse… Continue reading

Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone.
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone. (Submitted)
Yukon kids express gratitude for nature, pets and friends in art campaign

More than 50 children submitted artwork featuring things they are grateful for

Team Yukon skip Laura Eby, left, directs her team as Team Northern Ontario skip Krysta Burns looks on at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary on Feb. 22. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)
Team Yukon reports positive experience at Scotties

Team Yukon played their final game at the national championship in Calgary on Thursday afternoon

A sign indicating a drop-off area behind Selkirk Elementary school in Whitehorse on Feb. 25. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Parking lot proposal for Selkirk Elementary criticized

Parents and school council are raising concerns about green space and traffic woes


Wyatt’s World for Feb. 26, 2021

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read