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

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley gives a COVID-19 update during a press conference in Whitehorse on May 26. The Yukon government announced two new cases of COVID-19 in the territory with a press release on Oct. 19. (Alistair Maitland Photography)
Two new cases of COVID-19 announced in Yukon

Contact tracing is complete and YG says there is no increased risk to the public

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on April 8. Yukon Energy faced a potential “critical” fuel shortage in January due to an avalanche blocking a shipping route from Skagway to the Yukon, according to an email obtained by the Yukon Party and questioned in the legislature on Oct. 14. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Energy faced ‘critical’ fuel shortage last January due to avalanche

An email obtained by the Yukon Party showed energy officials were concerned

Jeanie McLean (formerly Dendys), the minister responsible for the Women’s Directorate speaks during legislative assembly in Whitehorse on Nov. 27, 2017. “Our government is proud to be supporting Yukon’s grassroots organizations and First Nation governments in this critical work,” said McLean of the $175,000 from the Yukon government awarded to four community-based projects aimed at preventing violence against Indigenous women. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon government gives $175k to projects aimed at preventing violence against Indigenous women

Four projects were supported via the Prevention of Violence against Aboriginal Women Fund

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone

When I was a kid, CP Air had a monopoly on flights… Continue reading

EDITORIAL: Don’t let the City of Whitehorse distract you

A little over two weeks after Whitehorse city council voted to give… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Northwestel has released the proposed prices for its unlimited plans. Unlimited internet in Whitehorse and Carcross could cost users between $160.95 and $249.95 per month depending on their choice of package. (Yukon News file)
Unlimited internet options outlined

Will require CRTC approval before Northwestel makes them available

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse. Yukon’s territorial government will sit for 45 days this sitting instead of 30 days to make up for lost time caused by COVID-19 in the spring. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Legislative assembly sitting extended

Yukon’s territorial government will sit for 45 days this sitting. The extension… Continue reading

Today’s mailbox: Mad about MAD

Letters to the editor published Oct. 16, 2020

Alkan Air hangar in Whitehorse. Alkan Air has filed its response to a lawsuit over a 2019 plane crash that killed a Vancouver geologist on board, denying that there was any negligence on its part or the pilot’s. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Alkan Air responds to lawsuit over 2019 crash denying negligence, liability

Airline filed statement of defence Oct. 7 to lawsuit by spouse of geologist killed in crash

Whitehorse city council members voted Oct. 13 to decline an increase to their base salaries that was set to be made on Jan. 1. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Council declines increased wages for 2021

Members will not have wages adjusted for CPI

A vehicle is seen along Mount Sima Road in Whitehorse on May 12. At its Oct. 13 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the third reading for two separate bylaws that will allow the land sale and transfer agreements of city-owned land — a 127-square-metre piece next to 75 Ortona Ave. and 1.02 hectares of property behind three lots on Mount Sima Road. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Whitehorse properties could soon expand

Land sale agreements approved by council

Most Read