October 11, 1956 – July 29, 2021
Dan grew up in Willowdale, Ontario and was an adventurer even as a child. He loved spending time with his buddies building forts and rafts and exploring the Don and Humber Rivers. As a teenager, he took to hopping trains, going as far as Sudbury and London, Ontario. Dan started birding in grade 3, which became a life-long passion. His life list is impressive.
Dan learned about an alternative school in Carcross, Yukon Territory and was accepted to the 1973-74 school year. Before the year was out, he was kicked out for breaking the rules but could return the following year. He hopped trains across the country to get back.
Dan made Carcross his home from then on. In 1975, he and two friends built a cabin in Striker’s Pass. The cabin became a highlight of his life and was shared with friends and acquaintances over the decades.
In 1980, Dan married Virginia Smith and became a part of the large Smith family of Carcross. They remember him as gentle, kind, loving and supportive through the years. Dan’s sons Wesley and Vince were born in 1980 and 1983. Dan and Virginia raised their boys in Carcross and later parted ways.
In 2003, Dan met the second love of his life, Nancy Maides, on a trip to Ontario. After a three-year long-distance courtship Nancy moved to the Yukon. They were married in 2011. Nancy became a part of community and was a large part of the boys’ lives.
Dan always made time for adventures with friends and family, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, ski treks, snowshoeing, hunting, river trips or hockey. He was an ardent birder and with friends from childhood formed the Owl Woods Boys. They travelled to many places, Costa Rica, Herschel Island, Bella Coola and the Tombstones- where he “bagged” his last “lifer”, the Surfbird.
As a long-time member of the Yukon Bird Club, Dan planned the Christmas Bird Count in Carcross, assisted with counts in Tagish and Atlin and each spring led the Blue Grouse hike on Nares Mountain.
Dan made generous contributions to the community of Carcross. He was an active coach with the Carcross Crusaders Cross Country Ski Club, was instrumental in the building and maintaining of the ski trails and assisted with ski programs at the school. He volunteered with the Carcross Ambulance Service, Yukon Search and Rescue, Carcross Recreation Board and served as president of the Carcross Area Planning Committee.
But his major contribution was as fire chief, a role he had for twenty years. In later years Dan and Nancy bought a second house in Atlin and Dan became an active volunteer in that community as well.
Dan loved reading and writing. He rejected social media and kept in touch with friends and family by phone or hand-written letters. He wrote exquisitely and moved people with his public speaking. He was an avid amateur historian of Canadian history. He loved to sing, dance and write poetry. His life’s work was as a carpenter and restoration expert. He worked on restoration of the SS Tutshi, the SS Klondike and the Bennett Hotel.
All who knew Dan, whether family members, long-time friends, acquaintances or clients felt a deep and genuine connection to this unique human being and loved him for his kind, gentle manner.
Dan is predeceased by his parents, Ed Kemble and Georgina MacDonald and his faithful four-legged companions, Zorro, Ben and Honey.
He is survived by his beloved wife Nancy and children: Wesley and Vince; Jenny, Melissa, Rob and Haylea and numerous grandchildren; brothers Tim and Casey and their families; the Smith family of Carcross; his Aunt Wilma McClinton and family; and an abundance of friends throughout the Yukon, across Canada and around the world.
A celebration of life will be held during the “spring migration” of 2022. A formal announcement will be made closer to the event and on the “Memories of Dan Kemble” Facebook page.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Society of Yukon Bird Observatories. Dan and Nancy often volunteered to assist at Albert Creek Bird Banding Station in Watson Lake, located in a major flyway for returning birds in spring.
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