February 21, 2019
On Thursday, February 21, at the age of 84, Ken Bennett of Whitehorse, Yukon passed away quietly in his sleep at Copper Ridge Place. Ken was born in 1935 in Melbourne Australia, the son of Mavis and Cyril Bennett. As a young man Ken joined the Australian army and, while a fi t and strong young man, it was soon determined that his skills would be best used keeping the aging army equipment in good working order. Ken went from keeping the Australian army running, to an early career in mining in some of the largest mines in the world. The skills Ken
learned took him to Europe, the United States, South America and finally Canada. In 1967 he arrived in Canada and stopped down first in Cassiar, BC. In 1969 he arrived in Whitehorse where he ran a body shop and multiple businesses in a busy resource-based territory.
In 1978 Ken met Yvonne Emson, the love of his life, and started a romance that would last for 40 years. Ken, a handsome young man, courted Yvonne and her unruly family of four. Over the next 40 years, he would become the man of the house helping Yvonne raise, nurture, educate, fund and send the kids off into the world. Ken went north to Dawson City in the early 70’s providing the intellect to solve problems and the physical gift to implement fixes and keep the burgeoning placer mining industry going. He worked in Dawson for almost 40 years inventing, building and innovating gold mining equipment, and rebuilding and repairing the equipment critical to keeping the claims running. If you needed something fixed, you’d call Ken. Ken will forever be remembered by the “Bennett Box”, a sluice box design that he created, built and shared freely with many mining operations. Many encouraged him to patent his design, but he was never inclined to do so: a testament to his great generosity. In the winter, Ken would collaborate with his peers in and around Whitehorse to revive old equipment and build Frankenstein solutions that worked better than the sum of their parts. Ken also had a passion for gunsmithing and used his fabricating skills to build rifles. Ken, always a perfectionist, built them to deliver incredible accuracy. It was awe-inspiring to watch Ken dig through a pile of old barrels and actions from WWII and put together a precision rifle that he could shoot with three rounds touching each other at hundreds of yards.
Ken’s cheery disposition, corny jokes, dedication to his trade and his unfailing kindness, generosity and humility, made him well known to miners, cooks, and heavy equipment manufacturers and many others throughout out the Yukon. Ken was a true Yukoner, a Sourdough, husband, father, brother, miner, inventor, mechanic, humanitarian and searcher of knowledge. He will be missed by his family and by the mining community of Yukon he was so instrumental in building.
Ken is survived by his wife Yvonne, children James (Carolyn), Michele (Kevin), Andrew (Blanca) and Noel (Dawn), and grandchildren Meaghan, Aimee, Graydon, Michael, Dennis, Oliver, Ethan, Isaac, and many nieces and nephews. Ken is also survived by members of his Australian family: his sister Val Heath (Bill), his nieces and nephews Lynda Clarke (Laurie), Steven Gaunt (Christine), Maureen O’Niel (Paul) and Jim Gaunt (Maria), and great nieces and nephews Kellie, Adrian, Peter, Kellie, Arron, Corey, Megan, Hayley, Jordan, and Adam. He was predeceased by his parents, brother Vernon Bennett and his great-nephew Jesse.
Ken’s family would like to thank Dr. Zhang and her team, and the care team at Copper Ridge Place. We will be forever grateful for the love, support and incredible standard of care provided by these professionals and Yukon’s Continuing Care program. In lieu of flowers, please donate to Alzheimer’s research or Hospice Yukon.