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J. B. Watson

Started in 1903 - Retired in 1953

 
 

 

1953 - J.B. Watson Retires

 

J.B. Watson, one of the early day employees of the Government and Telegraph Service in the Yukon Territory retired last summer. Mr. Watson joined the service as a messenger boy at Whitehorse, Y.T. on June 5, 1903 and retired on superannuation from the position of District Manager at Whitehorse.

 

When gold was discovered near Dawson, Y.T., in 1896, it started one of the biggest gold stam­pedes the world has ever seen. To the “Klon­dike “ was echoed up and down the west coast of North America. The rush started in 1897 and reached its peak during the winter of 1898 and ‘99.

 

To meet the demands for communication, the Government Telegraph Branch then under the Department of Public Works started construction of a telegraph line from Ashcroft, B.C. to Dawson.

 

Materials were shipped to Ashcroft, Hazelton, Telegraph Creek, Atlin and Bennett. Construction was rushed north and south from each of these places. On September 25, 1901 the last splice was made on the Atlin-Ashcroft section inaugurat­ing direct telegraph service from Dawson to the outside world.

 

The Watson family were among the stampeders who landed at Dyea, Alaska, February 1, 1898 and “mashed” over the Chilcoot Pass. They were at Atlin, then, in June 1900, Whitehorse. Since 1905, Mr. Watson has worked at most of the Telegraph stations, Atlin to Dawson as Operator and Lineman but has been located at Whitehorse since 1914.

 

The Government Telegraph Service is gradually withdrawing from the Yukon and several of our offices there have been closed. They are Dawson, Fort Selkirk and Stewart River. Mr. Watson was there when the system first operated and now after forty-nine years, he has a hand in closing it down, as he says “The old string has served its purpose well but must retire in favour of progress and the construction of motor vehicle highways”.

 

Mr. Watson intends to retire in Vancouver.

 

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