Hanging By a Hair: Destruction of the Middle-Class

by Jane Gaffin

(This article, based on the policies emanating from the United Nations’ Agenda 21–a blueprint for engineering and transforming society into a New World Order of serfs in the 21st Century–is a relic from my scrapbook. It was originally published as Middle-Class Society: Hanging by a Hair in the Whitehorse Star on November 10, 2000.)


The Liberals had the mandate to call a federal election for November 27 (2000). But the Alliance set the campaign agenda.

Alliance Leader Stockwell Day’s drum-beating to take a machete to the taxes and reduce government spending is nothing new. Economists and public-policy watchdogs have harped on the subject for over 25 years.

But, most importantly, which of the two frontrunners has the political pluck to actually carry through with promises and put the beleaguered country back on the rails?

Prime Minister Jean Chretien and his disciples had seven years to correct the legacy bequeathed by former Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

During the 1993 campaign, Mr. Chretien promised to abolish the seven-per-cent GST (Goods and Services Tax) introduced by Brian Mulroney’s Conservatives in January 1991. Once elected, Mr. Chretien read every excuse in the Red Book as to why he wouldn’t scrap the tax.

The burden of tax collection fell on the shoulders of the private sector. Business was forced to accept the complex, time-consuming task without any compensation.

It created an extra layer of work and an extra layer of cost to do business which had to be passed on to consumers.

Extra taxes, disguised as user fees, continue to be introduced at all levels of government to service Canadians’ rich taste for champagne on a poor-man’s beer budget.

In turn, the spending power of the dollar has shrunk while real wages for the average after-tax family income is nearly the same as in 1976.

Sane Canadians want a reasonable bang for their buck based on reasonable tax levels. The others don’t want to give up any social and subsidized programs.

For years, Canada has lived well beyond its means and is ranked as one of the most severely indebted industrialized countries (SIC).

The large deficit–still hovering near $600 billion despite the Liberal government’s feeble attempt to reduce it–keeps tax rates high. As a result, everybody has experienced a reduction in standard of living, Nesbitt Burns chief economist Sherry Cooper has noted repeatedly.

Unfortunately, the situation is so bad it would have been political suicide for the Chretien government to do any more hacking to put the country’s financial house in order.

Massive government subsidizations have to be curbed, say the economists, before the Maple Leaf glory train runs out of rail with everybody on board.

Furthermore, the economy is choked by old and new regulations at every level of government. At least 25 percent of those regulations were pushed through a Parliamentary assembly line without adequate debate to ensure the best possible laws for the whole populace. Now everybody is suffering the deficiency. (See specific example, Bypassing Legislative Process is Deadly to Democracy, https://janegaffin.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/bypassing-the-legislative-process-is-deadly-to-democracy/

The blizzard of junk legislation and contradictory law is a costly legal mess which economists believe is the most overlooked challenge to Canada’s economic competitiveness.

Every time a government agency attempts to protect the environment or save individuals from daily risks, another set of regulations is passed. To comply means higher operating costs. Companies pass on additional regulatory costs to consumers by raising the prices of products and services.

Natural resource companies can’t off-load costs. If the regulatory burden proves too great, companies will deem projects uneconomic and close operations. It puts people out of work.

The heart of Canada was once based on plenty of jobs in the woods, the sawmill, fisheries, plant lines, agriculture and mining.

Now, it is an insurmountable task for ordinary folks to find meaningful work in the resource sectors, or otherwise. The masses are losing faith of fulfilling personal dreams for their prosperous futures.

Middle-class Canadians always worked hard; did a good job building this country; paid their taxes; and had some money left over for themselves.

In the prime of life, they are feeling insecure and vulnerable. Whatever went wrong was not their fault. The system did a hatchet job on the middle class, who are upset with politicians, inefficient government and a busted economy.

By the end of 1998, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was on alert to bail Canada out of a crisis. Oblivious to lurking dangers and the creed that says ‘charity begins at home’, politicians dished out lavish increases on foreign aid.

The IMF endorsed the corrective measures suggested by the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation: put people and capital to work; improve productivity; eliminate interprovincial trade barriers; and LOWER THE TAXES.

Productivity is the difference between labour plus capital costs and economic output. The standard of living for every Canadian was sacrificed to subsidize productivity.

Exporters have been seduced into depending on the weak loonie that trades against the stronger American greenback in currency markets. Instead of improving productivity to increase sales and keep pace with the rest of the world, Canada turned into a currency junkie.

As long as there is a significant currency advantage of Canadian goods, it is easy to mask the chronically-low productivity. The sinking loonie lessens the pressure for Canada to want to increase productivity.

It comes with a cost. Ultimately, productivity is vital to living standards in Canada, Royal Bank chief economist John McCallum has observed. “It is probably the No. 1 challenge facing this country,” he said. (McCallum was elected as a Liberal member of Parliament in the November 27, 2000 federal election.)

When fewer Canadians paying higher taxes because fewer Canadians have meaningful employment, the middle class is squeezed to the limit.

It is poised for a tax revolt and will take a large part of the economy underground…unless the elected party has the nerve to slash taxes, clean-sweep the bureaucratic house, pay down the deficit, strike down cumbersome legislation, bring back confidence for international investors, and invite the resource industries to come home.

The middle class is the backbone of any healthy society. It is comprised of the hard-working, thinking folks who cannot afford the luxury of idleness. The middle class, however, is an endangered species.

If the middle class is crushed, the chasm will widen between the two class extremes: the ultra-rich and the very poor.

The middle class is being exterminated by the environmental movement which is determined to dismantle industrial civilization piece by piece.

Ron Arnold, heralded as America’s premiere investigative critic of organized environmentalism, is the executive vice-president of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise.

He is author of some highly-recommended reading like Trashing the Economy: How Runaway Environmentalism is Wrecking America and EcoTerror: The Violent Agenda to Save Nature–The World of the Unabomber.

In a more recent release titled Undue Influence, he describes environmentalism as an extraordinary incestuous iron triangle of wealthy foundations, grant-driven green groups and zealous bureaucrats who control people’s future without their knowledge or permission.

Big foundations and big government give big bucks in grants to elitists green groups whose every effort hurts the average person’s economic future.

They cut off the flow of natural resources from American and Canadian federal lands, thus ending the necessary supply of timber, minerals, food and fiber.

These powerful groups have tightened their regulatory grip on private property. Real estate holders can’t use what they own–and can’t get compensation for what they lose.

Battered rural and northern communities are suffering the economic pain over banning of all forms of natural-resource production.

“Environmentalism comes with consequences,” warns Mr. Arnold.

Over 17,000 of these non-government organizations operate worldwide and make up the rampaging army of social engineers who are trampling people’s rights. (That number of government-operated, non-governmental organizations has now distended to over 40,000 GONGOs.)

“For the past several decades, politicians, bureaucrats and environmentalists have engaged in a country-wide effort to expand Canada’s network of parks and wilderness spaces,” wrote the editor in a recent issue of the Toronto-based Northern Miner.

“In British Columbia, where the ‘save-the-last-remaining-wilderness’ land grab reached mammoth proportions, forestry and mining were nearly drummed out of business,” continued Vivian Danielson.

“The economy went into a tumble, but we were told it was a small price to pay for the protection of millions of hectares of wildlife habitat.”

It turned out that the small price–a ravaged economy–was only a down payment, she advised. “The federal government now wants to extend the exercise of protecting habitat for endangered species (plant, toad, bird or insect) onto private land.”

The proposal is somewhere in the bowels of Ottawa. It is bushwackery to be committed against anybody who makes a living off the land, or a developer who creates badly-needed jobs for northern and rural residents.

Would any of these political candidates be able to stop the bureaucrats and environmentalists from assaulting people’s standard of living by laying waste to the economy?

Or does any candidate even know and care enough about the economy and humanity to effectively deal with the dilemma that leaves the destiny of the middle class hanging by a hair?



Last One to Leave: Turn Off the Lights



(This excerpt focuses on Jim McFaull’s last duty as United Keno Hill’s acting exploration manager and is from a 23-article historic series that glimpses the life and times of United Keno Hill Mines and its people, published in the Whitehorse Star between August 6, 2004 and January 7, 2005.

Keno Chronicles can be viewed at: http://www.yukonprospectors.ca/Keno.html)

Jim McFaull’s analysis of The Yukon Quartz Mining Act and Its Regulatory Regime’s Impact on The Free Entry System of Mining Law, February 2000 is available at:


Keno, the venerable old gentleman mine, refuses to die a natural death as long as a probable hundred million ounces of silver keep its heart beating. Yet, the federal government is bent on subjecting the mine to euthanasia.

I believe the mine deserves a dignified burial.

In a series of articles being published in the Star each Friday, I’m saying last rites and farewell to a great mine that served as the Yukon’s lifeblood off and on for more than 80 years. Here’s part 9. (Whitehorse Star, October 1, 2004.)
After the crash of ’82, everybody lost their jobs.

United Keno Hill’s exploration geologist, Jim McFaull, spent the winter driving a scoop tram for an underground placer operation in the Sixtymile country near Dawson City.

Dennis Prince came to Whitehorse from Ontario to fill the head position left vacant when Dutch Van Tassell resigned from United Keno Hill Exploration.

Prince’s alma mater was Newfoundland’s Memorial University, where he had first studied geography, then geology. The 35-year-old Falconbridge geologist was widely recognized as one of Canada’s most vocal mining advocates.

To his thinking, “balance” didn’t mean one group could achieve its goals by seizing everything from another group. Yet government was wantonly demonizing mining while it was down for the economic count.

Career and contract bureaucrats were starting the slow-motion process of dismantling industry piece-by-piece that would turn small communities into ghost towns.

It was getting hard to find a corporate giant or a junior company that would show spunk and spine and would stand up and argue with the government. Single-file, the mainstays pulled up stakes and left the Yukon: Falconbridge, Noranda, Kennecott.

Prince was the last of the Yukon lot speaking out against the illegal tampering with the mining act, insane regulations and bureaucratic abundance and interference.

During his five-year stay, Prince worked tirelessly with the Yukon Chamber of Mines, as had and did other United Keno Hill geologists.

Despite a nine-month labour strike at United Keno Hill, coupled with low metal prices that had forced closure of all the Yukon’s major mines plus the White Pass and Yukon Route railway in 1982, the Elsa mines resumed operations in the fall of 1983.

McFaull was called back to the mine, this time as the senior geologist in charge of the exploration department. The company had some fairly phenomenal budgets to expend due to flow-through shares. A hundred-percent expenses, plus an additional 33-1/2 per cent to sweeten the pot, were tax incentives filtering through to individual shareholders.

The tax deductions inspired companies to explore and develop mineral deposits into producing mines that would generate revenues.

McFaull already had the Galkeno Open Pit to his credit. Six more of the many targets he had previously prospected, developed and drilled went to production.

Millions of ounces of additional ore were produced from the new Silver King Underground, Ruby Offset, Hector 3 & 4 Vein Open Pit, Flame & Moth Open Pit, Black Cap Open Pit and Bellekeno Underground.

The two best properties were the Silver King and Bellekeno, which were not exhausted of material before the company went into a tailspin in 1989.

Silver prices continually slid while taxes continually rose. To avoid another premature shut down, UKHM’s president and board of directors took a 25-percent reduction in pay before asking the employees to follow suit.

Their survival technique was reminiscent of Treadwell Yukon in the early 1930s. Livingstone Wernecke was desperate to keep his men eating during the Depression Years. The miners, knowing the company’s abysmal financial situation, had accepted a dollar-a-day pay cut to keep their jobs to the bitter end.

When silver took another drastic dip in 1986, UKHM wages were tied in with the price fluctuations. By the summer of 1989, workers were back on full salaries for nine months. However, their pay was based on the 1986 scale.

It was a long drought.

McFaull’s last full-tilt paycheque was from 1981, when he was the underground mine geologist at Venus. At least he had an enjoyable, worthwhile job, and the company had some good budgets to work with, McFaull noted in a 1993 interview.

“We got a lot of work done and had a fair bit of success due to the flow-through share program.”

Then, 3 1/2 years of bunkhouse living took their toll. McFaull transferred back to the Whitehorse office in the spring of 1987. For the next three years, he managed the Dawson Lode project.

United Keno Hill staked roughly 1,200 quartz (hardrock) claims overtop Klondike placer workings. Finding the source of Klondike placer gold didn’t meet with any luck for the several companies working on a similar concept.

While McFaull was chasing the Mother Lode, United Keno Hill employees learned of Dennis Prince’s intention to return to Ontario. (As a note of memoriam, Prince died suddenly of a massive stroke on Jan. 4, 1999, at age 52 in Toronto.)

The post was bequeathed to Ken Watson in 1988. He and his wife, Pat, were part of United Keno Hill’s best and brightest. The academics had carried out many seasons of reconnaissance field work as a husband-wife team.

Dutch Van Tassell would send out husband-wife crews; two-women crews; two-men crews. But he circumvented the possibility of creating human problems by not putting two-person, mixed-gender crews into an intimate situation. Anyone who didn’t like the boss’ old-fashioned moral ethics could apply elsewhere.

The economic predicament bleakened. Watson served about a year as exploration manager, then he and his wife went to Ontario, too.

McFaull assumed the role of acting exploration manager in November 1989, around the time full curtains came down on the Elsa mines.

The only people with mine jobs were the watchman and a skeleton maintenance crew. The laid-off employees did not receive proper severance packages because of an agreement concluded between the labour union and the company.

Evidently, a new exploration budget was expected to come through like clockwork in the spring. Everybody expected to go back to work. It never happened.

Federal finance minister Michael Wilson cancelled the flow-through program that was the motor driving exploration companies to find and develop mineral properties into revenue generating mines.

As soon as United Keno Hill Exploration lost its funding, the acting manager, geologists, draftsman, expediter were laid off the next day.

Silver prices had dropped below the profitable $8 U.S. per ounce mark. The closure resembled the tough experiences of Livingstone Wernecke, who creatively kept Treadwell Yukon afloat up to 1941.

The company had succumbed to bankruptcy due to a bad marketing position, ore exhaustion and insufficient working capital. Treadwell president Phil Bradley and his board were negligent because they were tired of mining in the central Yukon.

McFaull, like Wernecke, had gleaned an encyclopedic knowledge about geology at the mines and in the field. He had been groomed for his managerial role for years. His name was freshly inked into the Canadian Mines Handbook as exploration manager along with Chris Cowan, UKHM’s president and CEO, and the names of the Toronto board members.

“I never got to do anything as the manager except shut the place down,” explained McFaull. Saying good-bye to more than 14 years with the company, he turned off the lights and locked the door.

Soon, the Sudbury, Ontario-based Bharti Laamanen Mining Inc., an engineering and contracting firm servicing the mining industry, struck a deal with Falconbridge Ltd.

Stan Bharti was familiar with the company. For a number of years, he was employed as an underground ventilation engineer for Falconbridge. Besides, their home turf of Sudbury was big Falconbridge territory.

Somewhere along the line, Falconbridge Nickel and Falconbridge Copper merged into Falconbridge Ltd.

Falconbridge, the owner of United Keno Hill Mines, was owned 50 per cent by each Noranda and Trelleborg AB, a Swedish industrial company. Both companies had acquired Falconbridge’s outstanding shares in October, 1989.

A multinational interested in daily millfeeds of tens of thousands of tons would not be enraptured with a 500-ton operation in the Yukon, any more than was Phil Bradley and his Treadwell board.

Noranda conceivably told Falconbridge to dump United Keno Hill Mines. The deal floated was a private transaction not subject to making an offer to all shareholders.

A June 1990, press release, bearing a New York dateline, implied Falconbridge would pay to off-load the assets.

If there was any Swedish money involved, as rumoured, than it may have come from the Trelleborg interest, although doubtful.

BLM Mines Inc., a Toronto-based unit of Bharti Laamanen Mining, agreed to acquire the 44.9 per cent of United Keno Hill Mines’ common shares held by Falconbridge.

In return, Falconbridge agreed to provide up to $2.4 million for the United Keno Hill operations over 30 months in exchange for royalty interest in United Keno’s properties. It would retain a minority ownership of the DEF copper deposit, 80 kilometres northwest of Carmacks in the Dawson Range. However, Bharti Laamanen only lasted about six months in the Yukon.

There was another snag. The DEF deposit, found on Dutch Van Tassell’s watch in 1971, had been funded by United Keno Hill Mines, Falconbridge Nickel and Canadian Superior Exploration.

The other 60 per cent of the eight-million-ton copper silver-gold deposit was called Minto. It was owned by the Silver Standard/ASARCO syndicate.

American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO) had Keno Hill connections dating back to the 1920s through the Guggenheims of New York.

The Guggies had formed the original Keno Hill Mining Company, a spin off from the Yukon Gold Company’s dredging operations in the Klondike.

The financial gurus would have to untangle the complexities in the boardroom.

Around July 1990, Jim McFaull handed over the keys to Stan Bharti and Risto Laamanen of Sudbury.

Jane Gaffin is author of Cashing In, a history of the Yukon’s hardrock mining industry, 1898 to 1977.

Mining Study Cuts to the Core

by Jane Gaffin

This article, a relic dredged from the scrapbooks in March, 2013, focuses on the late Jim McFaull and his invaluable report on mining law, land issues and property rights; it was originally published in the Yukon News, March 20, 2000, prior to the April 1, 2003 devolution date transferring authority of the quartz mining, placer mining and other land acts from the federal government to the Yukon territorial government. McFaull’s unabridged report can be viewed at: https://janegaffin.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/jims-report-pdf.pdf

“When you push somebody far enough, they will stand up and fight. If they don’t fight for their rights, then they are done for. They are slaves.”
– Jim McFaull (1952 to 2012) –


Private property ownership is the cornerstone of any free society. The land issues the late Jim McFaull held insightfully under study and discussion for many years help serve as more examples of how the United Nations’ Agenda 21 is working stealthily under the radar in tandem with federal, provincial, state and community governments to transfer all privately-owned property into public domain that will ultimately be placed under control of a one-world government. Ironically, McFaull faced much opposition from his mining colleagues who don’t know or care that they have rights and are not going to fight for them. They just want to work under a “fashionable” Agenda 21 phrase:”Go along to get along”. JG


A blizzard of conflicting legislation and regulations blanketing this territory has eroded the miner’s rights to enter, locate, prospect and mine a claim, says a study released on February 28, 2000.

Report on the Yukon Quartz Mining Act and its Regulatory Regime’s Impact on the Free Entry System of Mining Law delivers what the title promises. Author Jim McFaull has tackled the complex legal issue head-on. But the 50-page document is far from dry stuff.

McFaull is an accomplished writer and communicator. He has stitched the story together with simple language and an easy style so the layman can comprehend the text.

A miner is granted certain rights to enter Crown land for the purpose of locating mining claims. This allows him to seize title to the land on which he is authorized to prospect and mine.

When the miner stakes his claims he goes to the appropriate federal mining recorder office in Whitehorse, Mayo, Dawson City or Watson Lake to file an Application for Claim.

The federal government is the only agency with authority to issue the miner a Grant of Title. Mineral rights belong to Her Majesty, the Queen, until the ground is staked as mineral claims.

At that point, mineral titles are divested from the Crown and vested to the miner.

The miner–or the beneficiaries to whom claims can be bequeathed–retain the title in perpetuity, as long as the claims are in good standing.

Claims lapse only if the required assessment work is not filed or payment in lieu of assessment is not made by a specified date. The only time the title to the property reverts back to the Crown is when a claim lapses.

This process was designed for a definite purpose. The Crown wants to provide incentives to the private sector–or free miner–to locate mineral claims that can be developed into a profitable mine.

Without personal incentives, free men won’t mine. The Queen is not going to dirty her hands digging a hole.

Therefore, the Crown would be forced to use soldiers, criminal convicts or slaves to extract the wealth from the ground, as did the kings of Babylon and the pharaohs of Egypt during the first great civilizations.

The Soviets and Nazis killed over 30 million slaves who labored in European and Siberian mining operations during the last century.

Yet the Canadian government has chosen to introduce a revocable licensing system that is a disincentive to free miners of the Yukon.

The system parallels one implemented in Australia that sparked the Ballarat Rebellion of 1854. The Australian miners were at the mercy of the corrupt constabulary who did the inspections. Bribery, extortion and even the murder of miners became commonplace.

Since no legal rights were attached to the license or claims, the disgruntled miners demanded the Crown implement a form of claim ownership that would grant them rights and legal security.

The British government abolished the miner’s license and created the Victoria Mining Act of 1855 that granted miners hard rights.

“This was the first modern free-entry law in the British Empire,” writes McFaull.

Parliament replaced the hated miner’s license with a legally secure tenure for the mining claim as a form of property.

In 1924, the venerable Dawson City lawyer George Black was elected member of Parliament of Canada specifically to rewrite the quartz mining act. See

“It contained such strong legal security of tenure that there were virtually no further problems with bureaucratic interference with claims until the 1990s,” advises McFaull.

Until recently, the act held the honors as the least-amended mining legislation in Canada because Yukoners insisted on a statute rather than regulations.

Now the free-entry system of mining law in the Yukon appears to have undergone an almost total overthrow.

In spite of the guarantees entrenched in the Yukon Quartz Mining Act, as well as the Yukon Placer Mining Act, exploration work is now being prohibited.

Licenses are being withheld; access to land denied; claims refused granting or renewal on arbitrary bureaucratic authority.

Even producing mines have been driven out of business or are under threat of shutdown as a result of punitive regulation.

McFaull would relish a judicial review to determine the legality of overthrowing the free-entry system in this fashion.

Can a public servant legally refuse a miner his rights?

Some of the actions under question are interference with vested rights; violation of the principles of legality; and regulatory taking of real property without compensation.

The regulations have been enacted so the miner is “prohibited” from mining without a license. And a miner can be charged with severe legal penalties that include fines up to $100,000 a day.

“This flies in the face of the fact that the miner is still in possession of his original statutory free-entry miner’s rights,” challenges McFaull.

What happened to the rights that authorize the miner to enter, locate, prospect and mine on a freehold estate in fee simple with legal security of tenure?

How can the miner’s rights of free entry–which are supposed to be near absolute, irrevocable and protected by law–be withheld by the use of a revocable license? he wonders.

In a detailed section headed “The Lease v Licence Questions”, he explains why the two systems are not compatible much less interchangeable.

The subject of property law evolves into Mining Leases as “Chattel Interests”, The Claim as a Freehold Estate and Title to the Claim. He provides detailed accounts about how the miners’ rights have been affected by such contradictory federal legislation as the Territorial Land Act, Yukon Waters Act, Mining Land-Use Regulations and the proposed Development Assessment Process.

He also examines prohibition of Entry by Order-in-Council, Surface Rights Leases, Devolution and Yukon Protected Areas Strategy, which is a territorial initiative.

“The consequences of this attack on the free-entry system in the Yukon have been severe, and are likely to worsen,” he warns.

The mining industry has suffered a catastrophic collapse in the last five years with major repercussions to the Yukon economy.

Just in the last 18 months, the population base has shrunk by over 10 percent. The exploration industry is down by 90 percent.

The only operating quartz mine is the one near Dawson City. The future of Brewery Creek gold mine is uncertain.

Kennecott Canada, the last corporate exploration office of a major mining company, closed its doors in early January (2000).

Furthermore, brokerage houses and the mining investment community worldwide have blacklisted this jurisdiction, writes McFaull, whose report urges discontinuation of the discretionary systems of revocable permits and licenses.

Economic survival hinges on the miner’s rights being reinstated under the free-entry system as exist in the Yukon Quartz Mining Act.

Otherwise, this place is doomed, offers McFaull, who earned a geology degree from the University of British Columbia in 1974.

The experienced exploration geologist discovered seven new mines that produced four million ounces of silver before United Keno Hill Mines closed in 1989. He is a Fellow of the Geological Association of Canada and a long-standing director and a past president of both the Yukon Chamber of Mines and the Yukon Prospectors’ Association.

Jim McFaull, an exploration geologist and prospector, died suddenly on April 14, 2012 at age 59. One of his legacies is an archives of timeless, “I-told-you-so” interviews and articles dealing with mining laws and Canadian property rights which attest to his intellect and foresight.

Mystery of the Mother Lode

by Jane Gaffin

When this article about the late Jim McFaull was originally published in the Whitehorse Star on February 4, 2005, there were no hardrock mines in production and gold had just stumbled through the psychological barrier of $400.00 U.S. per ounce; when this historic relic was resurrected from the scrapbooks on March 7, 2013, there were at least three producing hardrock mines and gold was trading roughly at $1,577.00 U.S. per ounce.

The PDF version of McFaull’s short biography Geologist’s Life Full of Ups and Downs can be viewed at


Jim McFaull’s Report titled The Yukon Quartz Mining Act and Its Regulatory Regime’s Impact on The Free Entry System of Mining Law can be found at



Usually, the best place to look for gold is where gold is known to be. The Yukon is such a place.

And local exploration geologist Jim McFaull’s unwavering faith in the remarkable noble metal was rewarded recently in the form of an option agreement with Vancouver-based Dasher Exploration Ltd.

McFaull’s educated geological sleuthing may be the ticket to solving the riddle of where all Klondike gold originated.

The Whitehorse resident has always contended that gold will some day become an extremely valuable commodity. That is why he conducts all his independent work in gold properties.

He sees the world on the brink of serious financial difficulties and some currency collapses. Only those governments solidly backing their currencies with gold will come out winners.

Gold’s most attractive feature is its virtual indestructibility, which is more than can be said for paper money.

As well, the precious yellow metal is sought for increased usage in dentistry, medicine, jewellery, electronics, communication and the space industries. It’s been a long drought waiting for the tide to turn.

Now it’s the seller’s market again as the price of gold cleared the psychological $400 U.S. barrier. It wobbled between $410 U.S. to $450 U.S. per ounce over the past year and is expected to strengthen.

But the price hike is a double-edged sword. It carries economic ramifications. Gold is linked to inflation. When people lose confidence in the eroding value of paper money, they turn with trust to gold which is one factor driving up the price.

The negative side of the equation is offset with positives. The buoyancy bodes well for the sector of mineral explorers who work in gold. And exploration companies are looking North to satisfy their investment appetites with good gold projects, so they can raise capital on the stock market while the public is in an investing mood.

McFaull was in the right place at the right time doing the right thing. He may have hit the proverbial Mother Lode in more ways than one.

The recently-inked venture has great potential for a big pay off for a minimal amount of risk.

Dasher Exploration agreed to earn its interest in McFaull’s Hunker Creek property by paying him $300,000 in cash over a period of three years, stated a January 27 news release.

Additionally, the company must spend an aggregate of $3 million on the property and issue 700,000 common shares to McFaull.

The Dasher deal centers on the company acquiring a 100-percent interest in McFaull’s 20 quartz (hardrock) mineral claims located in the historic Klondike mining district near Dawson City. A confidentiality clause prevents either party from disclosing details for the moment about the geologist’s theory that he has discovered the original source for all Klondike gold.

Of the 13 million ounces of Yukon placer gold produced over the last 107 years, the majority came from Klondike workings. Up until now, hardrock prospecting in the Klondike mining district failed to locate the source.

Placer mining generally means extracting gold from creeks as opposed to quartz mining that requires drilling and blasting to remove metals from rock. McFaull, who has only worked the Hunker claims since July, 2002, has been investigating the gold source for about 20 years.

His geological, geophysical and geochemical bets are based on careful study. His theory supports a target model he developed while researching possible bedrock models for the source of Klondike gold, Dasher reported.

His curiosity dates back to the Dawson Lode project he initiated in 1986 and managed three years for United Keno Hill Explorations until 1989. https://janegaffin.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/jim-mcfaull.pdf

The objective was to find the source of Klondike placer gold on the 1,200 quartz claims staked by UKHM overtop Klondike placer workings. But he wasn’t given much chance to test his findings.

A slump in the metal market and the federal government’s cancellation of flow-through tax-incentive program put the hammer to his employer.

Like the captain of any ship, McFaull was last to bail. As acting exploration manager, he had the frustration of switching off the lights after everybody left the Black Street office in 1990.

During his 14-year tenure with UKHM, the talented young geologist set what must have been a record before celebrating his 35th birthday. Statistics indicate that only one in every 50,000 prospects makes a mine. He found seven; all went to production.

Collectively, the Galkeno Open Pit, new Silver King Underground, Ruby Offset, Hector 3 & 4 Vein Open Pit, Flame & Moth Open Pit, Black Cap Open Pit and Bellekeno Underground produced four million ounces of silver.

When the parent, Falconbridge Ltd. of Toronto, put its United Keno Hill Mines’ Elsa assets on the auction block, along with its Yukon exploration properties, including the Dawson Lode claims, McFaull went freelancing. (See Last One to Leave: Turn Off the Lights, Star, 10/1/04, this site or http://www.yukonprospectors.ca/pdf/Keno%2009.pdf)

In 1991, he researched and staked the Aurex claim block in the Mayo mining district. The Aurex claims abutted United Keno Hill Mines’ camp. Instead of the traditional UKHM silver, the Aurex geology favored gold.

Two years later and a whack of dollars shorter, McFaull dreaded the idea of having to market his wares in Vancouver, knocking on doors and talking to promoters–if he could get a foot inside the door.

Prospectors survive on serendipity.

While McFaull was looking for a financial angel, Yukon Revenue, a local company, was scouting for an investment property. They fortuitously crossed paths and cut a deal.

Yukon Revenue tied on 75 claims and carried out a large drill program. The work resulted in some good numbers. “It was exciting to see the visible gold coming from three holes,” McFaull enthused.

While others took care of the Aurex property, McFaull concentrated on other business. By the summer of 2002, he had zeroed in on Hunker Creek, where the tributary flows into the Klondike River, near the Dawson City airport.

Accessibility is a logistical cost-saving measure that further renders the property appealing.

After revisiting his concepts about finding the source of Klondike gold that had tugged at his imagination for years, McFaull had to find a company with financial ability to drill it.

Dasher Exploration was keen. It was an appropriate setting for the two parties to close their deal during the major annual Round-Up mining conference in Vancouver the end of January.

McFaull, who earned his BSc in geology from the University of British Columbia in 1974, is past-president and long-time active member of the Yukon Prospectors’ Association and the Yukon Chamber of Mines.

His invaluable research paper, titled “Report on the Yukon Quartz Mining Act and Its Regulatory Regime’s Impact on the Free Entry System of Mining Law”, was released in February, 2000.

The 50-page document tackles the complex legal issues and discusses the disincentives the government posed when introducing a discretionary licencing system to mining. (See Mining Study Cuts to the Core on this site.)

His predictions about what would be the ultimate fate of the mining industry and the Yukon’s meal ticket have been proven correct in increments. Presently, there are no producing hardrock mines in the territory when a half a dozen should be operating full-tilt.

It was not accidental, but truly fitting, that he tagged his gold claims the “Last Chance”.

If he is on the trail to the source of the Klondike gold system, his foresight has a good chance to save the Yukon mining industry from collapse, single-handedly.

It has the potential to either spark a stampede or at least a staking flurry.


Andrew James (Jim) McFaull was born in Regina, Saskatchewan on December 14, 1952 and died suddenly at the age of 59 in his home in Whitehorse, Yukon on April 14, 2012. A big farewell send-off was held at the High Country Inn on April 20, 2012.

Geologist’s Life Full of Ups and Downs

by Jane Gaffin

This article about the late Jim McFaull was originally published in The Yukon News, September 10, 1993; the PDF version is available at


Jim McFaull’s Report titled The Yukon Quartz Mining Act and Its Regulatory Regime’s Impact on The Free Entry System of Mining Law can be found at



When Jim McFaull was ready to graduate from a Winnipeg high school in 1970, he did not know what geology was. A friend explained that geology was running around in the bush, looking at rocks.

“That sounds interesting,” McFaull mused. “Maybe I’ll check it out.”

Before he celebrated his 35th birthday, he had set a record by finding a string of mines. All seven went into production.

The Galkeno Open Pit, new Silver King Underground, Ruby Offset, Hector 3 & 4 Vein Open Pit, Flame & Moth Open Pit, Black Cap Open Pit and Bellekeno Underground had produced four million ounces of silver when United Keno Hill Mines closed in 1989.

The young geologist’s accomplishment was a spectacular feat. Statistics indicate that only one in every 50,000 prospects makes a mine.

McFaull’s career started as a summer field student, working for mining companies in the British Columbia bush.

The summer of his graduation from the University of British Columbia in 1974, Amoco Canada’s mineral division sent him into northeastern Yukon to look for zinc. To reach the Bonnet Plume, the crew went through Mayo.

Trans North’s Beaver aircraft flew up the McQuesten Valley. The pilot pointed out United Keno Hill Mines’ Elsa operation.

McFaull looked out the window in disbelief. “Who in their right mind would ever want to live there?”

The next year he was hired by the company in Whitehorse. Three years from his first flight over Elsa, he joined the 350 residents in the remote mining community.

The junior geologist found his first mine, the Galkeno Open Pit, a vein-type silver deposit on Galena Hill’s northeast slope that faces Keno City.

After two-and-a-half years of bunkhouse living, he needed some freedom and fresh air.

He and three friends formed Aurex prospecting syndicate. The 1980 adventure took them 70 kilometres northeast of Keno Hill into the Patterson Range. When rain turned to snow, they were forced to come out of the bush.

United Keno asked McFaull to take a job as underground mine geologist at Venus, an historic gold-silver property near Carcross. By the time it was ready for production a year later, the precious-metal market crashed.

McFaull went back to the field to do follow-up prospecting around the company’s DEF Minto property, northwest of Carmacks. It was supposed to be the Yukon’s next mine. It too had to be shelved as mineral inventory.

The whole industry collapsed in 1982. Yukon mines and the railroad closed; and McFaull and a lot of other people lost their homes.

To survive, he drove a scoop tram for an underground placer mine in the Sixtymile country near Dawson.

By early 1983, the Elsa mines reopened. McFaull returned as senior geologist in charge of the exploration department.

During that three-and-a-half-year stint, six of the many targets he pinpointed, prospected and drilled went into production.

Then silver prices continued to drop and taxes kept increasing.

UKHM’s president, directors and employees took a 25-per-cent reduction in income so the mine could continue to operate.

When silver prices took another drastic dip by 1986, wages were tied in with the fluctuation. By the summer of 1989, UKHM workers were back on full salary for nine months. But their pay was based on the 1986 scale.

At least the company had some good budgets to work with, McFaull noted. “We got a lot of work done and had a fair bit of success due to the flow-through share program.”

Then he transferred to the Whitehorse office to manage the Dawson Lode Project.

The objective was to find the source of Klondike placer gold on the 1,200 quartz claims. “We didn’t have too much luck.”

McFaull was the acting exploration manager when the big shock came in the spring of 1990.

Federal Finance Minister Michael Wilson had cancelled the flow-through program. It was a tax-deduction incentive for exploration companies to find and develop mineral properties. Then silver prices dropped below the profitable $8 U.S. per ounce mark. And Falconbridge sold its UKHM assets.

“We all lost our jobs. Again. For the last time.”

For years, McFaull had been groomed for his managerial role. It turned out to be tougher than he imagined. He had the frustration of having to switch off the lights after everybody else was gone.

“Since then I have been freelancing. I haven’t had a full-tilt paycheque since 1981 when I worked at Venus. It’s been a long drought,” he said.

“United Keno is a good property. There’s probably a 100 million ounces of silver in there. That’s half a billion dollars at today’s silver price. Somebody will mine it, eventually. That property is a long way from abandoned.

“I think the world is looking at some serious financial difficulties. There are going to be some currency collapses very shortly.

“I think precious metals will go up. It’s just a matter of when. We can only keep propping up the Canadian dollar so long until the time comes when it can’t be done any more.

“At that point there has to be a day of reckoning. I think gold is going to become an extremely valuable commodity, which is why I am doing all the work I can in gold property.”

One of his projects started in 1991. He had returned from Russia, where he had looked at geology and career opportunities. Then he dug into his Riverdale home for what looked to be a long, harsh Yukon winter.

He meticulously researched an old silver property, formulated a geological theory and confidently gambled on his hunch. While the ground was still blanketed with four feet of April snow, he hired a crew to stake 75 claims.

“That was a real gamble. I had never set foot on the place. It cost a lot of money to have it staked.”

Although the Aurex claim block is adjacent to UKHM’s camp, the geology is favorable for gold rather than for silver veins.

When the snow melted in early June, McFaull and his malemute companion, Tasha, went prospecting.

The tiny white specks on the air photos were actually old bulldozer trenches, he said. They had been dug by the previous owner, a cantankerous oldtimer who had died about 1988.

Jack Hawthorne’s heirs had let the 50-year-old claims lapse about six months before Aurex staked them.

“For Hawthorne to hold them that long has to tell you something.”

While cracking rust-stained rocks, the distinctive odor of sulphur and arsenic was puffing up like clouds, he said.

“It was just the type mineralization I was looking for. But there is no outcrop. I would have been doomed if it hadn’t been for Hawthorne digging those holes in the first place.”

McFaull hurried into Whitehorse with a few sackfuls of rock samples. The laboratory assays showed good gold results. Then he hurried back to the property and worked until snowfall.

“At that point I got depressed again. Everybody had deserted this country for South America.”

And he dreaded the idea of having to try to market his property in Vancouver, knocking on doors and talking to promoters.

But prospectors live on serendipity.

While Jim was looking for a financial angel, Yukon Revenue, a local company, was looking for an investment property. They ran into each other.

“We cut a deal,” he said.

During the 1993 season, Yukon Revenue’s $130,000 program included tying on another 75 claims and carrying out 10,000 feet of percussion drilling. The work resulted in some good numbers.

“It was nice to pull the visible gold from three holes. I was just working on a geological theory. It was sort of a wildcat program that is paying off very nicely, so far.”

After 23 years and a bunch of successes to his credit, Jim McFaull has learned what geology is all about. And his high school friend was right: It’s running around in the bush, looking at rocks.

(Over the years, Jim McFaull was president of the Yukon Prospectors’ Association; director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines; a Fellow of the Geological Association of Canada; and a director of Yukon Revenue.)

Arthur James (Jim) McFaull was born in Regina, Saskatchewan on December 14, 1952 and died suddenly at the age of 59 in his home in Whitehorse, Yukon on April 14, 2012. A big farewell send-off was held at the High Country Inn on April 20, 2012.

City Subscribed to Crystal-Ball Gazing to Justify Figures in Land-Use Dispute

by Jane Gaffin


This relic from the scrapbooks originally appeared in the Whitehorse Star on December 6, 2000.

During the November 17, 2000, dispute, Jim McFaull debated a City of Whitehorse lawyer over mining laws and land conflicts when he represented the Yukon Chamber of Mines, an intervener in the first quasi-judicial Surface Rights Board hearing where the City was pushing its hand and wasting millions of taxpayers’ dollars on legal fees, trying to shaft a harmless prospector who was operating under precedent federal law. (See McFaull’s Report https://janegaffin.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/jims-report-pdf.pdf)

There was no winner or loser between the two debaters. However, McFaull held his own against the lawyer who was not a mining-law specialist. While the lawyer seemed eager to continue the discussion to pick up pointers from McFaull’s extensive research and his repertoire of references and case law, they ran out the clock. The City lost its case to the strong federal mining law.


The City of Whitehorse’s engineering department has subscribed to doing number-crunching by gazing into a crystal ball, the Surface Rights Board was told during a recent hearing.

A thorny multiple land-use conflict that has raged between the city for surface rights versus prospector Rob Hamel’s subsurface rights on his dump claims finally came to a head after five years.

The city could have bought out Hamel’s interests but didn’t want to set a buy-out precedent for the 335 mineral claims staked within the 162 square miles that constitute the expansive city limits.

Rather, the city opted to try to squeeze out the independent operator and toyed with the idea of legal action several times.

On November 17, 2000, the Surface Rights board met for a full day to hear the case in which the city jacked up its $1-million security request to $3 million.

This case represents the first application approved for a dispute hearing since the quasi-judicial board was established about four years before.

The three-member panel adjudicating the case consisted of chair Stephen Mills, Brian MacDonald and Bruce Underhill.

In August 1997, former city solicitor Bruce Willis had written a letter to the mining recorder seeking a $1-million bond.

Pursuant to section 15.1 of the Yukon Quartz Mining Act, the mining recorder notified Hamel to post $2,000 per claim on Hat claims 1,3 and 27.

The city had applied to the Surface Rights Board on February 22 to appeal the decision of the Whitehorse mining recorder with regards to the amount of security to be posted by Hamel for three of his Hat mineral claims.

During the hearing, the city’s legal counsel, Dan Shier, who inherited the file, raised the stakes to the $1-million per claim.

Under persistent grilling from the board chair, Shier wasn’t clear on whether he was talking $1 million total or $1 million per claim. Mills wanted to know how the city’s request for security tripled.

“It grew from $2,000 to $1 million per claim,” said Shier. “What we’re doing here today is appealing the decision of the mining recorder.”

For clarity’s sake, the discussion narrowed at one point to Hat claim #1 and land-fill cell #2, which is only used for storage of metals, not for domestic waste.

“Can you tell me on Hat #1 how you came to $1 million as your request?” asked Mills.

“It’s a certain amount of crystal ball gazing,” responded Shier. He conceded that no cost accounting nor mathematical calculations were done to arrive at the figure.

“In your notice of response, you question the mining recorder by simply stating a flat amount and not looking at the costs?” asked Mills.

“You have set a million dollars but not really identified the method by coming to that amount? You appealed–or questioned–the amount of security set by the mining recorder’s office but are unable to provide us with…” He hesitated.

“It’s hard to figure out exactly what level you want to find this, other than setting an arbitrary amount on the other end of the scale.”

To Mills’ way of thinking, $2,000 and $1 million aren’t on the same end of the scale.

Shier thought the process could be negotiated between parties under an agreement like the one drawn up between the city and Kluane Drilling, which now owns half of the Hat claims.

The other half-interest belongs to the respondent, Norwest Enterprises, which was represented by Hamel without legal counsel.

The Yukon Chamber of Mines, represented by director Jim McFaull, intervened on behalf of the respondent.

Trying to force Hamel and Norwest off their claims by exceeding the security provisions of the Yukon Quartz Mining Act is totally unacceptable to the mining industry and is not lawful, the chamber argued.

“Any demand by the City of Whitehorse for additional security is therefore frivolous or vexatious at best, and exorbitant or extortionate at worst.”

It was further pointed out that the city hasn’t spent any money in the area where Hat #3 touches on cell #3, which is not contemplated for development until 2007 to 2013.

The claim touches the net cell that won’t be prepared for use until possibly 2013 to 2023.

However, based on a consultant’s recommendation, the city has invested $8.5 million to develop the 504-hectare land-fill expansion site using an Alberta model.

Hamel submitted that the city could have cleaned up and carried on for another 12 years using the War Eagle mining pit which Hudson’s Bay Mining transferred to the city for one dollar 24 years ago.

Six lots transferred to the city are Crown Grants. It is spelled out in the quartz mining act that Crown Grants and mineral claims can only be used for mining purposes.

The city is operating without proper permits or a water license. In an administrative report to council at Monday’s council meeting, it was noted that the city is in the process of getting the proper permits and water license.

It has tried to force Hamel to relinquish his legal claims since he staked them in August 1995, he recalled.

He noted that his 48-claim package was recorded as legal quartz claims first, before any land titles were transferred to the city from the Yukon government.

Hamel wants the city to stop scattering garbage over his claims. “I’m not mining this site,” explained the prospector, who views the situation as a tempest in a teapot blown out of proportion at great taxpayers’ expense.

“I am doing exploration work. The city is doing more damage to my claims than I am to their cells. Their garbage is producing methane gas.”

His statement about finding good mineralization was corroborated a few days later by government geologists’ talks at the annual Geoscience Forum in Whitehorse. (The dump location encroached on the historic Copperbelt that had been mined for a hundred years.)

But it’s a lot of work to excavate garbage to find the minerals, declared Hamel.

Keeping with basic principles of law, he feels that as a law-abiding citizen, he should not have his legal rights taken away and given to someone else.

There are allegations both ways as to who is operating within the law and who isn’t, Mills reminded both parties.

“We are dealing with the issue of a person who is going to exercise certain rights he has on quartz claims and certain rights the city has under section 15.1 for adequate security to protect the city, should loss or damage occur from those activities.”

Under the federal mining land-use regulations, Hamel is required to backfill trenching and do certain reclamation work.

If he goes into Hat #3 to do some trenching, Mills wanted to know, where would the $1-million potential loss enter the equation?

Shier assured him the city is not suggesting that every activity falls in that $1-million range.” A gradient security would meet the city’s requirements.”

The city was willing to go back and relook at a graduated scale.

The board instructed the city to provide substance.

Hamel has until the end of the year to respond to the city’s written submission before the board makes a decision.


The upshot of this hearing was published in Justice Served Up Yukonslavia Style, pages 89 to 93, https://janegaffin.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/carlos-trilogy.pdf )


The all-day Yukon Surface Rights Board hearing extended to 6 p.m. on a Friday. A group of mining people, who attended to offer support to Hamel, had to leave at various intervals to attend other meetings.

One was down the street in the Premier’s office to discuss secret back-room deals of withdrawing lands for a Yukon park. Another contingent dashed across the street to the courthouse to offer support to Allen Carlos.

It was highly unusual for important meetings to be held on Fridays, anyway, and definitely a puzzle why all three overlapped. Was it to serve as a method to persecute and harass miners in one fashion or another?


Back where it started, the board merely required Hamel/Norwest Enterprises to
post security in relation to mining activities conducted pursuant to the Yukon
Quartz Mining Act on undeveloped land.

The city was directed to provide Hamel/Norwest Enterprises with at least a year’s notice in writing of its intentions to change the designation of land in the extended land-fill site from undeveloped land to developed land.

When working on developed land, Hamel/Norwest Enterprises would be required to follow the mining land-use regulations (MLUR’s) as described in the Yukon Quartz Mining Act.


Bellchambers: Building His Empire from the Ground Up

by Jane Gaffin


It is due to this time of great sadness that this relic from my scrapbook, originally published in the Yukon News on August 16, 1996, has been brought forth in memory of long-time Yukon resident and entrepreneur excellence Barry Bellchambers.

The original picture of Barry Bellchambers and the wooden Red Serge Mountie guarding the High Country Inn that accompanied my 1996 piece, is now complementing Jacqueline Ronson’s Yukon News eulogy captioned Bellchambers Remembered for Humour and Vision: http://www.yukon-news.com/news/32621/

Chuck Tobin’s Whitehorse Star eulogy Leukemia Claims Hard-driving Entrepreneur, can be viewed at: http://www.whitehorsestar.com/archive/story/leukemia-claims-hard-driving-entrepreneur/

An impressive shot of the High Country Inn, an exact image of when former hoteliers Bellchambesr and his soul mate Maggie operated the popular establishment, can be seen at: http://www.tripadvisor.ca/LocationPhotos-g155047-d185532-Coast_High_Country_Inn-Whitehorse_Yukon.html


When Barry Bellchambers bought the 4th Avenue Residence in 1988, he had no idea what to do with it.

He just recognized it as one of the best buildings in Whitehorse.

“The replacement cost for a building of this type structure in this day and age would run between $6 million and $8 million,” says the High Country Inn’s owner, who has ingeniously converted what others viewed as junk into a world-class hotel.

The building was constructed originally as a YWCA for about $800,000 in the early ‘70s.

Then, the Tasmanian-born Bellchambers was busy investing in local diamond-drilling companies and buying trailer parks.

The ‘Y’ organization finally succumbed to financial woes. And the building reverted to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), which paid out the bank.

CMHC operated a low-budget accommodation centre for a dozen years. It was a huge cost to the taxpayer, adds Bellchambers.

“CMHC, of course, got tired of it. At one time, CMHC tried to give the building to the city of Whitehorse and to the territorial government.

“Any non-profit organization in this city could have taken over this building for a dollar. But everybody avoided it. People looked inwardly at the problems rather than at the potential.”

Perplexed councillors even discussed demolition if CMHC forced the city to take the unwanted waif for unpaid taxes. Eventually, CMHC put the building up for bid.

Bellchambers wasn’t high bidder. But the high bidder couldn’t come up with the financing. So, a deal was struck between CMHC and Bellchambers who envisioned a great future for the sadly neglected building.

“What that future was, I didn’t know.” Yet he spent gobs of money on restoration, adding rooms and replacing the heating and hot-water systems.

I had so much money into it, I either had to stay where I was with the low-budget accommodation centre, or jump into the pool with both feet. That’s what I decided to do.

“It was during a down market. Tourism was static. Governments were slow. Businesses were shutting down. The Klondike Inn was closing for the winter.

“I felt I could come in and compete, despite the local market. I recognized the cycles. I knew it was going to take three or four years to get the business to where I wanted it.

“By that time, I figured that we would be coming into a better market. That was right. I think the Yukon economy is back on an upswing.”

Facing a tough market is nothing new for Bellchambers. In the early ‘80s, he bought the 100-condominium Lewes Village (in the Whitehorse subdivision of) Riverdale.

He laughs at this recollection. Mines were closing, and people leaving. But he managed to sell the refurbished units.

He reinvested into his pet project. Atlantis Submarines was the first company in the world to design and build passenger-carrying submersibles, he said.

Bellchambers set up the operation and marketing plans for the submersible tours on Grand Cayman Island.

“The design and marketing structure is basically the same format that I’m still using in the hotel. I don’t have any formal marketing experience. Just from trying to sell 100 condominiums in an extremely low market, I learned a lot about marketing the hard way.

“You have to be pretty innovative and aggressive. Even though the submarines are a very unique product, you learn quickly that the world doesn’t beat a path to your door. You have to get out and market the hell out of it, no matter what it is. Everyone is competing for the same dollar. That’s where I got a good ground in Marketing 101.”

A real success story, Atlantis currently operates submarines in the exotic tourist havens of Hawaii, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bahamas.

Nevertheless, for a new hotel to compete with well-established Whitehorse businesses during an economic downturn, Bellchambers knew he had to offer something special.

The need for a country inn-type atmosphere that reflected his personality turned into a neatly landscaped, four-storey, 110-room hotel, accented with buckets and baskets of colorful flowers.

It is guarded by a friendly, super-size Mountie, nearly as tall as the building. Bellchambers’ gigantic marquee is a photo opportunity for guests who take the hotel’s name around the world for free.

Bellchambers is proud that the Mountie’s picture already has appeared in The Globe and Mail, and once was featured on the front cover of The Innkeeper, a British Columbia-Yukon hotel publication.

The forest-green awnings that shade the Inn’s eyes, deck and entrance won an international award two years ago (1994).

A Vancouver supplier entered the High Country Inn in a competition for cleverly incorporating awnings into an exterior restoration for that specific-size building.

“This is a place where you can walk in and say, ‘This feels good,’ ” he says.

He credits the interior design, furnishings, fireplace, staff, grand piano, no-smoking policy in the lobby and restaurant, and a segregated room for smokers.

The Yukon Mining Company, a poly-enclosed bar-restaurant, is a recent extension. Dubbed ‘The Deck’, both locals and visitors enjoy the casual, goofy atmosphere.

The title and alcoholic wares are billed on the side of an ebony, rescued-from-McCrae, 1929 AA delivery truck, laden with whisky barrels. “The locals love it.” He has another relic being painted now for display.

A spiffy biffy that he designed and built sets off in a corner. People actually sit in there and have their pictures taken.

All these details appeal to a segment of a market that had been neglected as well as to an older-market segment, he noted.

Whether a customer comes from across the street or from the other side of the moon, Bellchambers caters to every person who walks in the front door.

Bus groups are treated as individuals. “Every time a bus pulls in, we greet each person and serve complimentary iced tea and juice on The Deck.

“Before leaving, we get on the bus and thank each person individually for staying with us. Each person receives a package containing Whitehorse pins, mementoes, trinkets to personalize their trip here.”

Is there any wonder that last year’s bus tours ballooned from 60 to 200 tours this season? More are booked for next year.

Another image-maker and a first for any hotel in Whitehorse is the dedicated shuttle service, operating on a continuous basis, he explains.

The 24-passenger shuttle bus meets every jet, and transports RV park groups to and from hotel barbecues.

Whereas Bellchambers generates all the ideas, he claims there’s hardly any original thoughts in the world. “I steal and adapt,” he says.

“Often it doesn’t make financial sense. But I try not to let the creativity be limited by the cost. Eventually it all makes sense.”


(Barry Bellchambers died of leukemia on March 5, 2013; he would have turned 70 on March 10th. The community turned out en masse to give him a dazzling, whooping Celebration of Life, send off, fit for the people person he was. The gathering was in–you guessed it–the High Country Inn’s Yukon Convention Centre, the biggest meeting place in town.)