National Newswatch

WHITEHORSE — A man who was instrumental in the development of Yukon has died at the age of 97.

James Smith served as Yukon commissioner from 1966 to 1976.

He was one of Yukon's longest-serving commissioners and also one of the last to have day-to-day involvement in the government of the territory.

Under Smith's leadership, the name of the Yukon territorial council was changed to the Yukon legislative assembly, Kluane National Park and Reserve was created, and the Chilkoot Trail was declared a national historic site.

After moving to Yukon from New Westminster, B.C., Smith served as president of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce and also held civic and territorial offices before his appointment as commissioner.

The Yukon government website says federally appointed commissioners held most of Yukon's administrative authority and power until 1979, and revisions since then have changed the role to something more ceremonial, similar to a provincial lieutenant-governor.

Yukon Premier Sandy Silver says Smith was commissioner of Yukon during a time of change for the territory.

"That transition helped make Yukon what it is today. He will be remembered for his contributions to Yukon by everyone who had the fortune to meet him, and even those who did not," says Silver in a news release.

The territory says flags at government buildings will be flown at half-mast in Smith's memory.


The Canadian Press

Click here for more political news headlines