Former Yukon MLA and renowned storyteller Archie Lang dies at 72

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Archie Lang, left, with his son Fraser. Archie died Thursday aged 72. (Submitted by Mollie Lang - image credit)
Archie Lang, left, with his son Fraser. Archie died Thursday aged 72. (Submitted by Mollie Lang - image credit)

Longtime Yukon MLA and entrepreneur Archie Lang died Thursday, prompting friends and fellow politicians to remember his fabled storytelling skills and generous spirit.

"Yukon has lost one of its great champions," said Yukon Premier Sandy Silver in a statement Thursday. "May his memory live on through his stories."

Lang died age 72 after a lengthy battle with cancer.

He served as the Yukon Party MLA for Porter Creek Centre from 2002 to 2011, and spent several stints in cabinet as a minister of mines and community services, among other portfolios. Currie Dixon, leader of the Yukon Party, said his political campaigns are still remembered today for their iconic slogans, like "a chicken in every pot" and "everyone should come join the march for Arch."

"He was a huge mentor to me growing up, and someone I learned a lot from during his time in politics," said Dixon.

Doug Graham, a friend of Lang's since childhood, when they shared seats on school council, said he was a relative latecomer to territorial politics, caring more about his work as an entrepreneur.

Over his life, Lang accrued a number of businesses across Yukon and northern B.C., including the Super A in Porter Creek, Sgt. Preston's Lodge in Skagway, the Caribou Hotel in Carcross and the Watson Lake Hotel.

"It was rare to see Archie sit still for any period of time," said Dixon, who recalled his mother, Lang's former constituency assistant, rearranging the furniture in his office to better keep an eye on his constant movements.

Graham said Lang's natural likeability made him an ideal entrepreneur.

"Archie … as long as I remember him, never had an enemy," he said. "Everybody was his friend."

WATCH | Archie Lang shares a story of a haunting at the Caribou Hotel in Carcross

But in all the reflections from friends and former colleagues, one quality stood out — Lang's excellence as a storyteller.

"You could spend hours listening to him, just because … it came to him so easily," said Graham.

"Archie had an ability unlike almost anybody I've ever met, to absolutely reduce a room to stitches with laughter," Dixon said. "I have witnessed Archie personally reduce a group of fairly uptight dignitaries and politicians into absolute tears."

"Always quick on his feet, I will remember him best for his great sense of humour and for his incredible honesty," said Larry Bagnell, Yukon's MP, in a statement. "He was totally nonpartisan, and a friend to everyone."

In his statement, Silver announced the flags at the government's main administration building will fly at half-mast for seven days in commemoration of Lang's "service to the Yukon."