'He fought the good fight so hard:' remembering former Whitehorse Mayor Bill Weigand

·2 min read
Bill Weigand served as mayor of Whitehorse between 1991 and 1994. He was described by fellow politician Larry Bagnell as someone who was 'beloved by the staff.' (Submitted by Buni Hume - image credit)
Bill Weigand served as mayor of Whitehorse between 1991 and 1994. He was described by fellow politician Larry Bagnell as someone who was 'beloved by the staff.' (Submitted by Buni Hume - image credit)

Bill Weigand, who served as Whitehorse's first full-time mayor in the early 1990s, passed away last week at the age of 92.

Weigand, who was born in Manitoba and arrived in Yukon in the 1940s, went on to become deeply involved in the commercial, political and civic life of the growing territory.

Submitted by Buni Hume
Submitted by Buni Hume

Speaking to Dave White on CBC Radio's Airplay, Weigand's son, Darryl Weigand, described his father as an energetic "young adventurer" who first stepped foot in the territory at the age of 18.

"A friend called him about a job, and said 'get up here,'" Darryl said with a laugh of his father's 1946 arrival.

Working first as a fireman, and later as everything from a woodcutter and fire inspector to a gravedigger, the young Bill Weigand "had such a deep love for the Yukon," he continued.

In the 1960s, Weigand became an apprentice at a gem shop, which led to his co-ownership of Murdoch's Gem Shop in Whitehorse.

"Look at the arms, wrists and rings of people around the Yukon and you might see his handiwork," said Darryl Weigand.

After rising as a prominent businessman, Weigand began to play a larger civic role, serving as chairman of the Yukon's first liquor board and as president of Kiwanis club, among many other positions.

Submitted by Buni Hume
Submitted by Buni Hume

Darryl Weigand explained his father's philosophy this way: "In the Yukon, we're a close-knit community, and everyone had a role to play."

From there came his jump to politics. Weigand was Whitehorse's first full-time mayor, serving between 1991 and 1993.

In a statement, Yukon MP Larry Bagnell described campaigning on Weigand's behalf.

Submitted by Buni Hume
Submitted by Buni Hume

"I remember fondly going door to door… during his election, and thinking it was a waste of time, and told him 'Bill this isn't helping any, because every door I go to everyone loves you already!'"

Bagnell later wrote that Weigand "embodied the spirit of our modern Whitehorse, and will be sadly missed by all who knew him."

Current Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis also paid tribute to Weigand during a recent council meeting, describing him as a "legend."

"Every time Bill came in he got a big hug from everybody here, because he was absolutely loved," said Curtis.

Following his stint as mayor, Weigand and his wife, Jeri, also spent time in China as foreign business experts, which Darryl Weigand described as a "big step forward" for the couple.

Then, in 2005, the pair were awarded the Yukon Commissioner's Award for Public Service — one of many awards Weigand received during his life for his contributions to Yukon.

"We just miss him so dearly because he was so alive, he fought the good fight so hard, and he cared. He was compassionate," said his son.

Submitted by Buni Hume
Submitted by Buni Hume
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