Whitehorse Daily Star

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Edith Josie, 1965 and Edith Josie, 1998.

Star columnist Edith Josie named to Order of Canada

Edith Josie, a life-long Old Crow resident and Star columnist for 32 years, has been named a member of the Order of Canada.

By Whitehorse Star on June 29, 1995

Edith Josie, a life-long Old Crow resident and Star columnist for 32 years, has been named a member of the Order of Canada.

Hers is one of 79 appointments announced today by Gov.-Gen. Romeo Leblanc. The list includes three companions, 27 officers and 50 members.

The Order was established in 1967 to honor Canadians who have served their country well in a variety of fields. Josie is being saluted for her work in the media, mostly in the form of her Here are the News column.

“I feel good,” she said from Old Crow this morning. “Something like that, I just get excited, but I feel a bit sad sometimes too, because people get all proud of me and say I am a famous woman.”

Josie said in a 1994 interview with the Star that after 31 years of writing the column for the paper, she aimed to do it for at least another 30.

“I’m 72 years old, and I’m still just like I’m young. Every time I say I’m 72, people can’t believe it,” she said then.

Josie’s work has been compiled into book format twice - the years 1963 and 1964 were published separately in the late 1960s. These were translated into German, Italian, Spanish and Finnish and distributed overseas.

She has chronicled the hunting and fishing and berry picking, the coming of the first airplanes, television, and changes wrought by alcohol and land claim negotiations.

Harry Boyle, editor and publisher of the Star in the 1960s described Josie as “phenomenonly honest, a clear observer, and a very frank person.”

The first person to be invested in the Order in 1967 was the Rt. Hon. Roland Michener, the late governor-general. Appointments are made on the recommendation of an advisory council chaired by the Chief Justice of Canada.

Miss Edith Josie

Star columnist for 37 years

From the Whitehorse Star July 2000

Decades ago, chatty little columns of day-to-day activities, visitors from out of town, social gatherings, teas and the like were a standard component of small-town newspapers.

Today, these columns have been squeezed out by the demand for hard news stories, sports results and entertainment features. But for the past 37 years, the Whitehorse Star has faithfully carried such a column from the Yukon’s northern community of Old Crow.

Edith Josie has and continues to record the daily happenings in her small community in her column, aptly called “Here are the News”, she captivates readers with accounts of caribou hunting, muskrat trapping, visits by friends, relatives and dignitaries alike, school and church events, air travel and weather.

Thanks to her correspondence, she has made sure Old Crow is not forgotten by readers. In fact, she is fondly remembered by all readers who have come to know her by her column. Anglican priest Lee Sax says she is widely known. “Everywhere we go, people ask how she’s doing. Most people know her through her writing.”

She started writing for the Star in late 1962 when Reverend James Simon arrived in Old Crow. His wife, Sarah Simon was asked by Harry Boyle, then editor of the Star, to find a correspondent when she moved up to Old Crow. “She came to our house and she asked me,” Josie recounts. “Most ladies had someone to look after them. Edith Josie didn’t have a husband to look after her, so I gave Edith the job.”

When she agreed to be the Star’s correspondent, Boyle whooped and hollered: “We got her, we got her, we got her!” Boyle had a correspondent from every community now. When her first report came in, the Star staff did a double take at her words scrawled diary style on white stationary and decided that to edit Edith Josie would be to destroy her writing charms.

Her reports, dependent on the weather and flights from Old Crow, came in twice a month.

Her column was regularly reprinted in the Edmonton Journal and appeared in the Toronto Telegram. It produced a fan club at the University of Vancouver and became a collector’s item among people from as far away as California and New York.

In her September 21, 1965 report, she wrote: “Fairbanks aircraft arrived Old Crow with mail. Sure nice to get all the mail from all friend around the State and Canada. We were lucky because we get mail both way, Fairbank and Dawson. And Connelly Dawson Airways bring mail and COD. Sure nice to get mail. But some time sure nice to get letter but hard to answer it because too much work to do.”

“Edith Josie really busy write the news and answer all the letter she get from all the States. She get the most letter from California, Seattle, New York. Sure nice to have friend and write letter to who we never see before."

As well as receiving letters from around the continent, Edith Josie was also the focus of many media interviews and photography sessions, including one from Life magazine. In June 25, 1965, she wrote: “At last Moses Tizyah and the boys arrived Old Crow from Crow flat. Soon they land, then man took a nice picture of canvas boat and the stuff in the boat.

Was he lucky for taking picture. He really travel from a long way to North for picture. He sure will tell all the news about Old Crow. He also meet Miss Josie and sure glad to meet her. And he sure did lots of pictures also Miss Josie. He was from Italy and Philip is interpreter for him. He was a good man and friendly with anybody in Old Crow.

A story written by Canadian Press in 1981 noted that her column is translated into German, Italian, and Mexican. “Her mail comes from readers around the word, including fans in New Zealand, Texas, Florida and the Philippines.”

Edith Josie learned to read and write in Eagle, Alaska where she grew up. Her parents travelled from Fort MacPherson by dog team and settled there in 1912. Soon she was born along with four brothers. Her family left Eagle for the north on October 30, 1940, she says. All winter they travelled by dog team, hunted and trapped on their way to Whitestone in the Dempster area. Her brothers also had dog teams.

In the spring, after the river break-up, Josie says her father made a boat out of moose skin and travelled down river to Old Crow. During her youth, she spent summers in Old Crow and winters in Whitestone. “In 1947, we come here and stay here, never to go back up to Whitestone.”

Since that time she has lived in Old Crow with her family which consisted of two sons, a daughter and her blind mother, brother and his family.

Life then, as it does today, revolved around hunting caribou every spring and fall, muskrat trapping and the comings and goings of residents. She remembers the day the first float plane flew into Old Crow with mail and freight from Dawson City. “When the first plane came it land by the school. Everybody went down to see how plane look like. No one had ever seen a plane. Now Air North, DC-3 come here, slow but good.”

In the eighties, Josie found herself busy with church and school activities. She is the lay reader for the Old Crow Anglican church and spent every week day at the Yukon College classroom upgrading her spelling, math and reading. For seven years, she was a Justice of the Peace.

Like many others in Old Crow, Josie speaks Gwichin and during the weekly church services often recites prayers and hymns in her native language. Lee Sax says that when she and her husband Don arrived in Old Crow in 1984, Josie was helping in church. “Every Sunday she read the epistle on a regular basis. When we became ordained deacons, she was licensed as a lay reader.”

Sax says “she is very well respected in the community. She is well-respected for what she does. She is revered for her strength.”

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