Whitehorse Daily Star

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WELL-KNOWN FIGURE PASSES – Maggie Tai is seen in a fur coat and hat in the early 1980s.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

WELL-KNOWN FIGURE PASSES – Maggie Tai is seen in 2002.

City loses a popular mainstay of the community

A fixture of the Whitehorse community passed away last Friday.

By Whitehorse Star on January 27, 2023

A fixture of the Whitehorse community passed away last Friday.

Maggie Tai was a lot of things to a lot people – a hair dresser, a restaurateur, a softball player, friend, a mother, or simply the life of the party.

But however Yukoners knew her, what will be remembered most was the passion and love she threw into everything she did.

Tai is perhaps best known for the businesses she ran in Whitehorse over many years – a hair salon on Main Street and a dress shop she owned in the 1990s.

She also owned and operated the former Sam N Andy’s restaurant, next to the hair salon, with her former husband.

Tai died after suffering a heart attack. She was 75.

Born in the English town of Billingham in 1947, Tai moved to Canada at the age of 12 and settled in the Yukon in her 20s.

Tai had gone to school for hairdressing and took part in hairdressing competitions across the country as a young woman.

She quickly set up her own shop after moving to Whitehorse. She married Sam Tai and the two had a son, Andy, when she was 30.

“It wasn’t too long before everybody knew who Maggie T was,” Andy said in an interview Thursday.

“Because everybody needs to get their hair cut.”

Maggie would give free haircuts to the homeless, and her son said she never hesitated to give someone a trim in an emergency.

But people didn’t just know her because they needed her services. 

She was a social butterfly with a zest for life. 

“She was someone that always made you smile when you were around them,” Andy said.

“She just had this zest for life that spread a certain positivity into this world. And I think that’s probably how people will remember her.”

And a lot of people will remember her.

Tai was a social butterfly. 

A regular at downtown bars like the old Taku at the corner of Main Street and Fourth Avenue, Tai loved to dance, sing and party with the locals on a Friday night.

She played softball with the Kookatsoon Lake Kooks, often arriving at games in her 1970 Chevrolet Impala converible well into the 1980s.

She also took in festivals and arts around town.

“She just got her feet stuck here in the Yukon and loved it so much,” Andy said.

“She had a kid and started raising the family and got to know pretty much everybody who lived here,” he added.

In her later years, health problems forced Maggie to use a scooter to get around, and she used it to get out in the community and make her presence known.

She took up painting and continued cutting hair out of her house in Hillcrest.

Andy said he’s planning a celebration of life for his mother, tentatively set for May at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre.

“Then we’ll do a procession up to Grey Mountain where we’ll bury her in a plot that’s up there next to my Auntie Kathleen …. That’s what she wanted,” her son said.

He remembered another funny story about his mother.

“Mom was a bit of a crier, and she would cry at the funniest things,” he said.

“I remember we went to watch King Kong as a little boy and there is a scene where King Kong’s baby is trying to get to King Kong and I look over and Mom is bawling her eyes out, LOL; she is full of emotion and had a very sweet sensitive side as well.”

Comments (13)

Up 0 Down 0

Linda Thornton on Feb 11, 2023 at 11:25 am

My condolences Andy your mom was all that and I looked forward to see her for my hair cut in the 90’s what a wonderful person always a laugh when I had the pleasure having a haircut by her she will be sadly missed RIP Maggie

Up 9 Down 2

Deneen on Jan 29, 2023 at 8:29 am

Andy, my sincere condolences to you. Very sad to hear of Maggie passing, she was so good to me. We had so much fun playing ball on the Kooks, I worked along side her at her hair salon, Maggie T’s on Main Street. Also good memories having Sam n Andy’s right there as well. She had a heart of gold. So many good moments with her, I will cherish her memory.

Up 7 Down 2

Lyn Crook on Jan 29, 2023 at 6:56 am

Sincere condolences Andy. I went to high school with your Mom and Kathleen and continued a friendship thereafter before the move to Whitehorse. She was always the life of the party with a very warm and loving heart and many friends. Kathleen has kept me up to date on many of their adventures and shenanigans since then. Wonderful Woman who will be sadly missed!❤️🙏🏼

Up 13 Down 5

Nancy Bentein Rathburn on Jan 28, 2023 at 1:45 pm

Andy, so very sorry for your loss
Knew her in Sarnia and so enjoyed her.
A very unique lady, her sense of humour was similar to my own.
We had many laughs together.

Up 14 Down 4

Stephen Robertson on Jan 28, 2023 at 12:26 pm

My condolences. In about 1990 Maggie was cutting my hair and I was sitting in the full-size chair. A few minutes into my haircut (Maggie’s haircuts were very involved, including a scalp massage) I looked over to the kid’s chair which was like one of those coin-operated animal rides and there was then-Premier Tony Penikett getting a trim before some meetings in Ottawa.

Maggie really lit up the room, the ball game, wherever she was. She will be missed.

Up 10 Down 3

Shauna on Jan 28, 2023 at 10:56 am

The sweetest lady and always up for a good time

Up 17 Down 4

Groucho d'North on Jan 28, 2023 at 9:45 am

Maggie is one of the colourful 5% Jim Robb celebrates. She has earned her place of distinction. Rest in peace Ms. Tai.

Up 12 Down 3

Herman on Jan 28, 2023 at 7:46 am

Rest well Maggie

Up 13 Down 5

jack on Jan 27, 2023 at 10:33 pm

Loved Sam n' Andy's, was the go to place!

Up 5 Down 2

Heather MacK on Jan 27, 2023 at 8:53 pm

I knew her in the 80s. Maggie always had a joie de vive spirit. She was so much fun to be around. Rest in peace dear lady.

Up 5 Down 3

SR on Jan 27, 2023 at 5:40 pm

I remember the bumper sticker on Maggie's van, 'Caution: Driver applying make-up'.

Maggie made the most of every possible occasion to dress up, get out, be crazy and have fun. She's an inspiration and did it all with very little in terms of money, but lots of creativity, energy, and lots of friends. Mainly I think she maintained a delight in things that most lose after their teen years.

See ya at the dress up party in the sky, Maggie.

Up 4 Down 6

Juniper Jackson on Jan 27, 2023 at 5:30 pm

Bye Maggie, Remember when it was the Sandman? and the Mall had a Hot Dog and drink counter? And the Showboat? RIP Maggie, I'm sure we will meet up again.

Up 60 Down 8

bonanzajoe on Jan 27, 2023 at 4:48 pm

RIP sweet Lady.

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