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REVERED ELDER MOURNED – In the left photo, Stephen Frost Sr., a regular in the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous dog sled races in Whitehorse, is seen in the mid-1960s. Right, Frost makes an address in 2005.

Elder remembered for leadership, compassion

Stephen Frost Sr. – a much-respected Gwitchin elder in Old Crow – passed away last Sunday morning at the Whitehorse General Hospital at the age of 87 after a lengthy battle with cancer.

By Chuck Tobin on September 9, 2020

Stephen Frost Sr. – a much-respected Gwitchin elder in Old Crow – passed away last Sunday morning at the Whitehorse General Hospital at the age of 87 after a lengthy battle with cancer.

Frost was known for his knowledge of the land and his skill as a hunter and trapper.

He was also known as a dog musher for many years who would regularly travel to Whitehorse to compete in the annual Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous dog sled races.

He served a year as the race marshal for the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest back in the 1980s.

Frost was probably best known for his general compassion for people and his smile.

“He had a very good sense of humour,” his eldest son, Dennis Frost, said in an interview from Old Crow on Tuesday. “He made everybody laugh.”

Frost and his late wife, Ethel, had 11 children: six girls and five boys.

Frost was a good hunter and trapper, and a good provider for his family, said Dennis.

He said his dad had good leadership qualities and was always providing advice to people in the community who were going out on the land.

“He knew a lot of people through the years,” Dennis said. “People got to know him from all over the world.

“He was a helpful guy and he helped everybody.”

Frost worked at the nursing station as the care and maintenance staff for 37 years, and also worked for different airlines at the airport handling freight and just greeting people as they arrived in the community.

Dennis, 67, said the funeral will be held on Thursday in Old Crow.

Former Yukon commissioner Doug Phillips first met Frost in the 1970s when he went to Old Crow to paint the school and the nursing station.

Over the years, they developed a strong friendship, Phillips said in an interview today.

He would often return to Old Crow just to visit with his friend, who would take him hunting and on boat trips up and down the Porcupine River.

Phillips remembers helping Frost build a modest cabin at the confluence of the Porcupine and Bluefish River, one of Frost’s favourite places.

Frost visited Phillips at his home last Friday, and they just sat in the garden recalling stories from years gone by.

Frost spoke about the time Phillips and longtime Whitehorse resident Tom Firth took him sheep hunting on horses in the Wheaton River valley. He’d never been hunting on a horse.

Phillips remembers one April when Frost took him up to the Crow Flats, with Frost driving the snowmachine and Phillips riding in the sled.

They stopped at one camp of muskrat hunters and there were muskrats piled up outside the tent, and inside, the hunters were cooking muskrat and drinking tea while they sat on a bed of caribou skins playing crib.

Phillips recalled many adventures they had together.

Frost, said Phillips, was Mr. Dependable in everything he did.

He was particularly interested in helping the youth understand the ways of the Gwitchin, the ways that he learned growing up.

Frost knew the value of those ways and he wanted to share it.

“He was always willing to pass on knowledge and he had a lot of knowledge,” said Phillips.

“He spent a lot of time with his children teaching them those skills but he also spent a lot of time with the young people in Old Crow.”

Frost did not have much of a school education but Phillips said he knew more than most people he’s ever met.

“Stephen would say things uniquely profound.”

Phillips said even before he met Frost, he knew of him as a dog musher who regularly competed in the Rendezvous races.

So last Friday, they just reminisced, recalling their time together and the trips they’d been on.

The both realized it could very well be the last time they’d have such an opportunity.

“It was a really happy time, and a really tough time,” said Phillips.

Comments (4)

Up 8 Down 0

Sam Brennan on Sep 11, 2020 at 9:18 pm

It was always great to see your smiling face on arrival in Old Crow. May your family find comfort in this time of great loss n a life well lived and the reminders of your love. Steven you where one of a kind and the world was a better place with you in it.

Up 9 Down 0

Jim Allison on Sep 11, 2020 at 7:00 pm

Steven Frost was a true Yukoner in every sense of word. YTG should do something to remember this remarkable Yukoner.

Up 15 Down 0

CAROLE Scott Fairbanks Alaska on Sep 10, 2020 at 10:55 pm

It’s an honor to have met you and your family. Ethel your wife and Mary your daughter are very special. Didn’t know you had 11 children !! GOD take you in his protective care.

Up 37 Down 0

Wilf Carter on Sep 9, 2020 at 3:08 pm

Great person.

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