Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Photo Submitted

LAST DAYS ON THE WATER – The SS Keno is seen in Whitehorse circa 1960. Photo courtesy MACBRIDE MUSEUM COLLECTION

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

REMEMBERING ANOTHER ERA – Harry Miller, seen this week on the Whitehorse waterfront, will be rekindling memories this evening at the MacBride Museum on Front Street.

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Photo by Photo Submitted

ON DECK – Henry Breaden is seen aboard the SS Keno in 1948. Photo courtesy HARRY MILLER

Pioneer family memories to be shared tonight

It was the Gold Rush that brought Harry Miller’s great grandfather, Harry Breaden, to the Yukon.

By Stephanie Waddell on July 11, 2018

It was the Gold Rush that brought Harry Miller’s great grandfather, Harry Breaden, to the Yukon.

That began a family history that saw the Breadens become a big part of the territory’s transportation sector.

At 7:00 this evening, Miller will share that history during the MacBride Museum’s weekly Wayback Wednesday event.

Miller told the Star Monday he’s excited to share his family history.

“It would be good for people to know these guys were pioneers,” he said.

It was only when he started digging into his family’s history that he realized just how much there was to share with the Yukon.

It was during the Gold Rush that his great grandfather was hired as captain of the Lightning, one of 11 boats that were brought up from B.C. to serve as transportation vessels in the Klondike.

The crews on the vessels were lucky they didn’t run into a lot of problems on the voyage.

The family would go on to be in and out of the territory.

Harry Breaden’s son James fought in the First World War, including at the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

He went to Prince Rupert, B.C. after the war, but eventually made his way back to the Yukon again.

He returned to the Dawson Trail, where he had worked for White Pass earlier before starting his own taxi company prior to going overseas to serve in the war.

After White Pass lost the contract for service on the Dawson Trail to Klondike Airways in 1928, James moved to Mayo, where mining was taking off in full swing.

He was in and out of Mayo over the years, eventually going to work for a transportation company that Bud Fisher had started, using boats on the Pelly River.

It was Harry Miller’s uncle, Henry, who went to work as a deckhand on the riverboats after finishing Grade 8 in 1950, eventually going to work Outside in the off-season.

As more roads were built in the territory, the era of the steamboats ended, and Henry went to work on the ferries in places like Carmacks. He spent the last part of his career working on the major hydro project in Whitehorse.

It was in 1960 that “Old Man River called him once again”– when he was asked to serve as the first mate as the SS Keno made its final voyage from Whiteorse to Dawson City.

“He, of course, went on that trip,” Miller said.

Only two people in the territory had enough experience on the Yukon River to head up the journey – Henry and Frank Slim.

“It was really an inspirational moment for him,” Miller said.

He noted with pride his uncle’s efforts that saw the boat get back in the water and continue its journey after becoming stuck in a sandbar.

The vessel’s stack had to be tilted downward to pass under the Carmacks bridge. It now rests on land in Dawson as a popular tourist attraction.

Henry Breaden would go on to continue his work on the hydro system. He also became part of the group that developed apprenticeship programs in the territory before he moved to B.C., where he spent his retirement years.

His nephew said he’ll be sharing many of the details of his family’s story with Yukoners this evening at the MacBride.

Comments (2)

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Other names mentioned on Jul 14, 2018 at 9:12 am

Google talks about a B.C. captain (Frank Blakely) and a first nations pilot (Frank Slims) on that final voyage to Dawson City by the S.S. Keno in 1960.

Up 5 Down 0

Lee Anne on Jul 11, 2018 at 4:18 pm

What a wonderful story!!!! Your Great Grand Dad was quite a handsome fella! Thank you for sharing this incredibly interesting part of your family history.

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