Flo Whyard is a journalist - always has been - and a good one at that. She comes by the trade honestly. One of her first memories is the sound of an old typewriter banging away on the other side of the wall beside her crib, in the London, Ontario home of her father.
W.E. Elliott was then a reporter with The London Free Press.
At home, there were always books to read with a newsman's point of view on the world. In her teens, the public library, an excellent resource for Flo, was just across the street from her family's home.
In the Thirties, Flo Elliott went to the University of Western Ontario as a general arts student. But the depression made paying for college impossible so she left Western and signed up for credit courses by correspondence, and worked three jobs, graduating from Western with a Bachelor of Arts in 1938.
When World War II began, Flo's father moved to Ottawa to help run the newsroom in the Information Branch of The Wartime Prices and Trade Board.
Flo followed and learned there was an opening for an information officer with the navy. So she enlisted in the Women's Royal Canadian Naval Service and wrote about Canadian Wrens serving in Canada.
In Ottawa she met, and in 1944, married, James Whyard, a graduate engineer who had worked on surveys in the north and taught map-reading to his reserve army unit.
A year later, he was transferred to Yellowknife to help create order out of the staking boom in the Northwest Territories. It was an exciting time to be in the settlement on the rocks, as Flo discovered after her discharge in 1945 to join him there.
Ten years later, they were off to Whitehorse, where James was to provide mapping and claim services.
In 1955, the Whitehorse Star editor, Harry Boyle, hired Flo to write about social items, women's organizations, church activities, and, when her three kids were in school, police court, city and territorial council.
Later, Flo became the editor of the Star and in the mid-sixties provided daily news copy for the fledgling news service of CBC Radio. I clearly recall reading the nightly news that Flo hand-delivered to the station on yellow news copy sheets, neatly typed and ready to be mangled by this rookie radio news reader.
In 1974, politics beckoned. Flo won the Whitehorse West seat on Yukon Territorial Council, and assumed cabinet posts for Health, Welfare and Corrections.
After a four-year term, she went back into journalism and community life, but politics soon called again, and she became Mayor of The City of Whitehorse in 1981.
Shortly after putting on chain of office, Flo was faced with a major flood, the closure of the largest producing mine, and the shutdown of The White Pass Railroad. It wasn't a happy time.
|Commissioner Jack Cable presenting the Commissioner's (Yukon) Award to "A Community Icon", Flo Whyard - 2001 at the Yukon Transportation Museum
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|Florence Whyard at Herschel Island.
Yukon Archives. Richard Harrington fonds, #445.
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But Flo was gaining recognition for her years of service. In 1979, she received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Western Ontario, where she had graduated forty years earlier.
In 1984, she was invested as a Member of the Order of Canada.
Of all her accomplishments, she is perhaps proudest of her role in promoting Martha Louise Black's Yukon legacy. Flo authored an updated version of Martha's biography called My Ninety Years, and is tireless in promoting her role in Yukon history.
Flo continues to write, and participate in community life as well as being an active volunteer with the Transportation Museum - all the while researching the Yukon's colourful history of which she has become a very integral part.
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin