On February 7, 1945, thirteen Yukon residents got together at the Whitehorse Parish Hall. With the opening of the Alaska Highway a few years earlier, there was concern about the potential impacts a new influx of people would have on the Yukon’s outdoor resources. In addition to discussing the status of the Yukon’s fish and game, these residents expressed a desire to start a movement that would exist to protect our wildlife. That idea would become an organization known as the Yukon Fish & Game Association, dedicated to propagating and protecting fish and wildlife in the Yukon.

G.R. Bidlake was the YFGA’s first President. F.H.R. Jackson was Vice President, and W. D. MacBride was Secretary Treasurer. Gene Garrow—who had been working for the US Corps of Engineers on the Canol Road—was the key founder of the YFGA. Although Gene was instrumental in getting the organization operational, as a US citizen he did not feel he should be on the executive. However, Gene’s dedication and enthusiasm contributed to conservation and enhancement activities that carry on today.

Policy of the day dictated that Indigenous people could not be members of social organizations, but it was decided that Indigenous people could be members of the YFGA, as Gene Garrow was of Indigenous heritage. A motion also allowed women full membership. Initial membership fees were set at $1.

Within 12 months of its founding, the YFGA had 148 members. We have had and still do have direct and significant input into the development of Yukon Hunting and Fishing Regulations. For example, lobbying by the YFGA was in large part responsible for:

  • Stopping the sale of game meats and fowl by hunters and cancelling game dealer licences in Whitehorse.
  • The setting of a daily limit of 20 trout and grayling—in the aggregate—for the Whitehorse electoral district and/or Yukon Territory.
  • Steps being taken to import mule deer, black tailed deer, white tailed deer, elk and buffalo for propagation purposes.
  • Raising the bounties on wolves to $20 and coyotes to $10.
  • Efforts to provide additional game guardians to secure adequate enforcement of the game laws.
  • Resident hunting licenses being raised to $2.00.
  • Fishing licenses being inaugurated at $2.00.

Today, the YFGA has approximately 2000 members—mostly Yukoners—including First Nations people and people who are not of First Nations ancestry. While representing a large portion of hunters and anglers in the Yukon, we also work with and listen to the concerns, questions and/or suggestions of the many hunters and anglers who are not YFGA members.


Long before charcoal and gas barbeques became popular, members of the YFGA were treated annually to an outdoor wild game barbecue second to none. Deep freezes were either unknown or uncommon in the early 1950s, but the outfitters of the day provided meat from their caches or from early season hunts.

The BBQ’s I recall were held near Fish Lake in the summer. Mike Nolan—outfitter and owner of Marsh Lake Lodge—was one of the chief cooks. A pit trench many feet long was dug and filled with wood. Spuds and roasts of moose, caribou, and sheep were wrapped in foil and added to the coals, and sides of moose ribs hung on willow stakes alongside the fire, basted with Mike’s BBQ sauce and turned to cook evenly. The ladies provided bread and buns, coleslaw and pies for dessert. To a young mind and appetite, the results were spectacular! But everybody had fun.

Outfitters that I recall being involved in some way were Johnny Johns, Mike Nolan, Alec Van Bibber, Curly & Belle Desrosiers, Joe Jacquot, Alec Davis and of course the regular members such as my dad Geoff Bidlake, Stu McPherson, Tom Portlock, and a host of others. As a kid I was fortunate to meet the men—and some women—who formed the young conservation association that has evolved into the active, dynamic group the YFGA has become.”

Larry Bidlake, Brandon, MB