Commissioners of Yukon 1948-2018

After World War II, there was a marked increase in infrastructure development and investment into Yukon’s economy. This was in part due to an increase in mining production and the construction of the new Alaska Highway that connected Yukon to the South. This surge in economic development brought an increase in duties, responsibility and workload for Yukon's Chief Executive Officer, leading to the reinstatement of the title of Commissioner.



Doug Phillips

Term of Office: December 17, 2010, to January 31, 2018

Born: December 4, 1946, Toronto, Ontario

  • Appointed as Yukon Administrator in April 2007 and held this position until his appointment as Commissioner of Yukon.
  • Elected to the Yukon Legislative Assembly on May 13, 1985 as the representative for Riverdale north.
  • Held the following positions:
    • Minister of Tourism
    • Minister of Education
    • Minister responsible for the Women’s Directorate
    • Minister of Justice
    • Minister responsible for the Public Service Commissioner
  • Long career of active community service:
    • Director of the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous committee for several years.
    • Member and President of the Yukon Fish and Game Association. He was instrumental in the association joining the Canadian Wildlife Federation.
    • Improvement to the Whitehorse Fish Ladder project and the children’s live release of Chinook salmon at Wolf Creek.


Geraldine Van Bibber

Term of Office: December 1, 2005, to December 16, 2010

Born: July 3, 1951, Dawson City, Yukon

  • Integral to the formation of the Yukon First Nation Tourism Association in 1992.
  • Sat on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Tourism Commission, Aboriginal Tourism Canada, Yukon Tourism Education Council and Government of Yukon's Business Development Fund.
  • Played a pivotal role in the development of the Yukon travel industry since her beginnings as a business partner of a family tourism company.  
  • Involved with many community initiatives such as The Cancer Society.
  • Champions and advocates many youth programs like the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, Cadets, Junior Rangers, Scouts and Guides.
  • Appointed a Commander of the Order of St. John (2006 and 2009).
  • Acted as an ambassador for Yukon and First Nations people.
  • First native-born Yukoner to welcome Prince Charles on his visit to the region in 2001.


Jack Cable

Term of Office: October 1, 2000, to November 30, 2005

Born: August 17, 1934, Hamilton, Ontario

  • Has lived in the north since 1970.
  • Holds a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Toronto, a Master’s in Business Administration from McMaster University and a Bachelor of Law from the University of Western Ontario.
  • Practiced law in Whitehorse for 21 years.
  • Past president of the Yukon Energy Corporation.
  • Became a Yukon MLA in October 1992 and served two terms before choosing not to seek re-election in the April 2000 election.
  • Past director of the Northern Canada Power Commission.
  • Founding member of the Recycle Organics Together Society.
  • Director of the Yukon Science Institute.
  • Member of the Advisory Committee of the Salvation Army Adult Residential Centre.
  • Past president of the Yukon Chamber of Commerce.
  • Member of the Learning Disabilities Association of Yukon, the Association of Professional Engineers of the Yukon, and a founding member of the Boreal Alternate Energy Centre.


Judy Gingell

Term of Office: June 12, 1995, to September 30, 2000

Born: November 26, 1946, Mile 710 on the Alaska Highway, Yukon

  • Band Manager for the Whitehorse Indian Band in 1969.
  • Worked for the Department of Finance as a bookkeeper.
  • Elected as Vice-Chair of Council of Yukon Indians for finance and administration in 1977 and held the position until 1982.
    • Executive Assistant for the Vice-Chair 1983 to 1984.
  • Elected president of the Yukon Indian Development Corporation in 1984 to 1989.
  • Chair of the Council for Yukon Indians from 1989 to May 1995.
  • Appointed as the first aboriginal Commissioner.
  • Ran in the McIntyre-Takhini riding for the Yukon Liberal Party in the Yukon general election in 2002 but was not elected.
  • Received a National Aboriginal Achievement award for her work in 2005.
  • Made a Member of the Order of Canada in 2009 for her contributions, over the past four decades, to the promotion and advancement of Aboriginal rights and governance in Yukon.


John Kenneth McKinnon

Term of Office: March 27, 1986, to June 11, 1995

Born: April 20, 1936, Saint Boniface, Manitoba
Died: March 13, 2019, Whitehorse, Yukon

  • Educated in Norwood, at St. Paul's College and at the University of Manitoba in political science.
  • Came to Yukon in 1956.
  • Vice-president and general manager of Northern Television Services.
  • Member of the Yukon Territorial Council from 1961 to 1974 and was the youngest Councillor ever elected at that time.
  • Appointed Minister of Local Government in 1974.
  • Minister of Highways and Public Works in 1976.
  • Yukon Administrator of the Northern Pipeline Agency from 1979 to 1984.
  • Member of the Task Force on Northern Conservation from 1983 to 1984.
  • Chancellor of Yukon College from 2000 to 2004.
  • Named chair of the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Board in 2008.
  • Last Commissioner to live in the Commissioners Residence in Whitehorse.


Douglas Leslie Dewey Bell

Term of Office: December 31, 1980, to March 27, 1986

Born: June 15, 1926, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

  • Joined the Royal Canadian Air Force before finishing grade 12.
  • Graduated as a Sergeant Wireless Air Gunner in March 1945.
  • Attended the local Wartime Emergency Training Plan School, graduating as a licensed radio operator.
  • Worked as a radio operator with the Department of Transport (DOT) in Edmonton in 1946.
  • Won a competition for the Officer-in-Charge position at Watson Lake in 1956.
  • Helped form the Watson Lake Community Development Association, the first ever in the Yukon.
  • Became the Department of Transport representative on Commissioner Jim Smith’s Federal Interdepartmental Coordinating Committee (FICC).
  • Elected to City Council in 1976.
  • Became the Deputy Commissioner of the Yukon on July 15, 1977 and introduced the Commissioners Awards at the New Year Levee.
  • Chaired on many committees; Emergency Measures Organization (EMO), FICC, Northern Resources Conference, Hootalinqua Land Use Study.
  • Made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1989.


Frank B. Fingland (Interim Commissioner)

Term of Office: November 1, 1978, to January 19, 1979

Born: June 15, 1928, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

  • Appointed as the Interim Commissioner of Yukon due to the previous Commissioner, Dr. Arthur MacDonald Pearson, resigning from the position.
  • Studied at the University of Toronto and the London School of Economics in England.
  • Worked for the Commissioner of Yukon's Executive Assistant in 1960 and then as the Commissioner of Yukon’s Executive Assistant from 1966 to 1969.


Dr. Arthur MacDonald Pearson

Term of Office: July 1, 1976, to October 31, 1978

Born: February 20, 1938, Brandon, Manitoba

  • Biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Service from 1968 to 1971, researching the activities of grizzly bears, caribou and other animals.
  • Resigned as Commissioner in 1978 after pleading guilty to charges related to improper mining claim transfers.


James Smith

Term of Office: October 15, 1966, to June 30, 1976

Born: December 31, 1919, New Westminister, British Columbia
Died: April 14, 2017

  • Instrumental in the creation of Kluane National Park and the designation of the Chilkoot Trail as a National Historic Site.
  • Joint founder of the Arctic Winter Games along with Northwest Territories Commissioner Stuart Hodgson and Alaska governor Walter Joseph Hickel.
  • Moved to Whitehorse in 1947 after living and working in Atlin for several years as a meat cutter and store manager.
  • Worked as store manager for a tourism company in Whitehorse.
  • Elected as a councilor to the Yukon Council in 1958.


Gordon Robertson Cameron

Term of Office: May 1, 1962, to November 7, 1966

Born: November 12, 1921, Nova Scotia
Died: August 10, 2010

  • Grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia and developed an early and lifelong interest in aviation.
  • Moved to Whitehorse to work as an aircraft apprentice engineer for the British-Yukon Navigation Company in 1941.
  • Was a partner and manager of Whitehorse Flying Service in 1949 and later opened his own airplane maintenance company.
  • Became the second Mayor of Whitehorse in 1959.
  • Founding member of the still extant Midnight Sun Pipe Band of Whitehorse.
  • Became president of Canadian Coachways in Edmonton after serving as Commissioner.


Frederick Howard Collins

Term of Office: June 8, 1955, to May 1, 1962

Born: 1903
Died: 1982

  • Former army officer and worked in the federal Treasury Board.
  • Retired in 1961 due to illness.
  • First Commissioner in the new Commissioner's residence in Riverdale, Whitehorse.
  • F.H. Collins school in Whitehorse is named after him.


Wilfred George Brown

Term of Office: November 15, 1952, to June 8, 1955

Born: March, 1906, Moosomin, Saskatchewan
Died: Unknown

  • Administrator in the Northwest Territories before becoming Commissioner of Yukon.
  • Presided over the move of the Commissioner from Dawson City to Whitehorse in March 1953.
  • After resigning as Commissioner of Yukon became Chief of the territorial division of the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources in Ottawa.
  • Deputy Commissioner of the Northwest Territories in 1957.
  • The W.G Brown Building in Nunavut is named after him.


Frederick Fraser

Term of Office: October 15, 1951, to November 5, 1952

Born: October 20, 1895, Revelstoke, British Columbia
Died: October 18, 1990, Vancouver, British Columbia

  • Presided over the last session of the Yukon Council to be held in Dawson City.
  • Served in the 72nd Battalion and the royal Flying Corps during World War I.
  • Studied and practiced law in British Columbian until 1929.
  • Served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II.
  • Worked as the Mining Recorder and Stipendiary Magistrate in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories from 1944 to 1948 and then as Assistant Division Chief of the Lands Division in the Department of Resources and Development.


Andrew Harold Gibson

Term of Office: August 15, 1950, to October 15, 1951

Born: 1883, Lanark, Ontario
Died: 1957, Whitehorse, Yukon

  • Served as Northern Affairs Officer in Ottawa and Northwest Territories before being appointed as Commissioner of Yukon.
  • Began the process of moving the capital of Yukon from Dawson City to Whitehorse by having a report prepared on the matter.
  • Informed staff and Yukon politicians about the move of the capital in 1951.
  • Resigned as Commissioner of Yukon shortly after announcing the move of the capital of Yukon to Whitehorse.


John Andrew Gibben

Term of Office as Controller: September 20, 1947, to July 12, 1948
Term of Office as Commissioner: July 13, 1948, to August 15, 1950

Born: June 10, 1885, Middlesborough, England
Died: January 28, 1958, Whitehorse, Yukon

  • Student at the University of Manitoba and served in World War I.
  • Called to the Manitoba bar in 1921.
  • Stipendary Magistrate in the Northwest Territories and then in Yukon from 1938 until 1947.
  • Appointed Acting Controller in 1947 but became Commissioner of Yukon when the position was reinstated in 1948.
  • Resigned as Commissioner of Yukon and moved to Whitehorse after the death of his wife in 1950.
  • Became a Territorial Court Judge after resigning as Commissioner.

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