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Inuvik remembers Willie Gordon
Long-time Inuvik resident, radio personality and musician dies at his Dawson City home at 56

Laura Busch
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, May 24, 2012

Well-known Northern fiddler and long-time Inuvik resident Willie Gordon has died, leaving behind him a legacy of music and entertainment.

NNSL photo/graphic

Willie Gordon was a well-known fiddler and a popular radio broadcaster in Inuvik in the 1970s and 80s. Here, he plays the fiddle on the deck of his Dawson City home surrounded by friends in 2010. - photo courtesy of Heidi Bliedung

"He will be greatly missed by all," said Louie Goose, who played music with Gordon during his years in Inuvik and also worked alongside him at the Inuvik CBC station. "He was one of the nicest radio personalities I've ever known, and one of the nicest musicians to play with."

Gordon, 56, was found dead in bed at his Dawson City, Yukon home on May 7, Yukon chief coroner Sharon Hanley told Inuvik Drum. Cause of death has not yet been determined, she said, adding that they are awaiting on toxicology and microscopic tests to rule on the cause of death. This should be determined within the next two weeks.

Funeral services and a celebration of life were held in Dawson City last Saturday, May 19, and an Inuvik memorial was scheduled to be held yesterday.

Gordon was born in Aklavik on Aug. 22, 1955, but spent most of his childhood in Inuvik after being relocated to attend Stringer Hall, the Anglican hostel for residential school students.

John Holman, who grew up with Gordon at Stringer Hall, remembers Gordon as an active but quiet child, much like his many siblings who also went through the residential school system.

"Willie was just one of the boys," said Holman. "He always kept himself busy. He was less rambunctious than some of us. He probably had a more pensive mind and mood than a lot of us had."

Holman remembers learning to play music with Gordon on flat-top guitars at Stringer Hall.

"I think a lot of us that grew up at Stringer Hall got our start (in music) through some of the flat-top guitars that they got. We used to tinker around with them."

Goose's earliest memories of Gordon are from the mid-1970s when a teenage Gordon started playing bass for Goose.

"He was an incredible bass guitarist," said Goose. "And one day I guess he got tired of it and he picked up the fiddle and started playing it."

Within a couple of years, Gordon was also working alongside Goose at the Inuvik CBC radio station throughout the 1980s, where he made a name for himself hosting the Moms Show, a popular music program that ran in the afternoons and evenings.

"He was very famous for the Moms Show," said Goose. "It was at a time when the CBC was going full-out on information radio ... and there wasn't a spot for just music so the Moms Show was an outlet for country people."

The Moms Show regularly opened with the introduction: "Welcome to the lovin', hurtin', gamblin', travelin', truck drivin' Moms Show with your host Willie Gordon."

Gordon normally closed the show with his familiar tag line "be good to your Mom," drawling the last word to sound more like 'mawm,' said Goose.

In his personal life, Gordon is remembered as having a quiet and calm demeanour.

"Willie was kind of quiet, reserved. I think he was the kind of guy who thought through things a lot," said Holman. "Pretty well the kind of a guy who thinks a lot before he makes a decision on things."

This is not to say that Gordon could not let loose and have a good time, said Goose.

"He was quiet outside his group of friends but when he was with a group, he opened up quite a bit," he said. "He was a quite comical person when he got into that state of mind."

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