Major and Patricia Evans have made an enormous contribution to the sport of Dog Mushing or Sled Dog Racing over the course of 4 decades. While Major will be best remembered for his organizing and officiating throughout this period, Pat was with him every step of the way lending her enthusiasm at each turn, and encouraging the participation of children and youth in the sport. They were truly exceptional volunteers who gave countless hours of their time to traveling all over the Yukon, Alaska and other parts of Canada fostering and maintaining interest in Dog Mushing.
Major was drawn into the sport on the banks of the Yukon River in 1957 while stationed with the Military, and although work took them away from the Territory for a period of five years in 1960, they returned to play an important role in the development of the Yukon Dog Mushing Association in 1965, to which Major was given a life time membership to in 1975.
Taking the sport very seriously, Major and Pat purchased a number of race trophies for children for Whitehorse, Haines Junction, and Teslin in 1967. Pat then took it upon herself to maintain these trophies over the years including the ones like the Red Lantern that they had provided to the Sourdough Rendezvous up to the day she passed away in 1996. This is still a tradition that Major has continued to this day.
With the start of the Yukon Quest in 1984, Major took on a new role as starter with Pat at his side throughout. With his hearing deteriorating and the intense noise level of the dogs Major implemented the 45-30-15-10-5 second flag start process meaning the musher’s did not have to hear anything but just watch for Major’s flags signals, and they would be off. He continued as the official starter of the Yukon Quest until 2003 at the age of 88, but was honored the year following by event organizers for his past dedication when he was asked to start the ceremonial RCMP team prior to the official race.
The Evans’ could always be counted on to bring values of fair play, respect for others, and a positive attitude to all of the races they participated in. Their perseverance, optimism and selflessness are characteristics that should be admired throughout all Yukon Communities as they honored a traditional lifestyle that is deeply connected to a part of Yukon’s heritage.
Major still loves the thrill of the race even though it is now from the sidelines, and although Pat is gone, we are sure the she blesses each musher as they make their way along the trail.