Former Yukon commissioner Ken McKinnon has died

McKinnon was one of Yukon's longest-serving commissioners, and also a former cabinet minister. He was 82.

McKinnon was commissioner from 1986 to 1995, and also served on Yukon Territorial Council

'You'd hear Ken laughing before you saw him, and you knew who it was,' said former Yukon senator Ione Christensen. (Government of Yukon)

Former Yukon commissioner and cabinet minister John Kenneth (Ken) McKinnon has died. He was 82.

The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly made the announcement on Thursday afternoon in the legislature. Flags outside the main government building were at half-mast.

McKinnon was born in Manitoba and moved to Yukon as a young man.

He soon became a fixture in Yukon politics, beginning with his election to the Yukon Territorial Council in 1961. He was the youngest councillor ever elected at that time.

He was later named minister of local government, and minister of highways and public works, in the mid-70s.

He was appointed commissioner of Yukon in 1986 and held the post for nine years, becoming one of Yukon's longest-serving commissioners.

The commissioner was once the administrative authority in Yukon, but by the 1980s the role had become mostly ceremonial, similar to that of a provincial lieutenant-governor. 

A gathering of Yukon commissioners, in 2013: then-commissioner Doug Phillips, with former commissioners Geraldine Van Bibber, Jack Cable and McKinnon. (Heather Avery photo.)

Ione Christensen, a former Yukon senator and one of McKinnon's predecessors as commissioner, remembered him as an outgoing and "bubbly" person who was well-known and well-liked across the territory.

"As commissioner, he certainly was around the territory all the time and making sure that everybody was well looked after," Christensen said.

"He was very happy man ... he was always laughing. So you'd hear Ken laughing before you saw him, and you knew who it was."

After retiring as commissioner, McKinnon went on to serve as chancellor of Yukon College and chair of the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board.

Premier Sandy Silver also issued a statement on Thursday, offering condolences "on behalf of all Yukoners" to McKinnon's wife Judy and their family and friends.

"He was a smiling face and warm ambassador for the Yukon his entire life. His passing is a loss many Yukoners will feel deeply," Silver's statement reads. 

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