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George Wesley “Barrie” Watson

December 16, 1941 ~ January 01, 2023

George Wesley “Barrie” Watson


Barrie Watson passed away peacefully the afternoon of Sunday, January 1, 2023 with his wife (Leona Watson), daughter (Monica Watson Kane), and son (Rod Watson) at his side.  Throughout Barrie’s entire 12-year battle with Parkinson’s and dementia, he kept his grit and persistence to navigate each day, had a friendly and humble demeanor, and kept his sense of humor with a smile.

Barrie was born in Mission City, British Columbia (B.C.) on December 16, 1941.  He was born second in a family of six children with many cousins in a large family.  He graduated from Mission High School in 1960.  Upon graduation, Barrie studied Geology at the University of British Columbia (UBC) then chose to become a pilot.  In the mid-1960s, Barrie became a pilot and flew to Whitehorse, Yukon in 1967 to see his cousin Gerry Davis.  It was at this time he met his wife-to-be, Leona, and asked her on a date to go flying leading to 52 years of dedication to each other.

In October 1967, he made his way to South America where he worked as a pilot returning to Canada in April of 1968 to live and fly in Whitehorse.  In 1977, Barrie and two partners (Joe and Win Muff) acquired the fixed wing division of Yukon Airways and founded Alkan Air.  Alkan Air continued to grow as a charter company, eventually taking on scheduled routes as well.  In addition, they co-owned The Alpine Apartments.  In 1987, Win and Joe Muff sold their ownership to start a telecommunications company and Hugh Kitchen became Barrie’s new partner at Alkan Air.  It was during this time that Alkan developed the contracted medivac structure adding to charter services for Yukon communities, mining, tourism, and outfitting.  In 2008, Barrie retired and built a house with Leona at Marsh Lake, Yukon.

Barrie and Leona raised their two children, Monica and Rod, in Whitehorse and along with Alkan Air, Barrie and Leona had two other retail businesses, the Kitchen Nook and Jim’s Toys and Gifts.    Barrie always had an adventurous spirit, whether staking claims, satisfying his bucket list with a hot air balloon ride in California, or riding a good roller-coaster at an amusement park.  He loved the outdoors and enjoyed such activities as camping, skiing, snow machining, golfing, and berry picking.  As an all-time favorite, he loved fishing with family and friends.  He was an excellent fishing mentor to his two children over the years who also became passionate about fishing.  Barrie ran a committed schedule and life to work, family, and friends.

Barrie was known for his quiet and friendly demeanor, humble spirit, and as someone who always enjoyed a good laugh.  Whether on the ground or in the air, he was always conscious, knowledgeable, and respectful of the weather.  He regularly shared great stories about adventures in the bush, emergency landings, close calls, and living on the northern edge.

Barrie is predeceased by Wesley Watson (Father), Larissa Watson (Mother), Gerry Davis (Cousin), Rob Watson (Brother), and several aunts and uncles.  He is survived by Leona Watson (Wife), Monica Watson Kane (Daughter), Rod Watson (Son), Rowenna Gryba (Daughter-in-law), Larissa Kane (Granddaughter), and Bodhi Flinn (Grandson).  He is also survived by his siblings, Kay Jarvis (and Colin), Joy Watson, Rita Watson, John Watson, Jan Laidlaw (Sister-in-law), and his nieces and nephews Shawn Watson, Scott Watson (and Jennifer), Ian Jarvis, Larissa Jarvis, Brock Watson, Hannah Watson, and cousin Lance Davis.

Many thanks from Leona through Barrie’s journey to many friends, family, and neighbors.  A very special thank you to neurologist Dr. Charles Tai, Dr. Ken Quong and the care givers at Whistlebend Place for the three and a half year struggle with the added shadow of Covid isolation.   Special recognition with deep gratitude to care givers at Copper Ridge Place for their exceptional and compassionate care with a cheerful manner provided during Barrie’s final days.  Notification of a gathering will be shared at a later date. 

In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes donations to the Yukon Hospital Foundation at  or the Parkinson’s Society British Columbia (also serving the Yukon) at

Comments (11)
  • 13 January 2023
    Michelle Keller

    He sounded like an amazing man with such a devoted and loving wife. I’m honored to know his daughter and hear her stories about her dad. Sending love, compassion and strength to all of you.

  • 13 January 2023
    john watson

    best brother ever! made me a pair of skis when i was a tyke and found time to hang as we grew up together. kind, generous, and loving. i miss him, j.w. watson

  • 14 January 2023

    It is always sad to hear of such a loss to our community and especially to such a wonderful family. Words do not seem to be adequate to express the memories, fondness, and appreciation for the Watson 4. I think of sleepovers in the family home on Sunset Drive, cheers at ball games and the friendly smiles, kind greetings, and lively conversations (throughout the years). While a family never quite feels complete once one is gone, a part of Barry will continue to surface in gestures, jokes, phrases, and memories. Condolences to Leona. Monica, Rod and the rest of the family as you think upon this life well lived.

  • 14 January 2023
    Jan Laidlaw

    Barrie was a wonderful man. It was a pleasure and an honour knowing him. He will truly be missed by all who knew him. Most sincerely.

    • 27 July 2023
      Leona Watson

      Thankyou Jan for your acknowledgement of Barrie. We both missed seeing you. He and Rob are watching over us both, I am sure. I only discovered these comments on line yesterday.

  • 15 January 2023
    Ray Caron

    Very sad to hear the news about Barrie. My first flight in the Yukon was with Barrie, in a Beaver on floats to Rifle Lake and many more after that
    in his 185.
    Rest in peace Barrie.
    Ray Caron

  • 15 January 2023
    Janice Jackson

    Condolences to Leona and family. Memories are the greatest treasure we possess. Our thoughts are with you through this difficult time. Rick and Janice Jackson

  • 16 January 2023
    Gord Corcoran

    Always an experience flying with Barrie with Water Survey out of Whitehorse as he would get the new guy to push the tail around on the ice and then hit the throttle and soak the newby with snow,water and ice, always a challenge, RIP Barrie

  • 17 January 2023
    Brian Langevin

    Tail winds and blue skies on your final journey Barrie
    Thank you for your mentorship.
    Until we meet again..

    Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
    And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;….
    Where never lark, or even eagle flew –
    And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
    The high unsurpassed sanctity of space,
    Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

  • 27 July 2023
    Leona Watson

    Thankyou to all that have sent condolences on this site. I only discovered these comments yesterday, July 26th. Hugs to sister-in-law , brother, former employees, clients/friends which in turn have been considered extended family over the years. Barrie will watch proudly over us all.
    Also, thanks to Heritage North for their support and advice.

  • 15 August 2023
    Eric Petersen

    I have a spot in my heart for Barrie…he flew me in and out of many a weird place when I was working for DIAND in the late 70’s and early 80’s. His patience with a young’un, his skill with his plane, the feeling of pure safe flying, even when hurtling down the old Casino strip in a gale …I always felt good in Barrie’s plane.
    Good memories, and adventures with a fine pilot and a good man.

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