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 https://www.yhf.ca/donate/ or the Parkinson’s Society British Columbia (also serving the Yukon) at https://www.parkinson.bc.ca/donate/memorial-gifts/