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Ray McKamey

A Brief Biography

By: Geanine DeTaeye

Born and raised on a farm in Dewdney, BC, (near Mission) Ray was one of eleven children. Independent at an early age, he started working as a machine operator on logging equipment at Silver Skagit. During those early years he worked in logging camps up and down the coast and on Vancouver Island.

Ray married Frances Rancier in 1946. Frances, Ray and daughter Linda moved to Mayo, Yukon in the summer of 1952 and Ray worked for Great Northern Construction as a shovel operator building the Mayo Dam. After the dam was finished, he worked for Canadian Exploration Ltd.

Ray had a life long interest in and fascination for politics. He became a Territorial Councillor for the Mayo Mining District. As Councillor he pushed for such things as upgrading highways, new mining regulations, and native rights. While Ray was a Councillor in Mayo, he and Frances had the privilege of meeting Prince Phillip when he visited the Yukon.

Ray was a true pioneer of the North; he loved to explore all the unknowns and reached out to places where no one else had been. Leaving Canex, Ray went prospecting on his own in the Yukon. His stories abound. As a prospector, he walked the length and breadth of the Territory, surviving plane crashes, dealing with the vagaries of landscape and weather and seeing the most spectacular scenery in the world. Frances kept the home fires burning (literally). At 50 below with an old wood stove, life could be considered as challenging. Frances operated a barber shop/salon out of her home and cared for their growing family that now included a son, Brian, and a daughter, Tara.

In 1964, Ray and Frances moved to Whitehorse. Ray started a sawmill in Watson Lake and partnered in a hotel in Whitehorse. Frances returned to college for a term while managing the hotel.

In 1972 Frances, Ray, Tara and Brian moved to Vancouver. Ray continued in mining exploration and several other ventures. He explored and prospected throughout BC and the US, as far as the Mexican border. During those years they visited Morocco and Malaysia. Frances worked with Elite Insurance for fifteen years and when she retired in 1989, they moved to Christina Lake. The beautiful park like setting of their home draws visits from their children, grandchildren and numerous friends.

Ray: dad, grandpa, brother, uncle, friend, mentor, pioneer, adventurer, traveler, explorer, prospector, entrepreneur, advocate, politician, ambassador, inventor, poet, speaker, and storyteller. He had no idea of the positive impact he had on so many. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

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If you have stories about Ray that you would like to share, Contact: linda@coastworks.com