The late Yukon legend Peter Risby ‘just had so many unbelievable experiences’
Growing up, Tara Risby heard plenty of stories from her dad, the late Yukon prospector Peter Risby. She heard about how Peter, injured in the Korean War, once spent a few months in a Japanese hospital. Then there was the time he went over a cliff in a truck and came away uninjured. Oh, and there was also that helicopter crash that almost killed him and left him with a permanent scar on his cheek.
“We dubbed him ‘the cat with nine lives’ because he just had so many unbelievable experiences,” Tara recalled. “Yeah, he had quite a storied life.” When Peter Risby finally succumbed to cancer a decade ago, he was a local legend among Northern prospectors. Later this year he’ll be entered into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame — becoming the first Black person to be inducted.
Risby was always something of a trailblazer, with an improbable life story that spans the racially-segregated American midwest of the Ku Klux Klan, the Cree country of Northern Alberta where he briefly attended and then fled from residential school, and eventually the remote bush camps of the North where he made lucrative discoveries of tungsten and gold.
“What a compelling story,” gushed Pierre Gratton, president and CEO of the Mining Association of Canada, in an online video late last year, announcing Risby’s nomination to the hall of fame. He called Risby the “wild card” among the five newest inductees.
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