THE ADVOCATE 877
VOL. 76 PART 6 NOVEMBER 2018
Eric was a foreigner, an immigrant if you please. He was born in
Brighton, England on April 27, 1947. Even at an early age he showed signs
of the keen analytic mind which served him well throughout his life. Having
examined with care the economic prospects of his homeland, at the age
of 11 months, he took his parents by their hands and led them aboard the
Queen Mary before it set sail for Canada.
The family arrived in the new world and stayed in Toronto for nearly two
years before sensibly heading west, but something strange happened on
that westward journey and they ended up settling in Whitehorse, where the
young Eric grew and spent his formative years before leaving for university.
Four major factors which would help to shape the young man’s future found
and influenced him during this time.
First, it was there he met and eventually married his wife, Elizabeth.
From this union they were blessed with four children: two daughters (Leslie
and Darcy) and two sons (Jason and Derek). These children eventually provided
seven grandchildren, and this family was the foundation of Eric’s family
life and joy.
Second, Eric’s father, Norman Chamberlist, was heavily (and somewhat
controversially) engaged in the politics of Whitehorse and the Yukon. These
years embedded in the young man a love of and interest in politics that led
him to study political science and, eventually, law. Eric earned his degrees
from the University of British Columbia—his B.A. in 1969 and his LL.B. in
The third of the factors to which this young, growing mind was exposed
came in the form of three legendary “characters” of the North. These three
were acquaintances and friends of Eric’s father who haunted Whitehorse
and the Yukon during this time. Each in his own way was a master storyteller,
and Eric’s exposure to them undoubtedly played a major role in sealing
his fate and setting his path into his career in law. The first of these
three was the legendary publisher of the Whitehorse Star, Harry Boyle. This
somewhat mystical man switched careers seemingly at will, leaving his
“calling” as a priest to become a newspaper publisher before ending up as a
justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia. The other two were trial
lawyers who were well known in the North acting for both the Crown and
defence. These two were John Steeves, Sr. and Allan Bate (later Q.C.). I am
certain those who knew them know the influence such men could wield on
an impressionable young mind.
The final factor in the formation of the man was simply his experience
of being in the North. It left him with a love of the North itself, the people
who lived there and of people generally. It, more than any other factor, left