John Havelock Parker was born February 2, 1929 in Didsbury, Alberta. He graduated from the University of Alberta Engineering Geology programme in 1951 and came north in 1954 to work for Norm Byrne in the mining business, eventually becoming manager of the Rayrock Mine. He married Helen Panabaker and the couple had two children, Sharon and Gordon. In 1959 he was elected Councillor, Town of Yellowknife and served for five years before successfully running for Mayor in 1964. During the period as mayor, then a part-time position, Mr. Parker was also employed as the President of Precambrian Mining Services Ltd. In 1967 Mr. Parker became a Member of the Northwest Territories Council and was appointed Deputy Commissioner to Commissioner Stuart M. Hodgson on March 2, 1967. At this time, the Commissioner and the Deputy Commissioner positions held cabinet portfolios like their colleagues on the Executive Council. Beginning in 1975, the Executive Council made changes to allow for the addition of elected members. Up to that time the Executive Council was comprised of appointed members. As then Deputy Commissioner, Mr. Parker stopped sitting with the Executive. By 1979, the majority of Council members were elected. John Parker was appointed Commissioner of the Northwest Territories on April 15, 1979. Now that a fully-elected Executive Council was in power, the Commissioner ceased to sit with the (now) Legislative Assembly during formal sessions. In 1981, the Commissioner ceased to join discussion during the Committee of the Whole. In 1986 the Commissioners role had been reduced further. He stopped chairing the Executive Committee meetings and was no longer the head of the Department of Personnel. Newly-named Government Leader Nick Sibbeston then became the Chair of the Executive Committee. Also in 1986, Mr. Parker was made an Officer of the Order of Canada for his significant contributions to the evolution and development both of the municipal government of Yellowknife and of the territorial government. Mr. Parker is also a member of the Aboriginal Order of Canada. By 1989, when Mr. Parker stepped down, the Commissioner had a greatly reduced role in the day to day high-level decision making of government. Mr. Parker continued to serve on the boards of several northern corporations and was a member of a number of associations. These include the NWT Power Corporation, Conference Board of Canada, the Canadian Red Cross Society, the Evaz Group, and Aber Diamonds. He was Chairman of the Science Institute of the Northwest Territories, Past President and Patron of the NWT Boy Scout Council, a Director of the Arctic Institute of North America, Chairman of the Northwest Territories Coordinating Committee, and a member of the Council of Trustees, The Institute for Research on Public Policy.
Scope and content
This fonds consists of 3 m of textual material created by John H. Parker throughout his career spent in the Northwest Territories. Included are records related to the transfer of responsibilities from the federal Department of Indian and Northern Affairs to the then fledgling Government of the Northwest Territories. There are also files on a variety of political subjects including constitutional development, devolution of responsibility from the Commissioner's Office to the elected Executive Council, and land claims and the division of the Northwest Territories. John Parker was also involved in many groups and associations. Records of the Legislative Assembly Building Society, the Science Institute of the Northwest Territories, the Fox Moth Society, and St. John Ambulance are found here.
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The fonds is comprised of the following accessions. Click any accession number below to see the accession description.