Dawson City, Yukon Friday, April 18, 1997

JOY OF MUSIC...The Robert Service School Choir performs at the recent school music recital.

Feature Stories

Public meeting supports recreation concept
Dawson's dentist is departing... eventually
IODE ice guessing contest
Thaw-di-Gras 1997 wind-up
The Sunnydale Classic: Brave souls in a spring wind
News from McDonald Lodge
Pioneer's Lament
Music recital right on key
Letter: Singing the Nuggets' praises
Ottawa/Nuggets results: Lost the battle, but won the war
Editor's Note: About the mail

Public meeting supports recreation concept

by Dan Davidson
Sun Staff

Call a meeting on any issue involving public spending and policy and you will get the following mix of people: the committed, the confused, the opposed and the surprised. The recreation centre planning meeting on April 8 was no exception to that general observation.

Out of the gathering of 42 people plus consultants and staff in the school gymnasium, there was generally a commitment to move ahead with the development of a new recreation centre. In spite of that there were a few voices of dissent and amazement.

"How did you get this far without my knowing about this?" was the comment from one lady. To that there can be no answer, really. The subject has been under constant, if sporadic, discussion for the last ten years. Every biweekly issue of the local paper for the last several months has carried a progress report on the town's recreation page. There haven't been any secrets.

Mayor Glen Everitt opened the meeting with something of a pep talk, explaining that the time is now to begin or else it may never happen. The territorial government is, he said, aware that this complex is a priority here, but it has to get started before the next sewer and water crisis (secondary sewage treatment) can begin to eat up budgets the way they have for the last decade.

This is the window of opportunity that Dawson has, the mayor indicated. The remark prompted a skeptic to note that "if the window of opportunity is on the third floor that doesn't mean we should jump through it," but that seemed to be a minority feeling. By the end of the evening, only three people had consistently expressed opposition to the entire project.

It's taken this long to identify a site on which to build a centre and to set aside a core sum of money with which to proceed. The site is the historical location of the old Dawson Amateur Athletic Association building, a structure that once contained the pool and ice rink which will still be the anchor facilities of the new complex as it gets built.

The two hour meeting on Tuesday night was a routine planning exercise to identify priorities. Participants were asked to rate the relative importance of ice space, aquatic space, social space, large and small meeting/activity spaces and anything else that hadn't been identified. Sheets around the wall of the gym quickly filled up with comments in marker and little red sticky dots used for priority ranking.

While a meeting of 40 plus citizens is probably not as valid a reading as the earlier house to house survey done last year, Brian Johnson of PERC consultants indicates that the rink took the most votes (64) that night, followed by a pool (47). Each participant was allowed three different priority options, so divide the results by three to figure out what that means out of a gathering of 42.

In the town-wide survey, the desire for a pool outdistanced all other options by a wide margin, and ice came next.

So the two sets of results do support the notion that a pool and a rink would be the cornerstones of this development.

Which might be first? This is the question that generated a great deal of discussion. The town does face the possibility of not being able to do all of this at once. PERC's mandate, as explained by Johnson, is to develop a plan which would be holistic in its approach, but it may fall before the realities of funding and infrastructure priorities.

Things may have to be a little smaller that Dawsonites might like. Or, it might be necessary to go with a phased construction project. In such cases PERC will be making recommendations about how best to accomplish these goals.

There is, Johnson warned the crowd, a point at which the law of diminishing returns sets in. You reach a point where if you can't do at least this much (whatever that may be), it would be better to do nothing. PERC will comment on this too, if need be.

In an interview the next night, Johnson indicated that he had had a very productive couple of days in Dawson this time around. In his mind the studies have at least laid to rest the possible technical objections to the proposed site. There have been many arguments about this, pro and con, but a Wednesday meeting with nine local contractors and the consultants seemed to reach the conclusion that the site could be used as intended.

That may seem like a small step but it's a big distance from the impasse that was experienced here just last December.

The turnout was healthy too. On the same night there was a meeting of the Planning Board, another for Yukon College and a slide presentation at the museum by visiting photographer David Trattles. That 42 people still came out to talk recreation is really quite encouraging.

PERC's next step is to develop an actual design. This is the step at which historically conscious people can begin to be concerned, or not, as the plans develop. Those drawings on display on April 8 were intended as space concepts. They showed two different configurations for the block that will encompass this complex. The building design shown in the exterior drawings raised a few historical hackles, as did the notion of relocating Diamond Tooth Gerties to a spot across 4th Avenue from its present site.

The next set of drawings would be the ones where such questions might be addressed, and with them should come some cost estimates, those frighteningly essential parts of the process.

"Cost will be the major factor," said long time resident John Gould. There's no doubt that he's right.

Still, recreation director Peter Menzies feels as if the concept has passed a major hurdle with this week's meetings. In his mind, the discussion of building is no longer a question of "if" but is now a question of "when and how long".

This is the direction he is hoping to see confirmed at the April 21 city council meeting.


Dawson's dentist is departing... eventually

by Palma Berger
Sun Volunteer

Dr. Helmut Schoener did not make a fortune during his 18 years in Dawson City, but he loved the land. It was reading Jack London back in Germany that inspired him to visit the Yukon and see this vast wilderness for himself. He found there was a possibility for a dentist to operate here, and that was his trade so in 1979 he moved to Dawson and set up practice. At that time a room was made available for him in the Nursing Station. He happily practiced dentistry and the town was most happy having a dentist here again. There was to be no more driving 528 km. to Whitehorse to have a toothache attended to, or dentures fitted.

Schoener also made himself available to tend to any sick animals that were brought to his home. In all he made himself pretty indispensable during those early years.

He also discovered that he could see more of this land if he flew over it. So his lumbering old vehicle, named "The Sasquatch", was soon replaced by an ultra light, and a plane. Things looked good.

But in 1986 some rumblings culminated in the Federal Department of the time telling him they needed the room he occupied for expanding hospital services. The City found room for these services at another spot.

He resumed practice again, but then last year he was again told that he would have to move out. A room at Parks Canada building on Front Street where most Y.T.G. offices are located, was found.

But then came the dickering. He was offered a one-year lease only. Schoener felt that if he were going to the expense of moving there and then setting up there, it had better be for a longer period.

He was agreeable to moving but it would have to be a five-year lease. This was finally agreed to. He signed the five-year lease. The annual rent of $5200 is to be shared between the Federal and Territorial governments and the dentist.

This is not going to guarantee that Schoener is staying. He feels it is time to do something new. The population that was about 800 when he first came here has not quadrupled even, and that is why his business is open only three days a week. Perhaps if Loki Gold becomes a long-term stable mine it might make a difference.

He feels he should honour his obligation to the town to keep operating a service. This he will do until a replacement can be found, and to hasten this along he is advertising in dental magazines.

When this replacement is found, what will he do? He is not sure. He cannot see leaving Dawson just yet, but would like to incorporate his love of flying in some business venture. The town may not have seen the last of him after all.


IODE ice guessing contest

1896 TO DATE

It won't be long now. If the averages hold, the Yukon River breakup may have occurred before our next issue hits the stands on May 2. In the meantime, here is a list of breakup dates and times, just to help you consider the ice pool.

1926May 310:48 a.m.
1927May 1311:23 p.m.
1928May 98:12 p.m.
1929May 72:33 p.m.
1930May 106:43 p.m.
1931May 118:23 p.m.
1932May 27:32 p.m.
1933May 910:57 p.m.
1934May 29:57 a.m.
1935May 1611:39 p.m.
1936May 56:02 a.m.
1937May 1011:18 a.m.
1938May 126:38 a.m.
1939May 1211:55 a.m.
1940April 281:54 p.m.
1941April 30unrecorded
1942May 610:30 a.m.
1943May 27:00 p.m.
1944May 51:27 p.m.
1945May 169:31 p.m.
1946May 93:38 p.m.
1947May 9unrecorded
1948May 124:15 p.m.
1949May 131:31 p.m.
1950May 1012:13 p.m.
1951May 811:06 p.m.
1952May 122:14 p.m.
1953May 58:24 a.m.
1954May 1210:42 a.m.
1955May 13unrecorded
1956May 74:03 p.m.
1957May 92:42 p.m.
1958May 42:11 p.m.
1959May 151:01 p.m.
1960May 42:11 p.m.
1961May 94:29 a.m.
1962May 161:39 a.m.
1963May 56:22 p.m.
1964May 2812:13 a.m.
1965May 184:54 a.m.
1966May 115:55 a.m.
1967May 126:47 a.m.
1968May 910:31 a.m.
1969May 59:32 a.m.
1970May 115:37 p.m.
1971May 125:32 p.m.
1972May 117:09 a.m.
1973May 812:23 a.m.
1974May 1010:55
1975May 97:09 a.m.
1976May 53:20 a.m.
1977May 712:47 a.m.
1978May 68:24 p.m.
1979May 25:09 a.m.
1980May 610:57 a.m.
1981May 86:17 p.m.
1982May 1312:00 p.m.
1983May 13:28 p.m.
1984May 81:46 p.m.
1985May 1611:05 a.m.
1986May 126:22 p.m.
1987May 99:31 p.m.
1988May 13:04 p.m.
1989April 2911:22 p.m.
1990April 303:51 p.m.
1991April 3010:16 a.m.
1992May 88:09 p.m.
1993April 295:02 p.m.
1994May 11:54 a.m.
1995April 30unrecorded
1996May 712:56 p.m.


Thaw-di-Gras 1997 wind-up

Submitted by Lori Sprokkreeff
Thaw-di-Gras Coordinator

Snowshoe Baseball was one of the popular events at this year's spring carnival. Photo by Nancy S.

It was a cool weekend, but fun was had by all who participated. Snowshoe Baseball, the Snowmobile Races and the Chili Cook Off kept the crowds busy so Saturday's afternoon events were moved to Sunday.

The winds continued to blow on Sunday but many events kept both the young and old busy. Log sawing kept the blood flowing, the YOOP Tea Boiling fires helped to keep us warm.

Many volunteers helped in keeping everyone busy and the events happening. The Human Bowling which took place late afternoon brought people out in great numbers in question of what it was? It was great fun and everyone looked absolutely ridiculous trying their chance at winning.

The Family Dinner which was served by the KVA board of directors was delicious and enjoyed by all. The Thriller Lip Sync act opened the evenings stage with the weekends highlights and scavenger hunt winners announced,. The fireworks finale was postponed due to the weather, but proved to be a great performance on Thursday evening to complete Thaw-Di-Gras 1997!

I would once again like to thank everyone who helped make this weekend happen. Volunteering is what makes a community special and Dawson is full of very kind and generous people. A lot of the events were sponsored by local miners and businesses which also shows great support to the people of Dawson.

So even though it wasn't thawing... the memories of Thaw-Di-Gras 1997 will linger on!


The Sunnydale Classic: Brave souls in a spring wind

by Brad Keenan
Sunnydale Volunteer

Six brave souls endured the blustery spring winds to compete in the ever-popular and highly renowned Sunnydale Classic Dog Sled Race during Thaw-di-gras weekend.

This intense and demanding 7 mile race starts at the ice bridge, covers the challenging Yukon River pack-ice to the old farm in Sunnydale, on down to the golf course road, to return on the Yukon River back to town. The fiercely competitive field consisted of Sebastian Jones, Agata Franczak, Brent McDonald, Mikin Bilina, Carole Legace and Elizabeth Connellan.

Sebastian was the winning musher with a furious trail time of 39:23, with Elizabeth bringing up the rear guard and providing the rest of the mushers and volunteers with ample time to converse.

Barry Fargey, the mushers, and myself. would like to thank the following businesses and individuals who made this race a great success; Paul Pierson (time-keeper extraordinaire), Brian MacDougall, Dawson City Women's Shelter, Dawson City Nursing Station, Tr'ondek Hwech'in, Bonanza Meat Co., Fulda Yukon Quest, Farmer's Market, Hardware Store, General Store, Northern Metallic, Westminster Hotel, Centennials Yukon, Beaver Lumber, Gas Shack, Downtown Hotel, Trading Post, and Arctic Inland Resources.

We look forward to the next Sunnydale Classic at Thaw-di-gras.

News from McDonald Lodge

Collected by Joan Posno

The Scavenger Hunt was one of the most popular events at this year's Thaw-di-gras. Lodge residents, along with Joan Posno's daughters, Helen and Betty, got heavily involved in this game and chronicled their efforts in the following poem.

They didn't come in first, but they picked $100 worth of long distance gift certificates.

In addition Rowena Lord took second prize in the Cinnamon Buns Contest.


Pioneer's Lament

by Betty Davidson, Helen Posno, Evelyn MacDonald, Marion Hadley, Margie Fry and Joan Posno

Spring Carnival time had finally begun
And scavenger hunts were waiting for fun
Marion, Margie, Joan and Evelyn too
Thought that they all should have something to do
So Betty went down at the run.

Back at the Lodge the fun was beginning
The name PIONEERS set us all grinning
Examine the phone book
Helen took a close look
And grabbed for some paper to start a new inning.

Marion Hadley was quite a whiz
As she happily broke the cryptoquiz
We knew this was true
When the Ball was a clue
We yelled and we cheered for our whiz.

How many videos are around in this town?
O'Brien's beer bottles are they dark red or brown?
Your help we do need
And for it do plead
Help us and we won't let you down.

Then madly we started to make the lines hum
We searched and we searched, our faces were glum.
The pins were a pain
But we triumphed again
As Chuck to our rescue did come.

Our plaintive pleas we did pursue
To Madeleine, Ros, and Vi Campbell too
To Shirley we sighed
and to Kathies we cried
And thank goodness for John, he came through.

Susan Gould our next rescuer then did appear
As curling pins loomed in our fear
Though Clinton was gone
The Jubilee lingered on
And twinkled its light for our cheer.

A feather we needed
A favor we pleaded,
A raven did fly on the run
He looked for a gun, then provided us one
We're so glad our searching was heeded.

It was time for the poetry Lodgewards we ran
To greet the old folks if we can
"Bessie's Boil" was the choice
Helen read in loud voice
And thereby continued our plan.

YCGC, switchboards, and bottles galore,
This daily stress we really abhor
Then Margie and Anna
Our needs did supply
This assistance we really adore.

Our interest was lagging
Our energy flagging
As to Dina Cayen we ran.
A favor we sought,
And a signature caught
We knew that we soon would be bragging.

Golden rocks were the treasure
We couldn't quite measure
Oh help us dear George
We need you to forge
If only to get us some pleasure.

The ice skates were due,
No one knew what to do
As time slipped rapidly by.
Then Danny he lent
and his camera sent,
To photo the skates for the crew.

And so we are done
And to Gerties we've come
With baggies and bags full of loot
We hope that our treasure
Will give judges pleasure.
If it doesn't, we don't give a hoot.

We're the PIONEERS
And let's raise three cheers
For the team who will go for the gold.
If the story were told
We won't be so bold -
And we'll wait for it all to unfold.

We're a right bright bunch
Who do well in a crunch;
yes, we pull for our Team-mates indeed.
No, you can't take away
Our Team Treasure Hunt greed
Cuz we're a hardy Pioneer breed.

So, Judges take note,
On your scoring we dote -
Please mark us accordingly so!
Bribery is the law,
No fault for the flaw -
Hope this breaky doesn't stick in your craw!

Well, we're Team mates five,
And we're all quite alive.
Other teams - to be fair -
Don't discount Pioneer knowledge -

So, on to Victory I'm sure.
Treasure Hunt's quite alive.
But we wanted the judges to know
Pioneers let things flow -
Like a river you know.
Treasure's not really gold from below!


Music recital right on key

by Dan Davidson
Sun Staff

Jenny Russell, Sara Winton and Angela Van Nostrand blow their own horns at the school's recital.

It's Rotary Music Festival time, and last week young musicians in Dawson City gave a healthy audience in the Robert Service School Ancillary Room a taste of the material they were taking to Whitehorse to perform.

The evening of music opened with the school choir, under the direction and accompaniment of Betty Davidson. This year's choir is one of the youngest in recent times, but still manages to put out a fresh, lively sound, with most of the girls' faces showing a real enjoyment in their performance.

The choir performed "Caterpillar", "Spread Some Sunshine" and "Tie Me Kangaroo Down".

There are always soloists heading to the festival as well, and this year is no exception. Michael Davidson played "Mike's Solo" on the trumpet. Angela Van Nostrand presented Mozart's "Fantasia in D Minor" on the piano. Vocalist Skye Felker sang "Early One Morning".

Then came the band, directed by Adam McConnell. Their first piece was a local favorite, an untitled composition of McConnell's that the band tends to call "Mr. McConnell's Soapdish". Next, they shifted into percussion mode for a lively rendition of "Rio Con Bravo". With four people on percussion this one kicks up quite a storm.

The concert concluded with "Locksley Hall", a complex and moody piece which is unlike most of the repertoire for school band. McConnell has noted previously that many stage band compositions tend to sound alike, since their composers all aim to highlight the same instruments and skills. This makes them all come out sounding like variations on the theme from the television show "Dallas". "Locksley Hall" is totally different - not exactly pleasant, but very interesting.

The young musicians and their teachers depart on Wednesday, hoping to win some laurels at the festival in Whitehorse. They've already won them here. The audience reaction to the concert was summed up in the words of a senior resident from the MacDonald Lodge: "Wasn't that just great!"


Letter: Singing the Nuggets' praises

Dear Editor,

On March 17th and 18th we rode Via Rail from Brandon to Toronto with the Dawson City Nuggets.

What a joy to be with such a thoughtful and entertaining group. Seeing you at the Corel Centre made us proud that we had met you.

And so to Kevin, Pat, Pancho, Dr. Gerard, Dick, Diamond Lil (She must mean Diamond Tooth Gertie - Ed.) and the whole group thank you for being such great ambassadors for the Yukon and the charity of your choice. It's people like you who make the world a better place.

Joyce George
Redvers, Saskatchewan


Ottawa/Nuggets results: Lost the battle, but won the war

A couple of interested readers have e-mailed us to ask how the great contest turned out. We did have this information in one of the articles we re-printed last time on the NET, but for those who missed it, our lads lost, 18-0 on the ice, even while they outscored by a vast amount when it came to public opinion and enthusiasm.

Editor's Note: About the mail

Three of the four letters that we published in our most recent issue came from you readers on the Net rather than from our paper readership. Keep those e-card and e-letters coming folks. Good to hear from you.


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