|About half of the delegates from the Dawson Schools Reunion pose on the steps of the Robert Service School. Photo by Clair Dragoman|
by Dan Davidson
"Hi Wade," a voice calls into the cluttered offices of Klondike Kate's, where Philippe Lamarche has just settled down to do an interview. Most people that know Lamarche, know him under the "Wade Simon" alias that he has been using for the last decade here. Many will continue to call him Wade for a long time to come.
In some ways, "Wade" has more substance than Philippe. Under his real name, for instance, Lamarche doesn't have a driver's license yet. In fact, he doesn't even have enough real identification to apply for one.
"I don't have any ID actually. I have my SIN number. I've sent away for my birth certificate and my mom's sending me my baptismal, but I need one more form of ID so I can apply for a driver's license. Then I have to apply for a medical card from Yukon Health."
He hasn't even filed an income tax return before, although he's always paid his taxes by payroll deductions. He says he's sure the federal government owes him money, but it doesn't concern him as long as his Canada Pension Plan contributions and Employment Insurance are up to date.
It's like being born again or being an immigrant. Philippe Lamarche is sort of used to that, though. He's done it once before and this should be the last time he has to do it.
Lamarche spent 13 years hiding behind the persona of "Wade Simon" since he walked away from his day parole at the House of Hope in Ottawa, driven by a sense that he had to remake himself in a vital way or he would be spending the rest of his life in and out of the penal system.
To this day he doesn't understand what sent him down the path that ended in his arrest for robbery and assault when he was 21. Until he was sixteen, he remembers living what most would call a normal life in a normal family. None of his siblings had legal problems, and his parents were fine. Something went wrong with him, and it didn't come into focus until he looked at the colour photographs of the man he had beaten up.
There was no point to the beating. He and a buddy picked up a gay man outside a bar in Hull, Quebec, and Lamarche tore into him. The revulsion is there in his voice when he recalls the pictures.
"It looked like his face was kind of pushed to one side," he says. In the years since then he has come to see any kind of physical assault as the ultimate in violations, an exercise in power, for a man, something like rape. Physical possessions can be replaced, but the physical memory of an assault can't be shaken off.
He doesn't know why he did it. He didn't know then and he still doesn't. It hadn't hit him yet that he had become the type of person who could be that violent without a good reason, but it did hit him that day.
It wasn't being in prison that bothered him as he began to reflect on his actions. He'd been there lots from the age of 17 on. He knew the official and unofficial rules of the system. He knew how to fend for himself in that situation.
At that time, he couldn't see anything in the system that was going to help him change. The best program he saw was one called "Scared Straight", in which ex-cons lay out the long term effects of crime to young people. He'd like to see that approach used more with some of the problems he has seen in Dawson.
Because, what happened to Philippe Lamarche was pretty much that; he was scared straight. By himself.
He didn't like himself, and as time wore on he became more and more certain that he would have to do something to change. Prison, he says, is full of a lot of people who haven't begun to grow up. For him to change, he had to get away from those people and that setting -- make a clean break, so to speak. He decided to grow up.
"It was that or nowhere. I had to. If not, I'd be serving a long bit (sentence) right now somewhere in a federal prison in eastern Canada."
So he took the money he had made in three weeks doing a day job while at the half-way house and ran. To become Wade Simon, Lamarche moved away from where he had always lived, changed his behavior patterns and his occupational choices. He'd been in central Canada; he moved to the west coast. He'd worked in construction; he became a cook. He'd never cooked before, but there seemed to be a demand for them in the local papers, and it looked like a job that might be portable.
"I wasn't there more than two weeks and I had three different jobs. I thought it was great to get a job without any experience or a resumé. I could cook anywhere." He acquired his "Wade Simon" identity in a bar and moved on, never looking back on who he had been.
He worked in Vancouver, Whistler, Alberta and Florida, among other places. Cooking proved a good job for a man on the run, and there always seemed to be a need for them. When he came to Dawson he got a job in March, which is not exactly the height of the employment season here.
To be "Wade Simon" meant mixing truth with lies. His family might be the same size and live in the same place, but the rest of the details were different. People would ask normal questions about life and he would have to be on guard.
"I had to be sure I didn't slip." The act of pretense became second nature, but the tension expressed itself in other ways. It was, as one of the parole board officials said, like carrying around your own prison. The most intimate, private Philippe Lamarche had to be hidden, even from his companion of 10 years, Josee Savard.
"It was a form of prison, I think, because I wasn't able to express myself and do what I wanted to do." Things like getting married, for instance.
There are still limits. He had been planning recently to go and visit the mother of the former owner of Klondike Kate's, but she lives in Alaska and parolee Philippe Lamarche can't cross borders. It'll probably be seven years before he can get a passport.
"Wade Simon" crossed borders. He and Josee met in Florida. But he crossed them nervously. "I was always very leery about it. If you get caught in another country, they might not be keen on sending you back right away. They might keep you. Some Mexican jails are not always the best, or in some of the other places I've been to."
Until recently stress expressed itself as a skin rash called psoriasis, which is usually best treated (in his case) by exposure to sunlight.
"During the time that I was in Whitehorse (in jail) it just cleared up," he said. "I didn't have any sunshine there and yet it went away, so there was something in my head that, all of a sudden, as soon as I was caught, it released and cleared up."
Getting caught made life simpler in a lot of ways and showed him a side of his community that not many people have the chance to see. For when he was arrested, the quiet man who had lived a private life, tried to help a few people and be a better person found out that he'd been noticed. The first public reaction was disbelief. The second was public and private support.
"There were business people here and people in important positions here who took a stand which just surprised me. I didn't expect that. They have a business and they have their own life to take care of and they might not want to implicate themselves in this situation, but they did, freely, or so it seemed."
Lamarche credits those testimonials on his behalf with getting him where he is now, home and on a two year parole which allows him to get on with his life, though it does place him under some restrictions. He's hardly had time yet to think about how much that means.
"It'll be most of the winter before things really start sinking in. I'm still riding on this high of being out.
"If anybody thinks that these letters didn't pay off, well I'm proof that it did, because I'm sitting right here in front of you, talking." He thinks he faced a pretty tough parole board and he's sure that his supporters were 70 to 80 per cent of the reason why things went the way they did for him.
He hasn't fully measured the depth of his indebtedness for that yet. It's hard to explain, he says.
"I guess you'd have to go to jail and have people free you so that you could figure out how that worked. Maybe Mandela (the current president of South Africa) in jail and the people who backed him up all those years, maybe he feels indebted. It's quite the feeling."
The other thing that is a real surprise is the way people have reacted to his story as it has emerged. He's embarrassed to be seen as special, to be elevated in any way. Lots of people live good lives, he says, and no one writes them letters of support. He feels blessed, but he's not comfortable with it. One has the impression that he's worried about having to live up to something bigger than he thinks he is.
A television crew from his home town of Ottawa will be here in the fall to film his story, a sort of "Local bad boy makes good" tale. He's puzzled by that, but he's getting used to it. And he may officially be named Philippe Lamarche now, but he expects that most people will still call him Wade.
by Heather Caverhill
Dawsonites donned their cowboy boots and hats and whooped it up at the Bonanza Centre for this years' Klondike Country Jamboree. Saturday's concert attracted a considerable crowd of two steppin', beer drinkin', music lovers to see Duane Steele, Patricia Conroy and of course, Dawson's own 'Pointer Brothers'.
Steele followed the Pointer Brothers with songs from his Album "P.O. Box 423", and his up and coming Album, 'This is the life' which will be released on the 25th of September. Steele was born and raised in Heines Creek Alberta, "population 450 people on a Saturday night" and lived there for 30 years before moving to Nashville 4 years ago.
Steel's music career began in Junior high school with his cousins in a band called 'Northern Sunrise' "For the directionally challenged" he joked. Steele was then involved with the band 'Rocking Horse for eight years; some people may remember their two month stint in Whitehorse at the Kopper King. 'Rocking Horse' released an album called 'Highways' and split up in 1993.
Steele moved to Nashville and currently is a song writer for Warner Chapel Publishing. "It was a great opportunity, not only as a potential artist, but also to get my foot in the door'" Steele said of his move to Nashville.
Steele has been nominated for Male vocalist of the year 1997. He was nominated for the same award last year along with a nomination for New Vocalist of the year. After a long day of travelling, Steele was too exhausted to join some of his band members at the Pink Palace Friday night, but he was able to participate in the Discovery Days Parade on horse back, and walked around our historic little town the following day. He was impressed by what he saw, he summed up his perception of Dawson in a word .... "cool". Steele wrapped up his act by asking Jamboree-ers to pose for a picture for him to send to his mother.
Patricia Conroy, crooning from her repertoire of award winning music, stole the show with her smoky voice and bluesy sound. Born and raised in Montreal, Conroy has been singing most of her life. "My family band was a Celtic band," Conroy said "and that is where I learned how to sing."
Conroy won the Female vocalist of the Year award in 1994, the Album of the Year award in 1995 and has been nominated for 'lots of things'. She, too, has been living in Nashville for the past 4 years. Right now Conroy is touring and working on a new album, possibly of the same title as her new song 'Mary on the Dashboard' which she sang at the Jamboree. While in Dawson Conroy enjoyed lunch at Klondike Kate's and a little bit of site seeing. When asked about her impression of Dawson, Conroy echoed Steele's Dawson sentiments; "I just think the town is really cool, I wish I had more time."
Conroy enjoyed performing for Dawsonites at the Jamboree. "The people are so ... festive, there is quite a party atmosphere here," Conroy said. "I think things probably haven't changed much in the last 100 years," she added.
Conroy, who traveled with Steele from Nashville, shared his travel grief, their plane was laid over and they missed their flight from Whitehorse to Dawson. Still, after the long day, Conroy said, "The moon last night was worth the trip." Hmmm, sound like lyrics for a new song???
by Heather Caverhill
Reporter Andrew Vrees and photographer Eric Sowl have finally finished their research on the Gold Rush. Dawson was the last stop on their itinerary which took them as far as North Carolina in pursuit of information for their documentary, "A Ton of Gold and A Trail of Dreams".
"We had been tossing the idea around for about two years," Vrees said, of the documentary that they started filming in early June. The documentary will air this fall on KTUU.TV the NBC television station out of Anchorage Alaska, and hopefully will be aired on other NBC stations throughout the year.
"I wanted to hike the Chilkoot and I was interested in the Gold Rush," Vrees explained. "This was a good year to do it because it is the 100th Anniversary of when the Gold Rush Began." The pair hiked the Chilkoot with their camping gear and about 70 lbs of camera equipment. They interviewed U.S and Canadian Parks historians to get their take on the Trail of 98.
Vrees and Sowl followed the Ton of Gold down to Seattle and interviewed descendants of the Berry family. Clarence Berry made a fortune on Eldorado Claims 4, 5 and 6, He was part of the original Ton of Gold. The pair also traveled to North Carolina to talk to the descendent of one man who came up the Trail of 98 and left with nothing.
While in Dawson, Sowl and Vrees interviewed local experts about Dawson and its role in the Gold Rush.
John Gould was interviewed about the 'Ton of Gold' trip, that left Dawson Docks last month and 100 years before that.
Parks Canada's Glenda Bolt was asked about the birth of Dawson City and it's historic buildings. "We wanted to know how Dawson transformed from a swamp to a boom town." Vrees said.
Constable Dan Parlee, with Justin the horse, was asked questions about "Law and Order" in Dawson during the Gold Rush.
Unfortunately these Dawson Celebrities will only be seen across the boarder on Channel 2 Anchorage. Vrees is hoping to sell the documentary to other stations so perhaps Dawson may see it after all.
by Dan Davidson
Imagine, if you will, arriving in Dawson City after a long bus ride, arriving in the middle of a rain storm, finding that your hotel has been overbooked and that you are being shunted to other accommodation in the community.
Imagine further, that you find your tour bus is not allowed to park outside the other place to which you are being sent, that you will have to switch to a smaller van for that short trip and that your luggage will have to catch up with you.
For the weary elderly traveller it's not a pleasant prospect. It has happened a few times this summer when the hotels which service Holland America, Grey Line and Princess Tours have been too full and the town's bed and breakfast establishments have been pressed into service to take up the slack.
Now, B&Bs operate mostly in that limbo land known to city planners as transitional zones. They are businesses, but they are located, by and large, surrounded by residential buildings whose occupants don't enjoy the idea of large tour buses pulling up, perhaps blocking the street, or sitting with their engines running. In addition, many of Dawson's residential streets really aren't that wide.
For these reasons, there have been rules about bus routes which have prohibited buses from parking at B&Bs.
A resolution of council, passed on August 4, has changed that rule.
Dawson's bylaws have always permitted buses to stop at two places in residential areas, those being Jack London corner and, a few blocks further north, Robert Service's Cabin. These are major tourist destinations and many of the people who come on tour buses just don't walk well enough to get to them.
Council's solution to the bus parking problem was to expand the interpretation of that part of the bylaw to include currently existing bed and breakfast establishments.
Several B&B operators were present at the meeting to argue for some latitude, including Jon Magnusson of Dawson City Bed and Breakfast, John and Gail Hendley of White Ram Manor and Janet Collie of Bonanza House. Magnusson made the most detailed presentation, citing the city's Official Community Plan as an authority for having council do all that it can to support the key industry of tourism in Dawson.
Magnusson noted that he only has about 6 bus tours a year that actually book his establishment in advance. Most of the other bus business comes from hotel overflow and, in such a case, the B&Bs are doing the city a favour by saving it from dozens of tourists taking stories about bad service in Dawson back home with them.
Mayor Glen Everitt explained that he had already had a number of calls from irate small tour operators this season and that it seemed clear something needed to be done to keep from giving Dawson a black eye in the very important word of mouth advertising market.
The resolution will allow buses to park at B&Bs between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m., but their engines must be shut off and the stay must be as short as possible. The buses may not actually park there except to unload and pick up their passengers. John Hendley said that this operation usually doesn't take more than ten minutes either way.
From time to time road conditions or mechanical problems may cause a bus to arrive late in the community, as sometimes happens with freight trucks. In such cases, an exception will be granted, but the problem needs to be reported to city hall as soon as the host is aware of it, or within a day of it happening.
by Dan Davidson
The old reed organ in Saint Paul's church does still work, much to many folks' surprise, but it's been awhile since it had such a workout as it got during the weekend of July 26-27. On the Sunday of that weekend kids of all ages gathered around at the back and side of the organ to see the hands of feet of an expert in action and to hear its reeds sing out as they have not sung in a long time.
The organist was Jim Machan, a church music specialist from Milwaukee, who was in Dawson along with Sue, his wife, a public school music teacher, to enliven Dawson's Christian music community with every means they could think of.
The Machans held evening and afternoon sessions at Saint Paul's for several days before the weekend, tuning up a small community choir from several congregations and teaching other people how to ring out the good news on tone chimes.
Machan is a former school music teacher who took early retirement a few years ago to pursue his first love, which is church music. Since then he has worked for a variety of denominations and faiths and brings an eclectic sensibility to the practice of leading choirs and musical groups.
The Sunday evening concert was the culmination of several days worth of hard work. The choir performed three special numbers, including Machan's own setting of "Psalm 150", "A Jubilant Song" and the Hebrew song "Hine Ma Tov", which is based on Psalm 133.
One group worked with the tone chimes, which look a bit like tuning forks with a sounding hammer attached to one side and sound much like hand bells. They played "Holy God, We Praise Your Name", "Jesus the Very Thought of Thee" and "Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow".
On the vintage 1901 reed organ, built by Lyons Healy Builders of Chicago, Machan performed "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring" (Bach), "Trumpet Tune in D" (Johnson), and "Prelude and Fugue in C Major" (Bach).
The congregation sang a number of hymns with the choir, including the South African standard "We Are Marching in the Light of God" and had the chance to pick out some favourites of their own.
From Dawson the Machans, whose trip was funded by the Anglican Diocese of the Yukon, carried on to Inuvik, where they did a similar workshop, and south again to Whitehorse, where Jim Machan held a recital at Christ Church Cathedral. Then they moved on to Watson Lake before ending their musical tour.
Here's a special note for those who believe that it's a small world after all. Jim Machan was one of the choir trainers who taught Dawson's Father Tim Coonen when he was studying music and performing in choirs in the United States. The two rediscovered each other during a pool party the day after the church concert.
by Dan Davidson
Bernd Hoffmann isn't just excited because Dawson's Mayor Glen Everitt gave him an enormous key to the City and made him mayor for a day on July 25. No, Hoffmann, the Vice President of Marketing Research for Fulda Reifen, is excited about his company's plans for the Yukon Quest. The list of things that Fulda intends to do in connection with the Quest is tremendous this year, and it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who was watching last year's production.
The impact of Fulda on the Quest '97 was felt quite strongly, and that was when the publicity people didn't have a green light to go ahead with planning until November. They've been working on Quest '98 ever since the end of last year's event. They're very serious and very excited.
They were in the Yukon in late July to do a number of things. First and foremost they came to renew their Quest commitment for the full three years and to deliver on two promotional, fund raising productions, a 45 minute video and a Quest '97 book, which they have given to the Yukon Quest organization to use as they see fit. The Quest can handle all the merchandising and can produce and make money from them.
But that's just part of what is happening. Fulda has committed $50,000 per year to the Quest as a direct sponsorship, but Hoffman and Jurgen Hampel, the company's man in charge of international communication, says there is more.
There is $25,000 to pay for the vet program which they see as being crucial to the success and acceptance of the race.
Hoffmann says, "I think this is one of the secrets of a good race. I just met with Frank Turner, who is a guy who gives you a feeling of how dogs and human beings can work together. You don't win a race because you are strong or you treat the dogs in a bad behavior. I think the most important thing is the way you do this with the dogs."
There's $60,000 for a bootie program which gives the dogs all the footwear they need for the 1,600 kilometre run. Hoffmann sees the dogs as needing booties being similar to vehicles needing tires, especially if both are provided by his company.
These are costs directly related to the race. In addition, Fulda is using the event as a reward for its dealers in an incentive program which will see 300 top dealers flown directly from Frankfurt to Whitehorse to watch part of it. Last year it was for German dealers. This year Hoffmann says it will include people from all over Europe, even from Turkey.
Jurgen Hampel has other ?news: "CNN will broadcast daily from the race next year. They will take our footage and have a daily report on the Yukon Quest." In addition Eurosport will be accepting the uplink feed along with the second German public television network.
Last year German journalists were brought here to cover the race. This year that program will be expanding to take in other countries. The possible results in terms of international promotion can be extrapolated from what happened last year, according to Hampel.
"This year one magazine, Travel and Leisure, they had 22 pages on the Yukon. One ad page would cost 10,000 German marks, so this exposure is worth about 300,000 marks for the Yukon."
The German tire company is a division of Goodyear International, but it focusses most of its attention on the European market, which is, Hoffman explains, how they connected with the Yukon in the first place.
Klaus Roth, the director of marketing for Yukon Tourism. was looking for ways to promote the Yukon winter season. He already knew Hampel, who has visited the Yukon and Alaska 18 times now and wrote a book about the state when he was a freelancer.
Fulda uses an animal to symbolize each of its tire brands in its European advertising. Before they even knew about this race, they were using a husky for their winter brand of tire.
"'What performs well in winter?' we ask," Hoffman explains. "And you create something with a picture -- a feeling. A picture tells everybody -- that's the story."
The "story" Fulda wants to promote is that of extreme conditions being associated with their products. The Yukon is seen in Europe as an extreme locale. There is a high interest in the territory, Hoffmann says. Fulda wants that high interest associated with its products over the long term. They're are not expecting an immediate return in tire sales from their efforts here, but they are convinced that the product identification will enhance their image in the long term.
In addition the image of the Quest is an image of high performance, and that's what Fulda wants to have associated with their product.
They like the image so much that, during a dealer convention last year, there was a direct link from Whitehorse to Frankfurt via satellite that showed Yukon officials sitting there with huskies in the snow.
"We had 800 people watching on a screen 6 by 8 metres," Hoffmann says with the enthusiasm he shows during the entire discussion. "We had clear pictures directly from the Yukon to Frankfurt."
That's from the Fulda side of the equation. The Yukon will benefit from getting exposure in places outside the usual advertising markets. So it's a two way combination.
All the booties, parkas, fleece shirts, and boots that Fulda is providing for the Quest are acquired locally. All the dealers and visitors that come here will drop quite a bit of money in their wake. Not all the dealers will make it to Dawson, but all the journalists will, as many did last year.
Indeed the German media program continues even now. Hoffmann and Hampel brought a fellow from German Public Television along on this trip and he was making a report about the Yukon, showing the summer side of the territory.
They even have an idea for a road tour which may be called "Yukon Challenge" which might be a summer program, something that consumers might pay to be part of, like the Pan-Alaska rally that went through here this summer.
"Dawson will be a part of all of it," Hoffmann says, "because it links (it) together."
But for Hoffmann the real beauty of the Yukon isn't in the summer. He couldn't believe this place wasn't full of winter tourists when he visited last November.
"It's more beautiful than now," he says. "We can help the City of Dawson on this. I think a partnership with Dawson would be good. In Germany we have 80 million people. You can get some of these people here because Germans are champions in travel." Just that day he'd met two mountain bikers from Saxonia while he was visiting the Discovery Claim.
by Dan Davidson
It would appear that the rumours are true and that tourist numbers in Dawson are way down this season, perhaps by as much as half of last year's record turnout. Klondike National Historic Sites has released its figures for June and July and, while they are not a perfect index of what's happening in the tourist industry, they are a good indicator.
KNHS monitors 11 main sites in and around the town and there there is not a single one of them that hasn't seen a decline in visitors over the summer.
The two sites least affected are the Palace Grand Show and visits to the Discovery Claim which are down only 8% each. The two sites are not comparable, since only 521 (564 for '96)people registered at the claim while 15,997 (17,387 for '96) took in the show.
The area hardest hit was the French walking tour, down a whopping 92% over last year, the numbers dropping from 302 down to 25.
Everything else falls somewhere in between. At Robert Service's cabin the attendance is down 27%, at 4738 guests. The Bear Creek Complex, the former townsite and operations HQ for the Yukon Consolidated Gold Company, is down 12% at 3943. Dredge #4, which was closed off for a short time early in the season, is down 18%, with 17,872 visitors. That's a decline of 2042.
The various walking tours (other than the French Tour) around the town have dropped from 15% to 69%, while tours of the Palace Grand Theatre have gone down from 929 to 317 (or 66%).
The Old Post Office has had 3001 (-29%) fewer users this year, though the big loss appears to have been in June, for July was down only 11%. So far 3943 people have used the service this year.
In fairness, Postmaster Lambert Curzon says the Old PO opened later this year and does not have the same range of services this year. Last season there was all the hoopla surrounding the centennial stamp issue, and the Old PO was staffed by Canada Post employees. This year's service is provided by KNHS contract employees, and while Klondike Visitors Association Chair Curzon has nothing but praise for the Thompsons (a local couple) for taking it on when Canada Post pulled out, it's not the same thing.
Entry statistics are pretty gloomy overall. Last year there had been 16,033 visitors registered in July, and 30,189 for the summer at that date. This year those numbers have dropped by about half, with 8446 in July and 15,151 for the year to date.
Curzon says the the KVA had anticipated that one of the centennial years would be low, but the last two have been so strong this one comes as a surprise. He suspects you would have to go back to 1994 to get a truer reading on the year. As this is the first time numbers have gone down in a decade, lovers of statistics should note that it wouldn't be prudent to extrapolate much of anything from them.
by Heather Caverhill
On Tuesday August 5th the steps of the Bank of British North America on the corner of 2nd Ave. and Queen St. were doused with lighter fluid and set on fire by a Dawson youth. Luckily the fire did not spread to the building which is home to Parks employees as well as an historic site. This is the most recent incident of a string of vandalism that has plagued Parks Canada throughout the summer. Soon after this a name was found carved in the freshly painted steps of the building and a tire of one of the vehicles parked outside of the building had been slashed; earlier on in the season the plaque outside of the same building was defaced. Byrun Shandler, Parks' maintenance supervisor in Dawson is upset by these and other acts of vandalism on the historic buildings and sites in the community. Repairs are expensive and the buildings are irreplaceable. Shandler said that the sites that have suffered vandalism this year are in areas where youth can frequently be seen 'hanging out'.
Harrington's Store which used to be left open and unattended is no longer open to the public due to vandalism and two false fire alarms that were set off earlier in the season; tours enter the store twice a day for viewing.
The puppet theater behind Fort Herchemer was the target of vandalism twice this summer. Vandals attempted to burn the mosquito netting on the outside of the tent and graffiti was written on the walls. The fence around the area was damaged to allow access from the old YTG yard.
Another site that has suffered is the #4 Dredge. Names of some Dawson youth can be found carved into the electrical controls winch room in the Dredge and the Dredge trailer was the site of a break and enter.
Shandler said that Parks is dedicated to involving and educating the community and its youth. Previous acts of vandalism were overlooked, but the nature of the last incident was such that the RCMP have pressed charges.
Many people and businesses depend on the tourism in Dawson for their livelihood. Shandler expressed his desire for community support in protecting the irreplaceable buildings that attract so many tourists each year. He hopes that parents will take an active role in preventing further damage to historic sites. Shandler does not believe that the acts of vandalism were directed at Parks Canada in particular; it's the location of the sites that attract youth to them.
by Dan Davidson
Romy Jansen knew there was something wrong when she walked into her business on Tuesday morning. There was a major clue. The till at Wild 'n' Wooly, a popular clothing boutique on Third Avenue, was missing. Jansen, along with four other businesses in town, had been hit by robbers during the night, between 8 p.m. and 9 a.m. in her case.
Some of the businesses simply sustained property damage, while others like Romy Jansen, had property stolen.
"I never even touched anything before I knew," she said later that day. "The till was gone, ripped out of my socket."
At Wild 'n' Wooly, the thief or thieves seemed to know just what they were after. They took the till and went right to the place where Jansen kept her gold nuggets. Nothing else had been disturbed.
The till, and one from another store, was later located under the Odd Fellows Hall, which is owned by the Klondike Visitors Association. Two school ages boys found the machines.
"It almost sounds like the money is still in the till," Jansen said. "We haven't been able to open it." At that point in the day, they were still waiting for a fingerprint expert from Whitehorse to examine the evidence.
Jansen says that the police were already busy on another case by the time she reported her's. The till was small potatoes anyway, just a float. The real loss is in the gold nuggets.
"Plenty of big nuggets. There's a nine ounce; there's a bunch of two ounces; there's a lot of gold there." The RCMP list includes nuggets of the following sizes: one 9 oz., two 3 oz., one 2 oz. and one 1 oz.
Some of it is quite distinctive and would be easy to trace.
"We have told everybody that is in the nugget business," Jansen says. She doesn't know the exact current value of the nuggets at this time.
At Black Sand and Gold on Second Avenue the break in was less profitable. There was no money in the cash drawer, according to Joan Kerr, who is helping her son, Gordon, with the coffee and tea house.
"They didn't get anything from us. They knocked the cash register off the counter and we didn't realize until we went to put it back up that they had taken the cash drawer that fit underneath." The drawer was not attached to the main unit and apparently fell off when they lifted it.
Kerr's was the other till found with that from Wild 'n' Wooly.
Kerr has had a long history of attempted break-ins and vandalism from her days running the Farmer's Market (now owned by June Mather).
At the Second Ave. quarters of the Recycling Centre operated by the Conservation Klondyke Society, Yves Bellavance reported that the perpetrators didn't get much of anything. There was a little bit of money on the premises but not nearly as much as there was the last time the centre was broken into, just last week, when about $500 in coins was taken.
"That time there must have been 20 kilograms in coins," he said.
This break-in wasn't as clean as that at Jensen's store. Attempting to gain access to a filing cabinet in the centre, the thieves didn't think to simply click the thumb latches under the handles.
"They took a crowbar and broke the whole thing," he said. "It wasn't locked. Stupid, eh? I guess they don't even know how to open a filing cabinet."
The Dawson detachment of the RCMP has notified members of the Dawson City Chamber of Commerce to be on the lookout for "anyone who normally would not have a large amount of cash on their person, or anything you deem suspicious in conjunction with these thefts..."
by Myrna Butterworth
What a great weekend -- our second Dawson School Reunion. All week ex-Dawsonites were arriving in Dawson all set for another get together with old friends. The Pioneer women worked frantically all week putting the last minute details together. Thursday was a really warm day, so warm we had a forest fire which threatened the small community of Henderson's Corner, but we got our decorating done at the arena.
Friday dawned cold a little damp and windy, The evening proved a success but wine and cold beer were not popular drinks. Most reunionists arrived that evening.
"Miss Betty", who taught here during the 1940s, arrive on the scene. She was very busy all weekend renewing old acquaintances with former students and is planning on coming back for the Homecoming in 2002.
At 9 p.m. that night our photographer, Clair Dragoman spent 1/2 an hour trying to arrange everyone for a photo on the school steps, no mean feat at the best of times. However, some 60 to 70 people did make in into the shot.
Saturday was a better day weatherwise, a little warmer. Doors opened at 6 p.m. for a steak barbecue, cooked to perfection by the local fire fighters. Over 200 people sat down to a great dinner.
Peter Menzies played MC for the evening while Elizabeth Callahan gave a Ton of Gold presentation and current vice-principal Shirley Pennell gave an address with the help of former teacher Joyce Caley and former student Bonnie Barber.
Reunion chairperson Myrna Butterworth gave a short presentation and Mary MacDonald from Vancouver gave us a rundown on the International Sourdough Reunion scheduled to be held here on September 14-16, 1998
The dance band for the evening were the Northeraires, who played their first dance in Dawson in 1957. They kept people going until 1 a.m., which is one reason why the pancake breakfast hosted by the Dawson Childcare Association at the Curling Club wasn't held until 11 the next morning.
All in all it was a great weekend. Here's partial list of the people who attended:
Fay Ash (Callison). Pretoria Butterworth (Curtis), Sonja and George Sim (Nelson), J.B & Corina Butterworth (Flynn), Arlene Hayes (Lelieve), Carol Butterworth and Phil Rozell, Vivian (Lelieve), Harriet Butterworth (Osborne), Marie Gylyniuk (Comodina), Valerie Butterworth (Osborne), Bertha DeWolfe, Charlie Townsend & 3 daughters, Bob Hadley, Lee & Pat Rogers, Rai & Geana Hadley, Bryan & Sandy Hilton, Lois Rudd, Virginia & Muriel Fournier. Pat Westberg, Peg and Glen Green (Bremner), Gordon Westberg, Blanche & Gus Barrett (Holbrook), Robert & Doris Adair (Roberts), Donna Revest (Holbrook), Mike & Heather McGeachy (Berg), Marriane Holbrook, Bruna Grezor (Conzian), Doreen Jeffrey (Caley), Renza Degasosi (Conzian), Will & Irene Crayford (Caley), Bob Munroe, Harvey Troberg, Jean & Fred Cook (Neff), Tina Parsons (Brassuer),Joan White (Poirier), Betty Taylor (McLennan), Shirley Read (Whitehouse), Arlene Mayhew (Craig), Heather Klassen (Munroe), Lorraine McKie (Craig), Carole Pierce (Munroe), B.J. Williams (McCormack), "Miss Betty" Williams, Carl & Mary Bjorklund (Bunbury), Glen Bunbury, Stan & Aileen Hegstrom, Sylvia Cook (Blomberg), Teri & Bruce McNaughton (Millen)
by Dan Davidson
The Conceptual Design Report for the proposed Dawson City Community Centre has arrived, setting down in words and diagrams many of the things that have heretofore been the subject of public discussion. The report, prepared by Ferguson Simek Clark (FSC Group), Engineers and Architects , incorporates earlier work by Professional Environmental Recreation Consultants (PERC) Ltd.
The report concludes that since the citizens of Dawson have been consulted, by a variety of means, over the direction that needs to be taken in recreation planning here, and since "The City of Dawson has determined that a new Community Centre is needed to fulfill the recreation, social and "wellness" needs of its citizens..." planning will proceed to create just such a centre.
Having stated the dream out loud, the FSC report goes on to give it some form, setting out a complex that, in its present state of design, will renovate and expand the existing Bonanza Centre arena, relocate the curling club, add an indoor aquatic centre, various general purpose exercise rooms and a "flexi-hall" intended for public performance and sports uses.
One of the contentious aspects of this design as it has developed so far is whether this last area is large enough. Some advocate a full sized gymnasium area; some maintain that the addition of this space for certain uses will free up the school gymnasium for large area sports and have the same effect.
For the outside the most immediate impact on the community will be the partial closing of Fourth Avenue in front of Diamond Tooth Gerties. This complex will spread across that street and take up the half of the next block, extending to opposite the existing municipal building. It will create a town core concept, which is reflected in the shift in terminology from "recreation centre" to "community centre" during the last year.
Visually, the centre will be based on the look f the Dawson Amateur Athletic Association building, which would have been across the street from the Robert Service School if it still existed. It was an industrial warehouse style of building and the new structures preserve that look, with a bit of decoration to give it more significance.
The price tag for this structure is projected at about $9.5 million, with annual operating costs of about $250,000 over and above the current recreation budget for facilities (which is $150,000).
The city council is currently negotiating with the territory for funding to assist with both capital and operation/maintenance costs. Changes for success hinge, to a certain extent, on the outcome of talks over the future of sewer and water treatment facilities, but the city has made it clear that this complex is its priority for the next few years.
The FSC report identifies the city's rationale for proceeding at this time. First on the lost of reasons is the need to provide more recreational and social opportunities for Dawson's youth and to contribute to wellness in the community. The crisis at the beginning of this year's pool season, in early June, underlines the need to replace our aging outdoor facility, and community surveys have shown that the pool is the most desired portion of any improvements people want to see here.
The centre will provide a more suitable for a number of clubs and activities which currently have trouble finding space to work in.
It is also hoped that the new space will contribute to amenities which support the tourist industry here.
In addition, of course, the construction phase of the project should provide twenty person-years of work in the local trades, and associated spin-off business. "The centre will be designed and tendered to maximize benefits to Dawson and the Yukon."
The FSC report notes that the centre has widespread support in the community. "The Recreation Committee, citizens and community groups have demonstrated their desire for a new recreation centre through an extensive public survey and public meetings. it is apparent that Dawson citizens will put their typical wholehearted support behind the centre..."
Large scale versions of the concept drawings are on view in council chambers and the report is available for reading at city offices.
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