Dawson City, Yukon Friday, December 24, 1999

During the Christmas Concert at Robert Service School in Dawson, this group just seemed to be waiting for Santa. Photo by Dan Davidson

Feature Stories

Dawson City to Host 2001 Alaska State Chamber Commerce Fall Convention
Christmas Concert Packs the Gym
Open House Season Begins at the Museum
Everitt Rejects Call to Territorial Politics
KIAC Announces First Offerings
Bookends: A Tale from the Darkness of Winter
Dawson Writer Wins Award
'Guardian' Wolf Leads Easter Trek
A Call for Community Support
Christmas Approaches

Welcome to the December 24th on-line edition of the Klondike Sun. This is the abridged version of our Dec. 21st hardcopy edition, which was 20 pages long, containing 20 photographs and 20 news stories, a poem, the cartoon strips "Paws", and "City Snickers", and our regular homemade Klondike Krossword puzzle. Getting a subscription (see the home page) is the only way you'll ever see it all.

Please note that we will not be on-line again until the middle of January, as we are taking an issue off.

As this is assembled on Christmas Eve, the weather here is fine. We've just had an enormous dump of wet snow; that's rare at this time of year here, but even more rare was the fact that it rained a steady drizzle for about 3 hours yesterday afternoon. The road south to Whitehorse had to be closed in the mid-afternoon due to the slippery conditions which arose once the rain began to turn to snow. I'm told that this last happened in 1981.

Dawson City to Host 2001 Alaska State Chamber Commerce Fall Convention

Can winter scenes like this be the root of a new tourist season? Photo by Dan Davidson

Dawson City - Dawson City will host the 2001 Alaska state Chamber of Commerce Fall Convention in the fall of 2001. The Yukon Chamber of Commerce invited Dawson City to bid to host the 2001 event at an Alaska State chamber of Commerce Board of Directors Meeting December 2-3 1999 in Anchorage, Alaska

The "Do the Dawson" Bid Team included Mayor Glen Everitt , Klondike Visitors Association's Lue Maxwell, Dawson City RCMP Sgt. Steve Gleboff and Donna Mercier from the Yukon Chamber of Commerce. Dawson City's bid captured the attention and the favor of the Alaskans beating out Fairbanks, Juneau, Kodiak, Ketchikan and Seward who also made bid presentations. Mayor Glen Everitt said: "Alaskans love Dawson City and the Yukon. Our bid focused on seizing great business opportunities while having loads of fun."

The convention will include over 200 delegated a 50-booth trade show, support staff and media. Total economic impact to the Yukon will exceed $500,000. Many of the delegates will participate in pre and post convention tours including at least an overnight stay in Whitehorse. The Tourism Marketing Fund, City of Dawson, Dawson City Chamber of Commerce and the Klondike Visitors Association financed the bid presentation and expenses.

Yukon Chamber of Commerce Past-President Donna Mercier said;" We were pleased to invite Dawson City to bid for this convention on behalf of the Yukon Chamber of Commerce. We congratulate them on behalf of the Yukon Chamber of Commerce. We congratulate them on the successful bid! Attracting this type of event in the shoulder season will provide significant and important economic benefit to businesses across the Yukon."

Klondike Visitors Association Chair Dick Van Nostrand commented that " the Support provided by the Tourism Marketing Fund and the Dawson City organizations enabled us to develop a professional bid presentation and to take a skilled team to deliver the successful bid. This spirit of partnership will enable us to grow shoulder season tourism, particularly in the meetings and conventions market."

The 2001 Alaska State Chamber of commerce meeting is tentatively scheduled September 26-29, 2001 and will be the first major event hosted in the new Dawson City Multi-Use/Recreation Centre.


Christmas Concert Packs the Gym

by Dan Davidson

On the magic night, even the mice are still. Photo by Dan Davidson

The Christmas season provides a ready made excuse to showcase the arts and music side of the school program, and the Robert Service School wastes no time doing something in that line each year during this week.

This year's Christmas was a big one, combining the Band, Acting, primary Music programs and the extracurricular school choir into one massive event.

The Concert Band led off the evening with renditions of "The Tempest" and "A Sleigh Ride." This group is a blend of the musicians in grades 8 through 12, and it isn't very often that they all get to practice together with their teacher, Miss Rowe.

The Acting 11/12 group followed with an adaptation of the Janet Lunn story, "One Hundred Shining Candles". A poor country family fallen on hard times has to find a way to make its own kind of special Christmas. While the play was well presented, the actors did have a problem getting their voices to the back of the over packed, standing-room only gymnasium.

The Grade One class came out then to sing "Santa's Little Helpers", followed by the morning and afternoon Kindergarten classes, who seldom get together, singing "Must Be Santa".

The kids in the Grade One/Two class acted and sang their way through a performance of "Frosty the Snowman", complete with Frosty and a Traffic Cop.

The Grade Two/Three group carried on in that vein, presenting the immortal "'Twas the Night Before Christmas", complete with sleepy mice, a visit from Santa, and reindeer on the roof.

The Grade Three/Four class mounted a lively production of "Jingle Bell Rock", fronted by a rocking power trio with cardboard instruments.

The school choir, led by Betty Davidson and accompanied by Gwen Bell took the stage next, to present "It's a Marshmallow World" and "Roller Skating Reindeer".

The Band 7 group performed "Up on the Housetop" and then the Acting 11/12 class returned for a presentation of the Charles M. Schulz classic, "Charlie Brown's Christmas", adapted from the book version of the cartoon by teacher Betty Davidson.

The evening's closing number brought back the Band 7 class and all the kids from Kindergarten to Grade 4 to sing "Jingle Bells" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas".

There were baked goodies on sale in the Ancillary Room right after the concert and many people were captivated by the computer edited video compiled, enhanced from the tape that was shot during last month's volleyball tournament. Mr. Dragoman and Mr. Silver put a lot of hours into getting that ready, with the help of some interested students.


Open House Season Begins at the Museum

by Dan Davidson

The Dawson City Museum's Christmas Open House wasn't the first such event of the Advent Season, not even the first one in December, but it still seems to be the one that marks the official beginning of Open House Season.

It has been calculated that the shrewd Dawsonite could actually manage to avoid cooking supper for just about every one of the next 20 days or so, just by taking note of all the open house invitations. Actor/teacher Grant Hartwick claimed to have done it last year.

This year's Museum event took place on December 3 and attracted a big crowd to a table crowded with seasonal goodies. An actual meal might have been a bit on the sweet side, but you could fill up all right.

The food isn't the only draw at the Museum. Local musicians are always invited along to provide some Christmas cheer.

Willie Gordon and friends held forth in the audio visual room early in the evening and about half of the Robert Service School Choir (the rest were playing volleyball in Whitehorse) led the visitors in singing later on.

The museum foyer is a natural spot for carolling, and the singers put out lots of energy even if the piano was dreadfully out of tune.

Following their stint at the museum the choir trundled across the street to the MacDonald Lodge and put on a show for the seniors.


Everitt Rejects Call to Territorial Politics

by Dan Davidson

Ending months of speculation, Mayor Glen Everitt announced at the December 6 meeting of Dawson's municipal council just where he expects to make his next run for a political office.

The answer, as it turned out, is that he will be running to succeed himself in his current job in next fall's municipal elections.

Everitt has been widely expected to take a run at territorial politics, having been the Liberal candidate in the last territorial contest, held at a time when he was merely a Dawson councillor.

Since that time he has raised his profile considerably, finishing the mayor's term that opened when Art Webster resigned, winning his own term and serving for a term and a half as president of the Association of Yukon Communities.

In addition, he has led the community in facing down the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, faced off against current MLA, Peter Jenkins, over municipal bylaw enforcement and spearheaded a large capital works spending program.

In spite of a lot of pressure to take up the territorial banner - he says there was already a campaign fund in the works from some quarters - Everitt has decided that he is most comfortable right where he is, and that he can actually do more good for the Klondike region from the mayor's office than he would be able to do anywhere else.

Besides, he has too many projects on the go that he would like to see through to fruition.

"Right now I look at the relationship that Dawson has with the government and it's probably the most positive relationship we've ever had. I want to see it continue for awhile.

"No matter who gets elected (territorially) I know I can work with them, and no matter who gets elected I know we can have the same relationship.

"So I'm not going to be running; however, I do plant to ask very difficult questions and to get involved in the debating this year (at the public forum)... and would hope that council will get involved too."


KIAC Announces First Offerings

Beginning in January presented by the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture:

The Art Quilt
Caribou Hair Tufting
Exploring Painting with Acrylics
Intermediate Water Color
Introduction to Drawing
Intro to Photography
Tap Dance
Ballet for Young Children
Voice Lessons
Song and Dance
Piano Lessons
24 Hour Playwriting Contest
Acting Workshop
Relief Woodcarving
Adobe Photoshop


Bookends: A Tale from the Darkness of Winter

by Dan Davidson

Dreamstones is a beautifully crafted little book which evokes both the history of 19th century Arctic exploration and the dreamlike qualities of aboriginal legend. It feels as if it absolutely must have taken its genesis fro both history and legend. but the author assures me this is only partly true. More on that later.

In the store, the good ship Lily sails from England in the early spring and makes for the Northwest Passage. Its captain has taken David, his young son, along for the voyage. By the time they arrive it is summer and the tundra off the coast, while spotted still with snow, also abounds in the life that crowds the north to a surprising degree. The captain filled his notebooks with sketches and observations while David explored.

Inland they found Inukshuks, those piled stone landmarks that seem so much to be based on an abstract concept of the human form. David thought that if they were only wrapped in furs, like the people he had seen, they would look just like them.

Summer passed and the Lily found itself trapped in the ice. Just how they coped with this is not the subject of this tale. We are rather directed to one night in the deep of the dark when David, restless in his bed, looked out the porthole and saw foxes cavorting in the snow and ice. He imagined others as well and, rather longingly, thought they had come to play with him.

Out he went to follow them - "behind him, the Lily was gone." Wandering aimlessly in search of the ship, he was rescued by a native man who helped him, built him a fire for warmth, and shared the sealskin garb which he hardly seemed to require.

It was the night of sun's very first appearance after the long winter and David swapped tales with the man while they waited to see it, then he fell asleep. The next day the captain and his men found the boy wrapped in a seal skin near the embers of a fire built beside the Inukshuk in whose lee it appeared the boy had taken shelter.

Not long after, the Lily was freed from the ice and sailed off into the mists of Arctic legend, never to be heard from again save in the Inuit legends which tell of a ship, a boy, and an Inukshuk that walked the earth on one special night.

You can readily see what I mean about the story sounding perfectly authentic, and Stella Fast's luminous artwork beautifully matches the tale, creating a realistic yet dreamlike quality. Yet none of this is exactly what it seems.

Maxine Trottier and her husband like to sail on the Great Lakes, and her initial notion of the Lily and its adventure came to her from that experience, watching the lakes freeze and thaw and the boats take their chances. The name of the ship is fictitious, but once she decided to set the tale in the Arctic, she wanted to find something that seemed both authentically English and 19th century in tone. So many of these ships were both trapped and lost that it was fairly easy to research that.

The Inukshuks crept into the story as she began to develop it, and the idea of having her story take on legendary quality just seemed natural by the time she got to that part.

Stella Fast, who did such fine work here, is a Canadian who lives in Norway, and her pictures were inspired by the conditions she experienced half a world of longitude away, during Norway's own great dark time.

So here we have an example of art imitating life and doing such a good job that it really feels like it ought to have happened.

Dreamstones is published by Stoddart Kids and is available for $19.95. Maxine Trottier toured the Yukon in November as part of Young Canada Book Week. (check the name of that week)


Dawson Writer Wins Award

by Patty Rivera, Editor, Mission Canada Magazine

TORONTO- Mission Canada Magazine won three awards in the recently concluded Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada Annual Conference in Chicago.

Father Tim Coonen's article "'Guardian' wolf leads Easter trek," Spring 1998 issue, won second place for best article in the mission magazine category. Coonen is pastor of St. Mary's Church in Dawson City, Yukon.

Judges wrote: "This depiction of Fr. Tim's trek through snow and wilderness...is presented with solid human interest and humour, something not often found in articles of this sort."

Mission Canada participates in the annual Catholic Press Association Awards which honour the best of the year's crop in Catholic newspaper, magazine, and book publishing...More than 270 publications vie for the coveted prizes. Mission Canada participates in the magazines-missions category.

(Note: Mission Canada is the magazine of Catholic Missions in Canada, an organization which assists Canada's smaller and remote churches, including Dawson.)


'Guardian' Wolf Leads Easter Trek

by Father Tim Coonen, o.m.i.

After a decade of living in Yukon missions, I realized I no longer was taking the time to do some of the things that had drawn me north. I hadn't slept in a tent in years, and my canoe got wet only on rainy days....

So when a friend, Malte Weller, suggested a snowmobile trip to some natural hot springs, I jumped at the opportunity. After the liturgies of Holy Week and Easter, I felt I could take a few days off. So Easter Monday we trailered our machines to the trailhead, near Elsa, Yukon.

Problem was, neither of us had made the trip, and we had no maps. So we phoned a man who had been into the Nash Creek hotsprings a few years previously, who told us that a group had made the 80 mile (one-way) trip a month earlier. "No problem," he said; "it's a good clear trail."

"Is there any possible way we could get lost?" I queried.

"No...well, actually there is. After you've gone maybe three quarters of the way in, there's a great big tree next to the trail. There you have to take a smaller trail to the left, or you end up in the wrong valley altogether."

"Great!" I thought. We're going 80 miles through rugged Yukon mountains, and our landmark is a big tree! This sounded like a script for The Lost Patrol....

We got a late start, and spent the first night in a vacant trapper's cabin. The second day dawned with a light snowfall and heavy leaden skies. After a few hours of following valleys and crossing rivers and a few seasonal glaciers, we came across an unmistakably large tree ("You can't miss it!"), turned left, and began climbing in earnest. We were rarely able to glimpse the towering grey mountains and bits of glaciers surrounding us through the increasing snowfall. We had begun the climb over Braine Pass.

Soon we were above the tree line, and the well packed trail left by the last travellers a month earlier was blown over. Because the sky and the snow were the same colour and the light was completely flat, there were no shadows, and the trail was obliterated. However, if one were to drive or even step off the packed trail, one sank immediately into four feet of very light fluffy dry snow.

Our pace slowed to a crawl as over and over again we struggled to lift our machines back on to the invisible trail. At times we were reduced to walking ahead, feeling for the hard packed trail under a foot of fresh powder, but still occasionally falling into the white abyss.

"We'd better think of turning back," I said, with exhaustion and disappointment in my voice. "This may be as far as we get." Had we a couple of $8,000 major horsepower mountain taming crotch rocket snowmobiles, we might have blasted through. But we were both on single cylinder long track machines; adequate, but with limits.

Malte, hiding his fatigue beneath Teutonic stubbornness (not to mention being a dozen years younger than me and in much better shape), suddenly spotted a set of wolf tracks barely visible in the snow.

Now the wolf shared our limitation--it had to stay on the hard packed trail or it too would wallow in the powder. But it could feel the trail with its feet. Here was our path! As long as we crawled along, picking the wolf tracks out of the shadowless void, we could travel. We climbed higher and higher, across bowls and over ridges, deeper and deeper into the towering mountains, keeping the barely discernible wolf tracks immediately in front of us.

Then suddenly, breaking over a ridge, we caught sight through the falling snow of the wolf! Large and grey, it looked back over its shoulder at the two of us, a few hundred yards behind, and gently loped over the rise.

We could only catch glimpses of the wolf as it disappeared through the snow, appearing ghost-like on the horizon far ahead. We followed that wolf for nearly an hour, hardly exchanging a word, never getting a really good look at it, never trying to get closer to it, but content to let it guide us across the trackless pass. With it leading us over the summit, we followed the wolf down another valley to the right, and back down into the trees, where we saw it for the last time. And in no time at all, we arrived at the hot springs.

One hundred and sixty miles on a snowmobile, averaging something under fifteen miles per hour, pulling a sled filled with fuel and gear, gives one time to think. I remembered stories of the older priests and especially of the Sisters of St. Ann, who undertook far more arduous and dangerous trips in much worse conditions, visiting isolated cabins, tending the sick, bringing comfort and supplies to destitute families. For me, this was a pleasant diversion on my days off; for them it was a response to the Gospel's challenge.

I thought of the many trackless passes we each must cross in the course of our lives. How quickly we begin to feel hopeless and abandoned. How easily we forget that we never travel alone. What a gift, to travel in the company of a guardian wolf!


A Call for Community Support

by Kim Adams, Community Librarian
Dawson's Berton House Writers' Contact

Dear Friend of Berton House:

Berton House needs your support. We are asking not for cash donations, although they would certainly be welcome, but rather donations of goods. Over the years of the program kind donors have assisted the Berton House Committee in making the house more comfortable and convenient. Please, become a patron of the arts, benefit the house and its occupants by donating any of a number of household items including the following:

  1. First aid kit
  2. Comfortable chair suitable for long periods of sitting, writing and/or typing
  3. Double bed mattress cover
  4. Bulletin board
  5. Throw rugs
  6. Deck chairs
  7. Good window drapes
  8. Rag mop

The Berton House writers' retreat is good for Dawson. It's good for tourism, positive publicity, cultural awareness and vitality. Residents create works of art, spend money here, and spread the word as to the virtues of our little town and its Northern hospitality.

In addition to writing and giving public readings, many Berton House residents, inspired with community spirit, give of their talent, time, and energy to Dawson and its many events and causes, such as Dawson City Music Festival, Robert Service School, Dawson City Museum, the Woman's Shelter, and the Klondike Jamboree.

The relationship is one of exchange between the people of the Yukon, particularly the residents of Dawson, and the writers themselves. I urge you to continue participating in this exchange, and to increase the comfort of our literary visitors, by donating any of the previously listed items to Berton House.

If you have any questions about Berton House and/or its needs, feel free to contact me at the library or at home 993-6786. Thank you for your continued support.


Christmas Approaches

by Dan Davidson

Christmas sneaks up on us
Lists of presents, stacks of cards
suddenly materialize.
Can we meet the deadlines ever?
Next year will we be more wise?
Christmas sneaks up on us.

Christmas pounces on us.
Concert preparations grow;
patience wears and tempers rise.
When it's over, does relief
or satisfaction make those sighs?
Christmas pounces on us.

Christmas lurks before us.
Hidden by the mounds of presents,
friends at tables - from afar -
is the Child which drew those shepherds,
seeking years to find that star.
Christmas lurks before us.

Christmas leaves its blessing.
Though so many seldom hear it;
though it's ancient as the stall -
still the angels sound their chorus:
"Peace on Earth - Good will to all."
Christmas leaves its blessing.


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