|Santa arrived early to meet Dawson City children this year, courtesy of Trans North Helicopters. Photo by Kevin Hastings|
Welcome to the online edition of the December 25, 1998 Klondike Sun. The hardcopy version contained 16 photographs, 25 stories and a seasonal crossword puzzle. The next edition of the Sun will not appear until the middle of January. Mid-winter is a lean time for our advertisers and we don't want to burden them. Besides, our regular schedule would have had our volunteers working over the New Year long weekend, so we decided to give everyone a break.
by Palma Berger
The cost of our newspaper goes up to $1.00 per paper beginning January 1999. This is because we are not a newspaper.
It all comes about because we applied for and got a subsidy that helps with our postage costs. But applying to the Department of Canadian Heritage for the subsidy, it was found that "Since the frequency of the publication is 26 times per year, it will be considered as a periodical instead of a newspaper, which require a minimum frequency of 48 times per year."
Publications must charge a minimum of $1.00. So there you be. $1.00 it is for our publication now. But it will not be so hard to take dear reader, when you think you are not getting a mere newspaper, you are now receiving a 'publication'.
Our publication thanks you for your continued support over the years.
Compiled from reports in the Whitehorse Star and on CBC radio
Officials of the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs held a press conference in Whitehorse on December 16 to announce their decision on the fate of Dawson's sewer and water system.
As reported in an article by Paul Michna in the Whitehorse Star, the community has until January 2000 to get a secondary sewage treatment facility on-line.
Ian Church and Dave Sherstone pulled no punches. While the federal government may recognize that the town has a small tax base and limited land, it won't hesitate to take steps toward prosecution if the deadline isn't met.
They also indicated that DIAND would be seeking legal advice to buffer its claim that Dawson City must comply with federal legislation before the deadline passes.
Sherstone is the regional manager of DIAND's water resources division, while Church is a director with Environment Directorate. It was these official who made the decision that pulled federal participants out of the Water Board hearings last weekend (see related stories).
While mechanical treatment plants may be an expensive load for a small community, alternative technologies are an option for the town, said Church.
"Sewage treatment isn't necessarily cheap, but there is an incredible number of options out there now, in terms of technology," he explained to the media present..
"Obviously, a constraint in Dawson is land, (and) also temperature. But there are options in new technologies coming out all the time."
He hopes these choices will be looked at by Dawson representatives.
If the Yukon government, the town and DIAND have a chance to work creatively to a satisfactory answer, all sides will leave fulfilled, said Church.
(In an extract from the same interview aired on CBC radio, Church indicated that his definition of a creative meeting included an absence of lawyers and consultants.)
"We recognize that there's a cost; maybe we can't give you any money, but maybe we can facilitate or help or find technologies or find ways of doing things," he told reporters. "There are probably savings."
There are standards set by the governments across Canada that have set in place environmental criteria that must be safeguarded, said Church. The water board's standards are also included in those criteria, he said.
"Those were the types of standards that we used to judge whether this particular project...would still meet those standards or not."
People can argue that not everybody across the country has met these requirements, admitted Church. But the statistics say that Canada - and the Yukon - is moving toward adoption of the requirements.
"For the most part, we're there. Dawson is one of the exceptions where we have to bring that standard up," he added.
"Our intervention was basically to explain the screening."
by Dan Davidson
The issues which surround Dawson City's Water License seem to have become murkier as a result of the Water Board Hearings held in Dawson over the weekend. As Bob Van Dijken of the Yukon Salmon Committee complained during his submission on Sunday evening, the burden of proof seemed to have undergone a distinct shift during the two days.
Board chair Ron Johnston shut Van Dijken down quite bluntly on Sunday night when the latter began to preface his remarks with a criticism of the process which had caused the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, the Department of Fisheries and Environment Canada to walk out of the meeting several hours earlier.
Instructed to address only the issue at hand - the amendment proposal - Van Dijken nevertheless gave the impression that he felt the usual process, whereby the proponent had to prove its actions were not dangerous, had somehow been stood on its head.
In a real sense, that is what happened, for the submissions from the City of Dawson and the Yukon's Chief Medical Health Officer went right to the root of the water licence requirement that the town give its sewage secondary treatment and, if their arguments are accepted, they left very little reason for that requirement to remain in place.
This is not what one might expect from a hearing of this nature, and it is hardly surprising that federal interveners seemed to be off-base during most of the two days.
Letters from DIAND to the Water Board up to the end of November speak of sending a token representation to this hearing, as if there really wasn't anything that any technical experts would be needed for. Nor did they see a need for legal counsel.
Facing them at the Dawson table they found an array of three Ph.D. specialists, one of whom had co-authored some of the standard reference works used in assessments.
DIAND's basic objection to the Dawson situation stems from the basic assumption that any and all sewage dumped into a river or fish habitat is dangerous and should be treated in case it might cause any effects on the environment, fish or people. That same basic philosophy has governed discussions on this issue since at least 1983, when Dawson was first told in a water licence that it would have to clean up its act if toxicity could be established.
As far as DIAND officials are concerned, that toxicity was proven within weeks of the licence being issued and Dawson has been dragging its heels from the last 15 years in the hopes of avoiding a major capital and operations and maintenance addition to its budget. They see anything Dawson proposes as a stalling tactic, and they are offended by it. There's a detectable note of righteous indignation that adheres to their discussion and their paperwork.
The City of Dawson's submission did, in part, hinge on the premise that a secondary sewage treatment plant is unattainable due to the enormous financial burden it would place on the community, but it didn't stop with the old economic and political arguments. Dawson hired a panel of experts and gave them a free mandate to explore the actual dangers of their current practices. Doctors Don McLeay, Steve Wilbur and Niko Zorkin, representing two Victoria companies, McLeay Environmental Ltd. and Enkon Environmental Ltd., concluded that the sewage plume was not dangerous to fish, that it dispersed well before it could be a problem and was well below toxic levels within ten metres of the sewage outfall pipe under the three worst case scenarios they could devise among the 27 they modeled based on the available data.
Along the way they also concluded that there wasn't enough available data and that DIAND's main toxicity test, the LC50 test in which fish were exposed to Dawson's effluent to see if they could survive it, was seriously flawed. Fish were drowning in water with almost no oxygen content and this did not measure toxin levels.
DIAND's other major piece of proof was the high fecal coliform counts that had been shown to exist along the banks of the Yukon River. It was Dr. Frank Timmermans, the Yukon's Chief Medical Health Officer who, along with Fred O'Brien of Yukon Health, knocked the props out from under that argument.
Timmermans contends that shoreline coliform counts have no connection whatever to the sewage outfall and are in fact the result of normal ground water run off below the surface in a town built on a flood plain and having permafrost beneath most of its streets and residences. He says you can see the results of the spring and summer thawing leaking out of the side of the dyke on nearly any day in the summer, and that a good deal of it is probably made up of the winter's accumulation of dog droppings.
DIAND officials weren't around to respond to that, but those still in the room at the hour seemed inclined to take it as a serious possibility that he might be correct.
Dawson's consultants proposed a multi-cycle series of three year Environmental Effects Monitoring studies to collect the data they maintain has never been properly collected and determine it there is any potential risk to fish or the environment.
Dr. Timmermans essentially supports this project and states clearly that there is no risk whatever to human health at this time or in the future foreseen by the ten years required for the study.
Now, if all this reads very much as if the burden of proof is being shifted to the regulator, one could be forgiven for seeing it that way.
by Dan Davidson
You see this on the playground sometimes. The older kids have been used to having things pretty much their own way. They have the equipment, the size and the years of experience, and when it comes to playing with the younger children, they're used to winning. They're even good natured about their advantage, not taking too much of a lead, allowing the kids to score a few points and making it seem like there really is a ghost of a chance that the game might be real.
But it's their game. They know they control it, and they can afford to be magnanimous.
Sometimes it doesn't work though. The preteens get a growth spurt, they practice hard and all of a sudden it's a contest. The teens have to work at it, and even then they aren't really successful. They're not used to playing a real opponent and they get a little sloppy.
The game goes badly all of a sudden. They have to look for excuses. They're not winning because somebody changed the rules, the referee isn't being fair, someone's cheating, or any of a hundred other excuses.
Finally they play their trump card. "If that's the way you're gonna play, I'm gonna take my (bat, ball, marbles - pick one) and go home."
For a while that still works, but then the other kids start to accumulate their own equipment and they say, "Go ahead. We'll finish this game without you if that's the way you feel."
Now this is a vast simplification of the issues, but it felt very much like something of this nature happened on the weekend during the Water Board Hearings. The main difference was that there were three levels of seniority present: federal, territorial and municipal. The outcome was pretty much the same. The big boys got in a huff, took their marbles and went home and the other players carried on without them.
The schoolteacher in me saw it something like this:
The big boys (the feds) didn't want to play the game in the first place. Under their own rules they'd declared themselves the winners in advance and it took a lot of arm twisting just to get them onto the field. Why compete when you've won?
Then they arrived poorly prepared and out of practice, not seeming to realize that they'd already got the other players' wind up by their pre-game behavior.
While they showed every sign of being annoyed at having to turn out in the first place, the other players (the City of Dawson) were pumped and ready for the confrontation. They were a little tired of being shoved into the lockers in the school hallway and of having to take the last place in line at the fountain. They'd done their training exercises and they felt ready for the contest. And they had some fresh talent on the team, some designated hitters to help them get on base.
The officials (the Water Board), likewise, were a bit tired of being pushed around by the senior players, and were prepared to call their fouls a bit more aggressively this time out.
It was a combination that the senior team just wasn't ready for and they handled it badly.
What happens next?
Well, if the Water Board should rule in Dawson's favour on the Water Licence amendment, you can expect a flurry of protests. DIAND and its sister departments withdrew spewing accusations, so we can expect some version of that to continue.
The Wednesday evening news broadcast gave word that one of the senior DIAND officials, Ian Church, was already calling for a new meeting, one where calmer heads could, without the interference of lawyers and consultants, work out a deal.
I doubt that anyone's going to take that idea very seriously. If you have to negotiate, then that means you don't have a sure thing any more, and if that's what Church's olive branch really means, then the City of Dawson might as well wait for the Water Board's ruling and negotiate from whatever point emerges from it.
The DIAND statement has the whiff of false bonhomie to this nose. I suspect the feds will have to eat a bit of humble pie on this issue before the final tale is told.
by Dan Davidson
The week before Christmas Break was one of theatrical and musical activity at Robert Service School, with two nights of concert treats for packed houses in the school gymnasium.
The Band and Fine Arts programs took the stage on December 15 for another in their series of combined concerts.
The Band 7 class demonstrated how far it had progressed since Hallowe'en with renditions of the "William Tell Overture" and the "Ode to Joy" and the traditional carol, "Hey, Ho! Nobody's Home".
Then they were joined by the Junior Concert Band (gr, 8/9) to present a number called "First Holiday Concert".
The Senior Concert Band has to rehearse after school in order to fit in the timetable, but they have been conscientious enough to be able to pull off an steadily improving version of the jazzy "Java".
Both concert bands were needed to perform Grieg's "Peer Gynt Suite", music inspired by the Scandinavian mythology of the composer's youth. This is a complex light classical standard which the entire group has practiced together only a few times.
Everybody knows "The Barber of Seville" as butchered by Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. The final item on the program mixed the strains of this opera with Christmas Carols in yet another adaptation of this versatile work.
Ms. Rowe deserves a lot of credit for bringing her students along so well and setting a professional tone for their performances.
Band and Choir parents made this a tasty evening by providing the goodies which were on sale during the half time intermission. Then it was time for "The Reform of Benjamin Scrimp", a Christmas melodrama by Claire Boyko inspired by Charles Dickens' immortal A Christmas Carol. This seasonal confection was served up by the Grade 8/9 and 11/12 Fine Arts Classes and the RSS Choir.
In this version of the tale Benjamin Scrimp is a stingy high school senior who initially refuses to come to the financial rescue of the Christmas Dance when the chequing account won't cover the cost of the goodies. While Scrimp gloats over the fact that his spendthrift classmates have got themselves into a bind he is visited by three ghosts, which shown him a possible present, a real past and an alternate future.
The astonished Scrimp discovers that Christmas matters a great deal more to him than he ever knew, and is convinced that he has to do something to prevent Tiny Tom, the school's basketball star from injuring his knees while trying to save the dance.
The play was presented in a series of vignettes, with the choir covering the periods when the sets needed to be changed. From the reaction of the audience, the standout scenes were dancing exhibition at the 1955 X-mas Sockhop (Tish Lindgren, Chris Roberts, Shauna Kormendy, Leah Adam, Alex Kormendy, Sid Schafrik, Jason Johnson and Katherine MacIver) and the performance of Frankie Bing Scrimp (Darren Bullen) as a 50's teen idol.
Kudos go to Mr. Betts and Mr. Silver, who provided Frankie's backup band, Ms. Bell, who played for the choir and Mr. Hartwick and Mrs. Davidson, who pulled it all together with the help of stage manager Jo-Anna Davidson.
Two nights later the school put out quite a few more chairs and still couldn't manage to seat everyone who came out for the Elementary Christmas Concert.
This year's production was based on Chris Van Ahlsberg's delightful children's story The Polar Express. In the tale a nameless narrator recalls for the reader the trip he made to the North Pole when he was just a boy and how he became the child to receive the very first Christmas present Santa gave out that year.
The trip, narrated by Mrs. Betts to a group of Kindergarten children, was punctuated by musical presentation from the various elementary classes and the RSS choir.
Both Kindergarten classes combined to sing "Jingle Bells" and "Old Toy Trains". Grade 1 rode the Polar Express while singing "Suzy Snowflake" and "Nex Rouge". During the trip the train encounters numerous wild animals, portrayed by Grade 4 singing "The Huron Carol".
Grade 2 children were the next to ride the express, singing a Christmas version of "She'll be Comin' Round the Mountain" as they approached the North Pole, there to be met by elves from Grade 3, singing "Here Comes Santa Claus" and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town".
Grade 5's elves continued the serenade with "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas", after which Grade 6 sang "Silver Bells". Following this, while the story drew to a close, while the choir sang "The Carol of the Bells".
Teachers and students are to be commended again for putting on a short, enjoyable concert.
It must be admitted though, that the highlight of the evening was unplanned. A youngster clutching a teddy bear escaped from adult supervision, made his way to the stage, crept up the risers beside the Grade 4 class and began prancing on the stage to the tune of "The Huron Carol".
Just when teachers on stage thought he was going to get close enough to the wings to grab, he suddenly decided to exit, leaping clear of the stage in a four foot drop to the gym floor. Members of the audience say he bounced and then vanished, hauled off by an adult, apparently none the worse for the experience.
The Grade 4 singers never missed a beat. Teachers suffered from adrenaline overload for some minutes thereafter.
by Dan Davidson
The continuing saga of Dawson's television took another turn this week as council announced that its present system, which provides 14 off-air channels to the core community free of charge, has reached the end of its effective life.
The system, which was originally supposed to cost about $25,000 a year to run, now exceeds $75,000 just in operating costs, and will soon require an additional $250,000 in capital equipment replacement costs just to keep up with technological advances and worn circuits.
If it needed further proof of the problem, the city's planned interactive community-wide television forum on December 15 was reduced to about 20 people in the council chambers when DCTV, the local cable channel, failed to function during the meeting.
Mayor Glen Everitt told those at the meeting that the rest of the system could be expected to run out of steam by the middle of next summer without a large investment in time and money, which council was not prepared to make.
There are, he said, two alternatives. One is to wait for private enterprise to come up with a solution. He pointed out that the only player in rural cable television so far has been NorthwesTel, and that the utility has lately been scrambling to get out of the business which it was so anxious to enter just a few years ago.
The other alternative is, he said, a cooperative venture that council has been exploring with Total North Communications. Under this system the town would be cabled with a combination of fibre-optic and coaxial cables and a local corporation would be set up to administer the provision of television to the town.
Surveys in the community have shown that most respondents are quite happy with the package of stations currently offered; it is the low quality of the signal which causes frustration. Cable should solve that problem.
Council proposes to retain the basic package the town has now and add up to 20 additional channels, as well as the capability for two-way data capacity, high speed Internet access, distance education opportunities and other communications improvements.
It won't be cheap. Estimates are that the installation would cost up to $820,000 up front and take up to 10 years to pay off. That's if half the community signs up for the service at $29.95 per month. Since nothing but CBC and TVNC will be available off-air once this system goes into effect, it seems likely that most residents would hook up.
The capital cost can probably be reduced by obtaining technological grants through a number of granting programs and agencies. In addition, the system should generate some revenue over and above basic television rates, so it is anticipated that the corporation would pay for itself. Long term equipment problems would be partially solved by leasing hardware rather than buying it.
Details of the corporate structure have not been worked out yet, but council sees this agency as existing at arms length from itself and being a volunteer group.
In addition to the community forum, these changes have been discussed at regularly televised council meetings as they took shape over the last several months. Council also took out ads in the local papers and distributed a two page flyer through the post office to encourage people to vote on the issue.
Reaction from those present at the meeting was mixed. KVA manager Denny Kobayashi was enthusiastic about the prospects of improved services and keen on keeping most of the money in the community. Community Health Nurse Carol Tyrell hoped to see advances in medical access through this program.
Others spoke of the town "shoving this down our throats" and satellite dish owner Walter Procyk was particularly skeptical of the idea, feeling that there was no way that the corporation would be able to offer quality channels at the price that was being quoted, less than half of what commercial cable providers charge.
All that remains to be seen. The vote this week is simply intended to give council a sense of what direction it ought to take: continue to plan, or get out of the way. By the end of Thursday evening 120 people had actually voted. Of those 110 were in favour of the proposal and 10 were not. While this is a positive indication as far as general acceptance of the plan goes, it's still short from the 400 subscribers the plan will need in order to be viable once the entire design is in place.
Compiled by John Gould
There is a new book in the book stores, A Klondike Christmas by Anne Tempelman-Kluit. The 42 stories in it are of the early days in the Klondike. There are stories by Mrs. William Bompas, Faith Fenton, Mrs. Laura Berton and Rev. George Pringle, to name a few ,and poems by Robert Service, and Captain Jack Crawford. They are all memories of long ago.
Here are a couple more from the pages of the Klondike Nugget News Paper of December 1898.
Christmas for the Children
Klondike Nugget December 31, 1898
The Ladies of St. Paul's gave a Royal celebration on Tuesday.
Presents for every one and a general season of merrymaking- A Genuine Klondike Christmas Festival.
The Christmas tree gathering at the Episcopal Church on Tuesday last it was a genuine treat for every one who good fortune it was to attend. The ladies for whose good efforts credit is due for the splendid success of the entertainment worked untiringly to add to the pleasure of those who were present. The little folk were especially in evidence and the manner in which they enjoyed every moment of the time was a constant source of pleasure to all the older ones who were there,
All the dainties which are so closely associated with the Christmas memories had been provided and the long tables which had been arranged fairly groaned beneath their burden of good things. Between 35 and 40 children were present, and a happy sight they made as they gathered around the table, to do justice to the generous spread.
The older ones were not forgotten and all were served with tea and cake limited in supply only by the demand. When the tables had been removed, the Rev. Mr. Bowen called the children to order and invited Gov. Ogilvie to act as Santa Claus. The Governor responded in a humorous speech and deputized Dr. Grant to act in his stead.
The Christmas tree which stood in one corner of the church was beautifully decorated with string of pop corn, sacks of nuts and candies, and other ornaments suitable to the occasion, and was beautifully illuminated with numerous wax candles.
There was a present on the tree for every child in the house and in addition each one received a remembrance in the shape of a sack of candy. The rear of the church was decorated with flags and evergreens forming an effective background for the Christmas tree. Festoons of evergreens were also strung along the ceiling of the building and a number of Japanese lanterns added colour to the scene.
After the tree had been unloaded of its treasures and the presents had been distributed Gov. Ogilvie entertained the audience with his gramophone. At the conclusion of this feature of the program a magic lantern exhibition was given by Mr. Bowen. The slides were mostly taken of biblical scenes and during the exhibition the children's knowledge of the scripture was quite thoroughly tested by the reverend gentleman.
During the afternoon a flashlight photo of the assembly was taken by Mr. Hegg. The photographs will be highly prized reminders of a real, genuine Klondike Christmas.
Among the ladies who contributed toward the success of the entertainment are the following, Mrs. Bowen, Mrs. Hill, Mrs. D.W. Davis, Miss Robinson, Mrs. Brenner, Mrs. Rutledge, Miss Mulroney, Mrs. T.C. Henly, Mrs. Tarbox, Mrs. Gannon, Miss Flora Davis, Miss Josephine Pickel, Miss Annie Burke, Miss Flossie Barrett, Miss Faith Fenton, Mrs. Logan and Mrs M.P. West. All the credit is due to the untiring zeal with which these ladies worked.
(Note that this took place in the original log church)
Christmas at the Forks
The following is the program of the Christmas eve entertainment at the Eldorado City Presbyterian church:
Hymn, "Joy to the world the Lord Has come"
Lord's prayer in concert vocal trio with guitar accompaniment, Messers Banton, Hutchinson and Murphy; recitation Miss Alta Black; song Mr. Graf; song Mrs Baker; original poem, Mr. C.W. Watts; song Mr. Eschwege; song Mr. Heath; poem, written on Christmas ten years ago by the discoverer of Bonanza; discussion re: hospital; refreshments were served by the ladies.
A vote of thanks
The program closed with "God Save the Queen" and "Auld Lang Syne."
Klondike Nugget December 28, 1898
The Pioneer hall was crowded to capacity on Christmas Eve, by those who had come to participate in the grand ball, announcements of which had been made from time to time during the past weeks.
Manager Lawler had taken pains to see that the very best musical talent in the city was secured and a handsome souvenir program as presented to each one who attended. The floor had been carefully waxed and probably afforded the best dancing surface that has yet been seen in Dawson. Many handsome costumes were observed on the ladies, and the bright colours made a charming contrast to the black coated gallants.
While the dancing was at its height a flashlight photograph of the scene was taken and after midnight the guests repaired to the hospitable dinning room of Miss Mulroney and full justice was done to a splendid repast.
by Dan Davidson
It's a long way from growing up as a university professor's son in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, to preparing for the Yukon Quest from a home on Hunker Creek, but that's what Peter Ledwidge is doing this year, only two years after his first mid-distance dog race.
Peter got bitten by the dog racing bug in 1992, while he was helping to film some coverage of the Quest. He'd spent some time in Dawson in 1980 and it had helped him settle on a field of study after a few years of knocking about and a couple of unsuccessful attempts at university. Even then he knew he wanted to come back to the Klondike to live.
After he finally left Wolfville Peter says he worked mainly in the northern parts of the provinces. He'd seen some dog teams in Val-d'Or, Quebec, but nothing clicked for him until he wound up back here after a stint in Faro.
"I saw my first dog team (close up) in 1992. I was holding the camera, helping to film the Quest for DCTV and I remember looking at Joe (Magee) and I said, 'I wanna do this.'" Just seeing the Quest was an inspiration.
"It's a dream I've been working on since then, to get a house and get a dog team together."
There followed a year in Africa, and then he came back to the Yukon. He and his wife, Anne Doyle, bought a house out on Hunker Creek, where they live with their two children. In 1994 he bought some dogs from a local owner. In 1996 he bought a breeding female from "Cowboy" Larry Smith. Five puppies and a few purchases later - including some from Iditarod winner Susan Butchard - and he had the makings of a team.
Peter has set various goals for himself along the way, long and short term, an has usually managed to get a little ahead of his schedule. He ran the Percy DeWolfe mid-distance race a year in advance of when he had planned, earning himself a red lantern finish in 1997.
That was okay though, for the next time he ran the race he shaved 13 hours off his time and felt like he knew what he was doing.
He had planned to work his way up to a bigger race by entering some longer distance runs, but it got to seem like the effort of training and preparing for a three day event wasn't really different in quality from a long haul, and he liked the idea of getting out and camping for a week or ten days, so he's decided to jump to the big leagues two years ahead of schedule instead of waiting until he is forty.
He's not running to win, though it would be nice. He expects this to be a learning race for him, just like his first one. In spite of that frankness, he has a number of businesses sponsoring him. The Downtown Hotel, Bonanza Meats, Henry Gulch Placers, the Dawson City General Store and the Trading Post have all chipped in so far.
A big fund raising auction is scheduled for the Downtown Hotel on January 15, 1999, the day it reopens after its winter break. It costs a lot to run a long race, and Peter, who makes a living as a miner and geological contractor, figures that "$10,000 is getting away pretty cheap."
by Dan Davidson
The Cremation of Sam McGee
The Shooting of Dan McGrew
poems by Robert W. Service
art by Ted Harrison
Kids Can Press
32 pages each
It's hard to believe that it's been 12 years since Dr. Harrison brought out his edition of The Cremation of Sam McGee and 10 since the appearance of The Shooting of Dan McGrew. Here they are again, in a spiffy new set of matching editions from Kids Can Press. The editions I've been sent are fine quality large paperbacks with french flaps on the front and back covers.
While the editions are essentially the same, the redesigned covers are very catchy and should stand out more on the shelves than that the original Klondike style typography. I noted a few spots where some printing smudges on the original editions have been up.
What can I say about the marriage of Harrison and Service that I didn't say when I reviewed the books in 1986 and 1988? Not much, really. Both Brits came to the Yukon looking for something and had their socks knocked off by what they found.
Service brought the popular appeal of the Kipling style to the them exotic locale of the Canadian north, extending the interest already stimulated by the Gold Rush and the work of Jack London.
Harrison became a one man Group of Seven, stripping his art school style down to the essentials of shape and energy and imparting a riotous palette to scenes usually depicted in earth tones. He recognized the essential mythology of the everyday Yukon and responded to its larger-than-life qualities.
Reading Service and looking at Harrison, you know that the world really ain't so - but wouldn't it be fantastic if it were?
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