Dawson City, Yukon Friday, February 15, 2002

The ice climb at Crocus Bluff. Photo by Dan Davidson

Feature Stories

Fulda Sports Volk: They Came, They Climbed, They Shopped, They Left
Vehicle Recovery on the Klondike Highway
Sears Relocates After Five Years as Drugstore Expands
Celebrating Burns and Service
Quest Musher Says Thanks for the Support
Other Communities Protest Library Changes, Too
Make Sure Ice Is Safe
Spriggs to Get Commissioner's Award for Public Service
In the Early Days of Dawson

Welcome to the February 15, 2002 edition of the online Klondike Sun, which reproduces a selection of the 12 photographs and 30 articles which were in the 24 page February 12 hard copy edition. The hard copy also contains Doug Urquhart's famous "Paws" cartoon strip, the locally created cartoon "Camp Life", our homegrown crossword puzzle, and obviously, all the other material you won't find here. See what you're missing by not subscribing?

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Fulda Sports Volk: They Came, They Climbed, They Shopped, They Left

by Dan Davidson

The Fulda convoy at the Downtown Hotel. Photo by Dan Davidson

I was the middle of a tutorial on statistical manipulation when the president of our literary society called to ask if I had a few minutes to play photographer. It seemed the sun was blazing down on Second Avenue, capturing in its glare a convoy of Fulda emblazoned sport utility vehicles in front of the Downtown Hotel.

It took me mere seconds to decide that I could use a break from learning how to "test whether differences are significant among more than two independent means by using the one-way ANOVA procedure." The sunshine was lovely and besides, this was probably as close as I was going to get to anything labeled Fulda this year.

The German tire manufacturer has been oddly reticent about its activities in 2002. Last year I received press releases and schedules and the offer of interview time, and I know they liked the results because they've got links to all of it on their website for this year. Not that that meant I got even the courtesy of an agenda for Extreme Challenge #2.

Not many people did. The Klondike Visitors Association had no information when I checked, and Fulda had shown no interest in having Gerties open for them this year. The Klondyke Centennial Society knew very little. In Whitehorse my press contacts seemed to have gained most of their awareness of the competition after the team hit town, though they did get interview times.

Tourism Yukon finally dug me up an itinerary (thanks go out to Denny Kobayashi) and I passed it around town.

So off I went to Second Avenue, where I found the reported vehicles and captured them for posterity. I popped into the hotel and left my card at the front desk with a message asking the team leader to give me a call. It didn't happen.

What did they do while they were here? Well, they climbed an ice wall that the city was good enough to make for them out by Crocus Bluff. They apparently went up Bonanza Creek Road and did some ski-jöring. Over by Jack London's Cabin they are supposed to have had a sled pulling contest.

And then they were gone. Those who made the return trip down the Dempster a week later were visible (yes, well - those parkas, y'know) doing some power shopping around the town on the weekend.

A happy bunch of them arrived in period costume for the Winter Wonderland Ball and the ladies among them were enticed on the stage to act as a chorus and kick line.

That's about it. I'm sure they injected some welcome cash into the local economy, but as far as recording the event for posterity, there's not much I can do this year. Just finding ways to cover what I could was my own extreme challenge.


Vehicle Recovery on the Klondike Highway

by Dan Davidson

This freight truck carved its own trail to Dawson sometime in the early hours of Sunday. Photo by Dan Davidson

The recovery crew from the Klondike River Lodge and Klondike Transport were having a tough time moving this semi-trailer which left the Klondike Highway not far south of the Tintina Trench look-off on Sunday afternoon.

The Northwest Transport freight truck left the road and ploughed into the fringe of trees between the road and the Mayo power line clearing, bulldozing its own small clearing and making it difficult to get at.

The extraction was made still more difficult by what seemed (around 3 p.m.) to be a rupture in the hydraulic lines beneath the rig which left the brakes locked and the transmission stuck in high gear.

In the clear, -21?C weather workers were trying to move the truck far enough back that they could get underneath it properly and find out where the leaks might be so they could get it out more easily.

No one was injured in the accident.


Sears Relocates After Five Years as Drugstore Expands

by Dan Davidson

Kelly Taylor stands before parcel bins that haven't been this empty since they were installed. Photo by Dan Davidson

It's Saturday afternoon and Kelly Taylor is supervising the removal of the last remnants of the Sears office from her Ray of Sunshine variety and drug store. For Kelly and co-owner Darlene Kormendy it's been a good five year run with the national catalogue sales company, but the time has come to expand their own operation, and to do that, Sears has to go.

Kelly recalled that Sears was already operating out of this retail space at the corner of Princess Street and Second Avenue when she and her partner (with a small bit of investment from Sunshine Bookkeeping owner and Kelly's mother, Mimi Elliot) took over the space.

That was five years ago.

"When we moved in here Joan (Kerr) wanted to give up Sears, so we took it over."

The main advantage to the new store was that people were already coming there for Sears.

"It created traffic for our business...People were already knew Sears was here, so when they came to pick up orders, it helped establish our business."

Originally located at the rear of the drugstore, the Sears operation eventually began to take up more space, with a small parcel receiving area near the main counter and large item storage at the rear. Kelly said that she has seen an increase in big ticket items like washers and furniture in her time as an agent.

"We need the space now for our business."

The last time this happened it created a bit of a crisis in town and there was a hiatus when all the packages and parcels arrived through the post office, which had some trouble handling the extra volume, especially at Christmas time, which Kelly said was the peak period.

Being a Sears outlet did put a bit of extra strain on the Ray of Sunshine as a business.

"Because they're not really separate really you do have to have your staff trained for both the drugstore and Sears to handle it."

Sears may be gone from the Ray of Sunshine, but it's not gone from Dawson. This time, in an almost seamless transition, the depot is relocating to the Dominion Shell station at the corner of Fifth and Princess. The combination gas station, video store and lottery centre has added some new storage areas to handle the traffic and was up and running just a few days after the old depot closed.

Donna Halvorson, a Sears trainer from Penticton, was brought in to supervise the relocation and assist during the first week.

"We're delighted that Shell is taking it on," she said. "Michel and Boyd are very enthusiastic. I will be here until Friday, so with luck and a fair wind ..."

Dominion Shell is managed by Michel Dupont and is affiliated with Northern Superior Mechanical, owned by Boyd Gillis.


Celebrating Burns and Service

by Dan Davidson

Carol and Bob McCauley perform the traditional address to the Haggis at the Double Bob Bash. Photo by Dan Davidson

It was about four years ago that Dawsonites noticed that there were two significant Bobs who had birthdays in January. The elder Bob was Rabbie Burns, the national poet of Scotland, whose birthday has often been a cause for celebration. The younger was Robert Service, who played such an important role in establishing the legends and mystique of the Klondike.

The Dawson Community Library Board cast about for a way to celebrate both and came up with the Double Bob Bash, a potluck dinner now held annually in the first floor schoolroom at Saint Mary's Roman Catholic Church.

With temperatures dropping to -38?C last Saturday evening, it's a small wonder that only about two dozen people made it to the party this year, but those who came made up in enthusiasm what their numbers lacked.

Carol and Bob McCauley paraded the Haggis, which has a nastier reputation than it deserves. They delivered a somewhat Anglicized version of Burn's address "To the Haggis", which he described as the "great chieftain of the puddin'-race". For once it was possible tell exactly what the Scottish bard was talking about as he extolled the virtues of this boiled meat dish.

After the dinner, which was ample and well stocked by everyone who came, the literary portion of the evening began, with about half of those in attendance selecting a piece by one of the two poets to read to the group. Service is easier reading and got a bit more attention than his older countryman.

Many thanks are due to Public Librarian Suzanne Gagnon and School Librarian Betty Davidson, who organized the event with Suzanne Saito, and board chair Bonnie Barber, who made the birthday cake.


Quest Musher Says Thanks for the Support

by Peter Ledwidge, Stardust Kennels

I'd like to thank all the people who contributed to my fundraising auction to help get me to the starting line of this year's Yukon Quest. It amazes me, every time I or anyone else runs the Quest, how this town comes out to support their local mushers. Without the support of the towspeople and local businesses, it would be next to impossible for anyone from Dawson to be able to run in this costly event.

First I'd like to thank all the businesses and individuals who donated itmes to be auctioned:

Ray of Sunshine, White Ram Manor Bed and Breakfast, The Wash House, Northern Metallic, Peabody's Photo Parlor, Doggy Styles, Lone Star Industries, Yukon Inn, Arctic Inland, Humane Society, Midnight Sun Gallery and Gifts, Fashion Nugget, Fishwheel Charters, Grubstake, Callison Waste Management, CIBC, Marcia Jordan and Mel Besharah, Aurora Office, Jimmy's Place, Natasha, Dawson Veterinary Clinic, Klondike Nugget and Ivory, Gammie Trucking Ltd. Agata and Cor, Claus, Raven's Nook, Anna Hanulik, Ottawa Senators, Marg Van Dusen, Halin, Forty Mile Gold, Kevin Hastings, Maximilian's, Sandy McClintock, Bonanza Gold Motel, Cynthia Hunt, Chris Ball and Sylvain Fleurant, Air North, Bombay Peggy's, Coulee Resources

I'd also like to thank people who helped in various ways: Erroneous Roots, Dominic Lloyd, Agata Franczak, Marjorie Logue, Andrea Magee, Karen Dubois, Gil Benoit, Barry Fargey, Shirley Pennell, and Kathy Webster. Thank you to the staff at the Downtown who did an outstanding job: C.J., Russell, Andrea Vaughn, Trish Peterson, Anne Mendelshon, Lolita Welchman and Dick and Joanne. Thanks to Cor and Aaron for the arm wrestling. I hope I haven't missed anybody, and if I have I apologize. I'd also like to thank all the people who showed up, not only because they may have bought items, but for their show of support in the race. This year's race probably has the highest level of competition ever, with four returning champions and many other top notch racers. This will be my third running of the Quest but the first time I'm actually racing. I have a strong team and am confident in every dog that I'm starting with. I've had a good training season with few injuries and hope to be very competitive. Thanks again Dawson for your support.


Other Communities Protest Library Changes, Too

The Honourable Dale Eftoda
Minister of Education
Government of Yukon
Box 2703, Whitehorse
Yukon, Y0B 1L0

Dear Mr. Eftoda:

As you know, over the past two years Libraries and Archives Branch has been developing a new formula for calculation the number of hours for which each community library will be funded.

The members of the Haines Junction Public Library Board (HJPLB) have been repeatedly assure that this new system is designed to make libraries more adequately suit the needs of communities. We have been led to believe that the new system would be beneficial to Haines Junction as it would reflect our larger-than-average community population as well as our active library use. However, as the new system has been developing, we have become increasingly alarmed at some of the issues arising.

First, we are concerned that the amount of record-keeping necessary to justify library hours under the proposed system is unworkable. Librarians will be required to keep detailed records of patronage, circulation, computer use, programming, reference questions, etc. to demonstrate how much the library is used by residents and visitors. We believe that our librarians' time should be spent meeting the needs of library patrons, not the needs of record-keepers in Libraries and Archives Branch.

Second, we are concerned that the need to increase usage statistics creates an artificial profit motive, resulting in an unnecessary and undesirable element of competition in the administration of community libraries. Indeed, the need to increase statistics on library usage to maintain or increase library hours could even, in extreme cases, lead to the unethical "padding" of numbers in order for a library to more adequately serve the needs of the public.

Third, basing library hours on such things as programming, computer usage and circulation may result in a downward spiral for community libraries. The fewer hours a library is open to the public, the less time there is for programming, and the less likely patrons are to include library visits in their daily schedules.

Fourth, the system proposed would result in changes to open hours in community libraries on an annual basis. Clearly this is an impracticality not only for patrons, but for librarians as well. It seems difficult to imagine that community libraries will be able to maintain quality staffing when they cannot guarantee a fixed number of hours of employment to librarians from year to year.

Finally, and most importantly, we are very concerned with the net loss of hours to most community libraries under the proposed system. We have been led to believe that the new system would make library hours more accurately reflect population and library usage, and would increase our hours due to Haines Junction's somewhat larger population in comparison to other Yukon communities. However, it appears that our library is going to lose at least an hour, while other communities will be losing several hours of library operation. We are very opposed to the loss of library hours not only in our community, but in all Yukon communities.

In short, the members of the HJPLB do not support the proposed changes to the system of calculating hours for community libraries. As you said in a letter written to our board on October 4th of last year, "Public library services are a vital aspect of community life." Please don't allow our community libraries to be sold short by this inadequate new formula.

Thank you for your attention to this very important matter; we look forward to your timely response.


Wenda Lythgoe
Chair, HJPLB


Make Sure Ice Is Safe

by Rosemary Graham, Dawson Nursing Station

While there is lots of ice on the Yukon River, there are still open leads and the ice may not be as thick as it looks. Photo by Dan Davidson

Don't let your safety sense slip when you're around ice. Dawson's tailings ponds and the Yukon River may not be as frozen as they look. There have been several drownings and close calls over the last three winters. Accidents are preventable with common sense. Here is some advice to help you avoid becoming a victim.

First, make sure the ice is safe. The ice should be at least 10 cm (four inches) thick before it can be considered safe to walk on. Ice doesn't freeze evenly, so a sheet of ice can vary in thickness from solid and safe, to dangerously thin in just a few steps. Even if the ice is considered safe, a responsible adult should always supervise children playing on or near ice. Never go out alone, and obey all signs.

Crossing ice requires an extra measure of safety for vehicles. The Dawson Ice Bridge is not officially open. The ice needs to be at least 10 thick for a half ton vehicle and two feet for the 15 ton fuel trucks according to Peter Kormendy, a YTG crew foreman who has been involved in building the bridge for the last 15 years.

If you're crossing the river on an unofficial route, Kormendy advises people to scout it out first. Avoid open water and stay away from dark spots. Although not all water is open water, even over-flow can be unexpectedly deep.

Familiar routes can change quickly in the spring sun. Kormendy says the ice can lose as much as four to six inches on a warm day, especially where the current is strong. Check with Peter or Gerry at the YTG Grader Station about the status of the river ice.

The following are suggestions that may help people who break through the ice into overflow or slow water.

If someone else goes through the ice, you could become a victim yourself if you reach in to pull them out. Instead, throw or push a rope, long stick, or branch out to them. Talk them through the above steps, and call the RCMP or Nursing Station/Ambulance for help.

For health advice and more information contact the Nursing Station at 993-4444. To find out about the status of the Dawson Ice Bridge call Dawson Grader Station at 993-5344 5441.


Spriggs to Get Commissioner's Award for Public Service

WHITEHORSE - Dawsonite Duncan Spriggs will receive the Commissioner's Award for Public Service on February 9th at the Winter Wonderland Incorporation Ball in Dawson City.

"Mr. Spriggs continues to be a significant contributor to his community. It is fitting that he is recognized for his considerable volunteer actions in the same location where his time and efforts are spent." Commissioner Jack Cable said.

The proprietor of the Westminster Hotel, Spriggs has hosted fundraising nights in his establishment free of charge and fostered the community spirit that so uniquely belongs to Dawson City. By donating so extensively to assist others, he has clearly demonstrated that all investments in a community are not financial.

"Duncan regularly allows his hotel to be used as a fund raising venue for anyone who is down on their luck in Dawson City. Whether it is a fund raiser for the girl who was attacked by a bear at the campground, house fire victims or just someone who shouldn't drive home and is given a room for the night, Duncan always comes through." said Kelly Miller, Administration Officer for the Klondyke Centennial Society.

The Commissioner's Award for Public Service honours an outstanding individual who has made a significant contribution to Yukon business, academics, arts, culture or society.


In the Early Days of Dawson

by the Reverend R.J. Bowen

The Reverend R.J. Bowen was an Anglican Rector here in the early days of the town. In his memoirs of the period, Incidents in the Life of The Reverend R.J. Bowen, he describes something of what life was like in Dawson at the turn of the century.

The passage used here begins after an extended description of the rectory and concludes with the construction of the first Anglican Church, the precursor of the present Saint Paul's building.

This leads me into memories of pioneer life in the boom days of Dawson City.

The city passed through the experimental stage of a gold mining camp in the fall of 1896 and the spring of 1897. The spring freshet and clean up in the fall of 1897 electrified the whole mining world.

The spring of 1898 witness mean arriving from all parts of the world and representative of all walks of life. They came from Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Asia, Africa, British Isles and many parts of the U.S.A. and South America.

There were Doctors, Lawyers, Clergy, Business men, Stock Salesmen, Mining Men and Mining operators from many quarters. Book salesmen and an insurance agent representing the Manufacturers Life Insurance Co. of Toronto, Ontario. Mr. Bruce, the salesman, seemed to do a lot of business in the days when ready money was plentiful. The men seemed willing to buy insurance when it was so ably explained to them. My own policy, purchased in Dawson in the year 1898, proved as successful an investment as the enthusiasm of the salesman stated. I certainly owe a deep debt of gratitude to Mr. Bruce, who impressed me to sign on the dotted line and hand over my first premium. "The Policy that stays is the Policy that pays ," came true in my experience.

The trail of 1898 and the stirring times of the Gold Rush will always be a classic in the Pioneer life and history of the Dominion of Canada. These years have been ably dealt with by writers of fiction, history and government reports. Each in their own way have described the country, the people,, their life and work. Many have sprinkled their stories with thrilling events, wise and otherwise, in an effort to rouse red blooded men into action in order that they might experience some of the danger, romance, comedy, tragedy or financial success, by finding fortune on the far-flung frontier or the north western rim of the greater British Empire.

To the best of my knowledge there has been no word from the interior of the country, telling of the first days of prosperity among the hardy pioneers of the days before (the rush) which made possible the trail of 1898.

I met ;many of these hardy pioneers and I often wonder how many sat and listened to their trials, struggles and victories, men of the caliber of McQueston, Harper, Mayo, Bowker, Cooper, Nelson, O'Brien, Macdonald, Spencer, McFie, Hamilton, Healey, Wilson, Voss, Dinmuir, Lind, Mitchell, Dahl, Crist, Cary, Horn, Donovan and Matlock.

The clergy made an honourable showing: Archedeacon Macdonald, after who Preacher Creek was named; Bishop Bompas, who pioneered in Athabasca, Mackenzie and Selkirk Dioceses; Messers Ellington, Totty, Sim, Kirkby, Wallace, Hawksley and Canham. There are many others that one would like to mention but space does not permit. These representative ;men should live in the Yukon Territory's history. They represent traders, storekeepers, tradesmen, miners, packers, hotel keepers and freighters.

The clergy of the Church of England, prior to 1896, were all from England and worked under the auspices of the Church Missionary Society. They were appointed to work among the natives - were trained for that purpose. No other church workers appeared until gold was found in paying quantities. The only schools in the country, until the year 1897, were under the care of the missionaries and were no charge on the government; the charges were all covered by donations from England.

The Reverend Andrew S. Grant, a good friend of sterling worth, was the first clergyman of the Presbyterian Church in Canada to arrive in Dawson the summer of 1898. He was a man with the heart of a Viking, and the simple faith of a child. Direct in action and his message profound in clearness and directness. As a medical doctor he was invaluable in the work of the Good Samaritan Hospital. This was the only public effort to give shelter and medical aid.

Father Judge did wonderful work among his people, planned and built a church and hospital. His name is revered by all who knew him. I worked alongside of him at Forty Mile, Circle City and Dawson City and found him a great friend and willing to cooperate in anything to uplift the people in the community.

Then came the Salvation Army and did a wonderful work.

Mr. Turner and Mr. Hetherington were honoured ministers of the Methodist Church, strengthening the hands of all who were working for the uplift of all who would hear and listen. Dr. Dicke, who was on his way to Dawson, was delayed at Skagway and did a wonderful work there. The Reverend Mr. Sinclair built the church at Lake Bennett. This church was a great boon and service in the days of the Gold Rush. Dr. Dickey was like a brother beloved and when I visited the creeks he was doing a wonderful work among the miners.

It was a great honour to live among the pioneers of the Yukon as their minister, sharing some of the hardship they were called upon to undergo. The record proved they were men developed in the open spaces, who never knew defeat and demonstrated their faith in the outcome of their efforts by continuing in the face of hardship, privation, and loneliness in the solitudes, until some measure of success was attained.

Many of the pioneers ;made their stakes at Dawson. The acquaintance (I had) made with them at other points in the country made my work in 1897 at Dawson most pleasant. I was looked upon as an old timer.

At this juncture it might be well to traverse briefly my connection with the Yukon before and during the Gold Rush. As previously recoded I visited Fort Reliance, the Indian post at the mouth of the Klondike River in 1895. The nearest white man up stream was Joe Ladue, a trader at Sixty Mile post, and Forty Mile mining camps was (53) miles downstream. No prospectors to my knowledge were in the region of the Klondyke River. The only large development was at Glacier and Miller Creeks in the Forty Mile area. At these points I made a visit to get acquainted with what might develop in the future. There were men working on Chicken Creek and Franklin Gulch. From all the gulches where mining was going on men gathered in the Klondyke area after the strike in the year 1896. I first heard of the Klondyke from the people on a passing steamer when I was anxious to reach Circle City.

The Reverend H.A. Taylor had returned to his mission at Dawson and Mr. Flewelling had remained with his Indians at Moosehide.. I arrived in Dawson in June 1897 and found few buildings erected, but many were planned. The detachment of the R.N.W.M.P. were under canvas and the only house near the police camp was the little log house on the church property. There were no streets clearly defined and squatters were planning to build cabins on the hillside at the back of the townsite owned by Joe Ladue. The trails were gradually being widened and (were) marking the future layout of the town.

Historic events were in the making and being passed unnoticed and without permanent record being made of many happenings. The people in Dawson and those who knew the country were interested in their own affairs and cared little for what did not concern them. They were settling in and keeping in mind the necessary preparations needed for comfort in the coming winter.

Like the miners, I was busy day and night, trying to get a church erected and furnished. To help me in this I had Mr. McLeod, a carpenter from Winnipeg. He joined the mission as teacher and Industrial Missionary. We all hoped he would commence industrial classes for the Indians. He was a splendid worker but influence was brought to bear on him, which eventually made him decide to resign from the mission and enter the mining business. He was good enough to remain with until the church was erected and furnished. We carried on the work together until he left in the fall.


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