Dawson City, Yukon Friday, February 6, 1998

The Klondike Visitors Association in the mid-1950's. See story. Photo provided by the KVA

Feature Stories

Is It Time to Move the Modulars?
Tr'ondek Hwech'in Annual Awards 1997
Quest Trail News for '98
Hats Off to the Rats Off to Rendezvous
Council Takes on a New Look
A Short History of the Klondike Visitors Association
Ron Magill, Carver Par Excellence
Annual Commercial Bonspiel
Indoor Soccer Tourney
Editorial: Burnout, Money and Time

Is It Time to Move the Modulars?

by Dan Davidson
Sun Staff

As of January 18 the two portable classrooms that sit beside the Robert Service School were in full contravention of the Department of Education's lease with the City of Dawson and of the bylaw which permits them to be there.

When Mayor Glen Everitt met with Education Minister Lois Moorcroft in mid-January, she was looking to extend the lease until the year 2002, but the mayor wasn't having any of that.

"I said 'no'," Everitt told the Jan, 19 meeting of council. "I told her that for me to leave with a signed agreement on the portables, built within that lease has to be the plans of what's happening in Dawson."

Outstanding problems include the resolution of the land issues on Fourth Avenue, across from the Robert Service School, the expansion of the playground area at the present school, and a commitment on the new elementary school already mostly designed to fit the old highway compound yard on Fifth Avenue across from the Museum.

Last summer, when it was clear that nothing was going to be built right away, the city recreation department developed a skateboard park on the old cement foundations of the garage.

Everitt reported to a surprised council that the "magic number" the department now intends to use for activating expansion plans is 350 students. That's up from the 300 figure which has been in place now for a couple of years, and which the school actually hits for a brief period every year now.

What they've done now, he says, is to include the capacity of the modular classrooms as part of the need survey. When officials denied that this was the case he told them to go back and check.

Fellow councillor and vice-principal Shirley Pennell agreed with the mayor that this must be the answer, since there is no way that the present school population, division of classes and range of programs could be fit back within the original four walls of the 1989 building.

Everitt also indicated that Moorcroft said there were no plans to build anything in Dawson for the next three years, with priorities in Old Crow and Mayo well ahead in the line. At the same time she indicated that she would be approaching school councils to take part in the budget process.

Everitt told council he couldn't see much point in that if the big decisions had already been taken.

Dawson's council has three options, he said, with regard to the portable issue:

* "One, we put them on notice that they're in contravention and we begin levying fines under the bylaws...and tell them to get them off there."

* "Two, the city goes in and removes the portables...which would mean that the school that is supposed to have room for 350 must have two extra classrooms." He guessed that would eliminate the gymnasium.

* "Three, we just overlook it."

Just what will happen is still up in the air. There is even discussion of a complicated land swap arrangement which might see the closure of Fourth Avenue, the relocation of Beaver Lumber and the relocation of the City's maintenance compound, all to make room for an expansion of the current school building.

After spending several million dollars to vacate the Fifth Avenue C&TS Compound, build a new highway yard out by the Quigley Dump and prepare architectural plans for the second school, it would seem an odd change of direction, to say the least.

At present, all that seems certain is that it this new plan goes forward, Dawson will have the most expensive skateboard park in the Yukon.


Tr'ondek Hwech'in Annual Awards 1997

Press Release Kentr"a T"ay Newsletter

Achievement of the Year

Land Claims Staff:

Ed Kormendy, Tim Gerberding, Darren Taylor, Dolores Anderson, Louise Drugan, Michael Mason.

These people worked very hard with the support of the Causies group to achieve their goal: Getting the best deal for our membership in Land Claims. They have participated and played a leading role in seeing the completion of our Land Claims Agreement. There will be a plaque with all their names engraved and framed certificate of achievement for each individual. Keep up the great work, guys.

Employee of the Year:

Debbie Nagano. Debbie is constantly involved in many areas of our First Nation Organization. Deb takes on old and new challenges and never gives up. More than willing to learn new skills, if it will enhance the people or youth. She has juggled two jobs and home schedule quite nicely. Always makes time for anyone even if it's to chat. Keep up the good work, Debbie.

Youth of the Year:

Kystle Mason and Bonnie Rear. Both youths are always willing to learn new skills, not afraid of new challenges that come their way; learning about their culture and songs, with them as positive role models to follow, our youth will only become stronger.

Member of the Year:

Virginia Joseph. Gin is very spiritual, positive, kind, gentle, very involved with the culture or youth functions. Her friendliness gives the people the courage to talk to her. She always has kind, thoughtful words for everyone. Her earthy wisdom has inspired many people in various ways. We all greatly appreciate her insights, sharing and creativity; a most special teacher in her own way.Many, many thanks Ginny.

Volunteer of the Year:

David Hutton. David is very involved in First Nations functions. He volunteers even when he doesn't have to: willing to learn new skills to pass these on to our youths; a great role model for our young people. He is a man of many traits. Keep it up, David. WE do appreciate your help. All the best to these people and may they continue being the special teachers and leaders as Tr'ond"ek Hw"ech"in is most fortunate in having such talented people. Many, many thanks.


Quest Trail News for '98

(as of January 27, 1998)

By Carole Lagace

Just spoke with John Mitchell, 'Lead dog' of the Canadian Rangers, Dawson Patrol Trail Breakers extraordinaire!!! Hear's the lowdown.

Trail is in from Dawson down the Yukon, up the Fortymile River to the U.S. border. Conditions are as follows...

Dawson to Fort Reliance: trail heads overland at Moosehide, very hard and choppy there, be sure to secure your dentures.

Fort Reliance to the 14 Mile Creek: trail follows the river down to Mcready's. Thanks to Ron and his cronies for the beautiful trail, he will persevere!

14 Mile to halfway: trail goes overland at Mcready's back onto river and new overland trail is in at halfway on account of the record breaking jumble there.

Halfway to Fortymile village: overland trails in above and below Cassiar Creek then down the Yukon, across then back overland again at Sunset Creek. Across to the fish landing, through the Fortymile village then finally smooth sailing up the Fortymile River to the U.S. border.

Thanks go to Steve Kormendy and Mark Elliot of the Dawson Patrol for their hard work, also to Sebastian and Shelley who winter down at the Fortymile who have a lot of the trail put in down there.

Now from Whitehorse to Dawson.

Trails are in with very poor show conditions on the southern end; Whitehorse to Carmacks. Trail breakers are having to push rocks and clear any deadfall from across the trail.

Bruce Taylor, brother Mike and Bobby Blanchard from the Dawson Patrol went in at Pelly and on down and up to Scroggie Creek. Took them all of eight hours. Must of been good going.

Steve Kormendy, brother Derren, Mark Elliot, Andrew Robinson and Willy Fellers, all from the Dawson Patrol, went up and down from Dawson to Scroggie Creek to set up the dog drop and put in the airstrip.

There should be one more 'Patrol' down to the Fortymile to put in more markers and smooth out the trail for one last time before the start.

Looks like there'll be no napping on the back of the sled this year. This should prove to be yet another true Yukon Quest Test, so keep those eyes and ears open, a lot can happen over the course of a thousand miles.


Hats Off to the Rats Off to Rendezvous

USSR cartoon by Anne Saunders

The Upstream Secondary Sewage Rats are off to represent Dawson City in this years Sourdough Rendezvous Community Challenge Feb. 19 to 22nd in the Territorial Capital. The team will participate in all of the Community Challenge events including: the bed race, smoosh contest, solving a murder mystery, Tug-O-War and the wild card event known as the Snowshoe Obstacle.

Team members as selected by Mayor Everitt, are Heather Favron, Paula Pawlovich, Elizabeth Connellan, Dale Courtice, Norm Carlson and Glen Everitt. At first glance, the rationale for this particular collection of players doesn't seem to be obvious, but upon closer inspection, one realizes that there is method to His Worships' madness. Let's face it, after fifteen years as the City of Dawson Public Works Superintendent, who knows more about sewage than Norm?

City Treasurer, Dale Courtice, the teams' numbers man has spent hours working out the mathematical probabilities of Team USSR winning these events. When queried about the Rats' chances of success, Dale replied. 'That's what we've got ...a rat's chance.'

Questioned as to the propriety of drawing attention to Dawson's politically hot issue of secondary sewage, by naming the team U.S.S.R., team spokeswoman Elizabeth Connellan responded, 'It's important to have a sense of humour even with a huge issue like Secondary Sewage. At times during Water License negotiations with the Federal Government, we've felt like we're being treated like Rats. Besides, out Mayor hasn't been accused of political grandstanding for almost three weeks, he's due.'

The team would have preferred to travel the Yukon upstream to Whitehorse but the fecal coliform content in the ice is dangerously low, so travel arrangements will be overland.


Council Takes on a New Look

by Dan Davidson
Sun Staff

The new look at Dawson's council these days is said to be more than just a cosmetic adjustment, but it does start with a reorientation of the way things look.

It may not be obvious to the home audience, but council has taken a sharp turn to the left, repositioning itself so that it faces the room from the south wall of the council chambers rather than the west-facing windows (frequently a real challenge to the gallery during those long summer twilights).

What will be obvious is that the old oval table which has been the focus of attention since these chambers opened is gone, replaced by a five piece modular unit that cuts a sharper arc across the end of the room. One reason for the change is so that the council members can actually see each other during debate, but the new set-up also gives each councillor a separate desk with storage space.

$The new table, made locally with a beautifully carved Yukon crest on the front, cost $4500. New chairs will soon follow.

"This table cost less than the seven chairs that we used to sit on which broke on us all the time," Mayor Glen Everitt told his audience the night the new furniture was unveiled.

Council and CFYT-fm have also been working towards improved sound and visual reception during the public meetings. New microphones have been carefully positioned in the table tops and, after some fiddling with a bad conductor that evening, the sound at home proved to be clearer than it had been for some time.

Less visible to the public is that fact that an office has been set aside on the city office floor of the municipal building where councillors can store their files, check out the reading file and keep up to date on city business. Councillors have also been assigned specific responsibilities to work as liaison with certain city boards and community organizations, increasing somewhat the amount of time they spend on community affairs. Council presently meets publicly on the first and third Mondays of each month (Tuesday if Monday is a holiday) and holds planning meetings (also open but not broadcast and less formal) on the second and fourth Mondays with an option to meet on the fifth week if there is one.

Dawson City Centennial Ball begins year of celebration

The 6th annual Centennial Ball starts the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Klondike Stampede, rekindling the spirit of Dawson City as "The Paris of the North".

Set for Valentine's Saturday, February 14, the ball will surround its guests with turn-of-the-century elegance, feed them a sumptuous banquet and keep them dancing all night. door prizes include an Alaskan or Caribbean cruise from Princess Tours.

"This will be great," said ball committee member Mac Swackhammer. "The evening starts with the miners' drink of choice, a complimentary champagne cocktail called 'The Pay Streak'. The top chefs in Dawson have created a Parisian-based menu, and we have a dynamite seven-piece swing band, Tuxedo Junction from Vancouver."

"Dress in the extravagant style of '98 is encouraged, but not mandatory," Swackhammer said. "I think it's fun to wear a vintage tux and waltz my date around, but not everyone can easily get a ball gown. I'm certainly going to the ballroom dance classes in town to prepare for the evening."

The Klondyke Centennial Society sponsors the ball early to set the tone for celebrations throughout the year. Held in the Arctic Brotherhood Hall, now Diamond Tooth Gerties Gambling Hall, the event includes a Friday night casino. Tickets are $50 single and can be obtained from the Klondyke Centennial Society office in Dawson City, (867) 993-1996.

The ball depends on a small army of volunteers. Committees for decorations, entertainment, bull-gangs to move tables and chairs and at least 25 wait staff and servers are needed.

Service committee volunteer Josée Savard said ball tickets are a perfect Valentine's Day present. "Everyone who is stuck on what to buy for their sweetheart can bring them to the ball. It is very romantic. I am planning on winning the cruise for my honeymoon."

The Arctic Brotherhood Hall will be transformed into a high-Victorian salon theatre, in ways modeled after balls and special events photographed in Dawson City 100 years ago. There will be booths with screened lace curtains, a Turkish Lounge for relaxing, script gambling roulette table, and a photo parlour. There will be a silent auction of art by Yukon artists, and door prizes throughout the evening, leading to the grand prize of the cruise to be drawn at midnight.

The entertainment committee plans to populate the ball with Klondike characters, including Belinda Mulroney, Nelly Cashman, Swiftwater Bill and more.

"Imagine playing roulette with Big Alex MacDonald," Swackhammer said. "Great fun, great food, fantastic band. What more do you need to begin to celebrate the centennial of the Gold Rush?"


A Short History of the Klondike Visitors Association

by Ken Spotswood
Freelance journalist

Morale in Dawson City was at an all-time low in 1952. The gold mining industry was in a slump and the town's population had steadily dwindled. To add insult to injury, the 'Queen City of the North' had her crown abruptly snatched off her aging head when the federal and territorial governments decided to make Whitehorse the new capital of the Yukon.

This was the final blow to a proud city that had once boasted the largest population in Canada west of Winnipeg, a city that had become famous around the world as the heart of the great Klondike Gold Rush. It signaled the end of an era.

The aura of doom and gloom that had descended on Dawson, however, was to have a short life. The first sign of change came in 1952 when Canadian Pacific Airlines recommissioned the old steamer S.S. Klondike to carry tourists from Whitehorse to Dawson. The vessel was a welcome sight as she rounded the bend above Dawson and blew her whistle.

A small but energetic group of Dawson residents decided to stage a welcome for the ship and its passengers. They got dressed up in outfits left over from the gold rush era and paraded down to the wharf--much to the delight of passengers and reporters on board who were covering the revived sternwheeler service.

The reception was such a hit that the people repeated their costumed welcome for the Casca, another river boat that was also a frequent visitor. A new tradition was born.

Over the years this group of costumed volunteers has gradually evolved into what is known today as the Klondike Visitors Association (KVA), a non-profit society that pumps more than $1 million into the local economy each year. The KVA is a success story that has not only funded the restoration of many local historic sites, but it has also helped restore Dawson City's dignity as a major tourist destination that attracts more than 60,000 visitors a year.

Not bad for a town of 2,000 people who call Dawson home.

With huge increases in the price of gold and improvements in technology, the gold mining industry is also thriving again. Dawson is once again a busy mining town, which complements its wealth of gold rush history.

Like gold mining, tourism is also a gamble. Back in 1952 no one could have predicted the enthusiastic response of visitors to the costumed antics of a few volunteers. It wasn't long before their stunt became a regular event. The women wore long dresses with feathered hats and parasols that had all been stored in trunks and closets for decades. They were gowned, shod, gloved and hatted in authentic leftovers from the turn of the century, while the men wore clawhammer coats from early lodges, topped off with bowlers or silk top hats.

The people jokingly referred to themselves as the 'Klondike tourist bureau'. It was an omen of things to come.

In addition to their colourful receptions, they began to organize tours of the town and the gold fields where dredges still operated. They started holding dances with live music in the Nugget Hall, which was the old run-down Palace Grand Theatre. Coffee, hot dogs and home baking were a welcome addition, as was a casino where tourists could gamble to their heart's content with phony money.

These evenings became known as 'Klondike Nights'. They later featured a cast of costumed locals acting out the story of Robert Service's epic drama, 'The Shooting of Dan McGrew'. The tourists loved it.

Proceeds from Klondike Nights were used to create the first tourist pamphlets in the territory. They promoted advertisers and attractions In Dawson and the Klondike.

As a reward for their early efforts, the 'tourist bureau' members set aside a bottle of gin for the women and a bottle of rye for the men. They treated themselves to occasional cocktail parties at private homes, where the host supplied the mix. Costumes, however, were still mandatory. It wasn't long before Klondike Nights outgrew the old Nugget Hall, and it was moved to the larger Community Hall (the old Arctic Brotherhood Hall which is now Diamond Tooth Gerties).

In 1953 the group also took over maintenance of Robert Service's cabin from the International Order of Daughters of the Empire (IODE), whose members served tea at the site and entertained tourists.

All this activity culminated in a meeting on February 18, 1954, when 18 people officially formed the Klondike Tourist Bureau. They elected officers and made plans to publish a pamphlet, a town map, windshield stickers and the Klondike's first tourist guide.

The Klondike Tourist Bureau then bought the Nugget Hall (Palace Grand Theatre) for $1,000. Had they not done this, the historic building was scheduled to be torn down for its lumber and fixtures.

By this time many of Dawson's oldest buildings had fallen into disrepair. Some had been neglected by absentee owners and reverted to the city for non-payment of taxes. The city started tearing them down.

Klondike Nights had become so popular that the phony casino money wore out. Much of it had also been pilfered by tourists as souvenirs after a visit to Dawson in August of 1955 by Sir Seymour Howard, the Lord Mayor of London. Howard graciously signed all the fake $500 bills, while all the $100 bills were signed by Dawson's then-mayor Jack Colborne. A new batch of play money was ordered.

After it arrived it was put away for safekeeping by the manager of the Northern Commercial Co. store, who then left for a business meeting in Anchorage, AK.

It was so safely tucked away that Tourist Bureau members couldn't find it, so they sent a telegram to Anchorage which was read aloud to the startled meeting: "Where did you put the one million dollars?"

With improved road access to Dawson, tourism was on the increase by 1957, with the result that cars, trailers and tents were parked all over town. The Tourist Bureau took the initiative once again and established the town's first auto court and campground at the site of a former wood yard on the Klondike River. Bulldozers leveled out the ground, picnic tables and fire pits were installed along with outhouses. It was an immediate success.

By this time word of the Klondike Nights entertainment had spread. Tourist Bureau members travelled to Mayo in the summer of 1958 to put on a full show and casino at the Pioneer Hall. It donated the proceeds to the IODE. They also chartered a DC-3 aircraft and flew to Fairbanks where they participated in the city's Golden Days celebration.

For several years the bureau also hosted moose burger barbecues at Lovett Gulch on Bonanza Creek which featured gold panning, games and family-style entertainment.

In 1960 the aging Palace Grand Theatre was turned over to National Historic Sites which dismantled it, board by board, and reconstructed the present building at a cost of $300,000.

The Klondike Tourist Bureau was the first tourist organization in the Yukon. When the Yukon Travel Bureau was later formed in Whitehorse, its mandate was to promote the entire Yukon territory. That's when the bureau changed its name to the Klondike Visitors Association.

It was about the same time that its members realized they had created a monster. What had begun as an occasional night of fun by a group of dedicated volunteers had grown to scheduled weekly productions. As a result, the KVA began paying its workers for their services.

Klondike Nights returned to the refurbished Palace Grand Theatre with full performances four nights a week.

The KVA's gambling casino, (still using phony money) and a variety show were moved to the S.S. Keno, the last paddlewheeler to ply the waters of the Yukon River. After its final run it was raised onto the river bank where it is undergoing restoration today.

In 1962 a Dawson City Festival for the Arts was organized by a private foundation with government assistance. Its purpose was to stimulate tourism, but there were some serious problems to overcome first.

Existing hotel rooms could only accommodate 177 people. No hotel room had a private bath. Motels offered more modern fare--and private baths. Plans were made to bring in trailer units and to build small log cabins to rent to tourists.

Klondike Tent Cities Ltd. had been formed in Whitehorse--a public company with $500,000 in capital. It proposed to build a 100-unit 'tent town' in Dawson, complete with water, sewer, laundry, showers etc. It was assumed that monied tourists would enjoy 'roughing it' for a few days in the style of the days of '98.

The KVA's Klondike Auto Court had been condemned after health inspectors discovered that the contents of bucket toilets were leaking into the river about half a mile upstream from the intake of the city's water supply.

Dawson only had four restaurants, not enough to cater to the expected influx of tourists. There was no shuttle service to or from the airport and, except for experienced pilots, takeoff and landings were dangerous because of frost heaves and potholes on the runway.

American president John Kennedy was on the invitation list, as was then prime minister John Diefenbaker, the Governor-general and the governor of Alaska--until it was discovered that there was no VIP housing available. In light of all this, a feasibility study was commissioned by the federal department of Indian affairs and northern development.

"Most of the townspeople are apathetic towards the Festival," wrote J.R. Lotz, community planning officer for the department. "Some feel that they were never asked if they wanted the Festival, and that the money spent on the Palace Grand by the federal government would have been better spent on a new power plant."

At a public meeting on December 2, 1961, Alan Innes-Taylor, general manager of the Dawson City Festival Foundation, told about 45 people who showed up that they had a festival on their hands whether they wanted it or not. Newspapers, radio and television had already announced it to the world. Organizers also announced plans to bring in an established off-Broadway theatre production for six weeks at a cost of $70,000.

"Attitudes of Dawson residents left something to be desired," Lotz wrote. "Prominent citizens who wholeheartedly supported the festival were a small minority. Another small minority planned to milk the festival and the tourists. They had a 'wait and see' attitude.

"The largest group was made up of those who are bewildered by all the attention focused on Dawson, and are resentful of the Foundation which, they feel, is over-selling the festival and Dawson. It wasn't their idea in the first place. The Indian population were sublimely indifferent to the whole thing."

It had deficit and disaster written all over it, but that didn't stop it from happening.

The off-Broadway stage show 'Foxy' came to town with well-known actor Bert Lahr headlining a cast of 20 performers. While it was a popular show, it was also a financial flop--as was the grandiose idea of a 'tent town'. But the festival did succeed in attracting 18,545 tourists who spent an estimated $1.9 million in the territory that year. The Globe and Mail reported that the federal government spent $675,000 on the festival and another $212,000 to settle its outstanding debts. Private investment totalled $750,000.

In 1964 the KVA began its tradition of bringing Outside entertainment to the Palace Grand for the tourist season. That year featured the John Wright Players from Vancouver in a production of 'The Drunkard'. The following year 'The Tenderfoot' was produced. Both shows were dated as turn-of-the-century material and failed to draw the hoped-for crowds. In 1966 Vancouver's Fran Dowie was contracted to produce the more lively 'Gaslight Follies' and another new tradition was born. The Follies continue to please audiences today.

In 1966 the KVA also acquired a placer claim at No. 6 Above Discovery on Bonanza Creek. Tourists were invited to pan for real Klondike gold and were allowed to keep what they recovered. KVA's Free Claim is still a popular tourist attraction.

The KVA brought the National Film Board's documentary "City of Gold" to the Palace Grand during the summer of 1963 where it was seen by 4,800 visitors. The same year Klondike MLA George Shaw secured the first territorial government grant of $6,000 for the KVA to help offset its production costs at the Palace Grand.

To further bolster the tourist trade, real gambling was legalized on a limited basis in 1971. The KVA leased the old Arctic Brotherhood Hall from the city and transformed it into a casino that is still unique in Canada--with gambling, drinking and live entertainment all under the same roof. The hall was re-named after Gertie Lovejoy, one of Dawson's best-known dance-hall queens. She gained notoriety as Diamond Tooth Gertie after having a small diamond inserted between her two front teeth.

At first the KVA was allowed to operate the casino on a non-profit basis under territorial government supervision. Gambling was limited to blackjack, Bingo and wheel games like 'Crown and Anchor'. Any profits were earmarked to buy and renovate historic buildings and develop other tourist attractions.

During the 1980s the KVA spent about $1 million on major improvements to the building. This included building a new foundation, expanding the existing structure, plus other renovations and repairs.

A poker table was added to the games at Gerties, then two roulette tables. In 1992 the casino introduced 52 slot machines that eat quarters and loonies.

The numbers speak for themselves: In 1996 Gerties generated $1.9 million in revenue--before taxes and expenditures. Through wages, grants, and contracts the KVA pumps more than $1 million back into the community each year.

In addition to Gerties and the Follies, the KVA also sponsors numerous other events and attractions--Jack London Centre, Berton House, the Commissioner's Ball, the International Midnight Dome Race, the Yukon Gold Panning Championships, local Yard Awards for residents, the Great Klondike International Outhouse Race, Slo-pitch Softball Tournament, Klondike International Darts Tournament, Free Claim on Bonanza Creek, Thaw-Di-Gras Spring Carnival and Discovery Days Festival.

Last, but not least, the KVA also sponsors an aggressive tourism marketing program outside the territory.


Ron Magill, Carver Par Excellence

By Anne Saunders
Sun Staff

Ron Magill - carver. Photo by Anne Saunders

They seem to beg to be touched, these wood carvings of Ron's. When people invariably ask to fondle them, showing an emotional response, it pleases him. This behavior he uses as a gauge of the success of the work. Observers are not prepared for the beauty, the power and the realism the pieces possess.

In his most recent piece, called "Emergence", one of the figures depicted, a woman, has fantastic wood grain ripples all over her face, concentric speckles over her abdomen and hips. Lovely wood grain striping appears in various areas all over the work, making it delightful to look at and drawing the viewers' eyes again and again over it.

The slab of birds-eye-maple, "Emergence" is carved from, originally came from Vancouver Island; a gift from a friend who knew it would be appreciated and well utilized. It was part of a large burl, having hundreds of tiny branches growing out of the trunk. This is a tree disease, although a favourable one, which is responsible for the mottling or the birds-eye effect.

Ever since Ron was about 11 years old, he has been carving in wood. Using his mother's paring knife and splinters of cedar he made totem poles. The family was very poor and bought a house in B.C. that was simply a shell with only the exterior walls finished; the paneling on the interior was non-existent and therefore the studs dividing the rooms were exposed. This was a golden opportunity for the young boy to carve the 2x4's in his parents unfinished living room, making Tiki God heads while watching TV. "Anyone who pulls that wall apart is going to be surprised to see the weird looking studs."

His mother, Katherine, exerted persistent influence on the boy, dragging him to various artists' studios. An inspirational person who was very creative herself, writing for her local newspaper and painting, she made the time to encourage and listen to Ron.

In school, history books depicting ancient sculptures also influenced him and so he continued carving.

Since the paring knife, he's come a long way, using Exacto knives, all sizes of chisels, and gouges as well as a Foredom, a flexible shaft, rotary carving tool.

His favourite subjects are nudes. 'The human body is the most versatile of all things in creation-almost. Each person's body, such as a weight lifter, cross country skier or a ballerina, is structured to whatever they are doing.'

Soapstone, oak, mahogany, ash, pine and fir are some of the materials he has used. He's willing to try other techniques such as wood burning and marquetry.

To prevent cracking, which is a problem in our dry north, he uses a floor wax such as Aerowax or even Canola oil to moisturize. 'Wood can last for centuries if it is well looked after.'

Wondering what kind of response I'll provoke, I ask, 'What happens when pieces break off?'

'Furniture is glued, so why not?' He replies cheerfully. 'Mistakes are made and they are simply part of the process of making a piece. Sometimes even the mistake is a chance to make it better.'

I ask how long the piece "Emergence" took him to finish.

"Hard to say, but at least 240 hours and that's not counting the planning. I like to carry the material around with me. Gloria, my wife, sometimes shakes her head at me because I literally carry pieces of wood around the house with me." This is saying something since this particular work is about 2' x 2' by 3" thick and heavy. "Part of the process; looking at it, having the wood 'talk' to you. I walk around it; looking at it from all angles.

"One of the things I like is that pieces never stay the same-change the lighting-intensity or colour and the carving has changed, even after years of having it in your possession, there are new things to discover" Ron feels that in the single, finished carving there are actually three. The first is the artists view of his creation, the second, the viewer's perception and finally the third piece-the art with no emotional attachment to it; reality so to speak.

One of the things that makes art fun is that it prompts questions from the viewer and invites participation. So Ron likes to put something into a piece so the viewer will ask 'Well, why is that there? What is the purpose of this?' It's not telling a story, it's asking a question.

Years ago while living in Alberta, he listened to a radio program in which an artist stated that every art piece should have a title, a pompous statement he decided. However, since then he's come to change his mind and sometimes uses the name of the piece to give clues to the questions.

For the past 2 years, Ron has been living in Dawson with his wife, Gloria and working for Viceroy. His spare time is spent carving in the heated workshop outside the main house, which he tells me that he expects to do for a long time to come and hopes that he is able to turn it into a full-time profession one day.


Annual Commercial Bonspiel

By Bea Felker

The Dawson Curling Club was the scene of the annual Commercial Bonspiel January 23, 24, and 25th. Ten teams participated in a fun filled weekend which started Friday night with the teams in the first draw being piped onto the ice by Ian Perry, an accounting consultant for Viceroy. The first teams were on the ice by 11 am Saturday morning after partaking of the complimentary pancake breakfast which was served from 10 am till 1 PM.

Some of the towns figure skaters and local curling fans took in the breakfast which is traditionally free to the participants, and an inexpensive $5 meal for non curlers. A potluck supper consisting of a wide variety and choice of food was enjoyed by curlers on Saturday night.

Sunday afternoon the final games were played followed by presentations to the winners. First in the A event went to the Nugget Hill team who took home $210 in cash, beating out the RCMP team who had to settle for $140.

The City Rec team beat out the Nursing Station team in the B event and they took home $125 and $95 respectively. The No Vice team won the C event taking home $150 leaving the Han Construction team with $135 for their efforts. The Cabbage Curlers took home $90 with their win over the Westminster team for the D event. The Westminster, MacKenzie Petroleum and KVA teams took home $25 each as everyone was a winner, as the cash prizes were based on the games that a team won. Sharon Eriksen was a double winner as she had the winning ticket from the 50/50 draw held by the Seniors Hockey.

Regular league curling resumed Monday night in spite of aching muscles. The next curling event is the 99th Annual International Bonspiel to be held February 19 to 21. Entry fee is $200 per team which guarantees the players three games; pancake breakfast, Friday night potluck supper, Saturday night Banquet and Casino night. Deadline for entries is February 16. Please note that the Dawson City Curling Club will be hosting their 100th International Bonspiel in February 1999 and preference will be given to teams who have participated in prior International Bonspiels.


Indoor Soccer Tourney

by Irwin Gaw

The Dawson Under 9 team. Photo by Irwin Gaw

Over the January 24 & 25 weekend 100 youth from Mayo and Dawson met at the Robert Service School for a weekend of soccer. The busy tournament had 25 games scheduled over the two and a half days. After three local games on Friday night Mayo's teams showed up in Dawson to start playing on Saturday morning. After a late night Saturday, games started again at 8:00 Sunday with the 13 and under age group showing up raring to play! A highlight of the weekend was the "Moms match" Dawson versus Mayo. Twelve Dawson mothers took to the gym floor, and after an exhilarating match the teams ended in a one-one draw. The tournament ended Sunday afternoon with the kids well played out and awaiting their medals. In the 13 & under age group the two Mayo teams won the gold and silver medals, and the Dawson group took bronze. In the 11 & under age group the two Dawson teams took gold and silver, leaving Mayo the bronze. In the 9 & under age group once again Dawson took gold and silver, and Mayo bronze. The final game of the weekend decided the 7 & under division, with Dawson winning gold, Mayo silver and the other Dawson team bronze.

Dawson City Minor Soccer would like to thank Shirley Pennell and the Grad '98 class for providing the great food, and all the other volunteers who put in their time over a busy weekend! Thanks to the Dawson coaches Heinz Naef, Minnie Beets, Sally Derry, Sylvie Gammie, Ralph Nordling, Dominic Lloyd, Jane MacArthur, and Karen DuBois for your efforts. Thanks to the parents and other fans for supporting the kids, to the Mayo contingent for participating, and to all the soccer players for an entertaining weekend!


Editorial: Burnout, Money and Time

by Dan Davidson

Once upon a time we at the Sun were rather carefree about time and space and the number of pages we printed. In those times we were quite loose with deadlines and would often shoehorn material into the mix at the last minute. Some former volunteers were known to stay up until six in the morning to accomplish this.

It's been some time since we were able to behave that way. There are several reasons.

The first was burnout. We found that people need some sort of limit set on the time they put in or else they begin to feel guilty and resentful at the same time and it stops being fun. It has to be fun. After all, we are not in this for the money.

The second was finances. We started hiring people to do things so that we could appear more often and be more responsive to the wishes of our readers and advertisers. That means there has to be some kind of limit to the amount of paid time that goes into each issue.

The third was schedules. We used to work over the entire weekend and finish up the show on Monday night (sometimes even Tuesday morning). Since last fall we have to have our flats on the plane at noon on Sunday, and that's that.

All these things mean that the content of our paper is decided several days sooner than it used to be, and its final form is in view by the time we lock up on Friday night (usually around midnight). Anything we haven't received by then will probably have to wait for our next issue.

This is especially true of photographs. Our volunteers generally do one or two marathon processing and developing sessions per issue. Once they've finished we really can't call them back for another image.

Don't be mistaken. We DO want all your submissions - written or photographed. The more different names we have on articles and photos the happier we are. It's just that sometimes you may have to wait two weeks to see that we've used something.

If you fear that we've mislaid your article or picture (or messed up your ad), please don't wait a month (or more, in some cases that we know of) to ask us about it. We handle up to three dozen items per issue and sometimes we do goof up. Call us, fax us, e-mail us, button-hole us on the street and ask us what happened. That way we'll know something went wrong and we can try to fix it.

Anne Saunders is the easiest person among us to reach. Most of us work for a living, but Anne works here. She writes, takes photos, creates and solicits ads, soothes fevered brows and tries make the office run so well that the rest if us can just come in, do what we do best, and go home with a clear conscience.


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