|GOLD STACK...A "Mountie" guards a "ton of gold".|
by Dan Davidson
The question might be put, has anyone seen a ton of gold before. And in Dawson City to boot?
When someone in the crowd on the Yukon River bank hollered in the affirmative, emceed Peter Menzies could only congratulate him on the state of his health, because it's been about 100 years since such a sight has been seen on these banks.
The last flotilla carrying gold to the Outside world triggered the Klondike Gold Rush when it arrived, and no doubt many in the tourism industry are hoping that the Ton of Gold event will add impetus to the next year of Klondike Centennial celebrations.
It's been a week for parades is Dawson, at any rate, with one on Canada Day and another just 5 days later to celebrate the flotilla.
Full coverage of these events will be in our next issue, but we did come up wth a few pictures for this one.
by Dan Davidson
The 20th Annual Yukon Gold panning Championships took place amidst blistering heat at the new panning venue on the site of the Old Saint Mary's Hospital. It was really no surprise at all when veteran panner Art Sailer kept his crown for the second consecutive year to become the new champion in the Yukon Open event, the premiere contest of the day.
The Yukon Open winner takes home a prize of $2,000, that amount to be used in assisting him to attend the World Gold panning Championships, which will be held later this summer in Vigevano, Italy.
Sailer recovered all 8 of the gold flakes hidden in his bucket of dirt, making no mistakes and gaining a score of 4 minutes 55 seconds. Both the second and third place finishers missed a flake and incurred a 5 minute penalty. Kieran Daunt, with a time of 10 minutes, picked up the $1,000 second prize, which is to help defray his costs in attending the United States Gold Panning Championships in Coloma, California later this year.
Third place went to Peter Erickson, with a time of 10:50, but this wasn't Erickson's only medal of the day. He won the Seniors' event with an unspoiled time of 5:28, recovering all 7 flakes, and his corporate team, Skookum Gulch Gold, captured the corporate challenge, finding 13 of the 16 flakes hidden in their buckets in a total time of 32:50.
In that same contest, Viceroy Placers Corporation proved that its employees don't spend enough time with gold pans, finding only 4 flakes in a total aggregate time of 80 minutes.
A couple of families showed that the tradition of panning can cross generations. Richard Sager came second in the Cheechako Event with a time of 15:01, while son 2. Matthew scored second in the Youth 12 and Under event with 20:14.
Long time panner and trapper Jack Fraser came second in the Seniors Open with a time of 12:16 while grandson Doug scored a second in the Youth 13-15 category with 23:04.
The events break down as follows:
|Cheechako Event: 6 flakes, 18 panners|
|Rank & Name||flakes found||time|
|1. Albert Reiffer||5||12:00|
|2. Richard Sager||4||15:01|
|3. Al Meier||3||24:56|
|Klondike Open: 7 flakes, 10 panners|
|Rank & Name||flakes found||time|
|1. Jim Stuart||6||7:54|
|2. Mike Crearen||6||8:51|
|3. Irene Crayford||5||5:00|
|Corporate Challenge: 16 flakes 4 teams|
|Rank & Name||flakes found||time|
|1. Skookum Gulch Placers||13||32:50|
|2. Ace Placers||12||38:30|
|3. French Hill Mining Corp.||10||50:00|
|4. Creaven Mining||5||73:43|
|5. Viceroy Resources Corporation||4||80:00|
|Seniors Open: 7 flakes, 10 panners|
|Rank & Name||flakes found||time|
|1. Peter Erickson||7||5:28|
|2. Jack Fraser||6||12:16|
|3. Annelise Coonan||5||17:57|
|Youth Under 12 Event: 5 flakes, 22 panners|
|Rank & Name||flakes found||time|
|1. Patience Purington||4||16:52|
|2. Matthew Sager||3||20:14|
|3. Laura Saito||2||24:12|
|Youth 13- 15 Event: 5 flakes, 6 panners|
|Rank & Name||flakes found||time|
|1. Malcolm Dewell||5||14:22|
|2. Doug Fraser||3||23:04|
|3. Greg Sparks||3||24:34|
To say that it was a hot day would be an understatement. The small bronze gold pans that were given out as prizes in many of the categories grew so hot under the sun that winners juggled them from hand to hand in surprise as they walked back to their places on the bleachers.
The starting point and time of the Dyea to Dawson race is easy enough to figure out. They headed out of Dawson on June 17, on a race originally intended to take about 11 days. It rapidly became clear it would not take most of the racers anything like that long.
They started arriving in Dawson on June 21, the fastest being team 37, with a time of 4 days 8 hours 49 minutes and 16 seconds. They continued arriving for the next 9 days, with the final contestants arriving at 4:29 PM on the afternoon of July 1, just hours before the wind-up banquet.
For Buckwheat Donahue and Jeff Brady it was a tough week of lounging on the Yukon River's bank beside their motorhome, watching the new docks being installed, lifting the binoculars every so often, cruising up river to check for arrivals, preparing several press releases every day to keep the media up to speed. There were hours of quiet waiting in the sun (or rain) followed by minutes of frantic activity as each of the teams finally arrived.
It was an event which captured the imaginations of a lot of people. Introducing Brady and Donahue at the barbecue behind the Commissioner's Residence on Canada Day, Peter Menzies tried to sum up the local feeling.
"This event fit in totally with what many feel is the spirit that keeps the north such a great place. Congratulations to Jeff and Buckwheat for spearheading what is clearly one of the most ... wonderful events of the decade of centennials. I wish you all the success next year."
The two linchpins, cohorts in race madness, vied with each other to shuffle of the credit in the other's direction.
Said Donahue of Brady: "This man, more than anybody else, worked twice as hard as anybody else to put together this event. This is the man who took care of ALL the paperwork - and believe me, there was a lot of paperwork from dealing with First nations all the communities along the way, the territorial government, the provincial government, the Alaskan government, parks Canada, Parks US, Ottawa, the Mounties, Customs and Immigration..."
Brady, on the other hand, felt that his partner "exemplifies the whole spirit of this event".
So there we have the brains and the heart of an event. Maybe they're both right.
The rest lay with the participants, who were introduced and present with awards for their achievements.
Team 37 were the winners of course. The Fairbanks duo of Jim Lokken and Art Ward burned down the river in the aforementioned fastest time to take the US$5,000 in gold as first prize. This gold arrived already divided and stored in plastic bags inside moosehide pouches, purchased from Engelhard through the Klondyke Centennial Society.
The winners were suitably impressed.
Said Jim Lokken, "If whenever I got sleepy if I'd seen this I would've come awake. We were a team - a team the whole way."
They've been in other contests before but Art Ward said this one was different: "There was never any gold in any other events, so this is special. The only other thing I ever remember winning was a door prize at a Hallowe'en party."
The 2nd place winners were Todd Boonstra and Adam Verrier of Anchorage, who collected US$1500 in bills for their effort, while the 3rd place prize dropped right down to US$300 for Steve Reifenstuhl and Mark Gorman of Sitka. The top five placers automatically have their entrance fees paid for next year. This group will include the Whitehorse team of Thane Phillips and Joe Bishop as well as Haines' Terry Jacobson and Paul Wheeler.
We wanna stake our top five against the rest of the world next year!" Jeff Brady called out.
The Top Women's Team came from Dawson City. Wendy Cairns and Chris Gunther won $300 for that feat and were lauded for their showmanship. Jeff Brady related how the pair two dressed up in their canoe, put on their Klondike garb, can-can dresses and fake eyelashes; "at 6:30 in the morning they landed like that and ran through the streets of Dawson." Apparently they put on a similar show at every major stop along the route.
The top mixed team was Larry Gillingsrud and Cindy Adams of Skagway, who were also noted for their efforts on behalf of others.
This team," Brady explained, "helped save team 49. In fact, they saved the lives of team 49, along with help from team 4 and team 38."
One special award was presented for the best "Best Stake and Dash" once having arrived in Dawson. Faro's Dwight Lamkin and Russell Bamford beat out a Ketchican team by just a second.
Brady noted several other people who were felt worthy of mention. Jeb Tim of Delta Junction was, at 17, the youngest in the race, and the team of Timm and Timm came in 8th. The oldest in the race was 61 year old Yvonne Harris of Whitehorse, who came in 29th with Kevin McKague.
Special fuss was made in the presentation of the Red Lantern Award which Brady said had been one of the most carefully guarded secrets of the race. Recommended and donated by Harry Kern at Haywire Industries, it was based on an anecdote story in Pierre Berton's book Klondike.
The story is told of a pair of stampeders who made it all the way to the Klondike only to fall out after they arrived. They divided everything when they parted company, of course, but the division was more punitive than intelligent. They simply cut everything in half, including things that don't work that way, like their boat and stove.
Said Brady, "Since these teams came in at the same time they each get half a stove and then it's up to them if they want to cut it up some more." Gerry Gardiner, Ian Agnew, Rosemary Malt and Paul Sargent were the bemused winners.
All that accomplished, Brady concluded the formal part of the evening by asking, "Does anybody else have anything they want to say?"
A voice rang out, "I MADE IT!" That about sums up the adventure for everyone.
by Heather Caverhill
"We wanted to do it in style," said Dyea racer and Dawson resident Wendy Cairns,who hiked from sheep camp to the summit of the Chilcoot pass in a turn of the century costume and false eye lashes. "When I first came to Dawson eleven years ago, I was a Can-Can dancer and I learned that you can sweat A LOT, without losing your false eye lashes." Cairns hiked for two hours in her garb before lining up with other racers at the summit to imitate the famous pictures of the gold rushers hiking the chilkoot pass 100 years ago.
She and partner Chris Guenther were one of only two women's pairs in the race. Marjorie Logue and Sandy Sippola, also from Dawson, made up the second pair.
"It was tricky for both of us to get the time off work," said Cairns, who works as a coordinator at the womans shelter in Dawson; partner Chris Guenther is a nurse at the Dawson Medical clinic.
"Our packs weighed in closer to sixty pounds than fifty, which was the minimum," Cairns stated. Each pair of racers had to bring certain items that the organizers decreed to be a basic stampeder's kit. Some of the core items were: a five pound bag of flour, five pounds of dried fruit, five pounds of nails, a hatchet, gold pan, hammer, coffee, sugar and beans. The racers had to carry their own personal belongings and food on top of the required items. To train for the race Cairns did a few trips walking with a heavy pack up to the Midnight Dome and some canoe trips. "We got sore around the shoulders and back, but I would have to say that the sorest part of my body was my bum from sitting in the canoe."
The pair was able to spend some time paddling with two other teams from Dawson. "We were happy to have the company," Cairns remembered. "We pulled into Tagish lake to a bonfire with team 48. We were totally delirious and some one pulled out a beer and we all shared around the fire at 3:00 AM."
Apart from the two mandatory lay overs in Fort Selkirk and Whitehorse, Cairns and Guenther stopped only three times for quick 2 to 4 hour naps. "What I didn't expect was that the hardest part of the race was sleep deprivation. We were delirious and hallucinating. After a while we thought every rock or log in the water was another canoe."
Cairns and Guenther had expected to finish the race in about two weeks, but suprised themselves with a finish time of about one week.
"I don't think a lot of us realised how competative it would be," said Cairns, "but we caught the racing bug, it was great to push ourselves like that." Although the trip was grueling at times, Cairns feels fortunate to have been involved with the Dyea to Dawson race and is considering joining again next year. "I think the organizers should work out an agreement with a canoe company and issue every racer the same canoe and paddles. Most of the lead canoes had lighter faster boats which makes a difference." Cairns beleives that this would decrease the large gap between the first and last place teams. "Another Dawson team had a boat that made them look like two Vikings in a bath tub."
by Dan Davidson
They paddled into Dawson City on June 23rd at 6:10 PM, a long way from the front end of the race, in 21st place, but the first Dawson team to complete the route wasn't worrying about winning. Doctors Suzanne Crocker and Gerard Parsons were just glad to see the end of the trail.
"The world kept waving back and forth for about 24 hours after we'd finished," Crocker said, later in the week.
Parsons nodded: "Wobbly knees, Slurred speech. For the first time I think I really understand days and days of sleep deprivation."
"Grueling...but fun" was Crocker's quick evaluation of the experience. Her partner was a bit more philosophical.
"Entertaining. It was very interesting. It was more interesting than fun. It was much more rigorous and the pace was faster than we had expected."
They had entered for the experience more than for the race, but they found that many of the participants got caught up in a kind of fever.
Crocker said, "I don't think anybody knew what to expect, which was part of the intrigue of doing it the first year. We thought we'd be doing well to get in within ten days."
Parsons, who is planning a trip to Newfoundland next month, worried that they might not make his July 2 flight.
Race fever seemed to catch just about everyone as the days wore on. Parsons recalls inwardly sneering at those who rushed to get to Lake Bennett coming over the Chilkoot, but later realized it was probably easier to gain time on the land than on the water.
Folks didn't stop much. The doctors pulled into Carmacks after a rough trip of steering through tail winds and waves, feeling in need of a rest, but feeling happy with their progress. They had a lunch, caught a nap, and got up at 7:30 that night to find everyone gone.
"That's when we realized that this was a race," Parsons said.
Tail winds during the first couple of days made what Parsons thinks might have been a major difference to the times in the race. Many took advantage of the extra push even though they were tired.
"Even though the winds were high and quite dangerous, they just flew," he said.
It could well work out the other way another year. During the last couple of days of travel, Crocker and Parsons found themselves battling headwinds to make progress. Coming downstream, assisted by a current of 5 to 6 knots, they still had to work to make any progress and to fight against the wind, which seemed constantly to shift its attack on them.
"We had 24 hours of headwinds that at one point totally stopped us in our tracks," Crocker said. "We had to do everything we could just to keep our nose pointed into the wind and were going absolutely nowhere.
"It in fact spun us around and drove us back up the river," Parsons added.
"It makes you respect nature," his partner said.
"It's going to interesting next year," Parsons speculated, "because people will go in expecting it to be a six day race. They'll probably carry that much food and cut down on some of their supplies. But when you're rained out in a headwind on an island for 3 days, you could get a little cold and hungry."
It's not necessarily a safe race either. Crocker cites the weather as an unpredictable factor that could lead to dangerous situations. There's the strong possibility of injury or illness. The distance involved has to make the race hard to patrol. The intensity of the situation exacerbates personality conflicts.
"Some teams scratched because of that reason too," she noted.
But all of those elements make up the challenge of this type of endurance trek.
"It's more than just a pure power kind of race," she said. "There are a lot of variables in there - tactical stuff, more subtle things - which makes it interesting. 'cause it's not necessarily the strongest people that finish first."
Crocker says that constant movement was an advantage in dealing with the weather in this race. If it rained you dried off quickly from your own exertions. You didn't get cold because you were working too hard. Changes in weather were, in fact, breaks from what could become the monotony of the trip.
This type of journey isn't like a vacation trek, where you might pull in to look at an artifact along the bank or stop at any likely looking spot that seemed pleasant. While cabins along the river were a welcome change in the scenery, there was no time to explore.
Once off the lakes, where there was a bit of jockeying for position in a visible way, the racers hardly saw each other. Crocker and Parsons had stretches of a day and a half when they saw no one in front or behind. It's one of the deceptions of river travelling. When everyone is moving, no one seems to gain or lose much on anyone else. It's like being on a merry-go-round where the horse four poles back always stays there.
If you stop, go ashore, take a break for a hot meal or a nap, then suddenly all these canoes go shooting by. But that's because you've left the merry-go-round, and your turn to pass will come later on when they get off.
The duo are both avid runners and hikers and enjoy a variety of sports year round. They were in condition for the trip, but even so, the endurance strain of prolonged wakefulness was intense.
Crocker joked, "We're more used to that from our work than our recreation."
"Yes. That's good training in sleep deprivation," Parsons agreed.
He says he saw a lot of moose that weren't there. After leaving the flatness of the lakes, he experienced the vivid sensation that he was almost falling along the river, a feeling that varied in intensity with the slope in the treeline or the mountains. It was like being trapped in an I-MAX movie without a point of reference.
"At one point along Kirkland Creek we were going down and the river took a tilt, and I found myself leaning over the side of the canoe trying to keep it upright."
Crocker says she kept seeing catamarans on the shore line and had a lesser version of Parson's dropping sensation. She also found it easy to fall asleep while paddling: "Paddle, pad-dle, p-a-d-d-l-e....gone..."
"It's...fascinating to push yourself to your personal limit," she said. "I think everyone that came in sort of felt that they had done that. It's an intriguing experience and a sense of accomplishment.
Both Crocker and Parsons said doing this race has given them a new insight on what drives people in other long distance endurance events, like the Yukon Quest, for instance. Imagining what it must be like to combine their experience with -40 degree winters and layers of bulky clothing, neither one has any ambition to try mushing.
Would they do the Dyea to Dawson next year? Both said "no" without a moment's hesitation. This is one event it was easier to do when you didn't know exactly what you were in for.
by Dan Davidson
Visitors from 21 countries descended on Dawson City on Solstice Day as the 26th annual Ambassador's Northern Tour swooped in for an evening of dining and celebration.
The dinner was held this year under brilliant sunshine in the back yard of MLA Peter Jenkins, who recalled later in the evening how this event had begun.
According to Jenkins the impetus for the Dawson visits came from Stewart Shackell then, as now, a tour organizer with Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.
Said Jenkins, "I was involved in the initial stages and I said 'Stew, we'll put it on. What do you need and how do you need it?
"And it was done. Through Stew's capable efforts it has continued to this date. We're very very hopeful that it's been the highlight of your Northern Tour."
He presented Shackell with a token of the Klondike's esteem. The tour organizer was equally warm in congratulating his host.
"Peter has been the soul of hospitality. Whoever I've brought here has had the great advantage of having Peter as a host. I Can't say how much I appreciate his friendship, his hospitality and the great effort that he's always made on behalf of heads of diplomatic missions."
Prior to getting into the history of the event, Jenkins introduced the visitors to Joe and Annie Henry, the special local guests at this year's gathering.
"They've had more wedding anniversaries than we've had years on this earth," said the Yukon Party MLA, "and they've been a major contributor to our local scene, both in their abilities and their offspring. One hundred and one, I'm told."
In his expansive mood. Jenkins was jocular about the changes in his own life over the last few years.
"There comes a time in life when you are forced to move on. Usually the people will tell you that. A few years ago I was fortunate enough to lose the election as mayor here in Dawson and went on to become the MLA for the Klondike. Glen Everitt is our current mayor and is carrying on an outstanding tradition of representing the people here in Dawson City."
With that introduction and the two men standing side by side, smiling in what Jenkins called "a photo opportunity", Mayor Everitt welcomed the group on behalf of the community.
"It's a privilege for the City of Dawson to able to host an event like this. If it wasn't for the partnership with our MLA and his staff... the event wouldn't get organized at all."
The dinner was hosted by the City of Dawson and the Klondike Visitors Association, with the barbecue buffet catered at Jenkins' home by his Eldorado Hotel staff.
Highlights of the evening for the guests included a personal visit by Diamond Tooth Gertie and her girls, as well as an unscheduled visit by the members of the Model A Car Rally that had just arrived in Dawson in time for the Solstice. The rally members were dressed in 1920s and 30s period costumes to match the ages of their cars and had composed a short song to present to the dignitaries.
Her Excellency Miss June Clarke, High Commissioner for Barbados, spoke on behalf of the members of the Northern Tour.
"Words cannot really express our thanks and appreciation for all you've done for us. (This is) yet another wonderful stop.
"You are especially thanked for the warmth of your welcome and I assure you that I am happy to bring it (the sun) to you and happy to leave it with you.
"We have enjoyed every stage of the trip and each stage is different, but we can safely say that this is the most unique so far as we look at the townsite of Dawson City. We compliment you on the pride you've taken in maintaining this historic heritage site and we look forward to coming back at some time..."
Turning to Jenkins, she continued, "As far as your future movements may go, I should like to suggest that even as you moved from mayor to MLA, we should expect to hear that you have moved to the other stages in due course, and we look forward to the opportunity to welcome you to Ottawa."
Ambassadors on the tour this year included those from Cuba, Switzerland, Algeria, Thailand, Panama, Burkina Faso, Turkey, Myanmar, El Salvador, Iran, Japan, Ukraine, Spain, Ethiopia.
High Commissioners come from countries that were formerly part of the British Empire and this year came from Pakistan, Swaziland, Malawi, Barbados, Bangladesh and South Africa.
by Dan Davidson
The only complaint that Colonel Ebenezer Caternor of Ghana has about this year's edition of the Military Attachés northern tour is that he couldn't bring his wife along. The Washington based Caternor says she gets very jealous when he tells her about all the wonderful places he's seen.
He is especially fond of Dawson City and managed to wrangle his way onto the Northern Tour for the second year in a row so that he could visit here again.
"The Northern part of Canada is, to me, unique in many respects," he says during the reception and dinner on the ground of the Commissioner's residence on July 20. "I seem to like Dawson City. It looks like a small community, which is very similar to the way we live in Africa. Everybody knows everybody which is very unique."
Two things puzzle him about the place. The first, which is answered by our history, is how such a small community could get to be called a city. He nods in understanding when he hears about the 30,000 people that once crowded this valley.
The second puzzle is why we haven't paved our streets. Lately, with all the mud this season, many Dawsonites have been wondering that too. The Colonel says he doesn't mind; it adds character to the community.
Lieutenant-Colonel Max Alvarado is this year's tour chief, attached to the Directorate Protocol and Foreign Liaison Staff. He has the task of shepherding twenty attachés based about equally in Ottawa and Washington though an itinerary that includes Yellowknife, Whitehorse, Dawson, Inuvik, Tuktoyaktuk, the Polaris Mine and Iqaluit before it loops back to Ottawa.
People line up to be on this tour, he says. It is his first time on this route.
"This is one of the favorite locations. The fact that we have the Arctic, we have Dawson, we have Yellowknife, all the areas where people normally don't go to makes this one an attraction.
"Dawson City has to be one of the highlights. We are staying here for two days and normally we are only staying for one night. The people are so friendly. We are witnessing here the fact that Diamond Tooth Gertie and her girls came (to the dinner). It's unusual and they (the attachés really appreciate that."
Militarily speaking, the attachés were especially intrigued by the Rangers paramilitary organization, something which Alvarado says is "peculiarly Canadian." The cadet camp in Whitehorse was also of interest.
He finds that the cultural side of life in the north is the big drawing card for his guests. "This is to all intents and purposes a frontier town, so it is very impressive for them."
The attachés on this year's tour hail from Chile, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Spain, United Kingdom, Venezuela, Australia, Brazil, Finland, Ghana, India, Norway, Uruguay and Sweden.
The dinner, consisting largely of country game and local fish, was organized by the Dawson branch of the Rangers. The City of Dawson, the Klondike Visitors Association and Klondike National Historic Sites were also involved in hosting the evening. While here the attachés took in shows at Gerties, and toured the goldfields.
by Dan Davidson
Canada Day events in Dawson City got off to a start shortly after 11 AM when a small parade made up of local detachment of the RCMP and the Dawson City Volunteer Fire Department wound its way to the Victory Gardens on Fifth Avenue.
Diamond Tooth Gertie and her girls arrived on one of the vehicles and disembarked to lead in the singing of "O Canada", while local parasailer Steve Kurth arrived overhead pulling a Canadian flag behind him on his flight down from the Dome.
Mayor Glen Everitt was the first to take the microphone and welcome the visitors, many of whom were tourists.
"Not even 30 days ago," he said, "Canadians had a federal election across this country and were subject to listening to two months of politicians telling us how bad this country is and what they were going to do to make it better.
"...Thirty days later Canadians from Vancouver Island in the west to Halifax in the east, down to Point Pelee National park in the south and even further north than Dawson City are celebrating this special day. And it's a great day for all of us.
"Recently our community hosted two great tours... the Ambassadors' Tour and ... the Military Attachés' Tour. We had people from all around the world in the community of Dawson. And the comments coming from these people were things like, 'God, Canadians don't know how lucky they are. They live in one of the best countries in the world. They have the best health care. Children can go to school and get an education. People can walk the streets and feel safe. They should be proud and they need to celebrate more than one day a year. They should not celebrate only on their birthday, but be proud that they are Canadians 365 days a year.'"
MLA Peter Jenkins picked up the theme in his short address.
"You know it was 130 years ago on this date that our forefathers someplace back east conceived this great country of ours. And what we have today is recognized by the United Nations as being the best country in the world to live in. There's a t-shirt over here worn by a gentleman that says 'Not only am I perfect, I'm a Canadian too.' Now I'm not qualified to wear that T-shirt, but I'm sure that gentleman is."
Representing the Dawson First Nation, councillor Jason Barber spoke next: "We'd like to welcome you to the traditional territory of the Tr'ondek Hwech'in. We're happy to have all of you here celebrating ... Canada's birthday. Thanks for coming."
Linda Johnson, Director for Yukon with the Department of Canadian Heritage, was on hand to bring greetings from her department and its boss, Sheila Copps: "On behalf of the Minister and the department and, in fact, all of my staff here in Dawson, who really enjoy making the historical aspects of this town come alive, I would like to thank the Canada Day committee for Yukon for accepting the responsibility for insuring we can all have an opportunity to recognize how important Canada is to all of us."
Master of Ceremonies Peter Menzies took the opportunity to introduce the Dawson Nuggets to the crowd and to present a special Youth Award to grade 10 student JJ Flynn for his achievements in athletics, especially for being selected to Team Yukon for the North American Indigenous Games in Victoria this year.
While guests nibbled cupcakes and sipped Kool-aid, Dawson's Museum staff began to organize the ever-popular Teddy Bear parade for the youngsters.
As the day progressed, the focus shifted to Front Street, where events between 2 and 4 o'clock included a Family Concert and kids' games (sack races, 3-legged race, wheelbarrow, face painting and egg toss).
Meanwhile the North end of town began to buzz with activity as the Yukon Gold Panning Championships got under way from 2 until 4:30.
Just about that time the last contestants in the Dyea to Dawson Race pulled in at the docks. That event concluded with a barbecue at the Commissioner's Residence later in the evening.
In all, it made for a very busy day.
by Heather Caverhill
The 1997 Panama - Alaska Car Rally passed through Dawson June 23 and 24. The 12000 km race, which began in Panama City, ended in Anchorage June 26th.
The race consisted of 98 cars of which 79 were race cars and 38 were support vehicles or recreation vehicles touring with the group.
Dawson City was the 22nd stop on the route that lasted 26 days. The rally drove through nine countries in total; Panama; Costa Rica; Nicaragua; Honduras; El Salvador; Guatemala; Mexico; through midwestern United States and Canada.
The convoy of almost one hundred cars viewed scenery from the rain forests to the ocean to the Grand Canyon to the Rocky Mountains to the Midnight Dome, here in Dawson City.
Stops in Canada included, Calgary AB., Dawson Creek, B.C., Fort Nelson B.C., Watson Lake, Whitehorse and Dawson City.
While in Dawson the Hunker and Bonanza Creek roads were closed to provide the cars with a place to race. The overall time for each car was kept as well as timing for special events like the Hunker road race. Time was kept by local people. Each car had to register and was given a count down of thirty seconds before speeding off.
The event is organized by Trans World Events Ltd., the same group that organized the 1995 London - Mexico Rally, and the 1993 London Sydney Marathon, and involves people from seventeen different countries, South Africa, China and the Czech Republic, to name a few.
Five Canadian driven cars took part in the rally; three of them competed in the race.
The race ended in Anchorage Alaska June 26, Australians Rick Bates and Jenny Brittan crossed the finish line first behind the wheel of their Porsche 911. Canadian Martin Headland from Ontario and US driver Jeff Zwart drove the second place car, a Porsche 914-6. Third place went to Hungarian Drivers Janos Balazs and Andras Jojart, who also drove a Porsche 911.
The highest all Canadian team was father and son Bob and Scott Trinder from Vancouver who placed 6th in a Datsun 240Z.
The rally is held every two years in different countries around the world. 1998 is an exception as there will be a rally through Southern Africa. The organizers of the rally were invited to come a year early to help promote tourism in the country of South Africa and five surrounding countries.
The next rally will be in the year 2000 from London to Sydney Australia via Russia, coinciding with the 2000 Olympic Games.
by Heather Caverhill
The Vintage Car Club of Canada, Okanagan Chapter, visited Dawson June 20 to 24 as part of their 5 week Yukon / Alaska Tour.
"We just wanted to be in Dawson for the longest day of the year," said trip organizer, Butch Chouinard. Seven cars arrived June 20 and were able to celebrate summer solstice Dawson style.
To complement their vintage cars, the group members donned their 1930's inspired costumes and hit the town. Some Dawsonites may have seen them decked out at the Palace Grand, Klondike Visitors Center, Masonic Hall, Diamond Tooth Gerties or the Ambassadors Barbecue at MLA Peter Jenkins' home on June 21st. "We crashed that party." laughed Jack Bergeron, one of the masterminds behind the trip.
Bergeron and Chouinard had been planning to make the journey north for three years. "We came up with the idea over a beer." Bergeron joked. With the Panama - Alaska Car Rally on their tail, the group camped from Kelowna, B.C to Dawson on the Alaska Highway. So far the trip has gone well, with only one mechanical problem.
The Panama - Alaska Car Rally passed the group in Dawson on the 23 of June, the group does not plan to catch up. The club travels without a set schedule, "We'll just try to find a place tonight, in Chicken or wherever .... that is dry", Bergeron planned for the next stop.
As for Dawson City, a good time was had by all, according to Bergeron and Chouinard, who left Dawson with fond memories of hospitality, people, weather, scenery and money. One woman won big at Gerties, "she hasn't been able to sleep since!"
Chouinard, Bergeron and company will return to Kelowna after their 5 week adventure via the Stewart Cassiar Highway.
by Dan Davidson
Back in 1897, twenty-eight disgruntled miners, already finding that the best spots on the creeks had been taken, left Dawson in a flotilla and made their way downstream until they reached a place they called Eagle City, because of the eagles which nested nearby. Here they found gold.
On Saturday, June 21, a new flotilla set off to commemorate that first exodus from the Klondike. This modern reenactment was undertaken by groups of young people from Eagle and Dawson, with the assistance of the city's Recreation Department, the Rangers, Renewable Resources and Klondike National Historic Sites.
From the local recreation department came a crew of eager Dawson youngsters who had spent much of the previous two weeks mastering the skills needed for this river trip, as well as building the raft which was to be used as a supply vehicle.
All the travellers and a lot of interested rubber-neckers gathered on the Yukon River bank below the old CIBC building about 10:30 Saturday morning for a super send-off. They got away a bit late due to problems finding a large enough life jacket for one of the chaperones but the original flotilla probably wasn't perfect either.
By 11:20 a motley collection of rafts, canoes and rubber rafts was in the current and paddling away. The group was to spend that night at Forty Mile and a second night further down river, having planned to arrive in Eagle on June 23. The return trip, on June 24, was a good deal faster, as they returned on the Yukon Queen, courtesy of Holland America.
by Dan Davidson
The numbers surrounding Dawson's proposed new recreation complex are pretty straightforward, but the implications to be drawn from them are quite complex. Most of the community won't know about them for some time yet, since a mere half dozen people turned out for the latest progress report from Brian Johnson of PERC consultants.
It's not that no one cares, although indoor recreation spaces are not a burning issue on a day when the temperatures hovered in the mid-20s and the sun shone brightly.
"We took a chance on a June meeting," said recreation director Peter Menzies, "but we had to call it."
The PERC report identifies a 68,400 square foot complex with a capital price tag of $9.5 million and annual operating costs of $602,500. Daunting numbers indeed.
Based on surveys and previous discussions with user groups in the town, Johnson had assembled a preliminary design which embraced eight types of recreational spaces. The current curling rink is maintained and the arena/rink is enlarged. After that new facilities include an indoor pool, flexi-hall (a combination small gymnasium and auditorium), fitness room, several multi-purpose rooms a lounge and assorted miscellaneous spaces, including storage rooms.
The building would sit where the current Bonanza Centre is located, using that as a base and extending out south to take in the parking lot where once sat the Dawson Amateur Athletic Association building, and west to take in the spot where Diamond Tooth Gerties Casino now sits.
If this plan works, the Casino will be moved across Fourth Avenue to the next block and be linked as an integral part of the new complex. The avenue would be closed between Princess and King Streets, making the north end of the avenue one of the main approaches to the new building.
The building's design is far more historically sympathetic now that it was in the space layouts shown in April. The rectangular structure with its corner towers calls to mind some of the old photographs of major buildings in Dawson and echoes the design of the 1989 version of the Robert Service School, which is right across the street.
Acceptance of the proposal was not whole-hearted at the meeting. In particular, soccer enthusiast Irwin Gaw was upset that the flexi-hall was not instead a full-fledged gymnasium. Like a number of other volunteers in the community, he finds getting time in the school's overbooked gymnasium can be trying.
Gaw contends that far more young people are interested in playing games like soccer than are interested in an expensive sport like hockey and feels that a disproportionate amount of money is going to the rink. Two reasonably sized gyms in the town would give after hours recreation for kids the flexibility that it now lacks in his opinion.
"It's time to do something for the kids," he said.
No one really disagreed with him, but Johnson thought the problem could better be solved by a variety of venues and some creative scheduling.
This is the building package which will be taken to municipal council by the recreation board. If it is approved at that level, then the City of Dawson will be seeking funds from a variety of sources, including the YTG, the Klondike Visitors Association and the Dawson First Nation, to realize a dream which would benefit all of the community if it came true.
In an effort to "fix-up" the interior of Jack London's cabin on 8th Avenue, the Klondike Visitor's Association is asking the public for donations of historic items representing a typical stampeder/trapper cabin from the turn of the century.
Jack London traveled to the Klondike Goldrush in the summer of 1897. He spent that winter in the cabin with different prospecting partners. The cabin was situated on Henderson Creek, South of Dawson approximately eighty miles. It was rediscovered in the 1960's by author and historian Dick North and set up on 8th Avenue to commemorate Jack London's time in the Klondike.
Examples of historic items that London and his partners may have traveled with or built for their cabin are: picks, axes, shovels gold pans, square wooden bucket, pole and canvas chair, caribou skins for the bunks, bear skin coat, miner's candle holders, moose skin boxes, several traps of the single spring and double spring variety, caps, mukluks, tin plates and kitchen utensils, wood pelt stretchers, 19th century bottles, an old style griddle, pot leather dipper square nails, heavy woolen blankets, drawstring long red underwear, leather suspenders, metal coffee pot with wooden handle, old hard cover books, wooden pack board, old tobacco tins, historic food tins, old rifle, hunting knives, snow shoes, whip saw, home made cribbage board, deck of playing cards, wooden packing boxes, cooking pails.
If you would like to donate any of these items please contact Dick North at Jack London Centre or phone Dawne Mitchell at 993 - 5072.
by Melissa Ouellet
Five spoiled bears have been shot in West Dawson in the past two weeks due to many campers not handling and storing food properly.
On June 28 two male sub adults, one female adult and one adult male were shot. Sub adult bears are 2-3 years old. The following day one healthy adult male was relocated on the Dempster Highway at least 100 km from Dawson. On Monday June 30 one male sub adult was killed. A seventh bear was still in West Dawson as of July 2 and is still yet to be captured.
The City of Dawson has made food lockers for campers to put anything in that may attract bears to their campsites. The lockers have been there for about four weeks and until bears were spotted in the campground, it seems that hardly anyone was using them; although some people always had their food high up in the trees.
The campers were given handouts on May 24 by Cher Mitchell, contracter to the city for West Dawson, warning them of the dangers of leaving food near campsites and not keeping campsites clean.
Cher felt that, "The campers have failed to grasp the seriousness of the situation. These bears are dead because of them."
There are about 90 campers in West Dawson. Garbage disposal, recycling bins , outhouses and food lockers have been set up by the city for campers' use. The garbage, recycling bins and outhouses are cleaned daily.
On July 2 a meeting was set up by Maggie Hutcheson, Out of town programmer at the youth centre, to discuss long term solutions on how to deal with bears in West Dawson. About 30 campers showed up for this meeting.
Kirby Meister, Conservation Officer with Yukon Renewable Resources was on hand to answer questions on the bear shootings, to tell campers how not to attract bears to the area and to tell residents of West Dawson that conservation officers on July 3 will be visiting each campsite and if there is food on a site that it is to be removed immediately. On the second visit to the campsite if there is still food, that campers will be given a written warning. If on the third time if the food is still not removed the camper will be fined under the Wildlife Act, section 38 that states:
The Yukon Renewable Resources office in Dawson feels that this is necessary to prevent any more bears from being shot.
Kirby Meister, one of four conservation officers for the area, feels that West Dawson is "a maulling waiting to happen and the situation is getting worse instead of better. It is going to be a priority because what has happened in the week of June 28 - July 5"
Also at this meeting ideas were discussed on having a designated cooking area near the food lockers because they are located near the Top of the World Highway in an open area and it is less likely that a bear will go there. The food lockers and cooking area are a start to this very serious problem that affects everyone. Through education by the conservation officer and cleaning up campsites; hopefully we will not see anymore bears shot in West Dawson this summer.
WHITEHORSE - Andrew Pyper, the Yukon Arts Council's first of two writers selected for the 1997 Berton House Writer's Retreat, arrived last week and is now settled into his summertime home, the Yukon Arts Council announced.
Pyper published his first collection of short stories, Kiss Me, in 1996. Pyper will be working on his first novel while in residence in Pierre Berton's childhood home in Dawson City.
"I'm honored to have been selected," says Pyper, who took to Dawson immediately. "Coming from urban, central Canada, this time in Dawson, exposed to a completely different way of life, is invaluable, especially for a writer." Of working in the Berton House, Pyper says "There's a real sense of historical potency living and working on Author's Alley - I have the feeling that I'm sitting in a place of important literary history, for both Yukon and Canada."
Pyper will be in residence at the Berton House until mid-August. While he's here he will be giving readings from his work, both in Dawson and in Whitehorse.
The Berton House Writer's Retreat was established to provide Canadian writers with a retreat experience in a part of the country so few ever get to visit, let alone spend time in. The boyhood home of Pierre Berton was acquired by the Yukon arts Council in 1989 thanks to a generous donation from Berton.
The home has been restored by the Klondike Visitors Association, in partnership with the Yukon Arts Council, and work continues on the landscaping. Dawson and the Yukon Arts Council welcomed the first writer last summer. Russell Smith spent three productive months in Dawson in 1996. Funds for this year's program come from generous donations from Pierre Berton and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.
|Klondike Sun Home Page|