|Gertie sings "O Canada" on Canada Day in Dawson City. See story below. Photo by Dan Davidson|
Welcome to the July 21st on-line edition of the Klondike Sun. This is the abridged version of our 32 page July 18th hard copy edition. Wish we could share everything, including our 4-page literary supplement, but getting a subscription (see our home page) is the only way you'll ever see it all.
by Tara McCauley
Dawson has always known how to throw a good Canada Day and this year was no exception.
Festivities started off early with the Flag Raising Ceremony held at Victory Gardens at 8:00 a.m. followed by coffee and tea at the Dawson City Museum.
The parade got under way at 10:30 a.m. Starting from the Visitor Reception Centre, the parade winded down Front St., turning onto Queen St., up to Fifth Ave. and down to Victory Gardens. The parade was typical of years past. Headed by Bill Jackson piping the way, the RCMP followed, decked out in the Red Serge. The YOOPs were also present, as well as Parks and Museum employees in period costume. There were floats and vintage cars of various local businesses and organizations and kids in ornately decorated bicycles. It was all followed up, of course, by the Fire Department's long train of trucks blowing horns and sirens.
The ceremony at Victory Gardens, started off by Diamond Tooth Gertie leading 'O Canada', followed by welcome and speeches from local figures such as Mayor Glen Everitt and Klondike Riding MLA Peter Jenkins.
In his speech, Mayor Everitt included comments made from Dawson children and seniors on what Canada means to them. Some were quite funny, others poignant. In any case it gave the crowd a moment to think about what Canada means to them personally and an opportunity to reflect on how fortunate we really are to be Canadian.
Here are some of the comments by older Dawson residents: "Being Canadian means I pay too much taxes."
"Being Canadian means I'll be cared for in my old age."
"Being Canadian is great. Being a Yukoner is better."
One young Dawsonite said, "I'm not Canadian, I'm American and this is a whole lot different than Las Vegas!"
After the ceremony, there was birthday cake, cupcakes with little Canadian Flags and juice for everybody.
Soon after, the Teddy Bear Picnic and Kid's Games started on the grass at Victory Gardens. There were games like potato sack races, as well as the judging of the Teddy Bears. Activities also involved face painting, ice cream sandwiches and ribbons for all the participants.
In the afternoon, the main event was the Yukon Gold Panning Championships held in the North End. (See separate story for details.)
Evening events consisted of a 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament at the basketball courts at Minto Park and a concert at the gazebo, followed by a jam session. Also on the grassy waterfront area was the Celebrity Dunk Tank and the Percy de Wolfe Salmon BBQ. All of these activities were attended in great numbers.
by Dan Davidson
David Millar, a long-time Dawson placer miner, was the winner of this year's Yukon Open category at the Yukon Gold Panning Championships, finding 7 of the 8 flakes of gold buried in his bucket of dirt in a time of 5:05.45. With a five minute penalty added on for the missing flake, that made his time 10:05.
Millar has earned the right, and a $2000 travel bonus, to attend the World Gold Panning Championships which will be held in Zlotoryja, Poland, later this year.
About a minute and a half behind Millar was last year's winner, Noreen Sailer, followed, about 2 seconds later, by Grant Klein. There were eight contestants in the Yukon Open this year. Sailer may travel to represent the Yukon at the Canadian Championships during Edmonton's Klondike Days.
It was a fine, sunny day at the Gold Panning Venue in the North End of Dawson, and Canada Day activities continued downtown, a constant crowd of spectators were on hand for the various categories of panning.
Eleven contestants entered the Klondike Open contest, and the top three all managed to find the 7 flakes waiting in their buckets. Shure Nordstrand was the winner, with a time of 3:42. Gordon Sunde came second, at 4:47, and Henry Reinick finished third, in 7:30.
In the Senior Open category, the Sailer family cleaned up, with Noreen panning all 5 flakes in 5:29 for first place, and Art finding 4 in a total time of 8:36 for third. In between came Shure Nordstrand, with a time of 7:48.
In the Cheechako, 24 first time panners at this event tried their luck at finding 6 flakes of gold in the dirt. As a couple of people noted, a flake of gold is about the same size as a large piece of dandruff, so it can get tricky.
Gordon Sunde found 5 flakes in a total time of 10:21 to take first place. Mike and Barbara Sutton came in second and third.
Youth 12 and under were quite interested in trying their luck, and 24 juniors picked up a pan. Justin Millar panned 4 flakes in a total time of 15:44 to take the top spot, followed by Marguee Lucas and Andrea Millar.
The Youth 13-15 crowd were less enthusiastic this year, and there were only two entries. Kendra Lucas came first and Meghan Klein second.
In the Corporate Challenge event four teams vied for the top three spots, looking for 15 gold flakes. The Westminster Hotel's team found 13 of them in 28:32 for first spot. Ace Placer came second and French Hill third.
by Dan Davidson
Residents of the community of Bear Creek, just south of Dawson City, are very concerned about plans to designate an Open Custody facility for young offenders in their community at the home of Peter and Marjorie Kormendy. Justice officials met with about 18 people at the Rock Creek Fire Hall to answer some questions and try to soothe ruffled feathers.
According to Irene Lovers, the Manager of Counselling and Custody Services for Young Offenders, and Barry Bliszer, the Open Custody Coordinator, this meeting was the next logical step in the process of placing someone at the Kormendy's home, but many of the residents were convinced that the meeting only took place because the community had submitted a petition demanding it to the government.
Administrative and procedural confusion seem to have combined with concerns over community safety to create a climate of hostility toward the proposal, which would allow up to 2 young offenders to be quartered at the Kormendys.
The Kormendys applied for this operation in the fall of 1999, and the slow approval process has been wending its way through the system since then.
According to Irene Lovers, the process of selecting open custody operators has three stages. First, the department responds to an application by doing an intense study of the family. This leads to the "approval" stage, after which the family would finally be "designated" when it came time to place someone there.
In between, there is a community consultation, which is not a binding process, but which is supposed to take place. Long before that, however, it is the responsibility of the applicants to talk to all their immediate neighbours and explain the process. Marjorie Kormendy says she was not aware of her requirement to do this. Most at the meeting felt that the government department should handle this step.
One result of the lack of solid information was that the story of what was to happen at Kormendy's home had time and space to grow. The proposal is for an open custody facility to house one or two young people, not a group home, as has been feared.
The open custody arrangements are to be in the Kormendy's home, and are unconnected to the Bear Creek Bed and Bannock tourist home which they also operate on their property.
Kormendys also operate the Ancient Voices Wilderness Camp upriver from Dawson, and have been taking child welfare cases there for about a year. Ancient Voices has also been approved for open custody placements, and Marjorie explained that this would be the preferred location for any placements. Bear Creek would be used only when Ancient Voices was unavailable.
At the most recent circuit court, Judge Heino Lilles actually placed one young offender at Ancient Voices. Lovers said the judge exceeded his authority in designating this placement. Judges can assign an open custody placement, but the actual location is up to Lovers' office. This sentence was assigned on June 21, one day before the first consultation meeting on the Kormendy's applications on June 22. That served to heat up the discussion.
Once past the initial hostility created by the lack of solid information and the unsatisfactory responses provided to Klondike MLA Peter Jenkins by Minister Don Roberts on June 27, the Bear Creek residents still had many concerns.
The first concern would have to be about the process itself, which they feel ought to involve consultation long before things reach this stage.
"You blew it with us," said Pat Campbell, referring to the department's attempts to create a positive climate.
Kennedy and Alena Hempl complained of an evasiveness in government responses up to this point in the process.
One resident, Terry Crain, finally announced, "This is a waste of time." and left the meeting.
"God knows we need more people like Peter and Marjorie to do this kind of work," said Gerry Couture, but he had several key questions to ask about the proposed Bear Creek site.
How many young offenders would be housed there? How long? What classes of offences would qualify for this placement? What conditions would be placed upon them and their caregivers?
Fred Berger and Susan Herrmann wanted to know about liability. It these youth, who have already committed property crimes in Dawson City, were to slip their leashes in Bear Creek, who would bear the financial responsibility for any damage they might cause there? Would the establishment of an open custody home have any impact on the insurability of the residents.
Jan Couture wanted to know if the community's consent was actually needed in order to proceed and, if it was given, could it later be revoked if things did not work out.
Lovers replied that one or two non-violent offenders might be at Bear Creek for a few months at a time.
There were no liability arrangements beyond the liability of the offender, but she would take that inquiry back to her bosses. Likewise, she had no answer to insurance questions. These were, she said, valid concerns.
Lovers, Bliszer and Kormendy did their best to soothe ruffled feelings at the meeting, but it was clear that the initial lack of consistent communication was going to leave people with a bad impression for some time.
Susan Herrmann said she would only be satisfied when all of the local concerns had been answered in writing.
by Dan Davidson
While the news lately has been full of references to the decline in construction starts and building permits in the territory overall in Dawson City things just aren't working out that way.
According the City of Dawson's Development Control Officer, Henry Procyk, Dawson's numbers are actually up from the same time last year, and have been stable for quite a long time.
"If you compare the numbers for this year at the end of June against last year at this time," said Procyk. "last year our building permit values were about $900,000 and this year it's $940,000. They've been staying pretty close."
While the big push in numbers lately has come from work on the City hall and the pool, with the recreation centre yet to come, Procyk says that its not just government inspired capital works projects which keep contracting companies in Dawson busy.
Procyk says that a lot of the continuing activity in Dawson is commercial in nature.
"If you look at the commercial end of it, there's always additions being added on to the hotels or to small businesses. There must be some sort of an increase in the business side in order to keep that construction up."
The next major business project will be the replacement of the original section of the Westmark Hotel, which will take place across Fifth Avenue from the current building.
In the capital works sector the big money will be in the City of Dawson's recreation centre project.
Residentially, things are not a busy as they have been, but a Procyk says lot of Dawson's lots have been filled already and the newest subdivision, located on the Klondike Highway opposite the Callison Industrial Subdivision, is a territorial project that isn't available yet, though the streets have already been named and the lots identified.
By the end of 1999, the total value of construction was $3.3 million, and this year it looks to be about $2.6.
Procyk has a lot of experience in Dawson as a former town treasurers, town councillor and part owner of a contracting firm. His present job began as a half time position at the beginning of the current council's mandate, when council found that it need to streamline the process of issuing building permits in order to allow better advantage to be taken of the peak summer season.
Since Procyk stepped into the position it has increased to a three-quarter time job; full time in the summer and half-time in the slower season.
What he sees about Dawson construction is that, "it's never down for very long" and anyone in the business can generally get as much work as they can handle.
"If perchance someone does close down there's always someone else who will come and start up. There always seems to be enough work to keep everybody busy."
One of the biggest firms in town is Han Housing, the construction arm of the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in first nation. Procyk says he's noted that this company has been active with internal projects and outside contracts since it was formed.
"For some reason," Procyk said, "Dawson seems to keep busy and keep putting along every year. We've never really had a dead season where it's been that quiet. We've always had enough to keep everybody working and everybody going."
by Tara McCauley
This summer TJ Hammer, an archaeologist from Whitehorse, has been working as a consultant for the Tr'öndek Hwëch'in at the old Fortymile town site. Working with him are six Tr'öndek Hwëch'in youth. Under Land Claim Agreement Chapter 13, this site is co-owned and managed by Tr'öndek Hwëch'in and YTG Heritage Branch.
In the past two years ago, they've spent 5 to 6 days each season doing preliminary work to determine the magnitude of heritage resources material left behind.
Even before Fortymile area was settled by non-native people, it was an important location for the First Nation population. The Fortymile River is an important grayling source and the Yukon River for its salmon. Therefore, it makes logical sense that First Nations would have used this area. This prediction has been confirmed by local elders as a traditional spot of Han First Nations.
Last year, they conducted several shovel tests and found remains predating white settlement in the area. The shovel tests, taken every 30m were to determine the presence or absence of cultural remains. One of the things they found was an old hearth. The oval shaped hearth would have been situated inside a dwelling and used for cooking as well as stone tool manufacturing. At the hearth site, they have uncovered boiling stones, ash and chert. Although this one hasn't been dated. A similar one was found at Klondike City and dated 200 years old. Hammer estimates that the one found at Fortymile is from the same period.
They have also conducted shovel tests across the Fortymile River and have found remains of Fort Chudahy and the first NWMP post that was founded by Constantine in the 1890's.
This year they are gearing up for excavation and their goal is to map the site which involves surveying, clearing out brush, and staking out remains. It is a large site, which includes existing building structures, outlines of building structures, dredge remains, a graveyard and several artifact clusters containing bone tools, trading beads and the remains of a birch bark basket.
The Fortymile site is an area with a very diverse history. Hammer guesses that Fortymile will soon be designated as an official Historic Site as it was an important site for the First Nation and one of the earliest non First Nation sites in the Yukon. At the time of the Fortymile goldrush there were about 100 log structures and 1000 people living in the area. In their work they have uncovered artifacts and cultural remains from the three major periods: pre-contact, contact (1840), and non-native. And those results are from only from tests, they haven't even begun excavating yet.
For the six youth working with Hammer: Matthew Morgan, RJ Nagano, Kyle Isaac, Andy Isaac, James Christiansen, and Adam Farr, many are coming back for their second or third year and have worked at the site at Klondike City as well. Valuable work experience, they are learning a lot about archaeology, surveying and the practical purposes of subjects they've studied at school like Geometry and English. It's also a new way to examine First Nation culture. As most of First Nation history and culture has relied on the Oral Tradition, and looking at the material culture of a people, brings a new perspective into play.
This six week project is into its fourth week. Working 4 10 hour days a week, they stay out at the camp and come into town on their days off. The youth who range in age from 13 to 18 seem very interested in their job. Matt Morgan, 17, talks about his experience here. "I've learnt quite a bit about archaeology, the preparing stages, a bit about excavating, a great deal about the history of the area. We also went through TJ's photo archives and have seen how the general wear and tear of time, such as flooding, has affected the buildings. I would definitely be interested in a career in this field of work."
by Dan Davidson
The grandson of the man who built the Old Log Church in Whitehorse and the original log version of Saint Paul's Anglican Church in Dawson City was in the territory last week to retrace some of his ancestor's footsteps.
John Bowen and his wife, Carole, hail from, Komoka, Ontario, not far from London, which is close to where the Reverend R.J. Bowen ended his days after a career which included some years spent in both Dawson and Whitehorse.
John Bowen says that his grandfather's unpublished memoirs, which he found just a few years ago after the death of his father, talk of having built four churches in the Yukon, but the rest were probably in areas which have not survived the century long search for gold.
"This one's mentioned in the book," John said.
Carole said they have been reading a photocopy of the book - the original was written on rice paper - while they have travelled the territory, but they left it in Whitehorse for someone there to copy and will be picking it up as they swing through later this week.
"We certainly wanted to see this one," she said. Looking up Bowen in the Dawson Community Library, they found he had done the first Anglican service, funeral, marriage, baptism and communion. Bowen married Susan Mullet, who was the first female missionary in the area.
Bowen served in the Yukon from 1897 to 1902 and was rector on the pro cathedral in Dawson from 1897-99.
Interest in the Bowen's visit has been high. When they stopped in Whitehorse to get some mechanical work done, they bumped into a member of the committee planning the anniversary of the Old Log Church, which will take place later this summer.
When Flo Whyard got wind of the fact that they has been able to slip quietly through Whitehorse, she immediately contacted the Star correspondent in Dawson and warned him to be on the lookout.
"I left her a message," John said.
"We did try to contact her," Carole added, "but we had reservations to keep here."
The Bowens spent about four days in Dawson, an amount of time they found barely adequate to do what they wanted, before heading north to Inuvik. He is a retired Bell Canada employee and she has just ended a career in nursing.
They've wanted to make this trip before, but this is the first time they've had the opportunity to go any distance.
Bowen barely knew his grandfather, who died when he was 10 or 11, but his grandmother survived into his teens. While there was some talk about the Klondike, he really became aware of it in a major way after finding the Reverend Bowen's manuscript, just a few years ago.
by Dan Davidson
The simultaneous departure of two large caravans of motor homes led to Dawson's first major ferry line-up of the season. Stretching six blocks and taking up to 4 hours to get through the line-up did lead to frustration for some tourists, but many seemed content to sit it out.
John and Carole Bowen, of Komoka, Ontario, had been waiting for 3 1/2 hours when they reached the front end of the line at 10:45 Wednesday morning. When they joined it, the line-up was only back as far as the SS Keno, but by noon it had reached Sammi's Place at the corner of Princess and Front, six blocks from the road to the ferry landing.
At the Visitors Reception Centre Peggy Amendola said the cause was that two caravans had lined up at right about 7:30. When it became obvious that the process was going to be a long one she worked to persuade a few travellers that it would make more sense to stay another day and get an early start tomorrow.
Julie Fellers, an employee with the Highways Department, indicated that the caravan leaders had been informed of the likely problem and advised that one of the groups should try to get away before the regularly scheduled and advertised ferry maintenance shut down between 6 and 7 a.m. on every Wednesday, but that neither of them would listen.
Since the Canada / U.S border crossing at Little Gold does not open until 9 a.m. (closes at 9 p.m.), perhaps that is one reason tour groups do not want to leave here too early in the morning.
By mid afternoon the crush had been reduced to three blocks and was slowly being ferried away.
by Dan Davidson
The tourist season seems to have been a bit late is starting this year, but those keeping track believe it is getting back to normal.
At the Klondike Visitors Association Valerie Anderson says this year seems to have been 10 days to 2 weeks late starting.
"The town has filled up to a comfortable level," she said. Attendance is down about 10% at Diamond Tooth Gerties and about 8% at the Gaslight Follies, but Anderson feels that most of this is attributable to the late start.
One factor was the temporary closure of the Taylor/Top of the World Highway for a few days early in the month. Somehow, word of these problems gets out immediately and word that they have been fixed always takes longer.
The popular theory among the business sector is that the Y2K scare in the USA hit its peak just about the time that people normally plan their vacations, and so many didn't plan that far ahead, expecting that the computer crisis would have created widespread economic chaos which would not have ended by the summer.
Downstairs, at the territorial Visitor Reception Centre on Front Street, Trevor Van Rumpt says that walk-in traffic seems to be on par with a regular July. May was down and June down somewhat, but not as much as some people have been saying.
Van Rumpt says that over the last two years he has heard a number o people say that they planned their trips here for early in the season to beat the peak summer rush that they expected to accompany the Gold Rush Centennial events. What he's hearing now is that travellers decided to wait for what they thought would be the best weather, which comes a little later in the season.
At Guggieville Campground Brenda Caley has noticed a decline in business. Her baseline is 1995, before the Goldrush hoopla boosted the numbers, and compared to that year, her RV business and bus tours coming in to pan for gold are both down. She attributes some of it to the fact that there are now three RV campgrounds in a row, but even so, she says the buses aren't as full as they were.
One annual traveller to the Yukon is Stan Cohen, the owner of Pictorial Histories Publishing Company in Montana. Cohen, the author/compiler of such books as The Streets were Paved with Gold and Dawson, Queen City of the North, and A Klondike Centennial Scrapbook, says he found things slow during the first two weeks of his month long swing through the Yukon and Alaska, but that traffic had picked up considerably by the time he reached Dawson in the third week of the month.
by Tara McCauley
"What can we learn about our community's history from a cemetery?" This was the question of the day, Tuesday, July 4th at the first in a series of summer lectures hosted by the Dawson Museum. Guest speaker, Star Jones, attempted to answer that question. Star, who along with her husband Ed, has been working for more than three years researching and restoring the ten cemeteries located in and around Dawson City.
The Jones' first came to Dawson in 1962. Coming over the from Alaska, they approached Dawson and saw the dilapidated town. "It was all grey and falling apart."
They were intrigued, however, and ended up spending the summer there. It was during this time that they had their first encounter with Dawson Cemeteries. Alan Innes-Taylor, who would become a close friend and their mentor in Klondike History, gave them jobs cutting trees and grass in the Dome Pioneer Cemetery. They came back to Dawson the following summer and then stayed for two years, bought Sister's Island and ran Yukon Queen boat tours on the river. However, as it was only seasonal employment, they decided after two years that it time to go home to New Mexico and get "real jobs". The Jones' have been back to Dawson almost every summer since their first visit and after they retired in 1992, were able to dedicate more time to preserving Dawson history.
Revisiting some of the old cemeteries they noticed that the markers had visibly faded and were not legible. That, along with the conviction that, as the State Association for the Preservation of Iowa Cemeteries states, "a cemetery exists because every life is worth loving and remembering- always, " made them decide to do a complete cemetery study and do something about the wooden markers that had faded and were decaying in the ground.
The whole process of deciphering grave sites is like a giant puzzle. The elements have taken their toll over the years and as virtually all of the grave markers are wooden, insect infestations account for a large part of the decay. This makes the job much more difficult. "We'll use anything to get sources," Star tells the group.
Armed with a number of volunteers and a Heritage grant that enabled them to hire a term employee, they have consulted various mortuary, church sacramental, and hospital death records, and scoured the obituaries in every local paper that ever existed with the exception of the Klondike Korner. They also examined the remaining grave markers and carried out additional research across Canada and the U.S. The result of these efforts has been the creation of an extensive three thousand name database on burials in Dawson City for use by researchers, genealogists and descendants.
At the lecture Star went through the various processes of determining grave sites and also talked about the conditions of each cemetery they have researched, ranging from ones in very poor condition to others, such as the NWMP cemetery which has been so neatly kept and documented.
To illustrate what they're up against Star brought in several photos and old markers to pass around. "It's a macabre hobby," she jokes.
Sometimes grave markers have not one discernible marking. However, even if there is only one number or letter they can put the pieces together going on old records, the shape of the marker, which can determine religion and/or affiliation of the deceased and other clues.
Other times, the marker is not even placed on the right grave. When markers were not placed immediately following the burial and pile of headboards built up. Then in an effort to get all of them placed, the markers were just randomly put on the different graves.
The boom and bust nature of Dawson's past has also contributed to decay of cemeteries. With a transient population, the families of the deceased had often moved on and were not able to care for the graves of their loved ones.
Most of the graves in Dawson's cemeteries are of young American and French Canadian men. The main causes of death at the time were typhoid, scurvy, mine cave-ins and drownings. For women it was childbirth.
Star estimates that it will take approximately two more years to finish up their work on the 8th Avenue and Hillside cemeteries. "We don't want to offend anyone. Our one goal is to put the markers back in place." It is the wish of the Jones' that one day, professionals can be brought in with more technical knowledge to help better preserve the cemeteries.
Star spoke to a captivated audience of approximately 18 people, all locals, many of whom stayed at the end to further discuss and share their experiences and knowledge of Dawson's cemeteries with Star.
by Tara McCauley
Klondike National Historic Sites has a new program has started this summer. "Afternoon Tea at Government House," is held on the shaded verandah of the Commissioner's Residence on Front Street.
The program gives visitors an opportunity to attend the last social occasion held at the residence in 1916, just before the then Commissioner, George Black and his wife, Martha left Dawson to assist in the Great War.
Visitor's present their "calling cards" to the parlour maid upon arrival at the house and are seated at elegantly decorated tables, complete with linen, china and silver. Guests are then served tea, lemonade, English tea sandwiches, and sweets. The sweets, which are delicious, are provided by Tintina Bakery and fudge from Klondike Cream & Candy.
Parks Canada interpreters attend the tea in character as three Gold Rush pioneers. These important historical figures include: Martha Black, Laura Berton and Mme. Tremblay. They enter and converse with the "modern" visitors over tea and then reminisce about their lives and celebrate their achievements in the Klondike. The text is based on diaries, biographies and newspaper accounts of the time.
The Tea is concluded with a simplified tour of the Residence, hosted by Chatelaine of the house, Mrs. Black.
It is quite entertaining as a guest to be transformed into the world of 1916 and "play along". It takes place in the beautiful setting of the Commissioner's Residence and is relaxing as well as informative. In speaking with some of the guests, they all had positive responses.
This unique program is available on Sunday, Wednesday, and Fridays, June 16 to August 20, 2000 and commences at 2:00 p.m. and lasts approximately an hour and a half.
"Calling cards" cost $20.00 CDN and are sold in advance and only by reservation at the Visitor Reception Centre at the Parks Canada desk. Reservation can be made between 9:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. daily and must be made prior to 11:00 a.m. on Tea day. To keep the event intimate, the maximum reservations accepted for each Tea is 24 people.
by Tara McCauley
Thursday, July 13th, My Friend Wendy's Art Gallery at Tintina Bakery held their third art show since the bakery's opening in February of 1999. The show featured the works of Angela Rout, Melinda Warren, beadwork by Shelley Hakonson, a work in progress by Cynthia Hunt, funky clothes (in anticipation of Dawson City Music Festival) by Sylvia Strutton and jewelry by Leslie Chapman, who has just recently opened Fortymile Gold workshop/studio.
As soon as you stepped out of the vehicle at the bakery, located at Henderson Corner, you inhaled the smell of freshly baked bread. The log structure is a very intimate setting with several little nooks and crannies. The stairwell and upstairs section is where most of the art pieces could be found. The cherry red floors and muted green walls gave a very warm feeling to the gallery.
Although several artists' work was presented, the showcase on this occasion was Angie Rout. Rout, originally from BC, has been in Dawson for the past year. She actually spent part of the winter living part-time in the space that is now showing her work. She had been living in town but did not have a large enough work space to create large pieces. Hence, many of her paintings are quite small. After being selected by the Arctic Winter Games Committee, however, to represent the Yukon in the cultural contingent, she began to search for a larger space and somehow got hooked up with Jayne Fraser. It was during this time that the piece "Anglican Church Thrift Shop, Dawson City" came into existence.
"The distinctive chaos and warmth [of the Thrift Shop] seemed to bring together the many contrasting elements of living in the North." Those were her words in a text adjoining the canvas. The painting certainly does emanate those sentiments of which so many Dawsonites can comprehend, having spent time at the Thrift Shop.
Her other large canvas is of the Tintina Bakery mixer, a giant machine that was actually found sitting on top of a tailing pile. Not knowing if it would even work, it took several people to help transport it to the bakery. When it was finally in place and dusted off it worked like a charm, however, it was still missing its bowl. The bowl was later discovered as someone had found it and was using it as a planter. The mixer and its bowl were soon reunited and the rest is, as the old saying goes, history. For this particular painting, Rout never actually painted in front of the mixer. As space was limited she instead did a series of small drawings and sketches of different parts of the machine, brought them upstairs and put it all together.
Most of all her smaller pieces are done from photos. Among them, you find such titles as: "Laughing at the Pit" and "Area Code (867)" , which is of a girl talking on the phone . "The themes I choose are from my immediate experience: in houses, local places... I'm not trying to document, just practice."
"My biggest satisfaction is seeing all the stuff coming together to make [the painting] work."
"I get a kick out of putting a show together. It enables you to meet the community in other ways than normal." Appreciation of her work from others also encourages her.
Rout graduated a year ago from UBC with a degree in Fine Arts and will be attending the University of Calgary in the fall to start her Masters in architecture.
Following the art show at My Friend Wendy's Art Gallery, Rout's pieces will be heading up the Dempster to be displayed at the Great Northern Art's Festival in Inuvik.
All in all it was a very pleasant evening. Good art, good food and good company.
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