|Gypsy Soul gets down at the Dawson Music Fesitival. Photo by Joe Asheton|
by Dan Davidson
Dawson City should become a World Heritage Site.
That is the opinion of Pierre Berton, arguably Dawson's most famous living son, and Pierre Dalibard, former executive director of Heritage Canada (not to be confused with the federal Department of Canadian Heritage) and currently a professor in historical conservation at the University of Montreal.
Both men have extensive personal interests in Dawson City. Berton's is obvious. He's written a dozen books on the subject. Dalibard was with Parks Canada, as it was then known, when the Klondike National Historic Site was first established, and was involved in that process, having been inspired by Berton's film, "City of Gold".
Berton took Dalibard's suggestion to Mayor Glenn Everitt in late June and had a letter before council at the July 7 meeting.
Berton proposes that "Dawson qualifies under at least two of the six cultural criteria for inclusion on the World Heritage List, which is divided into physical and cultural categories."
Dawson would be a cultural site which would, according to the text from UNESCO's own website:
"ii. exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design...
"iv. be an outstanding example of a type of building or architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history..."
In an interview from Ottawa on July 10, Dalibard suggested that Berton was being too modest and that another criterion also would apply, covering the contributions of Robert Service, Jack London and himself:
"vi. be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance..."
Berton, interviewed at his Kleinberg, Ontario home on July 10, stated that the first move in this process was to get city council to apply to have the city considered. He was pleased to learn that council had decided to do this on July 7. He is hoping that the territorial government, which also has a copy of his letter, will be equally enthusiastic.
After the council's application, Berton says the paperwork has to go through the federal government, specifically through Heritage Minister Sheila Copps.
Said Berton, "I think we can shortcut the process because Parks Canada is more tied up with Dawson City than any other government organization and has all of the background materials, all the files and everything else. Really, they should make the presentation."
The World Heritage Site program was established by the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage adopted by the United Nations Educational Social and Cultural Organization in 1972. The actual decision would be made by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS).
Should Dawson City be approved, it would join 506 properties which the World Heritage Committee has inscribed on the World Heritage List The UNESCO website lists 380 cultural, 107 natural and 19 mixed properties.
In Canada there are currently ten sites, established between 1978 and 1995. They include L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Park (the site of the first Viking settlement in Newfoundland), Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta, the historic area of Quebec City and the old town section of Lunenburg in Nova Scotia.
Once it is clear that everyone in the Yukon supports the idea, Berton and Dalibard (who used to sit on the ICOMOS board) are prepared to meet personally with Heritage Minister Copps to expedite the matter and convince her to let the application be handled by her department officials.
What would the benefits be to Dawson City? Berton is enthusiastic about that.
"I think it would be psychologically strong, but even more than that I think it would be a spur to the tourist business. It would be something to be proud of anyway."
Dalibard thinks that "Dawson has a very good chance of getting on the list. I don't think it should be too long a process for Dawson because I don't think there would be too much opposition."
When Dalibard worked on a similar proposal for Quebec City a few years ago, there was some reluctance due to the need to preserve historic buildings once the designation is made. Dawson is used to trying to do that and has done a lot of it, so Dalibard, who was in on the initial Parks Canada planning here, thinks it should be a smoother process.
He believe that getting on the list would make Dawson even more widely known than it is around the world and might cause a greater influx of tourists than the town is actually able to handle. He stresses that getting ready for an upgrading of Dawson's international profile would be a necessity.
"It could be be quite detrimental to the town if no planning has been done. It could increase the number of tourists and create more jobs. Eventually it could give more money to Dawson for better planning and management. All around I think it's very positive.
"I'm surprised that nothing has been done before, because to me it's quite obvious."
He says that the only possible competition for this type of site would be from Australia, and he's not worried.
"I've been to Australia, and I don't think anything there could compare with Dawson in term so the significance and the impact that it had on the rest of the world at the time. The richness of the history has been well publicized. It's one of the great stories. At the turn of the century we didn't have anything bigger than that."
by Dan Davidson
One of the keys to reenacting the Ton of Gold flotilla over the last weekend was the arrival of the Dawson descendants, members of families that got their start here in the Klondike. Some of them, like the Fraser clan, live here all the time anyway and hardly seem to get noticed, but others, like two dozen members of the Lind family of Ontario, make quite a splash when they all arrive at once.
The descendants were treated to some history lessons (courtesy of Michael Gates, author of Gold at Fortymile), some beautiful weather and a fine meal out at the Discovery Claim on Saturday morning. Commissioner Judy Gingell was there to welcome them and speak to the role of First Nations people during the Stampede.
The afternoon events were mostly centered on the old Saint Mary's Hospital Site and the Gold Panning venue in the North End of Dawson. At that site there was a special event that attracted a lot of attention. Even in Dawson, not that many people have actually seen raw gold being poured into molds and later knocked out and cleaned up.
Greg Hakonson and his Eldorado Placers crew did three pourings during the afternoon, to the delight of the tourists, locals and visiting descendants, who got to see the flaming flux spilling over the rim, hear the sizzle as the still hot metal bar evaporated the water and melting the ice in the bucket and handle the deceptively heavy little bar as it was passed 'round the crowd.
Just down the hill, in the Music Festival tent, the "ton of gold' was on display for all to see. Local musicians kept the air filled with lively tunes while the visitors filed past the real gold, or posed with the Northwest Mountie on duty at the stack of "gold" bars that represented the real item.
By that time it was such a "hot" day that the cloudburst around 4:30 was a welcome relief from the glare of the sun.
For those who hadn't stoked too full earlier in the day, there was another feast on hand in the early evening, a full BBQ spread organized by the Percy DeWolfe Race Committee.
by Dan Davidson
It's hard to say just when things start. The Klondike Gold Rush has so many beginnings that, as the Governor General noted at the Commissioner's Ball last month, the centennials are taking years to act out.
Here's another suggestion. The finding of the gold was one beginning, but the rush didn't take off until the word of the find got out. Fortymile, the site of an earlier, profitable, but less spectacular find was emptied in almost no time. The rest of the world had to wait to learn what had happened.
The way they found out was the arrival of the ships in Seattle, loaded with the 68 rich miners who had already made their fortunes, loaded, in short, with that fabled Ton of Gold, the $700,000 worth ballyhooed in the July 17, 1897 edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
That journey would have begun at the riverside in the nascent Dawson City that was to be.
So the Klondyke Centennials Society, in conjunction with organizations in Whitehorse, Carcross, Skagway and Seattle, have planned a two week long event to commemorate the original journey.
The celebration began in Dawson City at noon on Sunday, June 6, as a parade wound its way from Diamond Tooth Gerties to the Yukon River. The RCMP were out in full Red Serge, while several dozen visitors from the Dawson descendants group marched behind. This was a transportation parade and so was filled up with every form of transport available, from antique trucks to carts and bicycles.
Most incongruous, and yet strangely in keeping with the situation, was the stark grey Brink's van, bearing a "precious cargo" bound for the river.
The ultimate destination for the truck's cargo and for many of those in the parade was Schmidt Mining's newly painted Amelia Lupine, a barge hung with centennial banners and fitted out for the day with bleachers to hold all the people it had to carry.
Before anyone could board the waiting vessel, there were several bits of pageantry to be done. First was the official opening of the as yet unnamed new Yukon River docks, officiated over by Mayor Glen Everitt, resplendent in tuxedo and official chain of office.
Brinks' guards "struggled" with their "precious cargo", imaginatively stowed in three large crates at the bow of the boat. The gold plated display bricks remained ashore for the time being, provided an amazing picture opportunity for the hundreds of people who had assembled on the dyke to witness the day's events.
Postmaster Lambert Curzon launched yet another stamp collectors' dream by packing a loaded mail sack onto the boat, destined to be cancelled in Seattle next week. Historically dressed descendants, filled out by members of the community, employees of Klondike National Historic Sites and the Dawson City Museum, assembled along the dock for a memorial photograph or three. Indeed about the only individual unwilling to pose on the dock was Justin, the RCMP's summer horse, proving that you can lead a horse to the gangplank, but you can't make him cross.
Once the hoopla was over, the Amelia Lupine disembarked for Pleasure Island, followed by the sightseeing vessel the Yukon Lou and a motley collection of banner hung canoes and power boats. The afternoon reception at the island was the last of the festivities here before the real journey to Whitehorse could begin later in the day.
According to Akio Saito advisor to the KCS, the real gold being shipped out to Seattle as part of this adventure will have a value on the order of $1.2 million dollars. About 3,000 ounces of real Klondike gold are part of this venture, including the three bricks that were poured as part of the demonstrations on Saturday, loose gold, smaller bricks and nuggets.
The gold will actually make its journey by Brinks van, under security arrangements that no one is willing to discuss for obvious reasons.
The forty display bricks themselves are pretty valuable, each one having cost its sponsor $897.
All the elements of the flotilla will assemble in Whitehorse on Thursday, to be ready to stage an arrival ceremony. And so on to Carcross, Skagway and thence to Seattle where, perhaps, the news will once again ring out as it did 100 years ago
by Dan Davidson
"Yet it isn't the gold that I'm wanting So much as just finding the gold." - Robert W. Service - "The Spell of the Yukon"
Robert Service summed up the Klondike experience as a desire to pit oneself against the elements and survive. In the reverse of the Marxist dictum, the means justified the end.
When Pierre Berton wrote Klondike, produced the film "City of Gold", and set in motion the national reaction which led to the resurrection of his home town, his guiding theme was to consider the epic movement of men and women which made up the Gold Rush. He concluded that, for most people, it was the journey that mattered, not the destination.
John Grieve Lind got both. He had the satisfaction of making the effort as well as the reward of leaving the Klondike a rich man.
He hadn't been one when he first headed west from Ontario. he came from a poor family and was one of eleven children. Grandson Phil Lind, a successful media entrepreneur in Toronto now, recalls that his grandfather had only a grade 6 education when he went "railroading".
But he had drive, and by 1894 he had become a successful contractor and had gained experience building bridges and other engineering challenges.
Walter, his 82 year old son, looked around the Discovery Claim on Bonanza Creek on July 5 and concluded that his father had learned the skills he needed to work in the Klondike. He and a partner, a man named Mitchell, had come north in 1893 or 94, Walter recalls, and were already in Fortymile when the news of the Rabbit Creek find got there.
In short order they were in the Klondike, buying up shares in a dozen claims, ending up with over 4,000 men working ground where they had a stake. By the time the news of the strike hit the outside world in Seattle in July 1897, Lind was already successful. He continued to amass wealth here until 1902.
Walter says that his dad could see the end of the small time operations by then and was ready to move on. "He went home...put (his money) into cement, and with the help of others built up a formidable cement business in Canada."
The business was only recently sold to British interests, having survived long enough to be the last large independent Canadian company of its type.
J. G. Lind never returned to the Yukon, but some members of his family have been back often.
"This is my fifth trip," said Walter, who came for the Ton of Gold celebrations. He's walked, canoed, driven and flown to the Klondike over the years. "We've come every way you can."
That's not true of all the members of his family, but it's certainly true of his son, Phil, who looks at his grandfather's accomplishments as a kind of lesson in character building.
Phil Lind talks of the Klondike as if he wants to be laughing all the time he's here, as if he's full of energy and good will for the place.
"It's been kind of a tradition in our family... What was told to us was that you could do anything if you set your mind to it, because that's how grandfather did it.
"I think it's about the spirit of what is encompassed here rather than the actual (fact) that he went and mined for gold. There's a lot of philosophy behind this thing...the spirit of the Yukon, which is that there are opportunities available, but it's not easy. Life isn't easy so you have to work to succeed."
That work may be hard, but it has rewards that may be passed on through generations.
"In a way our family...started right here," says Phil Lind, gazing around the Klondike hills on the Bonanza Creek Road. "He carved out a new dimension for our family. It was a pivotal point in our family's development."
Phil Lind has bought the philosophy completely, and has a personal fascination with the place that nurtured it.
"I'm a small time collector of memorabilia," he admits.
"He's a Yukon fanatic," breaks in local historian Michael Gates.
Lind beams. "It's always fascinated me. This is one of the best stories that Canada has. It has everything. It juxtaposes us vis-a-vis the United States. It's a perfect context - how the Americans were here, had their own societal makeup and how we dealt with that in Canada.
"It's just a great, great story."
The Lind family enthusiasm can be seen in practical terms in the fact that 24 family members turned up for this year's centennial highlight, the Ton of Gold recreation. If it's a great story, they're determined to be a part of it.
by Dan Davidson
It's not physically possible to take in everything at the Dawson City Music Festival any more. It hasn't been for years, but this is driven home especially to anyone trying to get a handle on the festival for the purpose of covering it.
My own schedule included two workshops each day, along with the mini-concerts in the evenings at Saint Paul's and Saint Mary's. On top of that I made it a point to cruise by some of the other venues and spend at least part of the evening at a couple of mainstage concerts.
Even so, I found myself at home around midnight, hitting the computer keyboard while keeping an eye and ear on the rest of the event via the tiny black and white tv I keep in my study.
According to Natalie MacMaster, who says she has been to a lot of festivals in the last while, this one is unique in the degree to which it will go to smooth the path for the performers. "We keep changing our minds," she told the audience on Saturday night, but the organizers and the technical crew keep right up with them, whether it's for setting up the stage or transportation.
Of course, by the last concert, musicians are ready to thank everyone for everything. Hookaman thanked the committee, the "City of Dawson, for putting up all these buildings and letting us have a concert where there was a gold rush", and "the people who make beer."
The organizing committee has done its best to make full use of the town, with more than twenty workshops set in Saint Paul's, Saint Mary's, the Palace Grand the waterfront Gazebo and the Mainstage tent in Minto Park. The range is phenomenal, clearly indicating how far the music festival has outgrown its "folk festival" beginnings.
The subjects include Flamenco dancing, percussion, African music, jazz, harmony, guitar styles, songwriting (2 sessions), Celtic, river songs, strange instruments, country music, Gospel, wind, women's music, kids' workshop, and on.
There were three mainstage concert/dances, one for each night of the festival. A fourth dance, this one for youth, was held at the Tr'ondek Centre. Two hour evening concerts for listeners were held at the two churches.
The organizers kept the events moving, and acts like the Scared Little Weird Guys and Tomas Kubinek came up with ingenious ways to bridge the gaps during set-ups.
The good people from TECH and all the volunteers who assisted in matters of moving and electronics surely deserve a large round of applause for dedicating themselves above and beyond the call of duty.
The list of volunteers who make the show go on is a long one. Although the main board of seven plus production/office manager Jen Edwards spend the entire year at the job, the list of eager workers swells to fill a page in the program when the final month of planning and work comes along. This is one of those events where a lot of Dawsonites come together to make something work.
The weather also cooperated at this year's festival. While there were more shelter tents and pavilions up than in the past to counter any possible disasters, the weekend was generally blessed with sunshine, and the showers that came along generally didn't last long enough to dampen spirits.
The final concert wrapped up shortly after midnight (Hey - local volunteers have to go to work tomorrow, after all.) with a rousing rendition of Bill Bourne's "Dance and Celebrate". Following that festival vice president John Steins was handed the sober task of announcing that it was time to vacate the tent. He softened the blow with a major announcement.
"All good things must come to an end I'm afraid. We can all look forward to next year when we're planning a year long event."
by Dan Davidson
Performers at the Parks Canada marionette show got a rude shock when they arrived at their big white tent on the Fort Herchmer grounds on Friday afternoon.
All the chains where the puppets hung when not in use had been pulled from the beam overhead. The stage curtains had been ripped from their hooks and the track on which they were hanging was bent. Some electrical cords leading to the speaker system for the show's soundtrack had been yanked out of their jacks.
Fortunately the most essential part of the show - the puppets - were under lock and key in another building.
The vandals also burned and tore mosquito netting at the main entrance to the tent. Bev Mitchell, a supervisor with Klondike National Historic Sites, is particularly concerned about that, since the entire tent could have gone up in flames.
As it stood, the show had to be cancelled for the day to give the crew a chance to assess the damage and get repairs done. They were hoping it would just take a day to rectify the problems.
Johnny Noonen, one of the performers at the site, says this is not the first time there has been a problem this summer. On an earlier occasion someone spray painted the numbers "666" and a pentagram on the tent flap opening. Similar logos were sprayed when damage was done in the Dawson City Museum's train enclosure earlier in the season.
"It's like they've tagged us with their sign and then they come back and trash us," Noonen said, "like wolves marking their territory.
"We're out the revenue, the personnel, the time that it will take to fix all this. Ultimately it's the kids that lose out, cause they're the majority of the people that come to this venue.
"They could have done a lot worse," he concedes. Nothing seemed to have been stolen and damage to the set paintings would really have slowed things down even more. But somehow the thought that someone has broken into to your work place and gone easy on you isn't comforting.
"So," said Mitchell, "you're left wondering should we just cancel this whole program? Is it going to be an ongoing situation that's going to be happening to us again and again? It is discouraging."
Parks does patrol all its venues in the town, and a security person would have been by the tent about three times during the night. Perhaps that is why more wasn't done.
Fort Herchmer is located next door to the new skate boarding facility, this has led to speculation that some of the kids from there, some who are known to be involved in vandalism activity around the town, might have something to do with this.
Mark Hopkins, youth programmer with the recreation department, emphasizes that some of the problem youth in town are making use of the park after it's officially closed each day, and that their depredations should not be confused with those of legitimate boarders.
This year's show is "Discovery Quest", which Noonen describes as Skookum Jim's and George Carmack's versions of the discovery of gold.
by Dan Davidson
Dick North is just coming to the end of his stint as interpreter at the Jack London Centre for this year. The centre, located a block from Robert Service's Cabin and Berton House, was originally created from North's collection of London memorabilia.
Since Dick was also the driving force behind the relocation and authentication of the London cabin, it has always been fitting that he would be involved with its annual presentation to the public.
Most summers North has spent part of his time in Dawson working on a manuscript for some new project, but this year his book on Jack London in the Klondike is complete and is currently being serialized in the Yukon News while it make the rounds of potential publishers.
While North may soon be turning over his desk to local Dawne Mitchell, that won't mean the end of his involvement with Dawson for the year. For North has been selected as the host of Jack London Festival, which will be run in Dawson this year from September 18 to 21.
The one time event is being organized to celebrate the 100th anniversary of London's arrival in the Yukon, the trip that gave him two best-selling novels, several books of short stories, and continued to be part of his writing output for the rest of his career.
After an unsuccessful attempt at being a miner, London arrived in Dawson suffering from scurvy (or, as recent reports are suggesting, a more long term medical problem which eventually killed him) and recovered here before heading home to California and fame.
The event is intended to attract attention from London aficionados world wide. Checking out London on the world wide web would certainly lead to the impression that there are London fanatics simply everywhere. The web sites and chat lines are quite numerous. Some just feature discussion of his life and work, while others contain detailed scholarly papers .
The London Festival will include films, round-table discussions, tours of the London Centre and side trips (an extra cost item) to the Henderson Creek site where North and Joe Henry located the cabin years ago.
Unlike many other events in the Klondike, this one is not free, and has a conference fee of $300, which includes hotel occupancy. Interested parties can contact Dominic Lloyd Special Events Coordinator for the Klondike Visitors Association at Box 389, Dawson City, by fax at (403) 993-6415 and by e-mail at Kva@dawson.net.
In preparation for the Festival, the KVA is seeking to outfit the cabin in the manner in which London and his partners might have furnished it during their winter stay. Donations of any stampeder/trapper type materials would be welcomed by the KVA during the next couple of months.
Meanwhile, North is looking forward to a short summer vacation before coming back again. The festival will, he is certain, be a highlight of his year.
by Dan Davidson
All is not well at the Palace Grand this season. Arizona Charlie Meadows (Wally McKinnon) hit the sauce and the gaming tables on the same night and wound up leaving a massive IOU with a British visitor without telling his wife, Mae (Trish Barclay).
So, just minutes into the evening's entertainment, after a really goofy warmup and intro by pianist Konrad Pluta, the show is disrupted by the arrival of Lord Overwrought (Scott Burke). This stuffed Brit has come to tame the west, to bring Shakespeare to the north and culture to the stage.
Culture? At the Palace Grand? The very idea would curl the toes of locals and drive the bus tour seats away in droves. How can Charlie and Mae subvert his plans and keep control of their valuable asset. not to mention survive the summer season and keep the customers satisfied?
That's the framework story within which the elements of a standard evening at the Gaslight Follies must be inserted with as much good humour and general merriment as possible. After all, most of the seats for this show are booked several years in advance and the annual production needs to bear some resemblance to what people are expecting.
What are they expecting? Well, there's bound to be a little bit of pseudo-vaudeville, a few belly laughs, some opportunities to boo and hiss, some singing and dancing, a few Mounties, a chase, and a few surprises. This year's show has all of those items, material this reviewer has seen shuffled a few times during the last 11 years of Follies.
The real question here is: are we having a good time? Sure it's a bit of the old stuff and bit of new, but is it fun; is the cast into the game; have they drawn in the audience?
The test of audience participation is two-fold, two skits which serve up hapless members of the some bus tour to a memorable bit of embarrassment in front of their peers.
The "Trail of Love" skit is the female entrapment piece, and it's become more complex over the years, moving from one trap to three. On this particular night the lady selected is a gem, and the skit spins out to over 15 minutes, cracking up the audience and, apparently, several members of the cast along the way. We all know we're in trouble when Burke begins his Nelson Eddy routine, asks for her name and gets "Jeanette" for an answer.
The male "volunteer" has a hard act to follow later in the show during the sing-along number. Poor "Gus Edwards" has to provide the sound effects while the audience sings "Merry Oldsmobile". He does very well indeed. Two gems in one night.
The short skits include some barbershop stuff, an out-take from a rehearsal for "Romeo & Juliet", a large card trick, a Shakespearean collage of misremembered quotations, the inauguration of a New Mountie and chase scene that comes out of nowhere and goes right back again.
The dancing ladies (Barclay and Stacy Smith) tell us all about "Naughty Naughty Men", Mae Meadows provides a fiddle tune and Graham Coffeng does a nice turn as a smitten miner.
This being the year of travel, the show has to have a journey in it somewhere. Writer/Director Burke chose to weave this tale musically into Robert Service's poem, "The Trail of Ninety-Eight" from Ballads of a Cheechako. The songs between the verses come from the fertile minds of Jim Betts, Cathy Elliot and Burke himself, with collaboration from Konrad Pluta. The piece is quite long and fairly serious all the way through. There were no complaints. It worked well.
The Palace is a grand old place to hold an evening's entertainment, and folks come away with bright smiles and spirits lifted on this particular evening. That's about what you can expect from a production where the cast clearly are enjoying themselves.
by Yvette Brend
Used by permission
Philippe Lamarche is still having a hard time signing his real name. After years of living as a fugitive from justice, the lies are finally over. Under his alias, Wade Simon, he could never dream of travelling to Europe, sharing wedding vows with his common-law wife, or introducing his mother in the Yukon as Mrs. Lamarche.
The 36-year-old Dawson City man has been released and sent home to serve two years of parole here in the town where he rebuilt his life after running away from the correctional system.
The self-described ex-drug addict was shocked by the community's out-pouring of support after he was arrested June 10 on an outstanding warrant. Thirteen years ago, he walked away from the halfway house where he was serving out a 3 1/2-year sentence for a violent robbery. Even so, letters of support and petitions from his friends and neighbors kept coming.
"It's overwhelming. It's my Governor-General Award. It's my Nobel Peace Prize," Lamarche said on July 7 in Whitehorse.
"I don't feel that I deserved this. There's 2,000 people in Dawson City, and they don't get a pat on the back for being a law-abiding citizen. I feel indebted, like I have to wash all their cars now, or something."
On July 7, the kitchen manager of Klondike Kate's Restaurant and Hotel in Dawson waited an agonizing 30 minutes while a National Parole Board panel weighed his 20-year-old criminal record against his current life and decided his fate.
Parole officer Karen Frank told the panel during the Whitehorse hearing that Lamarche had become a model citizen, turning bad habits around on his own.
"He's one of the few that I've seen," she added.
The two-member panel listened to 90 minutes of presentations from Lamarche, his common-law wife, Josee Savard, a parole officer and a prison case worker. The panel then closed the door on the media and the presenters, and began mulling over the unusual case in a conference room at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre.
When the door reopened, they did not erase Lamarche's outstanding debt to the justice system, but, the panel members made it clear there was no point returning him to jail.
"Your unorthodox path of rehabilitation produced 13 years of crime-free behavior," said panel member Gus Richardson. "You've lived with your own built-in prison."
For Lamarche, the panel's ruling marks an end to a long chapter of lies and hiding in his life.
"This was the middle of the road, I guess ... I don't think they had much of a choice. They weren't able to just cut me loose because I'd be setting precedent, and I don't think it would be to anybody's advantage for me to go back in jail."
He was serving a sentence for a violent robbery when he walked away from his hometown at 23.
He hired a lawyer last February and had hoped to turn himself in by September. "I was more than willing to go to jail if I had to."
But a sharp-eyed RCMP officer beat him to it.
Lamarche said somebody recognized a computer-enhanced mug shot of his face and turned him in - very likely one of his hockey mates or restaurant customers in Dawson. Lamarche has no hard feelings.
"Friend or not, he still has to do a job. He's got to put that aside." Now that it's over, Lamarche can dream of holding a passport in about seven years. He can apply for a driver's license and answer the phone without fear. He plans to marry his beloved - something he could never bring himself to do because it would mean lying to a priest about who he is. Lamarche is eager to return to his business, left strapped after his arrest, and he plans to make this up to the people he loves. He said his partner had never known his secret - only his siblings and parents knew the truth.
"(Josee's) carried a heavy load, and I've got to make it up to her in a lot of ways," Lamarche said after his common-law wife spoke eloquently in his defence at the hearing.
She told the panel she planned to stand by Lamarche - no matter what his name is.
"We've built a business together by being responsible and committed. We've shown the community of Dawson we're there to stay," she said, adding, "He's a good person. I've known him for 10 years, and he's never shown me any violence."
But the soft-spoken man, well-known for wind-surfing the Yukon River and para-gliding from the Dome in Dawson, did once have a violent side. The parole board asked him to recall who he was; to recount the twisted path that led him into life as a fugitive.
"I guess I fell into the wrong group of people," said Lamarche. "I did everything from acid to barbiturates."
Despite a solid family and athletic prowess, he told the parole board that he just seemed to slip further and further into trouble. By his early 20s, he had a conviction for each year of his life, including break and enters and an armed robbery. Finally, he stepped over a line and scared himself. He and a buddy picked up a guy from a well-known gay bar in Hull, Quebec, and took him to a park. They were loaded on "bombers" and alcohol. They ended up beating the man and stealing a ring ... leaving the bleeding victim with his wallet still in his pocket.
"I've had lots of time to think about it, but it still doesn't come clear," Lamarche told the panel. "I remember clearly the pictures of the victim. They were in color. That's what scared me straight; the fact that I was able to do this to a person."
Lamarche wanted to write a letter to apologize to his victim. He wanted to make amends, but victim-offender mediation didn't exist in 1982. Lamarche told the panel about his time in a Joyceville, Ontario, lock-up with two older men who got him interested in reading authors such as Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
"They were books about humanity and life where there was a struggle ... people all over the world are struggling, and they come out of it," he told the panel. Lamarche now recalls the two older ex-cons, and sees that they tried to help.
"I guess they saw in me what the judge saw ... a little bit of hope."
Later, an appeal court overturned his sentence and gave him more time. He was moved to a federal penitentiary, and later allowed day parole - but the two old guys were not around for guidance anymore. Lamarche told the panel he lasted for about three weeks. Then he saved up his construction work pay and hopped a westward-bound train.
When Lamarche walked away from the House of Hope in Ottawa 13 years ago, he sentenced himself to an inner prison of lies and constant shoulder-checks. He couldn't get a loan. He couldn't travel overseas. He now suffers from psoriasis - an itchy, stress-induced skin disease. But at one time, he told the panel, he saw no other escape. He saw himself headed back down a road toward drug addiction and armed robberies when he was stuck in a halfway house with too many youths eager to get back on the streets and back into drugs.
"I needed to prove it to myself, that I could do it myself," he said. Once in Vancouver, he bought a new identification for $50 and started work in restaurants. After a series of moves, he met Savard on a trip to Florida. The pair returned to Dawson and built a restaurant business together.
Lamarche said he stopped drinking and doing drugs and turned to sports - first racquetball, then wind-surfing, and finally para-gliding for his adrenalin highs.
"The longer I went without drugs, the stronger I was able to get." Nobody seemed to suspect his past, and in Dawson, he found a home.
"The biggest price I paid was not being able to be honest when somebody asked you who you were and where you came from ... losing your name is the toughest thing to do."
Despite the frustrations, he carried on, paid taxes, hired as many youths as the business could muster, and taught wind-surfing. But he never forgot his past. When some vandals hit his business, he asked them to wash dishes - not go to jail. He lobbied the mayor every chance he got to build programs for youths at risk.
"If this system is about rehabilitation, I'd have to say I'm 100-per-cent rehabilitated," he told the panel.
He encouraged more young offenders to ditch drugs and jump off 1,200-metre (4,000-foot) cliffs with a para-glider instead of doing crimes for a rush. "I don't want a whole bunch of people to walk away from day parole - I'd rather they stick with their rehabilitation."
As for returning to drugs and crime? Most people agree it's unlikely Lamarche is a concern.
"Life's too good ... I've got too much to lose now," said the husband-to-be, who's eager to return to work and face the world with his legitimate name. "I thought I had it in me. It's a daily struggle, but it's gotten easier over time."
"I'm so relieved. I'm so proud," the man's 76-year-old mother, Jean, said in an interview from Ottawa on the morning of July 8. "I'm so happy he turned his life around so well."
Ed Note: This story, with a few minor changes, originally appeared in the Whitehorse Star on July 8. Phillipe Lamarche is now at home in Dawson, and was too busy helping with the Music Festival to talk to use for this issue.
by Bruce Atkinson
I am not an entertaiment critic. I hesitate to call this a review of the nightly performances at Diamond Tooth Gertie's. I mean who am I to tell people what's to like or dislike? So here's what I propose to do: I am not offering a skilled criticism, but thoughts and descriptions from a familiar perspective, that of a Dawson resident speaking to Dawson residents. I am not some brochure-writing charmer, or a tourist. A review by either of these would be of little or no use to us because their criteria is so different. Here's what I mean:
Dawson tourists seemed to have three criteria of assessing an enjoyable evening. First, did I find out where everybody I came into contact with was from? Second, did I tell everybody I came in contact with where I'm from? Third, were they impressed with where I am from? Any situation in which all three of these things are accomplished is considered an 'enjoyable time'. Therefore, a tourist's review of Gertie's might look like:
"...and then the manager, Diamond Tooth Gertie and her uh... Toothbrush Girls - which is what she calls the tarts of course - came into the audience after a little show. We had a chance to talk, and found out that the girls were from all over Canada, mostly from places we had never heard of. Then I told the girls that my wife and I were from Georgia, and well, they new right off where that was! Yeah, we had a real nice chat. Gertie's is a must-see for everyone."
To drive home the image, a Dawson tourist's review of being robbed at knife-point would probably look something like:
"...on our walk home from the a.t.m. machine my wife and I ran into a fine young gentleman in dark clothes with a knife. He was from a place called 'My Worst Nightmare', we didn't know where that was, but we guessed it must be cold because our new friend was wearing a ski-mask. We told him that we were from Georgia, and he said it was a real pleasure to get his hands on some yanky cash! No surprise, what with Canadian money being so confusing.
So, forgetting about the tourist industry for a second, here's a look at Gertie's you can use.
I committed myself to getting the real Dawsonite feel for my Gertie's experience, and part of that commitment involved sleeping through the first show. As a friend told me before I ever set foot in this city, "A Dawson night out usually starts the next morning". I felt it my duty to take whatever steps necessary to create that sensation, and so I only watched the second and third show. As the first kicks of the secod show brushed the air I made my entrance into the casino, and decided that there was just too much to discuss unless I broke it down into categories. First, the backbone of any musical type show:
The Music: There was some. I don't know what more to say about it, it was general accompaniment type ragtime. Good? Sure, but even if I said that "It was phenomenal, after twenty minutes of listening I quit smoking and began speaking to my estranged brother again", I don't think that there would be a line-up at a music store looking for a decent ragtime albums.
The Performances: I was impressed with the way Gertie was able to go head to head wit-wise with audience wise crackers. I have been on stage some during my short existenc her on earth, and from that I have learned to respect anyone who can think on their feet in front of a large crowd. The comments were never malicious, a couple of tourists up near the stage kept shouting, "Where are you from? Miss we have to go soon. Where are you from?" and aside from that there wer just genera catcalls and whatnot. To Gertie's credit, in all but one case she managed to one-up the comments without seeming to step out of character. Gertie also seemed fairly capable of handling whatever antics unfolded during anything involving audience members participating on stage. I will use as an example the number during which a gentleman is selected from the audience to slowly remove a garter from Gertie's thigh. I don't think I could sign my name on a wall with a crayon while some strange man has his face planted in my thigh trying to remove part of my underwear with his teeth. So you can just forget about me beign able to remember the words to whatever song I'm trying to sing.
As for the Gold Rush girls. It is my humble opinion that dancers have the hardes job on the planet here's the three reasons why:
With respect to this performance, everything seemed to be in order as far as can-can was coscerned. The Best Bit of Choreography award goes to a very physically demanding manoeuver performed when the dancers took turns bending down at the waist, placing their hands on their ears, pointing their elbows to the side and shuffling backwards. This little move is officially called the "law enforcement frisk" and is performed either when the director tells you, or when your arresting officer shouts "Ok, back in the squad car!" I'm not going to tell you exactly when in th show this move is performed, but I definitely think you should watch for it, it's nothing short of breathtaking.
The most disappointing aspect of the show the night I watched, was that the sound man had decleared the show the Louie Louie commmemorative performance, and I was unable to make out the majority of the words sung by the Gold Rush girls. The only words sung by them that I could make out were: "mummellmummel, I'm Sally from Paradis alley, mummel... lonely man's friend.." and, " Belly ujp, Bely up to the bar boys, mummel mummel mummel..." words which, I swear to you, will run through your head until you stand in the shower singing ' I'm too sexy' at the top of your lungs.
Finally, The Costumes:
I personally think that the costumees for the show are great. One must keep their sense fo irony of course, If I assay was dating a woman in the present day yho actually wore some of those otfits as everyday under wear I would most likely not say htat she was a great desser. However, in the special context of htis shiow I think theyr're cool. The number one favorite bign the spicy little peter pan in drag (or oout of drag) numbers they wore at the conclusion off the evening, and runner up being the gigantic - and I mean huge - light blue curtains they wore during the song before that. (It looked like each of them were being followed by weather systems - not easy to accomplish with any fabric).
Anywayt that was my night a Gertie's. I had fun, you probably will too, whether you're there to watch the show or just to lighten your wallet. The truth of the matter is even if you didn't like the show you're probably gonna end up there repeatedly over the summer anyway, but if you never have before, this summer is probably a pretty goo time to take your eyes off the cards for a minute, twist your head around, and take a look a just what that hullabaloo on stage is all about.
by Heather Caverhill
The last time you picked up your mail you may have noticed a large group of young people sitting around the picnic tables outside of the post office. It is not just a good place to play cards, it is also the waiting place for Emergency Fire Fighters eager to be called into the line of duty.
Word on the street a few weeks ago was that a new water bomber, the "Electra" had arrived in the Yukon and there would not be a need for as many EFF as in years past. The "Electra" has since left the Yukon and the rumor has proved to be false.
"It was brought up on spec and was used on a couple of fires up here when the Yukon Territory was heating up." Resource Management Officer, Ed Lenchuk, explained in a recent interview. "It looked like we had a risk of multiple starts in several districts of the Yukon. It was brought up from B.C to stand by in that case and it did get into a couple of fires."
When asked about rumors that the bomber would have made some EFF jobs redundant Lenchuk said that Bombers do not replace the people on the ground: "What they do is lay down some retard, this will slow the fire down so that it is less dangerous and people can catch up to the fire; but it doesn't replace the people on the ground". Lenchuk said that the decrease in EFF jobs this year is simply, less fires. "It has been a slow year, it has been a relatively wet year and there hasn't been a lot of lightning."
"There is an observation zone and an action zone. We fight the fires in the action zone; the observation zone is monitored. There may be instances where we action them if they are close to some values at risk like a cabin or an historical site, but generally they are allowed to burn out. Fire is a natural part of the forest ecology; it's healthy for forests to burn. Of course, we have lives and resources out there to protect too, so we have to balance how we manage the forest with that in mind."
This year there were 36 EFF trained to fight fires, not to mention those who were trained in years past. Lenchuk couldn't be sure how many EFF there were in total.. "That is a hard question, there are so many, I know a lot of people have left town already and we have EFF who we've put through the course in previous years. I wouldn't hazard a guess really."
Lenchuk said that there are 12 full time fire fighters and the rest work when needed. "We've had quite a few people camped out here for a while, they are waiting around. It's kind of on a first come first serve basis. When we need people we usually need them quick." Although July is historically the busiest month for fire fighting, the summer isn't over by any stretch of the imagination. I have seen it burning well into September and who knows, this could be one of those summers."
Every year many young people come to Dawson to fight fires. "I know these young people like the experience generally; it is a unique experience. They are working in a bush camp, they are fighting fires, there is a lot of camaraderie, they get to fly in a helicopter and they are out in a camp. Lodge and board are provided by the department; so they can save some money." Lenchuk said that in previous years the EFF often had problems finding enough people as quickly as needed, but that is not a problem this year. The slow season has left some trained EFF with little work. Some have taken other jobs. "I would recommend to anybody that they should look for employment that is a little more steady." said Lenchuk, "in any year I can't guarantee any length of employment."
by Dan Davidson
Pat Morrow's love affair with the Yukon has been going on since he was quite young. His father brought him on his first trip in 1967. He has a photo of his dad taken through a screen door in an old building on the Canol Road. Eleven years later he had produced his first book of Yukon photography, and it remained just about the only book of its type for about 10 years thereafter.
The book was far more successful than Morrow ever expected it would be, and he sold out his rights to the publisher after the first year, so he didn't do as well on it as he could have.
His newest book, simply titled The Yukon, and done in partnership with his wife, Baiba, is an attempt to cover all the time that has passed since then, and, of course, tie in wth the high interest in Yukon related material at the moment.
The pictures come from anytime over the last 20 years and, most especially, from an intense tour to tie up loose ends last summer. They aren't dated, so you really can't tell their age unless you happen to know from personal experience.
Morrow says that's one of the things he really likes about shooting in the Yukon - the sense of timelessness. The landscape doesn't change that much unless there's a major disaster.
The other thing is the light. The Yukon possesses what Morrow calls "the feeling of open architecture.
"You're not limited by darkness...in these trips. You can paddle at one in the morning, climb, hike, whatever the time of day. Once the light gets good, it stays good for a long time, longer than lower latitudes. So you have more opportunities as a photographer here as long as you're willing to stay up late and get up early.
"Even in winter...the sun has a modeling effect...the angles are good for showing dimensions."
On a personal level the Yukon is great for the hospitality of its people, who have taken him and Baiba into their homes, showed them some of their favorite places and shared special moments with them.
The front cover shows a massively colourful photograph of the area near Mount Tombstone, taken in the fall. The memory it triggers for Morrow is from a spring trip when he and Dawson resident John Loder had been skiing in that area. Coming back to Dawson sweaty and famished, they wanted nothing quite so much as a shower and a good, greasy hamburger.
"We turned the corner to find people canoing in the streets." It was May 2, 1979, the day of the last big Dawson flood.
Morrow's been in and out of Dawson a lot since then and he is one of those who likes the turn the town has taken over the years. He thinks it's much more attractive and though he laments the loss of some of the older buildings, he has an interesting reaction to their absence. To him, it gives the effect of "an old pair of dentures - with big gaps."
For Morrow and his wife, the business of adventure photogaphy is something of an obsession.
"My wife says I need to get a hobby. All I do is east, drink, and think adventure. It's always in tandem with taking pictures - stills, video or film. It's terrible when we're at home because we're always working on the next project."
Sometimes they split the load, so Pat is on a three day blitz of the Yukon while Baiba is at home in Canmore, Alberta, working on material for their next deadline.
The work is a means to an end, which is to be able to travel the world and see exotic places. "It's the best way I know of doing it."
Pat says he takes most of the photographs, while both of them do the writing. Baiba is the organizer of the team, handling logistics, planning and the business side.
"The paperwork is endless. People see your picture or your book and romanticize about it, but there's drudge work, too."
Part of the drudge work is culling the Morrows' vast collection of pictures, vast in spite their habit of discarding half of everything they shoot right off the bat. He likens the process of culling to going through the overburden when mining for gold. When the chance for a sale comes along you have to be able to find that perfect picture quickly.
"A lot of people who start out in photography are in love with their images and they keep everything. It's not practical. If you're a professional, you have to think of photos as a way of providing income for the next project."
So Morrow sees himself as a "bread'n'butter" photographer rather than as an artiste. That may be, but there are plenty of beautiful photographs in his book just the same, and some people are going to find them quite artisitic.
by Dan Davidson
There are a lot of people outside of the Yukon who know about the Gold Rush, have read London, Service and Berton and are excited by the idea of a Gold Rush Centennial. But there are also a loot of people out there who don't realize that those same Klondike creeks are still being mined today, in some cases by the descendants of those who made the trek from 1896 to 1898.
At least that's the conclusion Andrew Gregg has reached as a result of his experiences in organizing a special on Klondike mining for the Discovery Channel.
"People don't realize they're still mining the Klondike," Gregg said when he as here in June. It's an obvious thing, but he says they just don;t seem to link the current mining to the history.
That link was part of what sold the show to the Discovery Channel when they approached the independent writer/producer/director last winter about taking on one of the in-house documentaries the new channel planned to produce.
For Gregg this was a real relief, because he'd been trying to flog this particular idea for about five years without any takers. Of course, up until 8 months ago he was still working for the CBC, doing production on the National's Magazine and earlier on both Prime Time and the Journal.
The notion first occurred to him near the beginning of his career in journalism, when he was a reporter at the Whitehorse Star, and later, during his stint with Needa at Northern Native Broadcasting.
He laughed when he recalled those days, which he remembers with great affection. "I'm the only person I know from Toronto who actually came to the Yukon to get into the television business."
Discovery bit at the notion of a Yukon show right away, with no hesitation. Of course, it was helped by the fact that it's a natural story for a specialty channel of that nature. It has what Gregg refers to as "all the 'ologies'", everything from history to ethnology, geology and paleontology.
Gregg freely admitted that he had only a slim notion of just how right he was about that assumption.
"I always knew (gold) was here, but like a lot of southerners I didn't really know what was here. We've learned more from Lee and Ron in the last week than I ever thought about. It makes your head spin."
Lee Olynyk runs a family placer mine at Last Chance Creek, and Ron Taves is one of his workers. That mine has become the focal core of Gregg's production, which he sums up simply.
"What is placer gold? How do you get it? We go from the muck right through to the refining and pouring." He's also tying in the history, First Nations impact, current developments in tourism and the official opening of the Brewery Creek Mine.
Getting all this into perspective had filled about 50 Beta videotapes by the time he was finished, and he will spend part of the fall editing what he has into a usable format. The documentary should air after Christmas.
Working with Lee and Ron has been a real joy and has given Gregg a sense of the direct connection to the original rush. The vein that Olynyk is following isn't golden, Gregg said. He maps his progress by following the traces of those who mined before him: the layers of ice, bits of ladders, old lanterns and assorted debris. Not to mentions the remains of mastodons, prehistoric horses and others goodies that have come out of that regiion over the years.
Gregg has become convinced that miners really appreciate the land.
"At a very basic level these are people who love the wilderness. They're not going to wreck it permanently. It does come back."
One of the longstanding mysteries of the Klondike is the search for the so-called Motherlode, the almost mythical source of all that yellow stuff that seems to be spread around here. Their have been theories since the beginning. Some have said there's a big mound of it somewhere that's eroding into the environment; some speculated on a enormous hidden vein or ore; some have even suggested it simply materializes into the earth. Every so often you hear a new theory being floated.
Gregg had an opinion about it, but he lost his certainty during the weeks he was here.
"I've talked to too many people - too many smart people with a lot of different opinions."
The version he likes best now doesn't deal with the reality of a motherlode, but simply speculates how it might be found if there were one. It comes from an employee at Great Western Refineries, who says that finding the thing is a billion to one shot. It's just too hard to find. One the other hand, the search is generating millions in expenses so it;s just as well if no one ever does find it.
But, this man says, "If it is there it's going to be found by some 75 year old trapper who falls into a crevasse and lands on it. That's just the way it would work."
Just happened to be surfing the net and came across your e-mail address. George W. Carmack was my Grandmother's Uncle. I have read quite a bit about the Yukon and the Goldrush. I ordered a video from the last week from Jamie Whiltsey. Hope you all are having a good celebration.
London, Ky 40744
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