|Joe Henry, who recently celebrated his 100th birthday, stands in the doorway of a shed at Wolf Creek, holding a moose call made from birch bark and electric tape. Photo courtesy of the Dawson City Museum|
Welcome to the June 12 edition of the Klondike Sun. This one may be a little late getting posted. Our editor and our webmaster have been on overlapping trips out of there respective towns. (This is being written in Dawson, while the page is assembled in Whitehorse after electronic transfer.) The hardcopy edition of the Sun contained about 30 stories, 16 photos, the PAWS comic strip, and various other tidbits that didn't make it to this site. We think we're worth subcribing to. Help keep us alive.
by Jocelyn Bell
Joe Henry just turned 100. His daughter-in-law, Mabel, is concerned that Joe's centennial will be overshadowed by the anniversary of the Gold Rush. She needn't worry.
Anyone who doesn't know Joe can't live in this community for long without hearing of him.
Rumour has it that when Joe was in his late 60s or early 70s, he came second in a snowshoe race in Whitehorse, and second in a river rafting race
that spanned the distance from the Klondike Bridge to Dawson City. "I'm 71 and I can't run across the street," laughed his son, Percy.
But Joe Henry's fame doesn't rest on these laurels alone. It comes from a lifetime of guiding people through the forest, creeks and rivers on snow shoe, dog sled and steamboat. It comes from knowing the uninhabited parts of the Yukon like the back of his hand and for having the stamina and endurance to cover vast spaces in record times.
Joe was born between Hart River and Wind River and is a member of the Hwech'in first nation. Although his exact date of birth is not known, elders told him that he was born in the last week of May during the Gold Rush. Joe Henry claimed May 24, 1898 as his own. Joe was raised by his grand mother since both his parents died. The elders named him "AnEelyaa," meaning he who gives away everything he has.
The influx of miners destroyed the natives' fishweirs and log rafts. They staked almost every tract of land in the Klondike City area, forcing many native people to move to Moosehide.
But Joe spent his youth in the bush living in the traditional native way, and having very little interaction with the (mostly) white settlers. Living this way, he learned to survive in the wilderness, trapping, fishing. How to read the ice along the creeks in the winter and the water that rushed over rocks in the summer. They were skills he would use for the rest of his life, for his own survival and for the survival of those he guided.
In 1919, Joe hit age 21 and went to Eagle to look for work. Although he didn't speak a word of English, he found work as a deck hand on a steam boat that carried freight from Whitehorse or St. Michael to Dawson.
He had just begun to save money when a marriage was arranged between him and Annie Mitchell, then a girl of 13. According to Joe's son Percy, Joe was not initially overjoyed at the prospect of being married. He had different plans on how he might spend his savings and wasn't keen on supporting a family.
But the pair were married on July 15, 1921 at Moosehide by Reverend Benjamin Totty and love followed soon after. Annie gave birth to 12 children: Ida, Peter, a girl who died at birth, Percy, Edna, Henry, Isaac, Mary, Fanny, Margaret, Victor and William, better known as Waldo. (Still living today are all but Ida, Peter and Edna). This being the days before welfare and homes for the elderly, the Henry family also shared their home with people in the community who were too old to care for themselves.
1927 was the year of the first Joe Henry legend. It was January 28 and Joe's uncle by marriage, Reverend Richard Martin was out hunting caribou at Blackstone. Martin had a blind left eye from a boyhood accident with a sewing needle. On that January day, Martin was peering at his target down the shaft of his gun. He took three shots. But the third time Martin pulled the trigger, a fault in the gun's mechanism caused it to backfire and explode in his face, destroying his right eye. Completely blind and quite a ways from camp, Martin found his way back by following the sound of wood chopping. Once there, Martin's son Joseph and Joe Henry bundled Martin into a dog sled and took him to Dawson, a trip that would take them about four days. Martin was rushed to a hospital in Vancouver, but his vision could not be restored.
In the mid-1930s, Joe and Annie moved their family from Blackstone to Moosehide, so some of the children could attend the Moosehide school. Moosehide was a fragile community at that time. In 1932, Moosehide and Dawson were hit with a deadly flu epidemic, killing Chief Isaac among many others.
In the 1950s the Moosehide people began to move out of their community as more and more people were finding work in Dawson and wanted to live closer to town. In 1957, the government withdrew the village teacher, effectively shutting down the school. Although the Henrys were among the last families to leave Moosehide, they also left and moved into town so their children could continue school.
In February of 1955, Joe was hired by Westron Minerals to guide a Cat train from Flat Creek to the Peel River. Westron Minerals was going into the Yukon interior for oil exploration, bringing heavy equipment with them and bulldozing a road as they went. John Gould was the cook on that expedition. He recalled that Joe Henry "had an awful good sense of direction." One day on route to the Peel, Joe stopped suddenly. Something about the area triggered his memory. He went off course a few metres and found some old traps of his that he'd left behind years before.
Much of that old road is the Dempster Highway today. Not long ago, there was a movement to rename the Dempster Highway the Joe Henry Highway to recognize Joe's involvement in its creation. Westminster Hotel owner Duncan Spriggs even painted the words "Joe Henry Highway, Mile 0" in big letters on the outside of his hotel.
He also spent a summer or two in the 1950s piloting a steamship called "Brainstorm." It journeyed up the Yukon River to Fort Yukon, Alaska and continued up the Porcupine River to Old Crow.
At age 66, when most people his age would be enjoying a quiet retirement, Joe and his son Victor, 19, were hired to help Dick North and Robin Burian find Jack London's Cabin. It was March of 1965, one of the coldest Yukon winters in recorded history, when the men set out by snow shoe and dog sled. It took the group five days to travel the 74 miles to Stewart City and then up Henderson Creek. Dick North says that if Victor and Joe didn't have him to slow them down, they could have covered the distance in two days.
Joe took the lead, tapping the ice with a pole and looking for snow-covered open water. Joe, Victor and Robin Burian were the first to find the cabin. An exhausted Dick North caught up soon after to find the group making camp at the cabin site.
Four years later, it was finally proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the cabin was, in fact, Jack London's. It was dismantled, the logs divided in two, and rebuilt into two cabins -- one in Dawson and the other in Oakland, California.
That summer, Joe Henry and Dick North travelled to Oakland, California to oversee the building of the replica. Joe had ever been outside of the Yukon and was amazed by the escalators and tunnels.
One evening, Dick recalls that he and Joe were relaxing in a California bar when a local native man spotted Joe Henry. He could tell Joe was native, but couldn't figure out what kind he was and started asking questions. Joe tried to wave him off and not talk to the man. But the man insisted, "If you're native, then say something in a native language," Joe raised his open palm and said, "How." The man laughed and went away.
Once the children finished school, Joe and Annie began living in a cabin up the Dempster highway year round. When Joe was in his mid-eighties, this life became too difficult and they had to move back into town. Percy recalls that his father said, "Can't hear, can't see. It's no use." Annie's bones had become brittle and she had broken a leg.
But even in old age, Joe Henry's energy is unfading. When Joe was about 85 years old, he kept bugging his son Percy to take him out trapping in the bush. Finally Percy agreed. They took the skidoos out, and Percy told Joe to stay put by the skidoos while he lay the trap lines. But when Percy came back four hours later, Joe was gone. Percy followed his father's snow shoe tracks up and down hills, over creeks, and all the way back to camp. It was about 1 a.m. when the irate Percy finally found his father calmly sipping tea.
Today Joe Henry lives on 5th avenue and Annie lives at McDonald Lodge continuing care facility. His birthday party, which was scheduled for last Friday night, was postponed to June 13 as Joe has been home fighting pneumonia. Although his vision is poor, Mabel says Joe's still strong. Stubborn too. When the doctor tried to give him medication, he shut his lips tight and refused. "He don't believe in medication."
There is just one question that remains in Joe's life story: What's the secret to long life? Percy says his dad's trick is simple. "A good strong tea and a chew of tobacco in the morning."
by Dan Davidson
From the moment this year's graduates marched in to the Robert Service School's ancillary room to the music from "Chariots of Fire", it was clear that this was going to be an emotionally charged ceremony. The other word to describe it might be "spontaneous"
Chief Steve Taylor of the Tr'ondek Hwech'in was the first community leader to address the fifteen students on May 30.
Taylor stressed the importance of education in today's world and expressed the hope that "each and every one of you will continue on in some type of further education.
"You're all very well aware that we're at a point in the world today where the environment is constantly under threat and under pressure. I hope you young people... will realize how important the environment is. You people now are starting to become the custodians of this land... be good citizens and help other people."
Peter Jenkins, MLA for the Klondike is no stranger to these gatherings. He brought greetings on behalf of the Official Opposition Yukon Party and took the occasion to do a little Dawson boosting.
"This graduating class is the largest one in the history of the Robert Service School and I'm sure the numbers will continue to grow over the next few years as Dawson expands
Jenkins reminded the students that life from here on would continue to be a "major learning curve".
"You will find that many of the areas you've covered in school are totally irrelevant to achieving your goals, but (mastering them) has taught you how to study, how to apply yourselves and how to achieve your aims in life. You'll still continue to find that literacy and numeracy are the key priorities."
He encouraged them to continue to study and also to travel, which he said was a second great education and usually caused the traveller to appreciate home more.
Mayor Glen Everitt said he had consulted the students beforehand and that he was under instructions to keep it short. He had tried to put it all in one paragraph.
"You young men and women that are seated before us today are about to receive the reward of twelve and, in some cases, thirteen, years of hard work and dedication. Some of you will go on to other educational institutions. Some of you will head directly into the work force. But whatever you decide to do, your education isn't over.
"The tools provided to you over the years are not just about reading, writing and arithmetic. You've acquired the skills of logic and responsibility to help you make the decisions that will affect the rest of your lives.
"The world is a big place and around every corner is opportunity. You have just earned the passport to go out and explore.Whatever you decide to do, it is important to remember that Dawson is your home. We will always be here waiting for you to return.
"The pride we have as a community when our young people graduate from Robert Service School is a pride that is not easily put into words. You are the future of this country and you are the leaders of tomorrow. Standing here, looking at everybody sitting up here, I'm quite confident that we really have nothing to worry about. So hold your head in pride. Each and every one of you on the stage here deserve it. Trust in yourselves, trust in your instincts and good luck in the future."
School Council chair Helen Winton contributed a selection from the writings of Robert Service. After reading "Your Poem" she offered an interpretation suitable to the occasion.
"Take advantage of the knowledge skills and friendships that you've developed during your years here. Take ownership of them and make them work for you. May the future unfold for you like a beautiful piece of poetry."
Harmony Hunter took centre stage then to serenade her classmates with an inspirational presentation of the song, "Like an Eagle", accompanied by choir director Betty Davidson. The chorus speaks volumes:
"Like an eagle I will soar above the clouds
I will spread my wings and fly into the sun...
Like an eagle I will race above the stars
I will fly to places yet unseen,
go beyond my wildest dream,
know that you are watching over me.
Like an eagle...I...will...fly!"
An experienced performer who was in the school choir for several years and on-stage at the Palace Grand for three summers, as well as having spent a semester in the MADD program in Whitehorse during her grade 11 year, Harmony nevertheless looked and sounded like this was the toughest house she'd ever sung for. The last line had an optional higher note which she had hit in practice, but she didn't dare try for it this time.
This year's valedictorian was Melissa Flynn, who was frank about her apprehension.
"My only goal for the next five minutes is not to cry too much...I'm not to stare at my mother; she will be crying. I'm not to stare at my brother; he will be laughing.
She described her classmates as people who had spent more time together than with anyone else in their lives. "We are a family. I can't imagine living the rest of my life not seeing these faces every weekday morning, smiling or not smiling. The next few years are not going to be like the last few.
"I have walked to the same school, the same way, with the same people, for a lot of years, and I think we are all ready for a change. We are excited and scared all at the same time. We don't know what to expect...but we are ready for a challenge, to walk to a different school, the school of life, with different friends in different cities.
"In closing I would like to thank our parents and teachers for supporting us through the good times and the not-so-good times. We've had the time of our lives, and we owe it all to you.
Following Melissa's speech the program dissolved into a group hug on on the crowded stage which involved just about everyone except a couple of the stoic young men in the class. There was hardly a dry eye in the crowded room.
That was such an emotional interlude that Regional Superintendent Carol McCauley gave up trying to be formal while presenting the Valedictorian's Award.
"I just left my speech on my chair because there's just no point in referring to it. If there's one thing which characterizes this group it's their spontaneity and their wonderful warmth..."
"I'm overwhelmed," said the former RSS principal as she mastered her shaking voice. "We've cried and laughed and sung and you've moved us - and we're very very proud of you."
She characterized Melissa Flynn as one who represented the best of the class, but noted that others could easily be described the same way."I feel very good, and I'm sure we all do today, about the future and what it will hold with these people becoming the leaders of our society."
Spontaneity continued as grad sponsor Shirley Pennell took the podium to announce the winner of the Audrey McLaughlin Award. Vice-principal Pennell was also overcome by the events of the morning and was rescued by a small package of tissues passed to her from the girls nearest the speakers' rostrum.
The recipient this year was Harmony Hunter. The award is selected by the staff at the school to go to the student who has excelled in activities both in and out of school and is also planning to go on with further studies of some sort.
Beyond all of that the presentation of the school diplomas and closing remarks by Principal John Reid were something of an anti-climax.
Outside on the front steps of the school, the class continued to be unique. Tradition here is to have the group pose for a few pictures framed by the handsome school entrance and then to try to catch one shot with all the mortar board hats flying in the air. This year, for the first time, one of them had to be fished off the roof later on. Just a further proof that this group of graduates continues to aim high.
by Palma Berger
Mrs. Yukon, 1998
The Masonic Hall on Queen Street has not seen such a large number of members of the Freemason Lodge gathered there for many a year.
This building, built in 1904 as the Carnegie Library, became the Masonic Hall in 1934 when the Freemasons took it over. As Dawson's population became less constant with the closing down of the dredges so the Lodge at the same time lost a lot of its membership. But it has kept going in Dawson City. The Masonic Hall itself is now in need of major repairs.
This past month saw a large gathering of the Freemasons there again to celebrate International Fellowship Day. This event usually alternates between Whitehorse and Fairbanks, with the odd years at one town and the even years at the other. But this year it was suggested it be held in Dawson City.
There were about 50 people expected to turn up but the response was overwhelming as 75 members signed up. The Grand Master for the west coast of Canada, Al Tomlins from Nelson, B.C. as well as members from other towns in B.C., Yukon members, members from Kenai, Ketchikan,
Eagle River Alaska and Gene Freeman Grand Master of Alaska were all present. All told there was a good representation of the Masonic Lodge in the west, and north of the border.
by Jocelyn Bell
Dawson City hasn't had a counsellor for a whole year since Judy Reimer left, until now. Gloria Baldwin-Schultz has been busy setting up shop in the upstairs of blue waterfront building since she arrived on April 20.
Baldwin-Schultz is from Scarborough, Ontario and did her schooling at the University of Ottawa.
From there she went to Haliburton, just north of Peterborough, Ontario, and stayed for 2 1/2 years. It was an experience that will help her adjust to Dawson. Haliburton is cottage country, Baldwin-Schultz explained. "It's a booming little place in the summer but it dies in the winter." The main difference is that Dawson is more isolated and colder, she added.
Then she went to a one-year internship at Rock Island, Illinois. Part of her case load was helping couples in abusive relationships. Baldwin-Schultz will also travel to Mayo and Pelly every other week to do counselling.
Her approach to counselling is to treat her clients in a wholistic way. This means that she looks at where they come from and where they are now, who their families are and who they associate with "We don't live in a vacuum," Baldwin-Smith says. She tries to pull in as much information as she can, instead of isolating an issue. She also prefers to bring in the whole family, rather than treat a person alone. Even if the person is fighting alcoholism, for example, they need to assess their lives in a wholistic way, Baldwin-Schultz said. If they go into detox for a few weeks and dry out, they could be defeating their effort if they return to the same friends, the same stresses and the same environment.
In the fall, Baldwin-Schultz wants to run two groups. One for women who have been in violent relationships and one for women who have been sexually abused.
Counselling fees are on a sliding scale, determined by the client's income and number of dependents.
"People shop for therapists by word of mouth. So if I'm good, they'll hear about it and they'll come. And if I'm not good, they'll hear about it and they won't come."
Anyone interested in counselling should call Yukon Family Service at 993-6455.
by T.D. Bain, Cpl., R.C.M.P.
Incidents reported/investigated 98-05-18 to present.
Police were involved in sixteen calls for service involving assistance to the general public, disturbances and helping locate tourists. Three bikes were reported stolen, as well as a walkman from the Youth Centre and speakers from outside at Nancy's.
Two males were apprehended carting a wood pallet away from behind the 5th Avenue Bed and Breakfast. They advised it was for firewood. They were made to take it back and promise to ask permission in the future.
On 98-05-21, police responded to an injury motor vehicle accident approximately 40 km up the Dempster Highway from the Klondike Corner. Five people were involved in a single vehicle rollover with one person being medivaced to Whitehorse with injuries. The driver lost control on some loose gravel. No charges are being pursued.
Six prisoners were held in detachment cells during this period, five alcohol related.
Police responded to the illegal sale of tobacco. The Federal Tobacco Act was enacted in April of 1997. Under this legislation it is illegal to sell tobacco to a person under eighteen years of age. Penalties for doing so could amount to $3 000 for a first offense and $50 000 for subsequent offenses.
The local CIBC branch reported an ATM fraud for investigation. This crime seems to increase during the summer months with people looking for employment and short of cash. It's fraud and bank policy is that it will be pursued through the police. It also results in the suspension of a person's banking privileges and cancellation of accounts. There are other means available to get temporary loans without defrauding the bank. You pay dearly in the long run.
Charges have been laid in the following criminal matters with court dates scheduled for June.
A break and enter to a residence was also investigated. The suspect was determined, and the owners of the residence decided to deal with the matter themselves and that police assistance was no longer required.
I had a query with respect to last issue's news release as to why names were mentioned in all instances except one a hit and run accident. An oversight on my behalf. The hit and run was a charge under the Territorial Motor Vehicle Act, not the Criminal Code as some may have concluded. It certainly was not an effort to protect a guilty party from public scrutiny, rather the fact that it was a traffic ticket only and traffic tickets do not meet the release criteria as established by the RCMP. My apologies to anyone who was effected by same.
by Jocelyn Bell
A difficult situation at Robert Service School seems to have resolved itself. The school was required by the Yukon government to eliminate one teacher from its staff. But Rosemary Popadynec, who taught this year's grade 1-2, has just accepted a transfer to Mayo. The school will have one fewer elementary teachers, but will still be within government guidelines for student-teacher ratios.
Other changes for next year are that there will be no more split-level classes at the elementary level and the secondary school is looking at changing its timetable format from an eight-day cycle to a two-day cycle.
It's also Robert Service's turn for evaluation. The school and the community will be required to come up with a school improvement plan for the next four years. Then an external team, made up of administrators and teachers from other schools, will evaluate the plan and modify it.
All in all, Principal John Reid said the school had a good year and that it was a growing year for the staff, many of whom were new. "We're looking for an even better year next year," he said.
by Jocelyn Bell
With only two days of school left, about 20 students from Robert Service School headed out to the Viceroy Mine. The students were in two groups; a grade 12 chemistry class and grade eights, who were there to plant trees.
Liz Woods, the science teacher for both classes, was using the trip as an extension of the regular science curriculum.
Six weeks before the trip, the grade eights cut healthy willow branches and replanted them in pods in the classroom.
Then, in co-ordination with the Viceroy mine, they replanted 101 trees on the side of a rocky hill as part of the mine's reclamation requirements.
"We're trying to get some trees growing on the waste rock," explained Robin Irwin, environmental techinician for the mine. "If we can get the school involved in science projects then it benefits the school but it also benefits us," she added.
The class will return to Viceroy in the fall to check on the progress of their trees.
Sandra Connery, President, National Chapter IODE Canada was in Dawson City for a visit on April 21 & 22. A full itinerary filled her two days including a visit at McDonald Lodge, the Museum, the Dome and a quick trip to the Dredge on the first day. Sandra, along with her local guides Joyce Caley, Debbie Schmidt and Sandra Taylor, then went for tea to the home Sabrina Frangetti and her mother Michelline. The IODE National Chapter had provided funding for Sabrina's first computer and a small plaque was presented to Sabrina to affix to the computer.
That evening a pot luck supper was held at the home of Nancy Kidd with 13 members of the Dawson IODE in attendance. The next morning Parks Canada provided a wonderful tour of the Commissioner's Residence. After some local shopping and lunch it was time for Sandra to fly back to Whitehorse. She was not the first person to realize you cannot do all you want to do in Dawson in just two days.
The Dawson City Chapter IODE held its Annual General Meeting in April. Election of officers was held with the following positions filled:
Regent - Myrna Butterworth
Vice Regent - Joyce Caley
Secretary - Gail Taylor
Treasurer - Uta Reilly
Services Secretary - Marion Hadley
Membership - Diane Wierda
Communications - Sandra Taylor
Education - Kathy Webster
War Memorial - Nancy Kidd
National Councilors - Myrna Butterworth & Joyce Caley
The Parks Canada/IODE Annual Commissioner's Tea will be held this year at the Commissioner's Residence on June 13 at 2:00 in the afternoon. There is no admission charge but a silver collection will be taken at the tea table with proceeds going to the IODE for charitable use in the community. The public is invited to attend and were their turn of the century ensembles.
by Dan Davidson
I tried to buy a stamp at lunchtime today. "Tried'? is the operative word. On the On the way home from school I looked in on the Post Office across the street. The lineup looked imposing so I gave it a miss and went home to let out the dog.
I rushed through lunch and got back there just after 12:30, by which time the rush has usually diminished. The faces were different but the line up was about the same: a dozen people queued up in front of one lone clerk struggling with a computer.
There was a second clerk. She was quite willing to go and collect peoples? mail for them, in fact to do anything that didn't involve a cash transaction. That, of course, fails to take into account that most of the people who go to the post office to buy stamps or mail a parcel also want to pick up their mail.
Yes, they could leave the transaction line and go to the other clerk to pick up their mail? but then they would lose their places in the money queue. The thought of giving up those hard earned inches is just too much for most people? so they stay where they are.
The instigators of this latest innovation "to serve you better" live a long way from Dawson City and the story appears to confirm the notion that, in the corporate world? it might be better to keep your head down and not attract too much attention. Someone might notice that you're doing well and decide to tinker with your formula.
Dawson's Canada Post outlet is a profitable one for the corporation, among the top 500 in the nation, doing so well that the mandarins have decided they would like to know sooner just how much money it is making, so they've decided to tie it into the national system with their new Retail Operating Support System (hereinafter known as ROSS).
ROSS replaces the four tellers who used to run the counters on Fifth Avenue during peak hours (able to give you your mail? take your mail or your money) with one teller and one computer. The four tellers could use two electronic cash registers almost simultaneously because logging on and off them was a snap. With the new machines it takes at least three minutes to change operators.
Computers, as we know? do all sorts of things faster than mere mortals. Presumably, performance enhancing drugs will be issued to the single
clerk so that he or she will be able to do the key punching of four people and thus keep up the pace.
Let me see if I have all this right.
Dawson is what some people might presume to call an isolated post. Among the things it is isolated from are computer repair people and systems operators. But? never mind,? let's take a state of the art, pricey, brand new ( and therefore finicky) computer system and place it in a hot (or cold,) building situated on one of dustiest streets in Canada and see how it performs..
It would be best to have these systems in climate controlled buildings? but there are no air filters or airconditioners in sight.
Obviously these people used to watch the Timex torture tests and the old Bic pen commercials.
There is no local backup in Dawson. In fact? there isn't one in the Yukon. The nearest help is on a CDROM three days away from here. If this system goes down we're back to the old abacus and paper? 'cause they've taken away all the machines we were using. This? I suppose? is to make sure the staff go 'scold turkey" and are forced to switch to the new system.
So thanks for the recognition? Canada Post. With your help we will soon be famous for two local attractions as the lineup at the post office joins the lineup at the ferry as one of the communication blunders of the world. You can call it a digital miracle, but I suspect we've just been given the finger.
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