|Commissioner Judy Gingell presents a service award to John and Madeleine Gould at the annual Commissioner's Tea. See story below. Photo by Dan Davidson|
Welcome to the June 23rd on-line edition of the Klondike Sun. This is the abridged version of our 28 page June 20th hard copy edition. Getting a subscription (see our home page) is the only way you'll ever see it all.
by Tara McCauley
The quiet streets of Dawson were bombarded June 13th and 14th by a number of vintage and classic cars. Curious onlookers stopped to check out the wide array of cars dating from 1914 to 1968 that were parked mostly in front of the Downtown and Eldorado hotels.
These cars are participating in a rally event called Around the World in 80 Days. They plan to do just that. Starting from the Tower Bridge in London, on May 1st, these cars have traveled through Europe to Istanbul, then through Asia to Beijing, where the cars were airlifted to Anchorage. The North American leg goes from Anchorage to New York City. The cars will then be airlifted again to Marrakech, Morocco and then it will be back up to London inside the 80 day period.
There are a hundred cars all together, with certain teams doing only specific legs. There are 40 cars doing the around the world loop. The participants come from 24 different countries and range in age from a 28 year old state trooper from the US to wealth retired company executives. There are no sponsors and the rally is financed by entry fees and goodwill alone.
The planning for this adventure has been in the works for 4 years and it is the first time a rally of this type is finishing where it started. There are participants who are doing it for fun but there are others who are quite competitive. The prize at the end is a Cup.
In some places, the conditions have been extremely difficult. According to Philip Young, the rally director, the 20 days through China were the hardest. In some areas there were no roads at all and the facilities were severely limited. They have suffered numerous breakdowns, and some have dropped out.
They arrived into Dawson via the Top of the World highway on the 43rd day into the trip. Slightly over half-way, the momentum was high although the signs of fatigue were evident.
They were very pleased with the warm reception received in Dawson City. The Yukon Visitors' Association hosted a meal for them at the Catholic Church. "It was fantastic. It is the first time that a local organization has taken us in like that. There was a good atmosphere," says Young.
The morning of June 14th, they did a time trial on the Hunker Creek Loop. In the afternoon, they rested, banged out the dents, and strolled around Dawson before heading to Whitehorse on the 15th.
You can check out their website at: www.carnet.co.uk/rallyoffice
by Tara McCauley
Despite the downpour directly beforehand, the annual Commissioner's Tea, held on June 3rd at the Commissioner's Residence, escaped the rain relatively unscathed.
The unusually threatening skies were not enough to dampen the spirits of the some 150 courageous tea drinkers who came out to take part in the festivities hosted by the IODE and Parks Canada.
The afternoon started off with a welcome by Glenda Bolt, from Parks Canada and continued with several presentations by Myrna Butterworth, City Councillor Shirley Pennell, Charlie Davies aka Robert Service, Commissioner Judy Gingell, and the Robert Service School Choir, featuring vocalist Michael Davidson.
Special recognition went to the IODE, who are celebrating their 100th anniversary. (See adjoining text for their history.)
Among periodic sprinkles and endless trays of sandwiches and goodies, Commissioner Gingell honoured several longtime Dawson residents with Commissioner's Awards for Volunteer Service. The recepients received the awards for their many hours of unpaid work helping others. The recepients were: Darcy Braga, Myrna Butterworth, and John and Madeleine Gould.
Darcy Braga, who could not be there to receive her award, has worked with seniors and the disabled for many years, encouraging, supporting and going far beyond her job.
Myrna Butterworth has been a volunteer for many organizations in Dawson City including the Pioneer Women of the Yukon, the IODE, Meals on Wheels and the Royal Canadian Legion. She is always willing to lend a hand at any community event and her enthusiasm and energy are contagious.
John Gould has a long list of organizations that he volunteers for, including the Yukon Order of Pioneers, Dawson City Museum and Historical Society, Klondyke Centennial Society and the Klondike Visitors' Association, making a lifetime contribution to promoting Dawson City's history.
Madeleine Gould has made immeasureable volunteer contributions. She currently serves on the boards of the Dawson City Radio Society and the library. She also volunteers many hours at the Robert Service School and for the Klondike Sun. There's a rarely a day that goes by that she isn't giving her time in some way.
Commissioner Gingell was accompanied by an entourage of notable guests including the Grand Chief of the Council of Yukon First Nations, Ed Schultz, and the Yukon's Liberal Senator, Ione Christiansen, Yukon Supreme Court Justice Ron Veale, Whitehorse Mayor Kathy Watson, Mr. & Mrs. Yukon, Miss Sourdough Rendezvous and about 20 other people.
The Commissioner and her guests later attended the Commissioner's Ball held that evening at the Palace Grande Theatre.
by Dan Davidson
If the mood at the 28th edition of the Commissioner's Ball was just a little bit more sombre than usual, perhaps it had something to do with the uncertainty surrounding the future of both the ball and the Commissioner herself.
On the other hand, the Palace Grand Theatre was full of good cheer, good food and good music on Saturday evening, and the party was still going on when they rang down the curtain at 2 a.m., so perhaps the mood was just in the mind of the beholder.
After a very slow start on ticket sales, the Klondike Visitors Association reports that 110 meals were actually served on Saturday night, and just looking over the menu was enough to make some of the ball watchers across the street wish that they had sprung for the $50 tickets.
As it was, apparently 40 more people did by tickets between Friday and the start of the Ball, perhaps in response to the KVA's announcement that this could be the last time for the 28 year old event, which reached its peak in 1998, when 283 people attended.
Emcee for the evening was Dominic Lloyd, who presided over a rearrangement of the usual order of events. This year, the formalities came first, followed by the dancing came first and then the meal, where in the past it has been a case of eating, speaking and dancing.
The Commissioner, Judy Gingell, seemed more at ease this year than in the past, and opened by saying the she has always found the Ball to be a very important event during her years in office.
"Once again, we can come together and celebrate part of our Yukon history and who we are."
"This Ball holds a special meaning for me because this could be my last year. I was appointed in 1995 - it's a 5 year term - so I would take it as my last ball because I haven't received any notice - yet. Normally I think in these positions you don't expect to continue on, so it's a term and we'll see what happens.
"This is also the last Commissioner's Ball to be organized by the Klondike Visitors Association. I will always have fond memories of the Commissioner's Balls that I have hosted over the years. I would like to thank the KVA and the many volunteers who have organized this evening and many other evenings, who have worked so hard to make tonight a great success. it takes a great deal of community support to make such an unforgettable occasion."
Town councillor Aedes Scheer, speaking on behalf of the City of Dawson, sounded a similar note in her address.
"I'd like to give a special thank you to all the volunteers who have put this evening together. This afternoon Commissioner Gingell presented awards to some of our very deserving volunteers in town, and I thinks it's very hard to imagine just what Dawson would be like without volunteers.
"We had a Russian delegation here a few days ago, and we tried to relate to them how we utilize volunteers, how we organize ... and recruit them. This was not an easy concept for them, and it's something that we should not take for granted ... a most enviable asset in this town."
The Commissioner had two formal bits of business for the evening. The first was to present a Commendation Award to her Aide de Camp, Captain Richard Berry for his years of service to the Office of the Commissioner, service which went "beyond the call of duty."
The second was the second unveiling of the poster which which will be distributed as a gift to those who attend the Commissioner's Potlatch in a couple of weeks.
The rest of the evening was given over to dancing, with music provided by the Northernairs; eating, with food provided by the good folks from Ruby's Fine Dining; and more dancing, which apparently wrapped up around 2 a.m., according to KVA staff.
For those wishing a commemorative photo, Janice Cliff and her staff from Peabody's Photo Parlour were on hand to record the guests who attended the last (perhaps) Commissioner's Ball.
by Dan Davidson
Commissioner Judy Gingell may have been happy to be at the Ball in Dawson City over the weekend, but she's not happy at the notion that it may have been the last one.
In an interview on Monday morning she referred back to her speech at the 1999 Ball, in which she said, "The Ball has been a part of the Commissioner's Office for a very long time, and it is something that needs to be upheld and celebrated. It is a prestigious event that is an important part of the Office."
Gingell says she had no idea there was any problem with this year's ball until she opened her mail on May 31 to learn that she would be attending the last ball "of its kind."
If the problem was the low ticket sales, Gingell says she is sure she could have brought along a much larger number of guests. At one point Premier Duncan had been slated to attend this year's ball as one of the Commissioner's guests, but she dropped out under the pressure of preparing for the June 5 opening of the legislature.
"I could've worked on bringing all the formal commissioners," Gingell said. If this really was to be the last ball, she felt that would have been appropriate.
But she's hoping it's not over. She said she's going to recall this one very fondly because it was the one where she felt most at ease with her duties.
She plans to contact the chair of the KVA board, Stephen Touchie, to discuss what she might be able to do to help keep this event, or something similar, on the territorial social calendar.
"I am offering my time and my services to come and sit with them. I would definitely like to see the Commissioner's Ball continue."
Gingell doesn't know yet what will happen to her term of office, which would normally end this summer. She has received unofficial word that it has been extended until September, so she is available to help with any planning that takes place before then.
"I'm sure we can come up with something."
The Ball began in 1973, along with the afternoon Tea, as a celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Yukon's creation as a distinct territory. Local historian John Gould, who was involved with getting it started, says there was no historical warrant for a ball, but it seemed like a good way to mark the event. Originally it was held on or close to June 13, the actual birthday, but it was later moved to the first weekend in June to help kick-start the tourist season.
In 1998 the territorial government of the day held a special session here in the Old Territorial Legislature (the Dawson City Museum) to proclaim Bill 100 (or "The Yukon Act"), which established June 13 as the Yukon's official birthday.
Gould says he would like to see the ball restructured so that it was more of a birthday party, and thinks some territorial or federal money should be added to the KVA's contribution to ease the local financial burden.
by Dan Davidson
Ask Rebecca Campbell to tell you what kind of music she creates these days and the answer comes back from her website:
"If they ask what kind of music it is, tell them it is 'Chamber Porch Jazz Peripheral Pop' music played by a quartet!"
Well, that's one way of looking at it.
Truly, it's not exactly what we're used to hearing from her. From 1987-96 she was the main voice of Fat Man Waving, a self-described pop collective from Ottawa. Then another part of her talent was a female a cappella trio known as Three Sheets to the Wind.
Now she's leading a Chamber Porch Jazz Peripheral Pop quartet, playing mostly her own music (co-created with guitarist Justin Haynes) and touring the country in support of her first CD under her own name, Tug.
The tour has moved from Toronto in April to Newfoundland and will end up in Quebec in July, but early June saw the foursome settle down in Dawson City, where Campbell has played several times now, including the big Dawson City Music Festival river trip two summers ago.
June 10 was the date for a coffee house in the Oddfellows Hall Ballroom, co-sponsored by the Dawson City Music Festival and the Dawson City Arts Society. The next day Campbell and company put on a vocal workshop in the afternoon.
The quartet for this tour consisted of the four core musicians who made Tug: Campbell on acoustic and electric rhythm guitars and accordion, as well as some chimes; Justin Haynes on electric lead guitar, keyboards, xylophones and an assortment of looped samples; Jean Martin on drums and percussion; Andrew Downing on stand-up bass, bowed, plucked, picked and scraped. There were a few extra voices and sounds added digitally to the mix, but this did not detract at all from the live performance.
Campbell's vocal style ranges from breathy to belting and the music in this presentation could be as simple as the traditional sounding "Brand New Day" or as complex as "Alchemy". The quartet worked its way though quite a bit of the new CD and Campbell commented on how enjoyable it had been for her to hear life being breathed into these songs by this group.
It's true that when you work with something for a time, take it live and figure out how to make it effective without the studio extras, it takes on a different sound. Tug live and Tug on CD are two slightly different experiences, but both are interesting. In addition to material from the CD, the group also presented some works in progress, which Campbell said were almost ready for recording.
The quartet live is clearly a group which enjoys itself, and that pleasure extended through the audience as the two sets continued. According to DCAS, seventy people turned out for this evening of musical fun.
by Iris Warner
The Palace Grand Theater was built in 1899 by Arizona Charlie (Charley) Meadows, miner and plainsman, already a remarkable adventurer by 1897 when he landed the largest outfit of any one man in the Klondike, with 12 men, a woman, Mae Melbourne, and seven tons of provisions.
Before long, The Dawson News said, "(Arizona) Charlie Meadows has moved into his new and comfortable quarters over the Grand."
In May 1900, among entertainments at the Palace Grand, were songs and cakewalk, said the News. By September, shows included stages filled with construction, buildings, a bridge and even horses ridden with guns blazing. "WET THE SCOUT" said the News, when Arizona Charlie and his horse fell 14 feet into an eight-feet-deep tank of water, built into the stage, the scout barely escaping injury from having landed beneath the struggling animal.
For half a century many buildings fell to fate, the hammer, fire or permafrost, whereas the Palace Grand proved tenacious. Under various names, it was used for dances, movie shows and town meetings. Then, in 1953, the Yukon government moved from Dawson to Whitehorse, the old town losing about 800 friends and neighbours of long standing. But, soon after the ice went out in the Yukon River, the winter's silence was broken by the whistles and bells that announced the arrival of the steamers Klondike and Casca, with excited passengers aboard. With the innate courtesy that has been appreciated by visitors - from that time to today, the townspeople, wearing gold rush garb, welcomed everyone ashore, determined to show them a good time.
Midwinter 1954 saw the formation of the Klondike Tourist Bureau, a minuscule group with a big agenda: the promotion of the Klondike's gold rush. Soon after, members were able to buy the Palace Grand Theater for $1000. At the same time, other buildings of almost equal prominence were being torn down for city taxes. When the government formed the Yukon Travel Bureau in Whitehorse, the Dawson group changed its name to the Klondike Visitors Association (KVA) and promoted Klondike Nights and other entertainments.
Not least in civic attractions was the Palace Grand Theater, whose open doors enticed passersby to come in and look around. While the building had been stripped down to bare walls and part of its main floor pushed up several feet by permafrost, it was an ideal ambience for Alec Adams, an early-day dancer and entertainer, on that very stage. Seated on a handsome wicker peacock throne, with footstool. Adams spoke knowingly of other stars who went on to theatrical glory. The visitors liked the peculiar atmosphere created by the old man in the derelict building with its crazy floor, tipped staircase, old backdrops to the stage and advertising posters.
Seemingly fortuitously, in 1960, the federal government's Department of Historic Sites bought the Palace Grand for $5000, and entrepreneur Tom Patterson began planning a real Broadway show.
At that time, Al (Warner, an aircraft engineer), our two boys and myself arrived in Dawson. I wrote my parents who were living on Salt Spring Island, telling of events in this novel region, including the arrival of Tom Patterson of the Stratford Festival, with entertainer Burl Ives. In April '61, I wrote,"The old Auditorium is to be torn down and a new one, same as the old I think, to be built-- at $350,000. In June, I took two photographs that I captioned, "Down Comes the Auditorium",and another, "All gone but the boiler'.
It had been the understanding of the people of Dawson that the old Auditorium, being acquired by the Department of Historic Sites, would be restored to its former glory. Instead, seemingly behind everyone's back, the building vanished. The historic structure, so much a part of Dawson, even to Alec Adams on his peacock chair, was no more. It was some time before Dawsonites put the loss behind them and accepted the new Palace Grand building.
While the last of the walls and fittings in the Auditorium were being torn down and removed, long-time resident Black Mike Winage could be seen idling around the site. One evening, when only the back and east walls remained, the floor torn up exposing the ground beneath, he spoke to a couple of young workers asking if there was one bar, or two. His money was on two, an old bet with no way to win until that summer's evening when, as he told the men, they could help prove him right by panning the dust and other debris fallen through the floorboards .
Encouraged by Black Mike, the men obtained the use of a rocker, a tin washtub, shovels and a length of water hose. Keeping their day jobs, they came back later to uncover their illicit mining operation still partly hidden by the remaining walls. The hose was attached to a water tap located at the side of the Dawson City Water & Power Company Limited, whose manager, M.Emma A.Seeley, made sure that every drop of water used was accounted for. Properly warned, the would-be miners were uneasy when anyone walked down the street, like myself, when I learned what they were doing and took photographs.
Two bars were found in the areas pointed out by Black Mike, one long and one short, their outlines drawn by gold. While Black Mike chortled at winning the long-standing bet, the successful miners shovelled, rocked and washed dirt and watched as nuggets and gold dust accumulated in a borrowed pan.
They were only Just in time. As I wrote, "The ground underneath the Auditorium has been skinned down to bedrock and taken down by the Keno and washed and a lot of gold was found. Then they brought the dirt back and dumped it where it belongs.
by Dan Davidson
A combination of heavy winter snowfall and warm weather in the high country, followed by rain, has caused flooding in the settlement of Rock Creek , about a half an hour's drive south of Dawson City on the Klondike Highway.
By Wednesday the YTG campground near the airport was closed as the entrance was blocked by a swiftly flowing stream. Since that same road is the north entrance to Rock Creek, access to that end of the community was blocked as well. Water levels vary from nothing at all to .75 metres within the subdivision.
Driving in through the Klondike Highway entrance to the Klondike Valley Fire Department revealed another stretch of flooded road. This situation occurs several more times as you travel through the settlement, though most of the flooding is shallow enough that a light truck can easily get by.
Driveways are another matter, some being quite deep. Most homes in Rock Creek, which floods regularly, have long since been elevated from ground level, but the effect of the rising water is still startling for Gail Kreitzer, a teacher living in the area.
"I have a castle with a moat around it and the river flowing in from a few different directions," Kreitzer said Thursday afternoon.
She has been watching the water rise slowly for about a week, and was a bit amused to receive the emergency flood notice which the local EMO group prepared on Thursday.
"Right now my front garden is under water with the strawberry blooms just sitting like water lilies."
The driveway to her house is deep enough to require hip waders to get in and out without getting soaked.
Eric Magnason, the Yukon's EMO director, refers to this as a freshette flood, which is distinct from the ice jam floods with which Dawsonites are familiar. The freshette season comes after breakup, as the snowpack begins to give way to the warming sun. He says it's a little late this year, but early June is normal.
Kreitzer says she's experienced ice jam flooding before, but this is the first time she can recall freshette flooding this high. Generally the water simply rises from the low ground and then ebbs away.
"Usually what happens is that the water table comes up. The river doesn't usually come over the banks. This time it has and it's moving along at a good clip."
Closer to the Klondike Highway, teacher Liz Woods is not as surrounded by water. Her driveway is clear and she can get out. On the other hand, the river has filled the couple of hundred metres of grassed field and gravel river bank between her driveway and the normal channel.
She was scheduled to head off on a vacation trip on Friday, but she hasn't decided what to do about that yet. This is her sixth year on her property and she's never experienced a flood before, though the original owners of her home built it good and high.
An EMO committee met on Thursday afternoon and circulated a notice warning of flood danger, as well as advising residents what to do and where to go in case of need. There is a possible water contamination warning and a possibility of an evacuation notice going out later if things get worse. One of the concerns voiced by Magnusson and Northern Affairs Program Resource Management Officer Todd Pilgrim is that the river doesn't seem to have crested yet.
By late Thursday EMO was predicting that levels would rise by another .2 metres as the rain continues.
Magnusson refers to the situation as an "apprehensive emergency" and says EMO people are still looking at the possibility of sandbagging, earthworks and the protection of homes and property, as well as people.
"It's a serious concern at the moment and we're watching it."
There are eight homes in Rock Creek that may be directly affected and an additional twenty that might lose access to their property for a short time.
(Ed Note: Obviously, everything worked out well in the end. More next issue.)
by Tara McCauley
Perhaps the youngest of established Dawson entrepreneurs is Stefanie Cayen, proprietor of Curly's Hair Shop. Stefanie, who will be 20 years old in July, has wanted to be a hairdresser all her life. When asked why, she replied, "I like people and I like to talk. It's a great feeling to do somebody's hair and make them feel good."
The personal satisfaction for her is also that in hairdressing there is a tangible result that gives her pride in what she does. Stefanie started working at Curly's in July of 1999, after completing a 10-month program in Nelson, BC, and on August 15th of that same summer took ownership of the shop.
Although Stefanie has lived in Dawson for the past nine years it still took a long time for people to realize who she was and that she was open during the winter months as well. Over time, through advertising and most importantly, by word-of-mouth, she is now an established business women.
Business-wise, "the winter was a lot better than I expected, I could always pay the bills and when you're starting out that's what's most important." She enjoys the winter, as it gives her time to slow down the pace a bit and work with her established clientele.
"Sometimes, I kick myself, it seems sometimes like it should be harder, although I have to admit that my mom has been tons of help."
Within the next few years Stefanie hopes to expand her business to offer a wider range of services. You can catch her at Curly's, located on Front Street, next to Jimmy's Place Video.
by Tara McCauley
Ron Ryant and Dave Robinson have been proprietors of the Dawson Trading Post for the past 13 years. Ron came to the Yukon with a dream to live in the wilderness and live off the land. Dave wound up here quite by accident. Hitching his way to California, he made a wrong turn somewhere, fell in love with the place and stayed.
They met in West Dawson where they were both tenting and became friends. A few years later in 1987, not satisfied with their jobs, Dave approached Ron with the idea of opening a store. They jumped on it. Starting off in Caley's old store, they opened a store providing goods that were not available in Dawson at the time such as army surplus, and camping and fishing gear. They've gone through their share of growing pains but over the years they managed to grow and now offer a wide range of goods in addition to their original lines, including: gold, antiques, mammoth ivory, craft supplies, music supplies, canoe rental, and a boat shuttle/charter service. They've also changed location. In the spring 1988 they moved into a building on 5th Ave and about a month ago, they moved the building to it's new location on Front Street, which lends to increased traffic in their store.
In the beginning, they catered mostly to tourists but with their expanding range of merchandise, they hope to extend their business to locals.
Over the years they've had quite a few experiences and met a lot of interesting people. It's been a gratifying road and Ron remarks, " it's funny how things get started, somebody dumps a canoe on you and you say, "well, let's see if we can rent it", suddenly you've got canoe rentals." Funny indeed.
by Dan Davidson
Now that the Carnegie Library (or the Masonic Hall) is back in its normal place on the Corner of Queen and 4th, the swallows will be able to back to serious egg making.
The swallows go way back with that building and certainly seem to love it in a way that doesn't apply to any other building in town. When they arrive in the spring each year they vie for the choicest spots along the window sills and cornices, swooping back and forth under every usable centimetre of space is filled with their little mud nests.
There's so much space on the building for them to play with, too. There are eight windows on the the east side of the building alone, and each of them sports a top window ledge protected from exposure by an overhanging ledge. Once their little adobe nests are completed, they are protected from rain and will outlast the efforts of nearly any force which attempts to remove them.
This includes people.
Over the years the various owners of the building have decided that the birds are unsightly, that they pose a nuisance. The nests have been knocked off by hand and hosed off by high pressure. Bits of bright twirling metal and fake birds of prey have been hung from the top of the building to scare them off.
None of it works. They nest behind the metal strips and fly loops around the fluttering hawk. Knock their nests down and they have them back up again as fast as they can find a mud puddle for raw material. They are nothing if not tenacious.
I wonder if all this activity is necessary. I can't see that they're hurting anyone by being there and lots of people stop to watch them as they walk down the street.
If they were nesting on wood I might worry about rot, but I'm guessing that the shaped tin which covers the Carnegie Building is impervious to that sort of damage.
This year, with the building being moved and jostled about, I did think it made sense to knock down the nests before the eggs could get laid. The kind of stresses involved in that operation could certainly have resulted in a lot of damage to their procreative efforts. As usual, however, the birds didn't agree with me or anyone else. No sooner had the building come to a halt in the middle of Queen Street then those feathered masons were at it again, and whole new rows of avian condominiums were showing in no time at all.
I didn't check to see what kind of damage resulted from the building getting cranked back to its new foundation plot the other day, but I'll wager the swallow paid no attention at all, and that they will go on about their merry way for the rest of the season.
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