|Dawson fires burning on June 15. This photo was taken at 10 p.m. See story below. Photo by Dan Davidson|
Welcome to the June 25 on-line edition of the Klondike Sun. This issue is late because our regular InterNet provider has been on holiday and the local folks who also want to post our site are still getting organized. Our June 22 hardcopy edition was 24 pages long, containing 29 photographs and 28 news stories and a short story. Getting a subscription (see the home page) is the only way you'll ever see it all.
by Dan Davidson
The third week of June was a tough one for Yukon firefighters, and one that it would have been hard to predict any time before June 5. Up to that date the season had been chilly and damp, but it wasn't really wet and Paul Butra, the Regional Manager of Field Operations for Indian Affairs-Northern Development Canada, says that the constant drying of the land that took place then was a part of what happened later.
On June 6 summer arrived in the Klondike with a vengeance. temperatures jumped to 26? C and pretty much stayed there for the next week. Sure enough, seven days later, on June 12, lightning strikes sparked 12 fires in the Dawson area alone, 17 throughout the territory.
Butra says that the territory is divided into action and observation zones. In the former, the possibility of danger to human life, settlement and property dictates an immediate involvement with any fire that starts. Outside of that area, the fires are monitored, but events are left to take their natural course.
A new action zone map was prepared for this spring.
Dawson #3 began near Coal River in an observation zone. There are cabins that may need protecting, so that is being looked after.
Dawson #4, the fire at Sulfur Creek, erupted in the gold fields and was beyond Initial Attack (IA) capabilities by the time a crew could get there. It went to rank five very quickly, but it had a lower priority than the next fire to begin.
That was Dawson #7, being called the Moosehide Fire. It was 3.5 km north of Dawson and closer to the Han village of Moosehide.
"The tankers were redirected to begin work on Dawson #7 and an IA crew was sent to that fire. It became one of our priorities for action."
It was only about an hour later that a brand new, man-made factor entered the equation. At Burwash Landing a dump fire was initially extinguished and thought to be out, according to published reports, though the tales about who declared it out vary.
For Dawson, the importance of the Burwash fire was that it rekindled, leaping to rank fire status before the IA crew could return. The town had to be evacuated, five homes were lost, the Alaska Highway was closed or restricted. It became the number one fire priority in the Yukon within about 40 minutes and resources from everywhere including Dawson, had to be dispatched there.
There were also five fires in the Mayo district.
"The manpower we had at the time ... those resources were being stretched. We never anticipated 17 starts that day. It's an anomaly for the year.
"Fires were spotted by fire detection aircraft, tankers lifted off and the fire went from a point or spot to 1 or 2 hectares and by the time the tankers were there they were 5 or 6 hectares in half an hour to forty minutes.
'If you didn't get there within 30 minutes the fire was what we term 'beyond resources' and we didn't want to put manpower in front to those and risk life there."
Priorities were assigned in order to Burwash, Dawson #7, Dawson #4 and Mayo #7. The latter fire was in the Na Cho Nyak Dun land claims area and threatened timber resources.
During the first three or four days little changed. Burning conditions were optimum - for the fires that is. For the crews the combination of heat, wind, smoke and long hours was a killer. By the end of the week things stacked up as follows.
Dawson #7: Moosehide - 1200 hectares involved along a stretch 4 km wide; 25 firefighters deployed; a three cat-wide (width of the blade) firebreak just about three-quarters completed.
As the fire is surrounded and contained ground crews begin to make their way in with hoses. Like most warfare, it takes ground forces to finish the work.
Dawson #4: Sulfur Creek - 8,500 hectares involved down into the Indian River district; 30 firefighters working along with cats to do site protection. Miners helping.
Dawson #16: About 4 hectares began north of the Moosehide fire. By the 17th, 10 firefighters were on the ground mopping up a fire that seemed to be out.
"This was a good combination of detection by the tower, bombers and ground crews."
Meanwhile, several fires had started in the Old Crow region, which is also part of the Dawson fire control district. Those employed about 10 people. Overall, Butra was optimistic. It had been a tough week, but the there had been some rain on Thursday.
"Now, with a slight bit of rain it gave us a little breather, kept the flames and smoke down for a bit so we could consolidate the lines, or most of them, and hopefully hold this thing before the weather turns warm again. "We can't let it (Dawson #7) get wider on us and we can't let it get north and south."
A Type 1 overhead team was brought in from British Columbia to assist the local crews with the fire management, along with crews from the first nation.
The change in the weather, with chances of showers over the weekend, has been a break for all concerned. Firefighters are assessing areas, preparing strategies to deal with the areas already on fire and planning for what happens if and when new ones break out. They will soon know what the bill has been so far.
"The concern now is that if the weather changes, if we get another wind event or we get some more lightning, we're going to be right back where we were two days ago. We have to do as much as we can right now with the fires that we have to insure that if we have to move on to another initial attack these fires will be secure and we won't lose them.
"We don't want to lose something that we've already put a lot of work into, and at the same time we've got to ensure the initial attack capability that we're going to need around Dawson."
This report is a summary of events between Saturday, June 12 and Saturday, June 19. This paper is shipped to Whitehorse on Sunday for printing on Monday and returns here for sale on Tuesday. Lots could happen between now and then. If you'd like a clue, watch your barometer for signs of movement to the "stormy" side.
Butra says that when the readings from the weather balloons break 500 millibars, lightning generally happens and if that combines with the right heat and lack of humidity, then fires are probable.
"The indices are indicating good burning conditions," Butra says, "and that's clear from the way things have burned during this week. We're into the second year of a bit of a drought scenario." Things are dry and as soon as they get hot, you can easily get fires.
by Dan Davidson
Summer made a late arrival in Dawson this year. After featuring drizzle and cold for nearly all of the last ten days, the season finally managed to break through on June 5, just in time for the 26th annual Commissioner's Tea. It's difficult to do anything with this event if the weather isn't on your side, since it is held on the beautifully landscaped lawns of the Commissioner's Residence on Front Street. There is a verandah running around three sides of the building, but there's no way that will accommodate the several hundred people who generally show up for the afternoon.
Co-hosted by the Dawson chapter of the IODE and Klondike National Historic Sites, the tea has been the scene of some pretty dramatic events over the last three years. It has played host to Prime Minister Chretien, Governor General Romeo LeBlanc, and all manner of dignitaries in between those two. Up to 2000 people have crowded the street outside the residence grounds just to catch a glimpse of the visitors.
This year was a return to the smaller scale productions of the pre-Centennials years.
Commissioner Judy Gingell was present of course, along with her husband, Don, and the Regent of Yukon College, Pearl Keenan. Shirley Adamson, Grand Chief of the Council for Yukon First Nations, was on hand as well. But the usual press of YTG cabinet ministers and opposition members was conspicuous by its absence.
After hostess Cam Sigurdson (KNHS) welcomed the guests, IODE Regent Myra Butterworth presented the Commissioner with another addition to her collection of spoons.
"I don't have a big speech," Butterworth said. "We're all here to celebrate the Yukon's 101st birthday and enjoy our tea and goodies."
Gingell was equally brief, delivering her remarks while the local Girl Guide group continued making the rounds with teapots, glasses of ice-tea and sandwiches.
"I would like to say that it;s a very beautiful day, and the reason why I appreciate that is that back home in Whitehorse it's been pretty cold. Enjoy the beautiful sun that we're having today.
"Welcome to visitors that are coming to Yukon for the very first time, especially those that are coming to see Dawson for the first time. We have beautiful communities throughout the Yukon territory. Welcome. Enjoy. Thank you."
The tea was the first general public appearance for Charlie Davis, the New Brunswicker who has taken over the reins of the interpretive job at the Robert Service Cabin this season.
"I believe the elite of Dawson are here today," he said, "and I'm honoured and I'm as shy and backward as the real Robert Service was when he first came down to this residence to do a presentation.
Davis went on to seem anything but shy as he recited rousing versions of "A Sourdough Went to Heaven" and "The Ballad of Blasphemous Bill" to an appreciative audience.
Davis holds forth twice daily at the 8th Avenue cabin where Service once lived and wrote.
The Robert Service School Choir continued another tradition (most of the last 12 years) by singing several numbers. The students have been out of school for over a week at this point, but were still willing to assemble to sing one last time this year. The choir is led by Betty Davidson and accompanied by Gwen Bell.
New to the program was Linda Moore, a KNHS interpretive employee with a soaring voice and fondness for the older tunes. She had the audience singing along to the strains of "And the Band Played On".
That concluded all the planned entertainment for the afternoon, but there was still lots of time left to mingle and get a picture taken next to Justin and Constable Antony Pompeo, as the Red Serge rider and his mount paid a visit to the tea.
Later in the afternoon KNHS offered brief tours of the ground floor of the residence. Sigurdson announced that regular teas (by appointment only) would be held on the verandah during the summer season.
by Dan Davidson
"Your future lies before you like a field of fresh fallen snow.
Be careful how you tread it for your steps with always show."
Deputy Mayor Aedes Scheer used that snatch for poetry once given her by an English teacher to reflect briefly on the permanence of things that may seem impermanent at the time they occur.
The continued existence of Dawson City after 101 years, in spite of all that economics, history and government regulation have thrown its way, might seem to be a case in point.
"It is the nature of our beast (humanity) to make an impact," she said, "and all the legislation that politicians can muster won't negate that. "But impact isn't all bad. Thanks to the events of the last 100 years, this community is all the better prepared for the next 100 years."
Serious thoughts to open the Commissioner's Ball? Perhaps, but there has been some discussion about what might lie in store for the Klondike capital now that the three highest profile centennial years have ended so it wasn't really out of place.
Part of the answer lay in the KVA's determination to have the party pay for itself this year. You had to buy a photograph of the event if you wanted one. The centrepieces on the table were for sale for $10 each.
There was no skimping on the food, though. The meal, catered this year by the staff at the Triple J Hotel, was praised by emcee Mark Smith, based on the comments he received from the floor as being "the finest buffet many here have ever eaten."
The door prizes were lavish. Holland America and Greylines donated a 7 day Alaskan Cruise; Canada 3000 chipped in with 2 return tickets from Whitehorse to Vancouver; White Pass contributed a rail excursion from Skagway.
The weather was cooperative as well, though Commissioner Judy Gingell dispelled any illusions about her part in arranging it.
"Summer has finally arrived," Gingell told the crowd. "People are thanking me for this beautiful weather and I only wish I could take credit for it, but it didn't come with us on the plane because it wasn't like this in Whitehorse.
"I want to say what a pleasure it is for Don and I to be here in Dawson City on the occasion of another successful Commissioner's. Ball. The people of Dawson always make both of us feel very much at home and I truly enjoy the time that we are able to spend in Dawson.
"I also want to thank the KVA for another job well done. I have great respect and appreciation for sponsors and volunteers and it is so (true) that without them we would not be able to have such a wonderful evening. Gingell put to rest any idle chatter that she might be less interested in the ball as the century draws to a close.
"I am very fortunate to be able to host such a wonderful evening as the Commissioner's Ball. As many of you know another event has been added to my duties as Commissioner's. between the Ball and the Potlatch I have a very busy month of June. But I want to stress how important it is to me to be able to be part of the two very different and very important events.
"While each celebrates something different, the Ball has been part of the Commissioner's office for a very long time and it's something that needs to be upheld and celebrated. It is a prestigious event that is an important part of the office of the Commissioner.
"This Ball is one way we can all come together and celebrate our history in the Yukon and celebrate who we are. I have truly enjoyed each Commissioner's Ball that I have attended and hosted and I look forward to many more in the future."
Her sense of its importance came from an anecdote she told her guests. "I once had a person who had lived in the Yukon for about 10 years tell me that the first thing they ever knew about the Yukon was that every year Dawson City held the Commissioner's Ball. She told me the vision that she had of people, dressed as they would (have) 100 years ago, dancing, celebrating and enjoying the evening.
"This was the image of Dawson and the Yukon that she carried when she moved to the Yukon. The mountains, the river and the communities all had their appeal, but it was the Commissioner's Ball that her image of the Yukon was. "It is my hope that events such as the Commissioner's Ball are able to foster such a vision in other people and to help to create this image of the Yukon for others."
The Commissioner's guests this year included government minister Eric Fairclough and Emmie Sidney; Mr and Mrs Yukon, Stan and Joyce Fuller; Miss Sourdough Rendezvous 1999, Shelly MacCannell and Adam; Bill and Betty Rivers, the first recipients of the Commissioner's Awards for Volunteer Service; Grand Chief of the CYFN Shirley Adamson; Pearl Keenan, Chancellor of Yukon College.
The official portion of the evening concluded with a special presentation by Mardie Peterson, the grand-niece of Father William Judge, often called the "Saint of the Yukon" for his tireless efforts in helping people during the Gold Rush. Mrs. Peterson donated to the archives at the restored Saint Mary's Catholic Church the missionary crucifix which Judge wore while he was in service here until he died. The full presentation and the story behind it is a tale in itself which we will run later this week.
Following this important and hilarious donation, the Big Band from Whitehorse took the stage to present a lively set of tunes for the crowd, which moved back and forth between the Palace Grand and Diamond Tooth Gerties for the rest of the evening.
by Dan Davidson
When a member of a priestly order passes to his reward, it is common for his ecclesiastical effects to revert to the order and from there to be handed down to some new member. Father Tim Coonen, OMI, the incumbent priest in Dawson City, wears a missionary crucifix that came to him in just this way, after having spent many years in the possession of a brother who pursued his calling on horseback.
The missionary cross that once belonged to Father William Judge, S.J., is in much better shape, but then it's been hanging on the wall in his grand-niece's bedroom since 1972, and hasn't even been seen by anyone but her and her cat for some years.
Soon, however, it will be on view with the collection of historic relics in Saint Mary's Church. Marty (Margaret Mary) Peterson donated it to the church as a part of her participation in this year's Commissioner's Ball.
The presentation brought the house down a number of times, as Coonen and Peterson vied for control of the microphone, each wanting to be able to trump the other with good things to say about Father Judge and each other. Peterson inherited the crucifix from her mother, but it came to the Judge family by some unknown means just after William's untimely death in 1898. Peterson explained.
"After he died, his missionary crucifix, which he received about 1890 when he left San Francisco for the far north, was sent to his brother, my maternal grandfather, John Paul Judge. When my grandfather died it went on to my oldest aunt. When she died it went to my mother.
"When my mother died in 1972, I was given the cross. I think I just snitched it out of mother's room. It's been hanging on my bedroom wall for many many years - since 1972."
Peterson had grown up on tales of her famous great uncle, whose well thumbed biography, written by his brother, Rev. Charles Judge, S.S., is now held together by an elastic band. The story of "Uncle Will," as he was known to her, has been read often and by many members of the family since it was published in 1907.
All her life Marty, whose full name is taken from one of the Sisters who worked with Father Judge at his hospital, has had a yen to come north. "But it used to cost so much and be so far," she explained as we sat in her comfortable suite at the Midnight Sun Hotel a few days later. Though born and raised in Baltimore like her famous uncle, she has been a resident of San Jose, California for years now and last year at the age of 75, finally decided to retrace some of her ancestor's journey.
Judge was also active in Alaska, but it was his final posting here in Dawson that caught Marty Peterson's heart. She had several talks with Farther Coonen about what had become of Judge's effects, but her decision about the crucifix really only came after she went home again.
"After I was up here last year," she told the Palace Grand crowd, "everything seemed to become so much closer and near to me.
"I just have a very close affinity for Saint Mary's and...I was going to say Father Tim, but I'm not so sure now," she joked.
"I realized that the missionary crucifix would be much better in Saint Mary's than in my bedroom, where only my cat could see it.
"I'm sure it makes my great uncle very happy to know that his missionary cross has come home. The whole Judge family is very proud of all the good that has been done for Saint Mary's and City of Dawson, thanks to you great people, and...oh I don't know who else," she said, sneaking a glance at Father Tim.
"Father Tim, it gives me great pleasure to put this Missionary crucifix of Father Judge's into your good hands."
For the present the crucifix is locked away for safe keeping, but once the display cabinet is completed this summer it will be on view along with a picture of the Saint of Dawson.
Weekend Passes for 1999 Dawson City Music Festival Sold Out Those folks who placed ticket orders and received confirmation letters should look for their tickets to be mailed out June 25, 1999. If you placed an order and have not yet received a confirmation letter, one of two things has happened:
If you are on the list you shall receive a letter very soon, which should be followed shortly thereafter by the tickets. If you did not make the cut, your name will be placed on a waiting list for a limited number of tickets which might come available after July 1st.
Unfortunately, we cannot respond to individual enquiries over the telephone or by e-mail. We rely on good old snail mail, and you should receive a letter soon informing you either way of your status. For more information contact:
Dominic Lloyd, Production Manager, DCMF
phone: (867) 993-5584
fax: (867) 993-5510
Hang on to your socks... the Klondike is going to rock!!
The Klondike Jamboree Association has just released its list of performers for their 1999 event, to be held at Discovery Days (August 13 & 14) in Dawson City.
Friday night's line-up will include:
Macfano- a country group from Vancouver, -our newest discovery; and they sound great!
Straight, Clean & Simple- from Alberta- they've been here before, and wowed us all with their music. We have no doubt they will again!
Doug & the Slugs- from Vancouver- a performance you just can't miss!
Saturday night's line-up is also a must see:
Cabin Fever- great local talent, to get you rockin'!
The Neurotics- also from Vancouver, this British Invasion band will leave you wanting more...
Trooper! What to say, except they will knock your socks off!
Don't miss out! Tickets are available at the Raven's Nook in Dawson City, and the Ticketmaster (Hougen's) and Macs on Main in Whitehorse. Tickets are $35.00 per person per night, or $65.00 for both nights. There are also a limited number of VIP passes for both evenings, for $50.00 per person per night. These include bar service to your table, and backstage passes to meet the performers.
For more info. call Lenore Calnan 993-6116 or Sylvie Gammie 993-5392.
The Klondike Visitors Association will be hosting the 22nd annual Yukon Gold Panning Championships this Canada Day, Thursday July 1, 1999, at the Gold Panning site at the north end of Dawson City. As in past years, there will be categories for every age and skill-level, ranging from the novice to the the seasoned veteran, as well as the coporate challenge.
The opening ceremonies will get under way at 1:00 p.m. and last throughout the afternoon, with the award ceremonies to be held at 4:30 p.m. Prizes will be awarded in all categories, and this year the winner of the Yukon Open will be eligible to attend the 1999 World Gold Panning Championships in the Czech Republic.
For more information on the event, or to register, please contact Celeste Michon, Special Events Co-ordinator, at the KVA offices, (867) 993-5575.
by Palma Berger
The Tintina Bakery building at Henderson Corner was once the home of Jayne and Mike Fraser and family. When they built their new home the old home had an addition put on and renovated it to be used as a bakery from where Jayne supplies town and neighbours with her goods.
But it is also the spot where Jayne and a few artist friends gather to paint. Enter Wendy Burns who was discovering that most of her friends were artists. Wendy's dream became to open an Art Gallery for her friends to show their work. This was not possible. But she and Jayne had an idea. Use the bare walls of the bakery to have an Art Gallery. As a surprise to Wendy, Katie Fraser created the sign "My Friend Wendy's Art Gallery", as the gallery is named.
The first showing was held this week at Henderson's Corner for the artists of the Valley. This was not only for the artists living in the valley, but also for art lovers who owned art work.
The art work ranged from full of character stuffed bears by Diane Campbell to Ukranian easter eggs by Lynn Nimmo to pottery and paintings. It was a colourful, creative and talented diplay of works.
Joanne Vriend although not a resident, she is a friend of the Valley, and she does fire her raku at a propane fired kiln on a friend's mining claim. Perfectly acceptable.
Other pottery was by Eric Docken and Chris Haddock.
Sylvia Strutton had a quilted wall hanging made up of hundreds of small colourful squares that when viewed from a distance blended into colourful flowers of a garden complete with picket fence.
Mike Fraser had discovered a piece of wood that had a distinctive swirl progressing up it. This he refined and mounted to bring out the lovely pattern.
The rest were water colour, acrylic and oil paintings. Jim Gattie had loaned his piece of art that had been done by the late Walter Semple. Walter, a First Nation young man, was just getting wide recognition for his work, when he passed away unexpectedly. Another local first nation artist's work done in a similar but more complicated style is that of Joe Blanchard was also on display here.
Other paintings were by Jayne Fraser, Cynthia Hunt, Helen Keedwell, Leslie Piercey, (early) Halin de Repentigny, Melinda Warren, Dylan Haddock, Jackie Worrell (Olsen), Mary Anne Davis, Craig Dunham, Roc Le Blanc, Palma Berger, Penny Spencer, Audrey Legoffe and Lynn Nimmo. The subjects ranged from scenery to garden scenes to portrait to abstract. Roc's abstract piece was titled "Dump Art". It is not that that is where he puts his art, but rather from where he collects his material . Roc is into recycling, and from the garbage dump salvages abandoned paint and boards with which he creates his colourful work.
After viewing the work the visitors gathered on the cool, sunny verandah to partake of snacks and discuss what they had seen. It was an evening to inspire the creative side of one's nature. The talk was of creativity and Jayne continued on with her baking and the tantalizing smells emanating from the oven that gave added pleasure to a perfectly delightful evening. There will be a continuous showing of art in the valley, or as someone suggested, "Uptown Henderson Corner".
by Matthew Sell
"Jimmy's Place" video and convenience store marked its grand opening by hosting a two day local talent event on the boardwalk of it's Front Street location. Acts were recruited from Dawson's transient worker population as well as from the commercial and homegrown sectors of the community. The result was a diverse and enjoyable set of acts which had something for everyone.
The crowd was treated to a village festival atmosphere. Retired R.V.ers clung to helium balloons, their feet tapping to the tunes, while children had their faces painted by Caveman Bill, who was dressed as a clown. Individual performances by Barnacle Bob on piano, Scott Reynolds on bongo drums, and Dick Pollard on the fiddle represented a broad spectrum of Dawson's talent and attracted an inquisitive and appreciative crowd.
The first day's performances saw Tom Byrne recite Robert Service and Shelly O'Brien sing for the crowd. Magician Marshall Don was especially popular with the children.
The second day's acts opened with the "Gold Rush Girls" and Lorraine Butler as Diamond Tooth Gertie. The Dawson City Jammers also made a rare appearance and treated the audience to some "Bluegrass" tunes.
by Tara McCauley
It seems that Summer Student Constable Kristin Grabowski was destined to be in a uniform. Not only has she wanted to be a police officer since the age of four but she has also been involved with the Girl Guides of Canada for 13 years. Also, it runs in the family as her father is a conservation officer and her brother is in the military.
Grabowski, 19, and Kevin Mayes, 22, are the two student summer Constables working at the Dawson RCMP detachment this summer. The RCMP Summer Student program is a Canada-wide program that starts in mid-May and is designed to give college and university students an opportunity to experience policing firsthand. Although they are fully uniformed and are sworn in as Peace Officers, giving them the power of arrest, they do not carry a weapon.
Mayes, who grew up in Dawson and graduated from Robert Service School, first heard about the program through friends who had done it. Now in his third season, he says, "I like it because I like interacting with people. It's a good experience for anyone looking to get into law enforcement and see what police work is all about."
Grabowski, also a former Dawson resident, was initially attracted to the program because she thought it would be an excellent way of job shadowing.
"It's a great idea because you can see if you are interested in the job and know if you're going to like it by actually doing the job," says Grabowski.
"What appeals to me about police work is working with people. I couldn't imagine myself sitting behind a desk all day. I love talking to people and interacting with people as well as solving problems and helping people. Every call is different and that's another thing, it's a job that's unpredictable. You never know what is going to happen."
Under the direct supervision of regular RCMP Members, Summer Student Constables are exposed to the day to day situations related to General Duty, Traffic Policing and Crime Prevention. A typical day consists of doing follow ups from the day before, including paperwork and filing, yard work, going on patrols, traffic, business checks as well as just going out and interacting with the public.
"I used to think that the only time you deal with the police is when you're in trouble or when you're hurt and that it's always in a negative situation," says Grabowski. But with increased involvement in the community she's realized how the police actually play a very positive role. "The police are there to talk to people and to help them."
With these objectives in mind, both Mayes and Grabowski hope to go on to pursue careers in law enforcement. In the fall Mayes will be studying criminology at Camosun College in Victoria. Grabowski will be attending Mount Royal University in Calgary and plans on getting a degree in criminology and law enforcement. They both eventually hope to get accepted into the RCMP training academy in Regina.
by Dan Davidson
Jim Lokken and Solomon Carriere are once again winners at the Dawson end of a trip down the Yukon River. "Once again" may seem odd when we're talking about a brand new race, but both men were winners in the Dyea to Dawson event which was this race's predecessor, so this is familiar territory to them.
Jim Lokken just can't say enough good things about his partner, Solomon Carriere. The Fairbanks science teacher was purely blown away by the opportunity to race with, rather than against, the man whose team beat him in the second year of the Dyea to Dawson race.
"The man is a motor," he tells the media. "The whole boat just lifts out of the water - just rises up and stays up."
Carriere paddled in the stern while Lokken paddled from the bow.
Solomon Carriere is hardly less complimentary about his partner. Lokken did, after all, win the first Dyea to Dawson race and Carriere, himself a professional at distance canoe races, says that Lokken is no slouch at this game.
Carriere is the more experienced canoeist of the two and had had a lot of practice adapting himself to other peoples's styles. While he and Lokken had never actually paddled together before they began the race, he says it was easy to find a style that worked for both of them.
Lokken described their team as being serious racers. Lokken and his father own nearly 20 boats between them, so he is a dedicated fan of rivers and water travel, though he considers himself a novice next to Carriere.
"There are no races like this in Alaska," Lokken says. "There's a sixty mile one, but it's only about six hours."
Lokken and Carriere met at last summer's Dyea to Dawson race and when each discovered that the other was looking for a partner for this year, it was a simple decision.
"If you can't beat him, join him," Lokken says with a laugh, "and there's no way you can beat him."
There is a canoe racing circuit which the Carriere follows annually, and does well enough to make a decent living from. The Yukon River Quest is the longest event he's been involved in, and he is full of praise for the race, which he thinks has a lot of potential to grow.
'The race was excellent," he says. The team;'s strategy at the beginning was to slowly work their way into knowing each other.
"We did that, got out on the lake, paddled relaxed as we could, because it's a long race. We just got better and better as we went."
The highlight of the race was easy for Carriere: "just getting here in one piece and not falling apart."
He sees the race as a challenge of planning and preparation. Not that you can actually train for anything this long.
"You can't go out and train for 20 hours in a row," he says. You can keep yourself in shape and hope for the best.
Excepting last year's experience doing the Dyea to Dawson trek, Carriere calls the Yukon River Quest the longest and toughest race he's been in.
"What I like about this race is just waiting to see what comes around the corner."
The endurance challenge aspect also appeals to him. "Who runs a marathon for 20 hours in a row - or any sport for that matter?"
For Lokken it was the surprise of having an otter break water right in front of them at one point.
Neither man experienced any of the sleep deprivation that haunted travellers during the first two races. Sleeping at Minto was difficult. It was broad daylight and both men found it way too hot in the tent.
Neither racer appeared particularly bushed at the end of the race. They were happy to chat before heading off for a meal.
by Dan Davidson
As the Berton House Writers' Retreat program enters its third full year, the organizers are looking back with a fair degree of satisfaction. Max Fraser, representing the Yukon Arts Council, was recently in Dawson to meet with members of the Klondike Visitors Association and the Dawson Community Library Board, and the consensus was that the project is going well.
"This was was a kind of hurry-up program for the '96 centennial," Fraser said, "and we've struggled by with a bit of ad hocery - but with a good fundamental vision underpinning it. So now we're looking to the future. I think the writers' retreat program is here to stay and it's just a matter of putting all the things together to make it work."
One of the biggest goals for the future is to have the program run all year round. Presently it goes in the spring, summer and fall and would not yet have been tried in the winter except that a family crisis interrupted Julie Lawson's stay last fall and she arranged to come back in January.
She loved the place in winter, but Fraser says the committee would want to make sure that everyone who applied for that time of year was up to the challenge and was aware of what they would face.
There's also the need to find the least expensive way to deal with the heating bill.
"I think we can do all that, though,' he said. "The program is seen as a success that everybody supports for the long term benefit of Canadian literature as well as the community here."
One of the biggest successes coming out of the program so far is the recent novel by Andrew Pyper, Lost Girls, which was partially written while he was here in 1997. After his Canadian publication this spring his agent managed to get him a contract for U.S. publication and film rights that is over US$500,000.
"The best thing about it from our perspective," Fraser said, "is that Andrew gave credit to Berton House and Dawson in his foreword in the book and it's featured on the jacket.
"If these are products that come out of the writers' retreat program in Dawson, then this is good for everyone."
Speaking for the KVA, Denny Kobayashi said his organization had put about $15,000 into the house last year, including payments on the mortgage that was taken out to cover the cost of renovations.
"That's $500 a month plus the interest payments. Between finishing the landscaping and other things which did have the assistance of the Community Development Fund, the major capital stuff is close to done. Really, all we're looking at now is maintenance of the home.
"The program has proven so popular that writers want to be here 12 months of the year. The initial plan was only 6 months of the year. We now have to look at 12 months.
"Pierre (Berton), as the founder, wants to see 12 months. The writers want 12 months. We now have to step up to the plate and make that happen.
"Really, our committee needs to find away to get this support locally. We need a local committee that's willing to put in a bit of volunteer time, do some fund raising and assist to make sure that we have that home open 12 months."
From the KVA's perspective, Kobayashi says they intend that the home should be a model in the neighbourhood, both well maintained and landscaped. "Our name is on that home and we want it to be as attractive as possible."
The current writer in residence is Mansel Robinson, a playwright now living in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. His plays include Colonial Tongues and Collateral Damage. His most recent work is Slag, a book of poems and stories loosely based on a theme of trains and set in northern, somewhat isolated places.
In Dawson Robinson will be working on transforming some of this book into a play, to be called Ghost Trains. Robinson has described the play as being about "the disappearing railroad blues...as Steve Goodman put it."
by Dan Davidson
CBC is making a strong effort to get outside Whitehorse and reflect more of the Yukon in its newscasts this summer. The major portion of this initiative can be seen in the opening of its season Dawson bureau.
Mike Linder, program manager at CBC, is clear about the reasoning. "For a long time we've felt a need to better reflect and get out into the communities and ... Dawson specifically.
"I have to say that it's really something that the entire team here has felt. We wouldn't be able to have done it without people here ... cooperating and agreeing. Resources in the CBC right now are pretty tough, so for us it's a gutsy move to be expanding and offering bigger service than in the past with fewer resources."
On the other hand, some of this is reallocation of spending that was being made in other ways.
"We've always made umpteen trips to Dawson every summer anyway," Linder says, "but actually being there full time makes us more a part of the community. It anchors us. People can't look at us as just a Whithorse operation."
Working around special events schedules and vacations, Linder has managed to put together a summer program that involves sending reporters to Dawson for one, two and three week periods. Working out of an apartment at the Front Street Inn the first two visitors have already completed their tours of duty.
First in was David Croft in May, followed by Bob Keating for a two week stint in June. Keating says he had trouble believing how busy it was here. He had no trouble filing at least a story a day and found that he was as active as he could find time for.
Technology is one of the things that has made this all possible. Gone are the days of CBC field staff lugging oversized portable tape recorders, prying the mouthpieces off telephone hand sets and manipulating alligator clips to get low quality audio back to the main station.
These days they travel with digital audio recorders, a laptop computer with a virtual four track mixer on the screen and something called a "smarty marty" attached to improve the sound quality.
Linder says this enables the field reporter to produce almost studio quality output from a kitchen table and send it along the phone lines.
"What we're about to experiment with is sending the digitalized sound as an email and bringing it up here (in Whitehorse) so there would actually be none of this phone interference or anything else. We're not there yet, but we're trying.
"This is a pilot project. It's a test case to see if we can do it, both resource-wise and technologically. It's exciting.
"I can't stress enough that it took the whole gang here saying 'Yeah. Let's do it. This is what we're all about. Let's make it happen.'"
"The amount of stuff we're getting out of there is just tremendous."
by Dan Davidson
Less than a day after Health Minister Alan Rock announced that there would be a government sponsored investigation into the possible health used of marijuana, pranksters hit the RCMP detachment in Dawson City.
The Front Street lawn of the detachment has a nice lawn with a small garden and the words "Dawson City - RCMP - GRC" laid out in stone. This afternoon it was noted that the letters "R" and "C" had been rearranged to become "H" and "E", turning the word into "HEMP".
Officers in the station had not yet noticed the change when this reporter stopped off their after receiving a tip from a reader. They were amused and felt there would be no shortage of possible suspects.
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