|Todd Pilgrim loves to sculpt snow. Photo by Dan Davidson|
Welcome to the March 1, 2002 edition of the online Klondike Sun, which reproduces a selection of the 33 photographs and 28 articles which were in the 24 page February 26 hard copy edition. The hard copy also contains Doug Urquhart's famous "Paws" cartoon strip, the locally created cartoon "Camp Life", our homegrown crossword puzzle, and obviously, all the other material you won't find here. See what you're missing by not subscribing?
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by Dan Davidson
Casual strollers along 7th Avenue have lately been startled to find they are suddenly staring at the feet of an enormous orange and white tiger as they pass the home of Todd Pilgrim.
It's not Tony, and it's not going to put any oomph in your gas tank, but this oversize replica of Tigger, from the Disney version of A.A. Milne's classic children's stories, is certainly an eye-catcher.
Todd Pilgrim says it took him three weeks, working on weekends, to put the sculpture together.
"It turned out to be a lot bigger than I thought it was going to be," he said, explaining that getting the head the right size in proportion to the body was the challenge that had him up on a ladder.
Pilgrim has enjoyed ice sculpture since his university days, when he learned the art by getting involved in winter carnival competitions. Two years ago he made a giant Elmo, the well known Sesame Street character.
by Dan Davidson
Winter Wonderland was the theme for the 10th annual Centennial Ball, the celebration of Dawson City's incorporation in 1902. This is probably the final banquet and dance in this series, as the mandate and core funding of the Klondyke Centennial Society runs out at the end of this year, so the "little society that could" went all out to make this one something to remember.
The evening opened with entertainment by the duo of Willie Gordon on fiddle and Barnacle Bob Hilliard on the piano. While this pair kept up the beat, folks were encouraged to mingle and to take in the several dozen framed historic prints which were being offered in a silent auction.
The mingling was so successful that things were a little late getting started, but MC Jon Magnusson finally led off with the toast to Dawson's 100 year political history, and historian John Gould gave a brief talk on both civic politics and the history of Gerties, which began its long life as the Arctic Brotherhood Hall.
There were presentations galore. Klondike Visitors Association president Dick Van Nostrand presented Giovanni Castellarin with a special plaque honouring his efforts for the organization. Commissioner Jack Cable presented a public service award to Westminster Hotel owner Duncan Spriggs. Jon Magnusson presented an appreciation award to MLA Peter Jenkins for his help in setting up the KCS's funding a decade ago. (For details on these awards, see a separate article tomorrow.)
There were speeches.
Acting Mayor Jo-Anne Van Nostrand (Glen Everitt being in Ottawa on AYC/FCM business) thanked the KCS for all its efforts over the last decade, including the organization of most of the events surrounding the city's own birthday.
MLA Peter Jenkins spoke of Dawson's long history of struggle.
"Dawson City has experienced a roller coaster ride over the last 100 years. It has survived fires and floods of almost Biblical proportions. It started out as the San Francisco of the North ... declined to almost a ghost town, but Dawson survived. We came out ahead. We kept the buildings; all the elected officials moved to Whitehorse.
Dawson's municipal history, said the former mayor, could be summed up in four words: "Sewer, water, dogs and mud. Many municipal politicians have come and gone over the last hundred years, but the major challenges have been drawn from those four areas."
He went on to quote from various period newspaper articles of the early days to illustrate the origins of the issues, all of which remain with us to the present day, though a new sewage plant is scheduled to open in 2004.
"His worship, the current mayor of Dawson, has assured me that all of these problems will be solved, (by the time) we celebrate the next hundredth anniversary."
Premier Pat Duncan was also on hand for the evening. On a night when the temperatures had dipped to -30 for the first time in a week or so, Duncan recalled reading of a Dawson election when it was -52 below and 80% of the voters still turned out.
"Dawson City ... has had a wonderfully rich,, and an often turbulent, history," she said. "Throughout its hundred years, Dawson has proven that when the city relies on the strength of its people, amazing things can happen."
Duncan said she was looking forward to sharing Dawson with the Western Premiers and Western Governors in June, as well as with Canada's Ambassador to Washington and the US Ambassador to Canada. She said that the "No Boundaries", part of the motto of the Arctic Brotherhood, "really should be the theme of that conference."
In closing, she offered this toast: "To the City with the Golden Past. May the people of this great city continue bring the character and honour to Dawson in the next 100 years as they have in the past 100."
Yukon MP Larry Bagnell jetted and drove in from Ottawa for this event, bringing to the podium his usual enthusiasm for the Klondike, and injecting a little national levity into the proceedings.
"The Prime Minister would have liked to come tonight. Unfortunately he couldn't make it, but he wanted me to assure you that he'll still be around for the 200th anniversary, so you don't have to worry"
Bagnell had prompted a round of applause for Dawson in the House of Commons a couple of days previously. He felt this was part of his duty, for he said, "I'll wager that Dawson has more characters than any community north of Tijuana or west of Montreal.
"Dawsonites don't just live in a wonderful town with a quaint history, they're custodians of one of the ... most inspirational bits of world history."
Bagnell recalled that one of the first moving pictures ever made by the inventor Thomas Edison was called "Poker in Dawson City".
"The words ... 'Dawson City' are an antidote," Bagnell said, " to the humdrum duties of modern living."
There was levity, including lots of cheers and high spirits, a conga line and even three cheers for the Queen's 50th jubilee. There were many more cheers as the winners of the silent auction and the door prizes were called out. Wallstreet, a Vancouver cover band, kept things lively until well past midnight with a repertoire that stretched from the late fifties to the late nineties.
There was food, a wonderful spread laid on by Tintina Bakery.
There were goodies. Each guest went home with a wine glass created for the evening, and many couples took advantage of the opportunity to have Kevin Hastings create photographic portraits of them in their ball finery.
It was, all in all, a delightful evening.
by Dan Davidson
What better time to honour members of a community than during that community's own birthday celebrations for, as many speakers noted on the night of the Winter Wonderland Incorporation Ball in Dawson, the strength of the community is in its people.
Take for instance, Giovanni "Joe" Castellarin, who has been one of the leading members of the Klondike Visitors Association almost since its inception, and was among the movers and shakers who helped convert the dying Arctic Brotherhood Hall into Diamond Tooth Gerties in the early 1970s.
The hall was a center of many important social gatherings over its many years, but it was a condemned structure by the time the KVA took it over in 1971. In the early 80's the association undertook a massive renovation of the building to save it and has continued to keep it up since as the monetary engine of a non-profit society which provides summer employment to many locals.
Giovanni Castellarin, said current chair Dick Van Nostrand, was a key figure in all of this work, including the later addition of slot machines to the gaming tables already in the hall.
The bronze plaque which will be mounted outside the building reads, in part: "Due to the vision of the KVA directors, principally Giovanni Castellarin, the original Arctic Brotherhood Hall has been successfully transformed into a venue that not only continues to host important community social functions, but is also home to Diamond Tooth Gerties Casino."
"The Godfather" of the KVA, as Van Nostrand likes to call him, was on hand to receive special thanks from the community, including words of praise from MP Larry Bagnell.
Castellarin was modest in his acceptance of these plaudits and a framed, panoramic print of the town.
"I will say thank you very much," he told the packed room, "and whatever I did, it's because I enjoyed every minute of it."
Whenever there is a disaster or hardship facing some family in the Klondike one of the first places to place out a collection jar and set up a fund for financial assistance has been the establishment known locally as "The Pit", a part Westminster Hotel, which is owned and operated by Duncan Spriggs.
For his many acts of charity, Spriggs was the recipient of this year's Public Service Award from Commissioner Jack Cable.
"The Commissioner's Awards were set up about 25 years ago," he said, "to honour people who had made contributions to their communities and for whom the community wanted to express their thanks. "
Madeleine Gould, a member of the committee that oversees the awards, made the presentation speech.
"Tonight we are honouring Duncan Spriggs. As you all know, Duncan has done a great deal for our community. He has helped people who have lost their homes by fire. He has helped people who needed to go out for medical attention.
"At Christmas time, I understand he always gives nice dinner for people who are lonely and alone in Dawson City. For this, I think, Dawson really deserves this award."
Later in the evening, the Klondike Centennial Society's Jon Magnusson presented a special award of appreciation to Klondike MLA Peter Jenkins who, in his former political life as mayor of Dawson, inaugurated the core funding agreement that has enabled the society to sponsor so many worthwhile projects and lead in the planning of centennial events during the last decade.
With major additions to the town like the Ridge Road Trail, the Millennium Walking Trail, the Tribute to the Miner Statue on Front Street, the historical mural on the KCS Building itself, the Princess Sophia Memorial and 10 years worth of mid-winter balls and other activities, the decision of Jenkins and later mayors Webster and Everitt to maintain that funding has paid off in a big way.
The Old Territorial Administration Building in Dawson City has been designated a National Historic Site of Canada. The announcement was made in Ottawa this week.
"As the first government headquarters of the Yukon, the building represents the federal government's commitment to the administration of this extreme northwestern part of Canada," Parks Canada said in a statement. "It is also an excellent example of the buildings produced under the federal Public Works building program at the turn of the 20th century.
Dawson would not have existed as a town had it not been for the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896. In this sense, the Old Territorial Administration Building, like every other structure in town, is associated with that nationally significant event."
The structure housed the core administrative functions of the federal and territorial governments in the Yukon. It enjoyed a pre-eminent importance within the context of the federal building program in Dawson.
While the Gold Rush was the phenomenon that brought the federal government presence to the region, the building was erected to facilitate ongoing Canadian administration of the region, symbolizing Canadian sovereignty of the territory bordering Alaska, Parks Canada said.
The building also symbolizes the establishment of the first substantial, ongoing linkage between the territories north of 60 and southern Canadian society. When it was erected in 1901, the structure was the largest and most elaborate of a number of public buildings designed and constructed to house federal government services in Dawson. Created at a cost of $100,000, it was the most costly of the Dawson federal buildings.
Designed by Thomas W. Fuller, resident architect for the federal Department of Public Works, the building reflected Dawson's rapid evolution from a mining camp to a prosperous capital.
"Fuller's use of such architectural elements as pediments, columns, window moldings and colouration, fashioned in shallow relief, gave the new building an elegant appearance that was complemented by formal Victorian landscaping," Parks Canada said.
Since 1901, the building has had a variety of tenants, including the territorial courts, post office, telegraph office, customs, and mining recording office. Later, the building was used for storage and a school.
Since 1962, it has been occupied by the Dawson City Museum and Historical Society. Territorial MLAs still occasionally hold special sittings in the building, in the legislative chamber which also houses the territorial circuit court on its regular visits to town.
by Dan Davidson
Think Dawson City and you think Gold Rush. So it's no surprise that the majority of the exhibits at the Dawson City Museum have, until now, concentrated on that era. The museum has literally tens of thousands of artifacts to chose from and only two galleries to display a selection of them. It was a simple choice to pick the one related to the area's greatest claim to fame.
With last month's opening of the new John G. Lind Gallery, that situation has changed quite a bit. A new third gallery is now able to depict a cross section of pre-rush times, including samples of first nations life, a look at the traders, missionaries and prospectors, as well a peek at modern times.
The construction of this gallery was possible because the generous donation of the John Lind family made it possible to construct a exterior storage facility for the artifacts which had been stored in the room just off the South Gallery mining technology exhibit. Relocation of the artifacts shelved there freed up spacious room which lent itself to the more open kind of social display which characterizes the North Gallery.
The South Gallery is actually the entrance way to the Lind Gallery, which branches off in a "U" shape, introduced by a winter scene showing Athapascan natives at a camp site. Joe and Annie Henry contributed their knowledge to the establishment of this tableau, and the mural scene behind it was painted by Shane Van Bibber, a local artists.
The second area, just through the door, illustrates a summer fish camp with a simulated fish weir.
The next three areas work together to show the trading system common to the Yukon around 1848. It begins with furs, moves to a multi-racial group studying the famous Kohklux Map, and on to a corner of a trading post. The mural behind this display was painted by Paul Henderson, who was a student with last year's Arts for Employment program at the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture.
The next section is a display which deals with the activities of missionaries, traders and prospectors in the area.
The gallery ends with a display contrasting an old-time musher with someone geared for modern dog sled travel. Melissa Mandryk, another Arts for Employment graduate, painted the mural for this display.
Aside from the donations of the Lind family, the gallery was funded by Lotteries Yukon and the Heritage Branch Museums Program.
About sixty people turned out to the opening of gallery in early February.
by Dan Davidson
Several things were very clear about the meeting to discuss possible revisions to the Yukon Placer Authorization in Dawson City last night.
First, it was the largest such meeting in the territory according to Robert Hornal, the man in charge of shepherding the public consultation process. There were between 85 and 90 people squeezed into the Downtown Hotel's conference room for just about the entire three hour session.
Most of them had some connection with the mining industry. All of them were interested in protecting it against what they saw as unjustifiable increases in regulatory power.
The crowd included the mayor, Glen Everitt, two councillors, Wayne Potoroka and Joanne Van Nostrand; the MLA, Peter Jenkins; and the Yukon's MP, Larry Bagnell, who wasn't there to address the meeting, but did say he intended to take its message back to Ottawa.
Second, most of the people in the room actually had good things to say about the 1993 Yukon Placer Authorization as it stands. They felt, in the word of Leslie Chapman, that it was a good buffer between them and the far harsher regime of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
Third, while they supported the maintenance, and perhaps, fine tuning, of the YPA, they were opposed to any increases in the regulatory framework without benefit of actual scientific studies to prove the need. This point was hammered home by MLA Jenkins and by a letter from miner Greg Hakonson which was read at the meeting.
Fourth, it was the clear feeling of the room, as evidenced by applause, that the real problem with the YPA is not the act itself, but the committee which oversees it. Jenkins repeated his demand that the Yukon Conservation Society be removed from the committee for spreading what he called "misleading" information on its website. This was echoed by Chapman and several other speakers throughout the evening.
"It's not placer mining versus fish," Chapman said. "I really hate to hear that all the time.
"It's the YPC that's dysfunctional, not the YPA."
Half a dozen speakers in the room indicated that the Yukon Placer Committee was heavy on the environmental side of the issue, while not really understanding the industry. As the discussion continued Hornal explained that the DFO pays a big part of the expenses of the committee, which just seemed to confirm in peoples' minds that it was stacked, even though it does have representation from other groups.
Fifth, people were very suspicious of the process that was under way, with its February 22 deadline, with meetings at which the major environmental forces (DFO and YCS) had no one present to answer questions about what new regulations they would like to see included in a revised act.
The Conservation Society decided to boycott meetings in Mayo and Dawson after some harsh words were exchanged in Haines Junction, saying that those meetings would not be safe for their members to attend.
When local businessman Bill Bowie demanded an apology for those comments, Hornal offered one. He apologized to the meeting for some of the statements that YCS people have made in the media since that time, saying that he was indirectly responsible for them since he had failed to control the Haines Junction meeting properly.
He committed to pass on to the YPC a summary of all of the comments made in Dawson, and pledged to send a copy of his summary to anyone at the meeting who wanted one. As for what happened to the information once it left him, he had to admit that he had no control over that.
The YPC gave him a deadline of February 22 for turning in his report and hopes to have a draft act completed by April. Asked if this seemed realistic, Hornal demurred, but thought it would be difficult. He seemed relieved that this was not part of his job.
He said that he understood the message he was receiving: "The concern for your livelihood is pervasive. You are scared."
In a sense the mood of the meeting was summed up by Willie Olson, a heckler whose comments were not always appreciated by the rest of the room and not always strictly to the matter at hand. At one point, however, he was right on target.
"What have we done?" he asked plaintively. "We're just trying to make a living."
The meeting was civil, though often intense. There was much debate about technical points related to sediment levels and several miners produced testimony to show that placer activity actually improves fish spawning habitat by making mare steams habitable.
Of particular strength was a submission by Peter Nagano, the chair of the Dawson District Renewable Resources Council, who indicated that "the DDRRC (feels) that the 1993 YPA is effective in allowing mining and the protection of fish and their habitat to coexist."
He, too, had suggestions about the makeup of the YPC, asking that the terms of reference be amended to include a representative from the traditional territory of the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in first nation, where a lot of placer mining takes place.
by Dan Davidson
With the sun shining brightly and the temperature hovering around -5, the crew from RS Line couldn't have asked for a nicer day to drop very tall power poles into the ground.
These were the first of approximately 1750 poles that will be carrying hydro power from Mayo to Dawson next September 30.
RS Lines, an Edmonton based company, is headed by Earle Forbes, who spent his day cruising up and down the 35-40 kilometres of the Klondike Highway, watching as crews delivered poles, prepared them with attachments on the ground, drilled the initial holes, and moved on to the next site. Another crew followed to make the actual placement, perhaps drilling the holes a little deeper where the ground is less than perfect.
Forbes said the difference was in the permafrost, which seems to appear at different levels along the route, and sometimes requires a deeper hole.
Hank Heerspink, of Chant Construction, explained that the contractors were starting the pole planting process where they were, just a few kilometres from the Dempster Corner, because the terrain in that area tends to become a bit swampy once it thaws. Better to work it while it's frozen.
by Dan Davidson
Twenty-one snow machines and riders set out for Tok, Alaska, from in front of the Downtown Hotel on Friday morning shortly after nine o'clock. The seventh annual edition of the Destination Tok leg of the Trek Over the Top event is down by 16 entries from last year, but organizer Eric Zalitas was still a happy entrepreneur as he watched his clients saddle up and make their last minute preparations.
The Tok run started out as a mere diagnostic run for the three weekends of the Destination Dawson runs which follow it, but it didn't tale long to decide that this could be a trip in itself.
The day long run to Tok includes sporting events at the other end of the trip, a scaled down version of the poker runs and other events which occupy the trekkers once they arrive.
Daylight was increasing quickly in the -17?C as the machines made their way to the west bank of the recently completed official YTG ice bridge to their starting point at the beginning of the Top of the World Highway.
by Palma Berger
The ball room of the Klondike Institute of Arts and Culture was the perfect venue to display the quilts of Dawson. The large quilts hung from the ceiling or were draped over stands down the center of the hall. The smaller ones were draped over chairs or cleverly made to appear to be hung on a clothesline by pegs down the centre of the hall. The colours and patterns vying with each other for attention. The visitors were mostly quiet and intense as they studied the works in front of them, but gave the occasional squeal of delight at new discoveries, as when they opened the door of an outhouse to find what was occupying it.
Megan Waterman who is trained in fashion design and has her own fabric and sewing store in town, and Cindy O'Rourke, a teacher at Robert Service School were the organizers. Megan explained, "Usually women's work is just taken for granted. Women were expected to sew and nobody thought their work remarkable. But this show is to reveal their creativity." Quilting has long been a part of Dawson's interests, but the last showing of quilts was fifteen years ago in the Dawson Museum, so she and Cindy decided this was the year for a showing of Dawson's quilt creations.
The stories accompanying each quilt made one realize that quilting is about connecting with others also, and warmth has another meaning. There were several quilts created by group efforts. The "Friendship" quilt was made by friends for a friend whose mother had just passed away. "Memories" was for a friend's birthday. The Pioneer ladies made their quilt to commemorate the 100th year of the Yukon Order of Pioneers. The words "Live well; Laugh often; Love much" was for the walls of a friend's new home. The Dawson Women's Shelter sponsored "Community Quilt" was made by the women of this community.
The idea for Joanne Braga's quilt originated from a web-site for quilters. Joanne began her "Round Robin" quilt with its Canadian theme, and then passed it on to contacts in Ontario, Saskatchewan and B.C. Thirteen months later she did the last piece of work. Again there is the connecting with people, as one of her contacts came north.
Jan Couture started her quilting 30 years ago when her family lived in the bush at Thistle Creek and she quilted for the children.. Here she used a treadle machine. The connections there were with past family members. Her machine at that time was of 1912-1920 vintage and belonged to her husband's paternal grandmother.
Jan Duncan came to Dawson as part of studying for a degree she was doing. But she met quilter Megan, and soon was hooked. When she returned to Toronto she purchased a bag of thirty silk shirts from a "Bag a Bargain Bin" in Toronto, and sent them to Megan who incorporated them into her "Dragon Boat" quilt.
The other organizer, Cindy O'Rourke succumbed to her mother's passion for quilting, and became a quilter. She is teaching quilting to her classes at the Dawson school. Here students are working on a large quilt which will be hung in the school after its unveiling. "I am so pleased to see the young people displaying their work," says Cindy, as she indicated the large "Rainbow" quilt of sixteen year old Danielle Mayes.
There were quilted table-settings, quilted cushion, quilted throws. Quilting was used for as much as you could imagine.
Individually made quilts had their special connectedness. The quilter made the large "Bargello Quilt" for her mother. The quilt incorporating family photographs printed on fabric, was for a grandmother's birthday. "Wedding Quilt" was a gift for guess what?
The quality of work was so very high. The colours and patterns were sometimes following a traditional patterning, and others using tie-dyed fabric, painted fabric with objects from nature impressed on their fabric, appliquéd work, some hand stitched the pattern, others used a machine for the stippling. Another type was a rag quilt.
The men folk were very supportive of their spouses works. Even five year old, Jack Caley greeted one at the door with an enthusiastic, "Have you seen my Mum's quilts? Come on, I'll show you."
In all the work of seventeen quilters, with a limit of two quilts per person, had their work on show. Other quilters were Renee Mayes, Michele Caley, Stephanie Cayen, Suzanne Saito, Barb Hanulik, Sue Dragoman, Dorothy Irwin, Nancy Hunter, Elaine Behn, Marcia Jordan, and Vicki Roberts. The show was up for just three days, but the Art Institute is so busy, and so booked up that they couldn't manage longer. They do plan to make this an annual event, and hopefully says Megan with a sly sideways smile, "We will get the men quilting."
Submitted by Pat Campbell, President, KVFA
The Klondike Valley Fire Department held a Hawaiian Night the evening of Saturday, February the 2nd. All fire fighters and executive members and their families came out for the event. The evening was a great success and a wonderful evening was enjoyed by all. The training room was Hawaiianized with tropical fish and palm trees and the sun was shining! It was a hot evening and shorts and wild shirts were to be seen. There was a ham supplied by the Association and many dishes were brought by the guests. The kids just couldn't wait to get into the pool and shortly after dinner the sounds of children laughing and splashing were to be heard emanating from the truck bays where the pool had been set up.
The adults had a potato race after dinner. If you have ever participated in or seen a potato race before you are probably smiling right now. Two chairs were set up facing each other at opposite ends of the room. Teams were husband and wife and two teams raced at a time. A potato was placed on a chair and the participant had to sit down, grab the potato between the legs without using hands and then race to the other end of the room and place the potato on the chair where the partner would repeat the process and return the potato to the starting position. I was laughing so hard for so long that my face got sore. Every time I ran into someone who was there that evening something would be said about a potato and we'd be laughing again.
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