Dawson City, Yukon Friday, March 2, 2001

Fulda media crew cameraman gets ready to cover the climb up the "ice waterfall". Photo by Dan Davidson

Feature Stories

This Icy Climb Is No Bluff
Fulda Goes to Extremes in the North
Dawson Council Predicts Surpluses to 2007
Council Says the Rec Centre Can Be Built
A Nova Scotia Evening
Berton House Welcomes Suzanne Harnois
The 102nd International "Yukon River" Bonspiel
Celebrating the Flag
Dawson Ice Bridge Opens To Light Vehicle Traffic
City Offers a Golden Handshake
Trapped Diver Sought Under the Ice

Welcome to the March. 2, 2001 edition of the online Klondike Sun, which reproduces a selection of the 18 photographs and 27 articles which were in the 24 page February 27 hard copy edition. We encourage viewers of this website to consider subscribing to the Sun (details on the home page). It would help us financially and you would get to see everything. Since July 19, 2000, there have been 9,478 visitors here.

This Icy Climb Is No Bluff

by Dan Davidson

The Fulda Extreme Challenge tour took to the ice in Dawson City on Tuesday, Feb. 20, only the ice was on the side of a small cliff. Crocus Bluff was hosed down and iced up by the fire department for the event, which saw more than a dozen well-belayed climbers assault the face one by one, armed with ice boots and ice axes under the glare of high power floodlights. Locals looked on and wondered what the crimson clad adventurers were up to.

There was no danger of a serious spill, as the climbers were roped to a member of the ground support staff, who kept the rope from getting too slack. The tension on the climb was in the speed with which the contestants could scale the cliff, not in the possibility of a spill.

Fulda sport utility vehicles lined the road at the corner and the well bundled members of the team watched and cheered their favorites. Most locals were less warmly turned out and stayed to watch perhaps one or two ascents in the -20 C evening temperatures.


Fulda Goes to Extremes in the North

by Dan Davidson

Fulda arrived in Dawson in a fleet of these Jeep Cherokees. Photo by Dan Davidson

On the second day of its stay in Dawson City, the Fulda Extreme Sports tour headed out on the Yukon River to do a little navigation trip on skidoos. Their destination was the Ancient Voices Wilderness Camp upriver from town, where the Kormendy family introduced them to the joys of sawing wood and target shooting. Sort of a mini-rendezvous.

Holger Bergold says he was extremely touched by the setting and silence of Ancient Voices when he was doing his reconnaissance tour in October.

"It is a very nice touch for us Europeans. We are normally very interested in native culture, so for us it was a neat detour.

"And it was an exciting trip today. The weather was perfect and the landscape was just out of this world. I'll just repeat the commentary of the press and the competitors, that they really enjoyed that day."

Meanwhile, back at the Downtown Hotel, tour organizer Holger Bergold was already thinking ahead to Thursday, when the convoy of Jeep Cherokees, campers, 16 contestants and 40 journalists from eight countries would head up the Dempster to face more contests of skill and endurance.

Bergold's advance team of European sports celebrities had already sampled the snowshoe climb and ski descent planned for the Dempster leg and pronounced it extreme enough to qualify, just as they had okayed the 20 metre ice climb up Crocus Bluff which Team Fulda essayed on Tuesday night.

The team would be spending the night at Eagle Plains Lodge, but not in the hotel there. It's full of oil exploration people. No, the Fulda people were supplied with lodgings by the Canadian Rangers, who went ahead to establish tents for them to stay in.

Bergold thinks it will be great.

"Yeah, staying overnight in tents at 30 below. Every time the journalists tell the story it will get five degrees colder. They will brag about it."

Bergold is the organizer of the race and Fulda is his main sponsor, but there are other companies and agencies involved. These include Daimler-Chrysler, whose Jeeps are the main vehicle for the contest; BMW, one of whose racers is a coach for the team; Atomic Ski; Tourism Yukon.

For the YTG Bergold figures his race, which has been two years in the planning, is a very good deal.

"It's like a huge awareness campaign," he says, estimating that it would cost fourteen to twenty million in advertising to get the same sort of exposure.

After all, this little jaunt from Edmonton to Tuktoyaktuk is being reported on ESPN, with images being supplied to twenty-four European television stations. The folks along from TSN are filming for a one hour special on the event. It's been estimated that something like 617 million Europeans will watch some part of the event on television.

The cost is fairly inexpensive for the tire manufacturer which started all of this. Bergold says he will spend about a million dollars just on the pure race side of things, much of it on equipment and supplies that have been purchased in the Yukon.

It's not a road race, he hastens to add. That would be too dangerous. No, the race aspect is represented by the various contests that are being staged along the way.

"They will have to do a snowshoe race at the Arctic Circle, and they will have to do skijoring - but not with dogs, with a car in front - in Inuvik and they will have to build an igloo in Tuk, and probably do some ice fishing."


Dawson Council Predicts Surpluses to 2007

by Dan Davidson

Council at ODD Hall: Byrun Shandler, Wayne Potoroka, Glen Everitt and Joanne Van Nostrand. Photo by Dan Davidson

The City of Dawson is not in serious financial trouble and does have the funds to complete the upgrading of its recreation facilities without having its financial affairs taken over by the Yukon Territorial Government.

That was the message that four of five Dawson councillors brought to a small audience of about 25 people on February 15 in the Oddfellows Hall. The venue had been chosen in order to host larger numbers, but it turns out that council chambers could have held the assembly on a night when a concert and several other meetings were also being held.

Mayor Glen Everitt told his audience that the appointment of Community Services director Ken Hodgins as a supervisor for the city's financial planning was something that council had actually begun to request last November, long before the January announcement that raised so many questions about the town's solvency.

Council had hoped for two things from this request, one being that they could tap the YTG's financial expertise to help them prepare a long range plan, and the other being that with a government bureaucrat actually involved in the process of planning, the YTG would have a better idea of what was actually needed here.

Hodgins, who was in the audience for this meeting, was, Everitt said, here to help, not control.

The Mayor insisted that the town's staff and elected council had actually done most of the work themselves, holding many meetings over the last three weeks and going through some ten draft plans before coming up with the present one.

It was encapsulated in a forty line spreadsheet covering the years 1999 to 2007. At no time during that period do the projections indicate less than an operations and maintenance surplus of $580,417.00, which the figure for 1999. After that surpluses vary from almost $600,000 to just over a million dollars.

The Mayor indicated that this stability does come at a price, but it is a price exacted by the imposing reality of the soon to be constructed secondary sewage treatment facility, not by arenas or swimming pools. In order to cover the O&M costs of secondary treatment, basic utility rates will have to rise and the town will have to move to water metering.

Over the next three years residential users will see rates climb back up to $1,000 annually, as the current subsidies are peeled away year by year. Government rates will be double that and businesses can also expect an increase.

Dawson, Everitt told the meeting, does have the highest water and sewer rates in the territory already, and the situation won't get better without relief. By comparison, Whitehorse water rates are currently about $586.00 annually. Council would like to see YTG explore the same averaging strategy that it applies to territorial power rates and come up with some assistance, especially since the Yukon Energy Corporation's plan to build a power line from Mayo to Dawson is one of the things that will be increasing the operating costs of Dawson's systems.

Financial documents available for the public at city offices include the Statement of Projected Financial Activities, a Distribution of Costs Spreadsheet (1999, 2000, 2001) relating to the recreation centre project and a quick breakdown of projected costs related to that project.


Council Says the Rec Centre Can Be Built

by Dan Davidson

Dawson's recreation centre project is over budget and enough behind schedule that the trade show part of the annual Gold Show has been cancelled for lack of a place to hold it, but council insists it has the money to do the job and that it will be finished in 2001.

At a public meeting on February 15 Councillor Wayne Potoroka was the main spokesperson for the project.

"We're here to tell you that, yes indeed, the town does have the money to pay for the completion of the project."

There is a large sum of money involved. Up to the date of the meeting, council had already spent $2,215,107.07 on the project, and the remainder of the downscaled rebuild was projected to take the total cost up to $9.1 million. That is between $600 and $700 thousand dollars more than the town had wanted to spend on the project when it began.

Potoroka called this a conservative estimate and said there was a good chance the actual final cost would be less, but council preferred to plan for the worst case.

The funding, he said, was coming to the town through a capital funding agreement finally negotiated with the Liberal government this month. There has been numerous version of the CFA since it was first announced in the fall of 1999 under the previous NDP administration, but this is the final version.

It includes an $800,000 advance ("Not a loan," he stressed.) from the money set aside to build the secondary sewage treatment plant.

Potoroka reminded people that council has already made some cut on the project (the gymnasium section and the finishing of the second floor on the remaining addition will have to come later on) and may find more as they continue to work with the plans.

On the other hand, as Mayor Everitt noted, some of the costs associated with the project were unanticipated. Earthwork for foundations had to go deeper than expected. Most of welding on the original metal frame structure had to be redone as it was not up to code. That was unknown until the metal siding came off in the fall and the deficiencies were discovered.

Potoroka stressed that this capital expense was going to make budgets tight for the next several years, but council has costed out potential revenues and expenditures to the year 2007 and believes it can handle the financial load.

What it feels it can't actually handle is the day to day supervision of a project this large, do it has hired a project manager, established a project management team and called on the YTG to assist in overseeing the remainder of the reconstruction.

Everitt chimed in to stress that the project has never, since it began last fall, been cancelled or stopped. The shut down over Christmas was a planned holiday and any layoffs in the work force have been the result of moving between phases of the project. The demolition phrase used a lot of unskilled labour, while the metal work phase (especially after the unwelcome news about the old welding) require specialists. That phase is winding down and there were soon be more general workers needed again.

"This project," said Potoroka, ì has had its ups and downs. It has not gone as smoothly as initially planned. But we are doing what's necessary to get it back on track. We're learning from the mistakes."

Everitt added that it was cash flow, not the ultimate availability of cash, which caused much of the apparent crisis early in the new year. While YTG has promised the town will get the funding it needs to do this project, the cheques only come once a year and not necessarily in a sequence which corresponds to the immediate needs of the project.

"Contractors don't build and then bill you over a five year period to be paid," the mayor said.

There were very few questions about the rec. complex project from the 25 or so people in the audience. There was much more discussion about the potential community damage that might arise from costs associated with operating a secondary sewage treatment plant. As far as the social infrastructure projects were concerned, local artist John Steins kind of summed it up by saying that the rec. project was needed and that both the previous council and this one meant well in getting in under way.


A Nova Scotia Evening

by Palma Berger

The about to leave writer-in-residence, Maureen Hull, shared with some Dawson people a reading form her past works recently at the Berton house. This is a popular evening for would be writers or those who love a good story.

This particular evening was enhanced by musical entertainment as well.

The evening opened with Karen Brown who sang "Helpless" as she accompanied herself on her guitar. Thus the mood for enjoyment was set.

Maureen Hull hails from Pictou Island in Nova Scotia. She read from her book, "Righteous Living". These were not stories of big earth-shaking events. Maureen is so attuned to what is happening around her that her stories reflect the nuances of speech, the concerns of family and friends, the little events in our everyday lives, and how they are discussed, dissected and resolved or not. We are taken right into the lives of people.

Her characters are so alive as when describing one character who had stuffed himself on lobster and fish, she wrote that he "abandoned language as a means of communication and gave grunts and groans of satisfaction."

The audience was enthralled.

The music continued at intervals with the Dawson group who play together for their love of music. They are Audrey and Joe Vigneau, Ralph and Bonnie Nordling, Sandi Pilon, and this time joined by David Harding, Maureen's husband, on violin.

Snacks provided a break, and good conversation with a lot of news about Nova Scotia mentioned, flowed all in the atmosphere of Pierre Berton's house. For certain Pierre would have been pleased at this literary evening.

The evening was organized by the Dawson Library Board and librarian, Suzanne Gagnon. Looking after the writer-in-residence while in Dawson is the job of the library board. Choosing the writer is done by Yukon Arts centre. Maintaining and caring for the Berton House is done by Klondike Visitors Association.


Berton House Welcomes Suzanne Harnois

In October 1997 Les EditionsVaria, of Montréal, published Suzanne Harnois's first book, a collection of ten short stories under the title La femme parfaite. In 1999 this editor also published her second book, another collection of short stories L'artiste inconnu, as well as the translation in English of the first collection, under the title The Perfect Woman. The author presented her work at the book fairs of Montréal, Québec, Outaouais and Rimouski. One of her short stories, "L'aquiescement" (The Consent) was published in the literary magazine "Arcades" (Autumn 2000).

Previous to becoming a writer, Suzanne Harnois was working exclusively as a professional artist in fine arts, specializing in etching. She participated in many exhibits, solo and collective. She is a member of several professional associations (Raav, Conseil québecois de l'estampe, Atelier Graff) and her work is part of many private and public collections.

Suzanne Harnois was born on September eight, 1954 in Québec City, province of Québec. She is married and has two children. From 1974 to 1977 She studied graphics arts at Laval University. Later she spent some time perfecting her skills working in Geneva, Switzerland, and Boston, United States. On her return to Canada she worked as an engraver in various workshops in Montréal, parallel to her career as a writer.


The 102nd International "Yukon River" Bonspiel

As the Recreations Centre is under construction, this year's international bonspiel had to take on an outdoor flavour. It was a set on the Yukon River ice just a few hundred metres from the open water. Photo by Dan Davidson

The Dawson Curling Club's 102nd International Bonspiel was held on frozen waters of the Yukon River for the first time in the club's existence. In the early 1900's curling did take place on the slough behind the Presbyterian Church. This year's Bonspiel featured 16 teams. The majority of players were from Dawson however there were also curlers from Mayo and Whitehorse who came to curl. The temperatures ranged from minus 25 degrees Celsius in the morning and evening to ñ15 degrees Celsius in the afternoons.

The ice was in fine shape for river ice. To mark the curling rings it was determined that Kool-Aid would be the best solution. Twine like string was then used for the other sheet markings. During the final preparations a crack and heaving between the two sheets was formed. The resulting hill that formed from the heaving became known by the Spriggs team as the Chilkoot Pass and helped level the playing field allowing for some incredible curling shots by beginners and long time curlers alike.

All curlers were able to warm up before and after their matches in the heated tents (tents donated by Viceroy, heaters by TSL Contractors). The concession / bar ran smoothly as it always does. Coffee and hot chocolate (with Bailey's) were the big sellers. In the evening glow sticks were used on the rocks and brooms until the lights (also donated by TSL) were up and running.

The 102nd International Bonspiel Winners were:

First in the A Event was the Rob Caley rink which featured Alf Winton, Robyn Buyck, and Les Munro. The Caley team beat out Earl MacKenzie in the final.

First in the B Event was the Jason Barber rink with Ed Kormendy, Roger Hanberg, and Pauline Frost-Hanberg. The Barber rink upset the feisty Duncan Spriggs team of Reg Stenstrom, Bruce Caley, Duncan, and Art.

In the C Final the first time curlers from Viceroy defeated the Akio Saito rink. Howard Bradley skipped the team with help from Mike Samuels, Steve Johnson, and Susan Neale.

And in the D Final the James Koyanagi Rink held off the TSL Contractors to claim victory. The rest of the Koyanagi team featured Mindy Duchnitski, Wayne Potoroka with spare help from Chuck Barber, Brian Phelan, and Jorn Meier.

All participants in this year's bonspiel received a certificate recognizing their participation in this unique International Bonspiel.

On Saturday evening the curlers were treated to a fine Prime Rib meal prepared by Nora Kirstein and Steve Van Bibber. During the awards ceremony that followed Akio Saito presented Rick and Connie Reimer with a certificate recognizing their extra volunteer time and efforts in making this year's bonspiel happen. The certificate was also marked with an I.O.U. from the club to be claimed at a later date.

This year's Bonspiel could not have happened without the help of the following people who graciously worked in some way or another before or during the bonspiel. Connie and Rick Reimer, Akio Saito, Mark Castellarin, Adele Gauthier, James Koyanagi, Susan Hermann, Brenda Caley, Jenny Docken, Dave Procee, Andrew Van Bibber, Klondike Welder's crew, Bruce Caley, Victor Henry, Leah Wallace, Jack Fraser, Earl MacKenzie, Paul Marceau, and Jason Barber.

We hope to see everyone out for next year's 103rd International Bonspiel in the new Dawson Curling Club. It'll be warm too!

The Dawson Curling Club would like to thank the following sponsors for making this year's 102nd International "Yukon River" Bonspiel a tremendous success:

TSL Contractors, Viceroy Resources, Kluane Freightlines Ltd., MacKenzie Petroleum, City of Dawson, Downtown Hotel, Klondike Welding, Arctic Inland Resources, Eldorado Hotel, Klondyke Centennial Society, Northern Metallic, Schmidt Mining, Maximilians, Ray of Sunshine, Jimmy's Place, Klondike Visitors Association, Computec Embroidery, Finning


Celebrating the Flag

by Dan Davidson

Two kindergarten students hold up the venerable Union Jack so their fellow students can compare it to the Maple Leaf. Photo by Dan Davidson

Klondike National Historic Sites took the lead in helping the Robert Service School celebrate Flag Day on February 15, organizing a display and ceremony in the school's gymnasium for last period in the day.

Dawson students may be familiar with the Union Jack, which is displayed in the many of the KNHS displays around the community, but the assembly gave them the chance to see it and the once familiar Red Ensign in comparison with the Maple Leaf they have known all their lives.

KNHS's Rose Margeson had four kindergarten students hold up the older flags while she spoke of the origins of our present national symbol.

The ceremony began with the singing of "O Canada", led by the school choir. Margeson then related the history of flags in Canada, up to the time of the Maple Leaf's inauguration in 1965. It took Canada 41 years to make the transition from the Red Ensign to the Maple Leaf.

"It was said at the time," she said, "that the flag stands for the unity of the nation. It speaks for all the citizens of Canada, regardless of their race, language, creed or opinion."

In a short address to the students Mayor Glen Everitt challenged the students to encourage the school to return to the custom of starting the day by singing the national anthem before the flag, something which has not been done here throughout the school for some years, though it does take place in some elementary classrooms.

The assembly concluded with a recitation of the oath of allegiance taken by new citizens of Canada.


Dawson Ice Bridge Opens To Light Vehicle Traffic

by Dan Davidson

This broad thoroughfare has been widened from the original one-lane route established by locals. Photo by Dan Davidson

Effective early Thursday morning, a temporary ice bridge was opened to light vehicle traffic across the Yukon River at Dawson. This is just two weeks after the government definitively stated that such a feat would not be possible this year due to the unseasonably warm weather and thin ice.

A press release from Community and Transportation Services was issued to explain the change in plans, which had first been rumored a week earlier.

"Thanks to the formidable efforts of the local highway maintenance crew and some cooperation from Mother Nature in the form of colder temperatures, we were able to safely open a route across the river," announced Community and Transportation Services minister Pam Buckway.

Earlier in the month the department had indicated that with only 11 inches (28 cm) of weak ice on the river, it would not be safe for any traffic to cross.

However with the cooler weather and persistent flooding by the Dawson crew, the majority of the ice bridge has now reached a thickness of 28 inches (71 cm) which will facilitate vehicles weighing up to 6000 kg to cross in safety.

The broadly cleared path across the river does not seem to be open to 24 hour traffic. The site was clearly marked and easily visible, but by late Thursday afternoon it appeared to be very wet and a "road closed" sign was in place while regular traffic continued to pick its way across the river on the peoples' ice bridge established a few weeks ago. It was open again the next day and passable, according to local reports.

CNTS needs a sturdier and shorter ice bridge so it can transport its snow removal equipment across the river prior to spring breakup in order to begin work on opening the Top of the World Highway in late March.

This requires thicker ice than is needed by the succession of pick up trucks, SUVs and snowmobiles which have been navigating the two kilometer long unofficial route since mid-January.

Robert Magnuson, Director of Transportation Maintenance branch, indicates crews will be continuing their efforts to increase the thickness of the ice bridge to the minimum 36 inches (91 cm) required to safely move the equipment.

"We know how important this route is to residents and local miners," said Magnuson. "We're doing everything within our power to make it possible for heavier traffic to cross. With luck, the weather will continue to be on our side to allow even more progress to be made."


City Offers a Golden Handshake

by Dan Davidson

Mayor Glen Everitt hands over the gold to Sleddawgs president Bill Holmes. Photo by Dan Davidson

As part of its policy of encouraging both winter tourism and recreation for locals, the City of Dawson has provided the Dawson Sleddawgs snowmobile club with 9 ounces of gold, in half and full ounce measures, to be used as prizes in several races and poker runs during the spring season.

Bill Holmes received the gold from Mayor Glen Everitt just last week, and explained the club's intentions.

"There will be poker runs on each one of the Trek (Over the Top) weekends. They will be advertised and will be open to anybody, trekkers and Dawsonites.

"The first prize for each will be an ounce and a half of gold and the second place prize will be a half ounce.

"After that, we plan on holding an event during spring carnival - races and mini-Z races - and we'll be giving out prizes of half ounces of gold for those."

Holmes was enthusiastic about the council's participation.

"The city has been behind the snowmobile club since its inception. They've been a lot of help. When our funding was cut short recently, Glen stepped up to the plate and offered us this opportunity to present some events. We really appreciate it."

Previously, the Sleddawgs were raising money through special event casinos at Gerties.

Nine ounces of gold runs to about $4,000.00 for the city, but Everitt hastened to add that it was a budgeted line item.

"Council really believed that the Dawson City snowmobile association was the right organization to ensure that, when gold was coming from the city, there is an opportunity for visitors and locals to take part.

"It's a great partnership."


Trapped Diver Sought Under the Ice

by Sgt. S. P. Gleboff
Detachment Commander, Dawson City

On February 22, 2001, at 7:00 p.m., Police were called to assist in the rescue of a scuba-diver trapped under the ice of the Yukon River approximately 1.5 km north of Dawson City.

The diver was Mr. Antoine DESCHENES, 31 years of age, a part time resident of Dawson City. He had descended alone through a hole in the ice at about 5:50 p.m., fully equipped with scuba diving gear. When witnesses were unable to pull him back to the surface by 7 p.m. they sought assistance.

Dawson City Detachment members, Dawson City Fire Department personnel and the Dawson Canadian Rangers, various people from the community and two RCMP underwater divers attempted rescue until about 4:30 the next morning without any success.

At 10 o'clock the next morning the recovery efforts commenced and continued throughout the day. The cold and the river conditions at the site have severely restricted the recovery team's efforts.

The police investigation is being continued; however, foul play has been ruled out.


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