Dawson City, Yukon Friday, May 25, 2001

The George Black Ferry waits for the ice to be completely gone before entering the river, usually with 10 days of break-up. Photo by Dan Davidson

Feature Stories

The Yukon River Goes Quietly
Dawson 2001 Break-Up Chronology
British Award for Canadian Bear-attack Hero
Masons to Celebrate 100 Years in Dawson City and Skagway
Carnegie Library History
Community Justice for Dawson?
25 Years Of Teaching Coming to an End
Pennell Among Exceptional Education Staff Honoured
Chamber Music in the Ballroom
Another Moment With HRH
Editorial: Entering Our 13th Year (6th on line)

Welcome to the May 25, 2001 edition of the on-line Klondike Sun, which reproduces a selection of the 19 photographs and 29 articles which were in the 28 page May 22 hard copy edition. Yes, we know it's the end of July as this is being posted and some of you have been asking (politely) where we've been. Our webmaster will soon be back from his vacation and you Sun fanatics can look forward to suddenly seeing all the back issues appear in this space. You wouldn't have been deprived for so long if you had simply subscribed.

Seriously, we do 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 closer to when it's actually news. About 600 people read each issue of this paper online, which is about three times the size of our subscription list. We'd love to be sending out that many more papers.

The Yukon River Goes Quietly

by Dan Davidson

The City of Dawson may have forgotten to issue a flood notice this year, but the Yukon River has cooperated by not doing anything startling. It was running quite freely beside Dawson City by the end of Wednesday.

Bearing in mind that the river did not freeze sufficiently in front of the town to allow the annual IODE ice pool to be held, a break up of sorts did begin to take place on Sunday.

By that evening, the development of pressure ridges and patterns of crumpled ice showed the movement.

On Tuesday the large sheets had shifted considerably and river watchers indicate that the rest flushed on Wednesday, leaving bergs as small as boxes and as large as several vehicles littered along the banks of the river.

At the May 9 council meeting, Mayor Glenn Everitt indicated that, low as the water levels seem to be, it is still too soon to say that this break-up will be totally trouble free.

Ice could yet jam at Fortymile and run-off from the thaw in the mountains may yet be troublesome. The situation is still being monitored.


Dawson 2001 Break-Up Chronology

by John Mitchell, EMO Coordinator

May 8 - 12:45

Local break-up occurred creating an ice jam at Moosehide resulting in a 1.0 increase in stage to an elevation of 315.1 m GSC.

May 9 - 15:15

Release of Moosehide jam and formation of Fort Reliance jam. Water level initially dropped before rising to a secondary peak of 315.4m GSC. Shifting ice resulted in a water level drop to 314.4 m GSC at 19:00

May 10 - 20:45

2.5 hour bank to bank ice run produced peak level

May 11 - 02:45

Peak water level 315.7 m GSC. Water level dropped to 314.6 by 05:15

May 10 - Ice Survey

Solid ice cover (rotting) below Fort Reliance Chandindu River (25 km) 7 km long jam Fort Reliance to Moosehide. Open water to Swede Creek (8 km U/S Dawson). 70% ice cover between Swede Creek and Sixtymile River. Largely open above Sixtymile River. All main tributaries open.

May 11, 2001

02:47315.7 GSC
12:12 - Current315.5 GSC (Geodetic Survey of Canada)
Elevation ReferenceTop of Dike321.0 m GSC
 Flood 1979320.5 m GSC
Peaks1989317.5 m GSC
 1998313.4 m GSC
 1999312.9 m GSC

May 11, 2001 - Flood Update (Eagle)

Alaska water resources personnel conducted air survey 12:30 hours May 11, 2001. Ice was still hanging up at Fort Reliance. Has moved since then after level peaking at 13:15 hr at 316.07 m. Ice movement down river from Dawson to Forty Mile minimal. Major jam on Forty Mile River at mouth.

Isolated movement from Forty Mile to Dozen Islands. Ice at Eagle solid but water level rising. Another flight planned for tonight (May 11, 2001). Canadian water resources in air now. Will update me tonight.

Currently water level has dropped 0.8 m since high today. Things look good.


British Award for Canadian Bear-attack Hero

from CBC on-line, web posted Thursday, May 10, 2001

Two years ago, former Dawsonite Dave Calnan saved a summer worker from being eaten by a bear. Photo from CBC website

LONDON - Two years ago, David Calnan saved the life of a Nova Scotia woman being attacked by a bear in the Yukon. After receiving his fourth honour for the deed, Calnan is beginning to think maybe he did something special.

Calnan made the remarks Thursday after receiving the Royal Humane Society's highest honour for bravery, the Stanhope Gold Medal.

"Every time that I'm recognized it makes me think like, when I first did it, when it first happened, it was basically something that you would do," Calnan said after Princess Alexandra, the society's president, presented him with the medal. "Then, with all the recognition, you kind of think to yourself, well, maybe it was something special."

Calnan, 47, was working at a campground near Dawson City on July 9, 1999, when he heard a woman screaming for someone to help her friend.

He grabbed a pickaxe and headed to a campsite where he found 19-year-old Carrie-Lynn Fair lying in a pool of blood with a black bear eating her.

Twice the bear charged Calnan, but he hesitated using the pickaxe, fearing he would injure the woman. When the bear grabbed the woman's head in its jaws and began dragging her into the woods, Calnan beat it off with a large log.

Calnan's other awards for his courage are the Carnegie Medal in the United States, the Canadian Medal of Bravery from the Governor General and the Commissioner's Award, recognizing outstanding Yukon people.

Fair underwent multiple surgeries and now walks with the help of a leg brace.


Masons to Celebrate 100 Years in Dawson City and Skagway

by Ken Spotswood, freelance journalist

More than 300 people from across Canada and the U.S. will gather in Dawson City later this month to commemorate the centennial of the founding of Yukon Lodge No. 45.

The following week, more than 250 people will travel to Skagway for ceremonies marking the centennial of the founding of White Pass Lodge No. 1.

Events scheduled for Dawson City begin on Thursday, May 24th, and continue through Sunday, May 27th.

Highlights include a special ceremony to commemorate the sinking of the Canadian Pacific steamship Princess Sophia on October 24, 1918. The ship carried 353 passengers, many of them prominent Yukoners and Alaskans who were headed south for the winter. There were no survivors after the ship ran onto a rocky reef during a violent storm.

Some of those who perished were Masons. Others were members of fraternal organizations such as the Arctic Brotherhood and Yukon Order Of Pioneers. The Masonic Lodge has contributed to the cost of the monument.

The ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 26th, on Front Street near the sternwheeler Keno. The monument features a large brass plaque that has been inscribed with the names of the ship's passengers and crew.

Jack T. Harper, Grand Master of B.C. and Yukon Masonic Order, will officiate at a cornerstone laying ceremony at the Masonic Temple on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. Originally built in 1904 as the Carnegie Library, the historic building was gutted by fire in 1920 and remained closed until the Masons bought it in 1932. The building is slowly being restored by Lodge members.

Events culminate Sunday, May 27th, with a Parade at 9:45 a.m. from the Masonic Lodge to St. Paul's Anglican Church. Rev. Canon John Tyrrell will officiate.

Guest speakers include Rev. Canon Neil Vant, of Williams Lake, B.C., who is also known as 'The Likker Vicar'. His presentation will include humour, religion, history, Masonry--and the story of how he got his unusual nickname.

While in Dawson, Masons will enjoy Klondike hospitality with mine, town and dredge tours, gold panning, a steak barbecue--plus a rousing performance of 'The Shooting of Dan McGrew' at Diamond Tooth Gerties Casino, by a cast of Masons from Fairbanks.

Dennis Eve, a prominent Mason from London, England, will also be on hand to talk about the history and the importance of Masons in the Yukon and Alaska.

The four-day event promises to be a colourful affair as Masons and their families are being encouraged to dress in period costume.

Skagway events begin on Monday, May 28th, with a special White Pass train ride from Skagway to Fraser, returning to Skagway for the 'Days of '98 Show'.

On Tuesday, May 29th, Charles E. Corbin, Grand Master of Alaska, will officiate at opening ceremonies at the Elks Lodge at 1:00 p.m. Masons will parade to the Masonic Lodge at 3:00 p.m. for a cornerstone laying ceremony.

A banquet will be held that evening at the Elks Hall, beginning at 6:00 p.m.

"Like other fraternal organizations, The Masons played an important role in the Yukon and Alaska during the gold rush era," said Tom Mickey, of Whitehorse, one of the organizers of the events.

"Our members spent a lot of time and money caring for sick and poor people in remote mining camps in the North. They organized many social events that were popular with newcomers who didn't know anyone, or who didn't have any friends. They soon did," Mickey said.

The Masonic Lodge is still active in the Yukon today, with about 300 members spread over two Lodges in Whitehorse, and one in Dawson. In addition to its social functions, Masons are actively involved in assisting charitable causes, such as sending children outside the Yukon for medical treatment.

Mickey has also compiled a 182-page, hard-cover book on the history of the Masonic Lodges of Dawson City and Skagway. A limited edition of 500 copies will be sold for $30 each.

"We're proud of our history in Yukon and Alaska," Mickey said. "We've come a long way from the day--June 28th, 1898--when Yukon Lodge No. 45 was inaugurated in Dawson City in a tent at the corner of 2nd Avenue and Princess Street."


Carnegie Library History

by Gregory Tetrault

Originally built as the Carnegie Library, this building eventually became the Masonic Lodge. Photo by Dan Davidson

Dawson in 1902 was a modern city. It had advanced beyond the adolescent stage of log cabins and canvas which many gold rush towns never left. It had running water, three hospitals, three churches, a Salvation Army barracks, six newspapers, electric lights, and a telephone and telegraph system. Its sewage system, innovative even by today's standards, was heated with steam to prevent freezing.

This metropolis of the north had been staked out by Joe Ladue, one of the first to hear of the gold strike in 1896. He correctly believed that a town that did business where the Klondike and Yukon rivers joined had an easier means of acquiring gold than digging in a frozen creek bed.

A muskeg flat, one mile long, one-quarter mile wide and only ten feet above the Yukon River, was an odd place to build but it was close to the gold fields. Ladue named the town after George M. Dawson, director of the Geological Survey of Canada, who explored the region in 1887. By 1902 Joe Ladue was dead of tuberculosis and Dawson was developing.

The town had a future; its inhabitants said so. They believed it was equal to any city on the outside. At the peak of its activity in 1898 in fact, Dawson was the largest Canadian city west of Winnipeg; its fluctuating population reached an estimated 28,000.

To supply its library needs, Dawson had the Free Library supported by public subscription with a little help from City Council, and the Standard Library Restaurant & Hotel, which provided more than reading materials. In the Daily Klondike Nugget, the Standard Library advertised 'Books, Board, Beds, Bath and Bar'. It had over ten thousand volumes, served more than fifteen hundred meals per day and supplied beds for a hundred men. Books could be taken home for three cents a day or one dollar a month. But the growing importance and sophistication of the city and territory required a more formal library. Dawson's need coincided with Andrew Carnegie's plan to establish free libraries.

Andrew Carnegie had achieved much notoriety because of his philanthropy which extended far beyond the building of the libraries with which his name became synonymous. He was well known to Dawson City newspapers and, as a natural consequence, the First Library Board approached Carnegie for a donation.

Carnegie was born in Scotland in 1835 and moved as a boy the United States with his parents. Here, with good business sense, he built up the Carnegie Steel Corporation until 1901 when he sold it to J. P. Morgan for $500,000,000. He considered the best kind of assistance was that which helped others help themselves. His libraries were a manifestation of this philosophy. Of the more than $330,000,000 Carnegie donated to various causes, more than $56,000,000 went to the establishment of 2,509 libraries in the English-speaking world. One hundred and twenty-five were built in Canada at a total cost of $3,556,660.

The value of a library in a town such as Dawson can not be underestimated. Everyone was from the 'outside' as the gold-seekers called the more southern areas of Canada and the United States. Many things were happening there, and news was at a premium. The winters were long and cold and for a few months there was almost continuous darkness. Reading material and newspapers at times had more value than gold. Months-old newspapers sold for outrageous sums and were read aloud in the streets. A library in Dawson was a necessity.

Mr. A. Nicol, president of the Dawson Free Library, made the first appeal to Mr. Carnegie in April 1902. He had a distinct advantage. His uncle was a friend of Andrew Carnegie and his neighbor with a country home adjoining Skibo Castle, Carnegie's estate in Scotland. Mr. Carnegie's reply came through his private secretary, James Bertram. In his usual short manner Mr. Bertram stated:

"Dear Sir: Yours of April 18 received. Mr. Carnegie's will has been to give about $15,000 for a population such as yours, but as it is more expensive to build in the Yukon, Mr. Carnegie will give $25,000 to erect a free library building. If the council pledges maintenance of library at a cost of not less than $2500 a year and provides suitable site for the building."

As Mr. Bertram stated, the city had to guarantee the upkeep of the library, calculated to be ten percent of the gift - in this case $2,500. He further required that the building be fireproof. The sum provided would be paid in $5,000 installments at various stages of construction.

The City Council voted to accept Mr. Carnegie's gift on January 1, 1903. Their acceptance was conditional on the money required for maintenance being made available. The problem was that the city charter prevented a permanent arrangement such as this. City Clerk Smith, in any case, sent a letter of acceptance to Carnegie by the next mail. An offer of something for nothing in Dawson where everything cost a fortune was hard to refuse. Then again few cities refused Carnegie.

In March 1903, the Council decided that the lot for the new building be no less than 100 feet square. With this space, they reasoned, a landscape gardener could attempt to beautify the surroundings - a strange desire, for this mud flat was occasionally flooded out in the spring. More important, the City Council removed the block to total acceptance of the gift by passing a by-law numbered 45, granting the Carnegie Library $2,500 annually for maintenance costs.

The offer by Mr. Carnegie was not received congenially by everyone. In an editorial in the Klondike Nugget, on 12 August 1903, it was said that $25,000 was too great a sum for construction and $2,500 was too little for upkeep. The editorial continued 'If half the amount which Mr. Carnegie offers can be made available for the purpose of books and other necessities the library would be a veritable godsend.' Some people believed that Carnegie's gift was not as much a gift as was originally thought. Carnegie himself considered his support of the Dawson City Library to be one of his better investments. In another article he was, as usual, accused of building another monument to himself.

Bids for the lot were opened on the last day of March 1903. The Council decided that no lots would be considered north of King Street or south of Harper, as a central location was desired. The offer of the Ladue Company - a 100-foot square located on the south-west corner of Fourth Avenue and Queen Street - was accepted. The offer was originally for #3,100 but was reduced to $2,650 at the request of City Council. It was hoped that the Territorial Council would reimburse the town for the price of the lot.

Plans were invited from all the architects of the city. This competition would ensure a 'high class in the style of the building.' A wooden structure was required, as the brick available in Dawson at the time was of poor quality. This decision was fortunate for brick buildings had a tendency to crack. The entire town was located on permafrost, the surface of which was black mud in summer and frozen rock-hard soil in winter. The constant freezing and thawing did much damage, even though foundations went well below the level of summer thaw.

An example of this damage was the Stanley and Warden brick warehouse located on Second Avenue south of King Street. In April 1903 it was decided to tear down the building even though it was almost new. Large cracks appeared and collapse seem imminent. A wood frame building was to be erected in its place.

Three plans were submitted, all of two-story buildings. G. C. Killam designed a stone building which was described in the Yukon Sun as an 'architectural dream'. W. J. Chance submitted a plan, as did Robert Montcrieff whose plan was favored. Chance, Alderman La Lande, and the Mayor, who wanted to postpone the decision, protested this choice. Alderman Murphy wanted to vote right away to ensure time to order and receive construction material before the winter cut off shipments from the outside. In a vote, five out six aldermen chose Montcrieff's plan. The Library Board also accepted the design without change.

Montcrieff's plan showed a two-story building completely clad in metal inside and out. On Thursday 27 August 1903, tenders for the construction of the library were opened. All were too high but the bid of Montcrieff, who was also a contractor, was accepted. His bid was $26,500 and he was asked to lower it to enable Carnegie's donation to cover the entire expense of construction. The final statement showed $625 was paid to Montcrieff as winner of the competition, $625 paid to Montcrieff as building supervisor and, as it turned out, $23,157 for the building. The remainder of the money was to buy furnishings.

In 1897 Montcrieff arrived in Dawson from Winnipeg. He was responsible for the design of St. Andrew's Church and the Bank of Commerce, both located in Dawson. The bank was clad with pressed metal as the Carnegie Library was to be.

Montcrieff reduced the cost by substituting fir for oak finish in some rooms, using a single instead of a double floor for the second story, replacing plate glass with double-strength glass, including fewer shelves and desks and by using paint with a wax instead of a lead or oil base. He also saved money by digging the foundation five feet deep instead of ten.

Work commenced quickly. The trench for the foundation was burned and chopped down into the permanently frozen muskeg. In summer the thaw line was scarcely eighteen inches below the surface. Local lumber was used for the main frame of the building while finished lumber and the metal cladding was to be shipped in from outside. When the construction had proceeded as far as possible with the material in Dawson, work on the building, now four bare walls and a roof, stopped.

The finishing material had arrived in Whitehorse in the autumn of 1903, but it had been side-tracked to make room for perishable goods. Dawson was supplied almost totally from the outside. Food definitely had priority over library materials Food definitely had priority over library materials. Supplies for nine months (the time separating the last shipments on the Yukon River in the autumn and the first in the spring) had to be stored in the Dawson warehouses. One winter had been spent in near-starvation; another was not wanted.

The route taken by goods destined for Dawson usually began in San Francisco, Seattle or Vancouver. Ships carried the cargo to Skagway where it was transferred to the White Pass & Yukon Railway. The 110 mile narrow gauge track ended in Whitehorse where the goods were again were carried by water. A 450-mile journey on the Yukon River finally led to Dawson. Another route was via St. Michael at the mouth of the Yukon on the Bering Sea; and up the Yukon River for 1,700 miles to Dawson.

As a result of the delay in receiving the shipment of materials Joe Segbens resigned as superintendent of construction. An article in the Daily Morning Yukon Sun, 23 February 1904m read: 'In this connection the resignation of Joe Segbens as superintendent of construction of the library was accepted, Joe desiring to engage in a more exciting occupation, the doctors having notified him that the attack of ennui he had acquired in that position being dangerous unless taken in hand in time.'

The materials, in five hundred and eight packages, finally arrived on the sternwheelers Columbian and Victorian on 26 June 1904. M. H. Jones of the Dawson Hardware Company had traveled to Whitehorse to expedite delivery.

Work commenced once again. The electrical wiring was installed, pressed metal cladding was nailed to the wooden shell, and finally the library was complete. With the addition of the ninety-foot flagpole of Yukon Spruce, donated by the McCloskey brothers, the Carnegie Library was an imposing sight on opening day 16 August 1904.

The building had 'Carnegie Library' in gleaming gold letters across the entrance; flags of many nations flew and bunting was everywhere. Governor Congdon formally opened the building in the presence of the Yukon Council, the Library Board, City Council and prominent citizens.

The new addition to Dawson's skyline was a rectangular two-story building, thirty-five feet by fifty-eight feet. Both interior and exterior were covered with sheet-metal work, rendering the building fireproof to a great extent. The exterior had little ornamental work except that an appearance of stone work and plastered brick was obtained by a special pressing of the sheet metal and application of a buff tint. The sheet metal, usually in 24" by 24" sheets, was nailed to the wooden shell, overlapping to allow only one edge of each sheet to be exposed. Two Grecian pillars held up a balcony above the main entrance.

The use of natural light was a prominent feature of the building. All possible space on all sides were occupied by windows.

The front entrance on Queen Street had large double doors entering a roomy corridor. The main reading room, librarian's counter, book stacks, smoking and librarian's rooms were on the main floor. The stairs led from the front hall to the lecture room, woman's reading room and the director's assembly room on the second floor.

The basement contained men's lavatories and the heating apparatus, a Holburn hot-air furnace. It had a secure foundation of metal, brick and concrete - an important consideration, for an improperly supported furnace would melt its way into the permafrost and away from the building. The furnace had a design capacity of 70,000 cubic feet of air at an outside temperature of -35 degrees. To help keep the heat in, sixteen wagonloads of sawdust costing $80 had been used for insulation.

The interior had much frieze and cornice work, with intricate designs pressed into the metal with which it was clad. A four-foot wainscoting on top of a twelve-inch oiled-wood base skirted the walls of the lower floor. All floors were stained, natural wood. In the main reading room two pillars nine inches in diameter supported the main reading table. Quite possibly the choice of interior colors, various shades of green and terracotta, was made by the Anderson Brothers, a team of interior decorators who arrived in Dawson in 1897.

Mr. Sparling, the librarian, was in charge of more than six thousand volumes, fifty-four hundred of which were borrowed from the Free Library. In addition thirty-two magazines were subscribed to regularly. Among the books offered at the library were: Mrs. Wiggs of the Potato Patch, The Tar Heel Baron, Diary of a Goose Girl and Jack London's Daughter of the Snows.

The Dawson City Council wanted an impressive building and Montcrieff's design gave them this, while considering the particular building problems of the city. Dawson was plagued with fires and the new library was fireproof to some degree. A masonry building, although probably more impressive, would not have endured long due to the seasonal heaving of the permafrost. The pressed metal panels gave the appearance of masonry but did not have its excessive weight. The fact that the Carnegie Library and the Bank of Commerce (built three years previously by Montrcrieff) are still standing and in good condition attest to the particular suitability of this building material in this situation.

Unfortunately the building of this library resulted in the closing of another. The Standard Library Restaurant & Hotel closed its doors and put its contents up for auction on 17 February 1904.

On 16 December 1920 a fire damaged the main floor and contents of the Carnegie Library. Andy Hart, the caretaker, was injured and died shortly afterwards.

It was financially impossible for Dawson to repair and continue the upkeep of the library. Its population in 1920 was less than 1,000 people. Dawson had been dying since 1899 when the Gold Rush ended. Eventually the building was sold, for $400, to the Masons for use as a lodge. The books were transferred and library service was continued from rooms in the public school.


Community Justice for Dawson?

by Dan Davidson

While the bureaucrats debate policy, the local community justice group has to auction used bicycles to help pay its bills. Photo by Dan Davidson

"The flying circus isn't working," Pierre Rousseau, Director of the Office of the Crown Council told a group of Dawsonites on the evening of May 15. He was talking about the circuit court method of handling offenders against the community.

As it becomes more and more obvious that the traditional legal system is not able to cope with all of the needs society is placing on it, there is increasing discussion about the need to explore alternative forms of finding justice for those who have been wronged by others. At the same time many would say there is a need to find better ways to reintegrate offenders into the community and keep them from offending again.

From this discussion has grown the concept of community justice, a notion which has some of its roots in aboriginal forms of justice, as well as other, less codified structures.

In Dawson City, the main evidence of interest in alternative justice has been the growth, over the last four years, of the Dawson Community Group Conferencing society. The society offers conferencing as an alternative to formal justice proceedings in cases where the offender admits her or her culpability and the victim is willing to explore restorative justice measures.

It is not circle sentencing, which is a court imposed measure. It is perhaps closer to the healing circle format, in that no judge is involved and no legal representation is used by anyone.

This volunteer group, with its one paid coordinator, has begun to make a difference in Dawson over the last few years, but the question coming from above is whether it isn't time to move on to the next stage and form a community justice committee.

Pierre Rousseau was in town with Gina Nagano, Community Development Officer with the R.C.M.P., were in Dawson on May 14 to discuss just this topic.

As local coordinator Cheryl Lang told the dozen or so people at the meeting, alternative justice seems to be the way that the federal Minister of Justice, Anne McClelland, wants to take things. Discussions with territorial justice officials seem to reveal a trend in the same direction. A number of communities already have justice committees, and it may soon happen that all the others will be asked to buy into the system.

Rousseau told the group, mainly members of the society, that the Crown is clearly interested in developing community ties and being able to draw the expertise at the local level in dealing with crime and its consequences.

The bad news in all of this is that any local body has to be able to function on the strength of its volunteer base and cannot expect too much in the way of funding.

While Rouseau's presentation tended to be a bit theoretical and relied heavily on the experience of community justice in other places (Greenland, for instance, where it forms the basis of the country's criminal justice system) Gina Nagano brought to the discussion some practical insights based on her work in Carcross with the Southern lakes Justice Committee.

She sees alternative justice approaches as an effective tool for improving current practices. She admitted that there is a need to come up with stable funding for justice committees, and said that one of her tasks is to try to find out what they are worth in monetary terms, based on hours of court time saved, volunteer time given and many other factors.

There was a general feeling at the meeting that if some of the money the process saves were funnelled back into the activities of the committees, life would be much easier, and more could be done.

The Dawson group has not made any decisions about what it will do in the future, according to Cheryl Lang. She doesn't see the current society simply evolving into a justice committee, but does think that two overlapping organizations might be able to do a lot of good in the community.


25 Years Of Teaching Coming to an End

by Ashley Bower, Mary Fraughten, Kathryn Morrison and J.T. Taylor

Vice Principal Shirley Pennell has done much to encourage art in the school. Photo by Ashley Bower, Mary Fraughten, Kathryn Morrison and J.T. Taylor

We have recently interviewed vice principal Shirley Pennell, the longest serving current staff member at Robert Service School. On Thursday April 19th we interviewed Shirley Pennell on her feelings about retiring, memories, and her plans to come after 25 year of working at Robert Service School. Shirley has come from a long line of teachers and this is what inspired her to chose a teaching career over fashion designing or veterinary work. Her teaching career began when she taught 40 grade 1 students in one room of a 4 room school near Barrie, Ontario. What is interesting is she had taught in a wide variety of places such as France, Germany, and Old Crow before finally arriving in Dawson City.

Over her many years of teaching, Shirley has seen a wide variety of weird and exciting things but this is the weirdest. In 1992 their school got a scare from an unwanted visitor. This was no ordinary visitor. It was a lynx. This feisty feline was in the down stairs hallway of the school when Ms. Pennell and fellow staff members herded the lynx into a room until they could move it out of town.

We asked Ms. Pennell what she plans to do after her retirement. Her response was that her long term plan are to stay in Dawson and continue her work in fibre art. along these lines she plans to travel to Tahoe, California, with Robert Service School's secretary Bonnie Barber to take a course on learning more on fibre art.

Although she is looking forward to retiring, the part she will miss the most in her job is her art class and her students. One of the most fulfilling parts of her career has been to see some her former students grow up and become successful teachers themselves.

We wish Ms. Pennell a happy retirement, and the best of luck on her future plans.


Pennell Among Exceptional Education Staff Honoured

by Dan Davidson

The twelfth annual Excellence in Education Awards were presented over the weekend to four teachers and one school custodian.

As Assistant Deputy Minister Wally Seipp explained to the audience at the High Country Inn, "These are for people that have directly impacted on the school environment, either demonstrating leadership, or introducing or developing new initiatives or projects or technology, or by developing new teaching materials, or by - I won't say simply, because this is a huge task ... enhancing the educational environment."

The award includes a cash prize as well as a copy of the limited edition Ted Harrison serigraph "Northern Education". This is the only way to obtain this particular print.

Recipients of this award are nominated by their staffs or communities, usually with greet stealth. This year there were ten nominees from whom five were selected for the honour.

Shirley Pennell is retiring this year after 37 years in education, 27 of them in the Yukon and most of those as vice principal of Robert Service School. During that time she has also taught most of the subjects in the school and is well known there. All the staff, and many of the parents and students in the community conspired to nominate her for this award and managed to sneak it past her.

One of her annual projects has been the mounting of a student art show which she, as art teacher at the school, has promoted and prepared for over the year. This year's event will be the final one of her series and will feature student work from all of her years in Dawson.

Aileen McCorkell has served in Yukon schools for 24 years and has, Seipp said, been a driving force behind such educational movements as the introduction of Whole Language teaching in the 1980s and, more recently, the Reading Recovery Program. She now works at the Reading Recovery Centre.

"Aileen is being presented with (this) award for her many accomplishments and for changing the lives of hundreds of children. She is passionate in her efforts to help children to learn to read. She believes that every child should have a healthy self esteem and success in learning. She also challenges the pedagogical practices of her colleagues to promote success for the learners."

She also pushed to have Christ the King Elementary (now the Wood Street Annex) become the first "Green School" in the Yukon and was instrumental in the creation of the natural park which faces Fourth Avenue from that building.

May Gudmundson came to the Yukon in the 1980s after a career in the Northwest Territories, and moved to Whitehorse with her husband Brian after a stint at Robert Service School.

"As many of you know," Seipp said, "May was instrumental in establishing the teen parent centre in Whitehorse. She was the first director of the centre and organized a society and committees to work with funding. operations and ultimately the planning of the new building currently in use. She's had a profound and ongoing effect on young parents."

She now teaches at Golden Horn Elementary School, where she also organizes annual events around the Yukon Quest, motivates moms to help with math and encourages students to create art objects for their parents.

Jessie Smith has been the head custodian at Holy Family School since it was opened eight years ago. Students, staff and even outside user groups (high praise indeed) collaborated in preparing her nomination.

"We all know the value of our custodians," Seipp said. "Our schools and more attractive because of their efforts. The community of Holy Family Elementary School believes Jesse is extraordinary."

Perhaps the most touching tribute came from the student who wrote that "Mrs. Smith is nice to us and she acts like our mum."

The final recipient this year was retiring superintendent Fred Smith, who has been finishing out his last year on special assignment with the department.

Fred Smith was cited for the depth of his involvement in issues related to education, for supporting community educational activities and encouraging innovative programs within the school system.

Said Seipp, "Teaching has been a lifestyle for him. Fred lives the principle, 'to live is to learn.' Fred has been a mentor to many and a model to us all."

Each of the recipients received standing ovations from the audience.


Chamber Music in the Ballroom

by Dan Davidson

Roslyn Wilson at the Oddfellows Hall. Photo by Dan Davidson

The ballroom of the Hall was host to an evening of chamber music on May 13, as Whitehorse musicians Roslyn Wilson and Brendan Hanley entertained a group of about 30 on a fine Dawson evening.

The concert was a musical treat and the kick off for the latest fund raising campaign by the Dawson City Arts Society, which would like to purchase a grand piano for occasions such as this. Roslyn Wilson made her electric Roland sing with the best, but it's still not the real thing.

Wilson and Hanley have been playing together on and off for about five years now. She is a school (Golden Horn) and private music teacher in Whitehorse and he is a doctor. Both have been musicians since childhood, and made some passing reference to their training in a couple of solo numbers which they dedicated to their mothers at this Mother's Day concert.

Together they played a selection of somewhat jarring Danse Preludes by Witold Lutoslawski, a softer Rhapsodie by Debussy, and a couple of lively Balkan folk songs arranged for them by Daniel Janke.

Wilson soloed on two selections by Gabriel Govlez from a group of pieces called L'Almanach aux Image. These are lullabies. She spoke of hearing her mother practicing Beethoven and Chopin each night during her childhood as she fell asleep.

Hanley provided a breath challenging transcription for clarinet of one of Bach's chamber works for the solo cello, and recalled that his mother had been rather abrupt with him when, as a young teen, he decided that he had had quite enough of this music lessons business and wanted to quit. The answer was simple: no. Today he is grateful.

After their main set, the audience was free to partake of cheesecakes and beverages, while the players took a short break and them moved into some Gershwin show tunes, notably "It Ain't Necessarily So" and "Summertime". Steve Slade joined them for a harmonica break on the second tune.

Earlier in the day several piano students from the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture and their parents participated in a special rhythm workshop. Roslyn and Brendan played segments of several pieces for the group. In between the pieces, Roslyn led the children in rhythmic activities which culminated in a jam session with the students playing a variety of African percussion instruments Roslyn had brought with her.


Another Moment With HRH

by Betty Davidson

Prince Charles met the Robert Service School Choir in the lobby of the Westmark Hotel in Whitehorse.

It took a little strategy for the Robert Service School Choir to meet Prince Charles while he and they were in Whitehorse together. After all, they were staying in the same hotel, and it just didn't seem right that the choir should miss all the excitement.

On the other hand, the choir was booked up solid during His Royal Highness' public events on the Friday and Saturday, so it looked like they might not connect.

Fortunately, his schedule was pretty well known. He had a another public engagement on Sunday morning, and would be leaving the Westmark Hotel at about 10 o'clock that morning.

The solution was simple. Have all the choir lined up at the door that morning to see him off.

The Prince was clearly surprised to see all those students waiting for him, but he took it in stride and stopped to speak to and shake hands with everyone.


Editorial: Entering Our 13th Year (6th on line)

by Dan Davidson

There's an annual argument over when we should begin our new volume year at the Sun. See, when this happy band of scribblers started up this "simple" little publication we were a monthly and so it was easier to keep track. The May issue was always #1 of the new volume year and that was all there was to it.

Then, during the Tim Sawa (you'll hear him at least once a week on the national radio news these days) years we took the big leap to biweekly production. That more than doubled our number of production weekends from 12 to 26, and it meant that, while most months saw us put out two issues of the paper, some months saw three.

So which of the issues in May would be our anniversary issue?

It wasn't that hard a decision. The first Sun appeared on May 25, 1989, and we staffed a table at the Gold Show to help promote it. In later years the Gold Show got bumped back a week, but we decided that we would still use that date as our rough anniversary.

So - welcome to the first issue of year #13.

Welcome to Kerry Barber, who officially takes over as our anchor person with this issue, filling the chair so ably occupied by Karen McWilliam, who is moving on by expanding one of her three part time jobs to full time. Say "hello" if you happen to be passing by the Customs station on the Top of the World Highway.

We're going to miss Karen (and Luna the wonder dog, of course), who brought a focus on organization and persistence to this office. The only thing we never did let her do was solve the biweekly dilemma of what to put on the front page by the simple expedient of filling it with "THISISTHEFRONTPAGETHISISTHEFRONTPAGE".

Kerry has been in part-time training now for a couple of months, making this one of the smoothest transitions that ye editor has ever been blessed with.

We also welcome Heather Robb, who has arrived to fill our summer staff position. Maybe the "Ready, Aim, Hire" folks turned us down for winter staff this year, but the Student Challenge" program still appreciates us. Heather wrote a few volunteer pieces for us last summer, but the Insider was able to pay her, so she put in most of her time there, when she wasn't working at Maximilian's. This year, we've got her, and we intend to make good use of her.

For those wondering about Tara McCauley, who was with us in the summers of 1999 and 2000 she's in Nova Scotia this summer, helping tourists at Grand Pré Park. She told us to say "hello".

We're holding our AGM in a few weeks (look for the Ad) and hope to have some new people get involved with the paper as we enter year 13. See you here in a couple of weeks.


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