Dawson City, Yukon Friday, May 30, 1997

BASIC BLACK, DAWSON STYLE...Sun photographer Diane Marengere caught the ferry in action early in the season.

Feature Stories

Boundary Reduction Will Go to a Vote
Money Raised for Hospital
Heroes are not Fools
Lousetown Land Claims Settled
Visitor Reception Centre Staff Prepare for Tourist Season
Will it be Klondike Days Forever?
Klondike Centennial Society News
It Was a Productive Winter
Vendors Must Relocate
Uffish Thoughts: Taking It to the Streets

Boundary Reduction Will Go to a Vote

by Dan Davidson
Sun volunteer

There is an old adage which councils that people ought to be careful what they pray for because they might get it. The same is often seen to be true of junior governments who petition senior governments.

Nothing could demonstrate this more readily that the situation faced by the City of Dawson after it achieved its long sought boundary expansion a few years ago. Instead of the southbound expansion line for which it had petitioned, the Municipal Board decided to grant the community a partial southward expansion and a massive increase in the amount of territory that it controlled across the Yukon River, the areas known as West Dawson and Sunnydale.

Strange enough though it was to be granted control of areas that could be reached only by a seasonal ferry and an ice bridge, the municipality was soon to learn that there were other wrinkles in the fabric of boundary expansion. Just as an example, there were roads.

Dawson suddenly found itself saddled with the financial responsibility for the Dome Road and those portions of the road system across the river which were not part of the Top of the World Highway. While preliminary discussions prior to the expansion had been moving towards some sort of sharing arrangement, none of these understandings were ever written down in a formal way, and so none of them were honoured when the Yukon Party took over from the NDP just a few months before the expansion was announced.

So we come down to the present, with yet another territorial government in charge and the community looking to do what it had never considered doing just a few years ago. If the proper arrangements can be made, council wants to give West Dawson and Sunnydale back to the territory.

That was the subject of a public meeting held on May 20, and attended by some of the people who live in the area under discussion. Two positions were put forward by council for public discussion. First, would residents object if they reverted to territorial control, restoring the old status quo? The one exception to this would be the transient campground area along the road near the ferry landing, which council intends to keep within its boundary control now that it has worked up a system to police the area.

The other option is for the boundary to exclude only the Sunnydale area, with West Dawson remaining within town limits.

These options will be put to a vote, to be held most likely within the next month. The majority option will be the one that council takes to the territorial government.

"We want to get that rolling," says councillor Shirley Pennell, "because it has to go through quite e few steps before it becomes finalized."

Mayor Glen Everitt has indicated that the government seems to be receptive to Dawson's plight, and would be inclined to grant its request. Even then, of course, there is no guarantee.

The request will be channelled to the Municipal Board, which will have to hold a local hearing before it can rule, and then is not bound by the request which has been made. The city didn't ask to get Sunnydale in the first place; that was the Board's recommendation. West Dawson was in the original proposal, and the Board might be inclined to go that far rather than reverse itself completely.


Money Raised for Hospital

Dawson City Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce employees are joining the rest of the Yukon and B.C. CIBC employees in showing their support to B.C.'s Children's Hospital. The Dawson City employees wanted to do more to support the hospital so they made the month of May Jeans For Kids month in their bank.

During May you saw CIBC employees in jeans on Wednesdays and Fridays. Each employee donated two dollars to B.C.'s Children's Hospital for every day they wore jeans to work.

Many Yukon children spend time in the B.C. Children's Hospital and you can show support by stopping in at CIBC today and making a donation. CIBC accepts donations on behalf of B.C.'s Children's Hospital, anyone wishing to donate can do so at the CIBC. 100% of the money raised goes to the B.C. Children's Hospital.


Heroes are not Fools

by Heather Caverhill
Sun Reporter

"Injuries are not accidents, they are predictable and preventable." This was one of the messages put across by the Smart Risk Foundation in their presentation entitled Heroes, to the students of Robert Service School, on Thursday, May 22.

What is a hero? "A hero is someone who puts themselves on the line to save a life. Any life. Even your own." said Heroes speaker John McRoberts as images of Canadian youth danced across the large movie screen behind him. "Buckle Up, Drive Sober, Look First, Wear the Gear and Get Trained" were the five suggestions that Heroes made to prevent injuries to youth. "It was very moving and I hope the young guys in our school listen to it," said Grade 11 student, Melissa Flynn of Heroes.

The program consisted of a large movie screen, music, lights and live speakers. Students were able to ask questions about the speaker's injury and his life afterward. "It's not only for injury prevention; some young kid could be driving down the street, sober, buckled up, doing everything right, and get hit. It's also to let kids know that there is life after injury." McRoberts said.

McRoberts, who became a quadriplegic after injuring himself diving in 1981, is an excellent example that there is life after injury. Before joining Heroes two years ago, he worked with other injury prevention groups and had a business developing wheelchairs.

"I called it 'The Chair You Wear'," he said McRoberts designed wheelchairs for people, taking into account their body size and activity level. "I made each chair to suit each person."

When not travelling with Heroes, McRoberts can be found enjoying his life in Victoria, BC. "I like gardening, fishing, sailing..." McRoberts and two teammates make up the Canadian Para-Olympic sailing team, and won the silver medal for the 1996 Atlanta Games.

When asked about Dawson, McRoberts was pleased with the wheelchair accessibility in town. "When we got to our hotel, we saw a big ramp and the manager came out to see if we needed any help." McRoberts was pleased with the hospitality of the Downtown Hotel and enjoyed meeting other Dawsonites. "I think I came at a good time, before the tourists. It's great!"

When asked if he would return, McRoberts was hopeful. "Maybe, I'm thinking about bringing up my canoe and van..." We just might see him in West Dawson next summer.


Lousetown Land Claims Settled

The Government of the Tr'on dek Hwech'in is pleased to announce the settlement of our dispute with Arkona Resources and the Government of Canada over mining activity in our ancient village site of Tr'o-ju-wech'in - commonly referred to as Lousetown.

Tr'o-ju-wech'in will now be protected for all time as Tr'on dek Hwech'in Settlement Land and a Heritage Site under our Final Agreement. Beaming, Chief Steve Taylor declared "This is a huge victory for our people, and all Canadians who respect aboriginal culture and history."

As part of the settlement, Canada has purchased Arkona's mining claims for approximately $1,000,000, and will withdraw the minerals under the site in perpetuity from staking and locating.

An archaeological assessment will be undertaken, and a management plan developed by Tr'on dek Hwech'in in Consultation with Parks Canada, YTG Heritage, the Dawson Museum, and other interested parties.

Tr'o-ju-wech'in was the aboriginal home of the Tr'on dek Han Indians. From time immemorial, successive generations gathered at the site to fish the plentiful King Salmon migrating up the Tr'on dek (mis-pronounced Klondike) River. Permanent homes provided warmth and comfort year round, and served as a base for hunting expeditions throughout the rich Klondike watershed. At the onset of the Gold Rush, the Tr'on dek Han were dispossessed of Tr'o-ju-wech'in, and relocated to Moosehide Reserve.

When Yukon Land Claims negotiations commenced in the mid 1970's, Tr'o-ju-wech'in was one of the first areas selected by Tr'on dek Hwech'in to be retained as Settlement Land. Unfortunately, Government did not agree to the selection until 1991, by which time the site was covered with mining claims.

Controversy erupted in August 1991 when an unscrupulous placer miner, operating without the authority of a water license, moved onto the site with heavy equipment and commenced full scale mining. Tr'on dek Hwech'in was appalled, and immediately notified regulatory authorities. Nothing was done.

Despite receiving three citations within three weeks for illegal discharge of water into both the Klondike and Yukon Rivers, the miner was allowed to continue until the snow fell - with no regard whatsoever for the land or the heritage resources on it. Historic objects were dug up, strewn pell mell, and trampled. A significant portion of the site was ravaged. Tr'on dek Hwech'in was outraged.

Over the course of the winter Tr'on dek Hwech'in made representation to innumerable individuals and agencies. All efforts proved futile. Rights conferred by the Placer Mining Act, vagaries over the interpretation of the Northern Inland Waters Act, and lack of fortitude on the part of regulatory officials stymied action.

Nevertheless, Tr'on dek Hwech'in remained committed to protecting what remained of the site. When mining commenced again the following season, Tr'on dek Hwech'in took the only avenue available, which was to challenge the validity of the placer claims in Court.

The legal battle is now over. Tr'on dek Hwech'in has discontinued litigation. Chief Federal negotiator Tim Koepke deserves special acknowledgment. His vision and deft maneuvering were critical in facilitating resolution. The way is now clear for Tr'on dek Hwech'in to conclude Land Claims negotiations.

The Tr'o-ju-wech'in Heritage Site will provide Tr'on dek Hwech'in a long awaited opportunity to preserve and share our history and culture in the Klondike. The site will complement efforts by Parks Canada in the region, which to date have focussed primarily on showcasing the Goldrush. The Tr'o-ju-wech'in Heritage site will feature the full spectrum of heritage values in our rich and diverse ancestral homeland. This will be of tremendous value to Tr'on dek Hwech'in and all Yukoners.

"This is an excellent example of a Yukon First Nation Land Claims Agreement benefiting the whole community" stated Chief Taylor.


Visitor Reception Centre Staff Prepare for Tourist Season

Peggy Amendola, Marlene Braga and Jason are ready to receive the hordes of visitors at the Dawson Visitor Reception Centre. Photo by Namiko Saito

WHITEHORSE - More than 30 government visitor reception centre staff members from throughout the Yukon converged on Watson Lake this week (May 14th) to participate in a five-day training program in preparation for the 1997 tourist season.

"We undertake this training program every year," said Linda Bierlmeier, marketing officer with Yukon Tourism. "It is held in a different location each year in order that the staff members can acquaint themselves, in person, with the facilities and services of each community."

As well as hearing presentations on a variety of tourism topics, the group will visit Lucky Lake, Wye Lake and Greenaway's. They will also tour the town of Watson Lake and visit the new Northern Lights Centre.

The Watson Lake portion of the training will total three days. The group will then return to Whitehorse for tours of the Yukon Visitor Reception Centre and the Beringia Interpretive. They will also take part in a computer training session involving the use of Tourism's website as a source of information when responding to visitor's queries.

"We take advantage of this week of training to insure that all staff members are brought up to date on Yukon industry changes and new developments that will impact our tourists," said Klaus Roth, director of marketing.

"From changes in hotels to new attractions, airline service and where to camp, they are given the latest information we have available." Roth concluded.


Will it be Klondike Days Forever?

by Dan Davidson
Sun volunteer

Has Edmonton finally come to its senses? Will they at last release the Klondike name they have been holding hostage since the 1960s and find a history of their own to celebrate in the festival now known as Klondike Days?

While it isn't at all likely, it is at least a topic of discussion and will be a feature in an upcoming issue of Alberta Report. According to Mike Milke the reporter assigned to follow up the story with telephone interviews here in Dawson the matter was raised at this year's meeting of the Klondike Days committee.

"The committee isn't actually thinking of changing it," Milke explained. "It was someone else who brought it up. They tossed it around briefly and decided, 'Nah, nah, nah we like it too much.'"

So the committee tabled the discussion and indicated that they might come back to it after this year's festival is over.

The Report is doing a tongue-in-cheek story on the subject which will, among other things, offer up a list of possible new names for the festival. One of them, he says, might be Bre-X Days.

That would be entirely suitable, since most of the promotions involving all-Canadian routes from Edmonton to the Klondike were just about as truthful as those assay results from Indonesia. Just another type of fools gold.

Alberta Report would be interested in receiving any suggestions for new names.


Klondike Centennial Society News

Eagle Flotilla

In June of 1897, 28 disgruntled miners left from Dawson City by flotilla and discovered gold in the place they called Eagle City because of the Eagles nesting near by.

On Saturday, June 21, 1997
A Commemoration of that great event will occur -

Summary of Event

The morning of June 21 a Historic Send Off is planned at the new dock and at 11 am on June 21 the flotilla will leave from Dawson City headed for Eagle, Alaska. Overnight at 40 Mile, continue down river, over-nighting once more on the historic Yukon River and arriving in Eagle City on the morning of the 23rd. Celebrations are in place to welcome the flotilla in Eagle with a tent city accommodation. Arrangements have been made to travel up river on he 24th via the Yukon Queen (THANK YOU HOLLAND AMERICA). Canoes are being made, rafts are being built and other water craft is being rented or hauled out of the back yard for this event.

The Recreation Department and staff have become involved with this project for the youth of Dawson City and Eagle, Alaska. The Rangers, Renewable, Parks Canada and YTG - Heritage Department have expressed interest in assisting with this event.

Come on out citizens of Dawson City and join in the flotilla to Eagle City, Alaska. Please register at the Klondyke Centennial Building on 3rd Avenue if you are interested in participating in the event. Contact Wendy Burns @ 403-993-1998.

Be a Part of History

You are invited to participate in a unique advertising feature of the 1997 "Ton of Gold" Re-enactment taking place this July 5 through 21 July, 1997.

This historic re-enactment celebrates the arrival of the first shipment of gold that sparked the 1898 Klondyke Gold Rush, the world's greatest gold rush. The "Ton of Gold" Re-enactment Committee under the auspices of the Klondyke Centennial Society will be recreating the historic photograph of the Stack of Gold Bricks, seen on this brochure.

Each gold-plated brick will be engraved with the name of your business, and will feature the beautiful Klondyke Centennial Society "Ton of Gold" logo.

The "Stack of Gold Bricks" will be displayed in Dawson City on July 5 & 6 alongside the 5,400 ounces of Klondike gold. From is start in Dawson City the stack will travel to the Yukon communities of Carmacks, Whitehorse and Carcross where it will be displayed. Then on to Skagway, Alaska where the "Ton of Gold" and the descendants of the original "Klondyke Millionaires" will depart for Seattle, Washington aboard the MV Spirit of 98. The cruise ship MV Spirit of 98 is modeled after the fine style of ocean going vessels of the turn of the century, down the smallest details, yet offers all the comforts of a modern cruise ship.

On July 19th the "Ton of Gold" will arrive aboard the Spirit of 98 at Seattle's historic Pier 57 where a welcoming committee composed of Seattle, Alaskan and Yukon dignitaries will greet the ship's arrival with due fanfare. The "Ton of Gold" display will be available for public viewing at Pier 57 throughout the Gala Weekend of centennial celebrations by an anticipated welcoming crowd of over twenty thousand. The "Stack of Gold Bricks" is guaranteed to be a popular photo opportunity all along the Re-enactment route.

Each brick is hand-poured into a historic Klondyke square-edged mold to ensure a smooth finish before it receives its double coating of nickel and gold. Each brick is approximately 3" x 4" x 9", the size featured in the historic photograph and weighs 55 pounds.

Once the "Ton of Gold" Re-enactment is over the gold brick becomes your personalized memento of this very unique Klondyke event. This investment not only immortalizes your participation in this event but offers a unique form of cross-border advertising at a very reasonable cost. The cost to advertise your business on a "gold brick" from Dawson City, Yukon to Seattle, Washington is $897.00. The Klondyke Centennial Society will issue your company or organization a receipt for this amount that can be used as an advertising expense for tax purposes.


It Was a Productive Winter

by Palma Berger
Sun Volunteer

Art show. Photo by Palma Berger

One would say it was a productive winter as one viewed the art show at the Museum recently. There were large pieces done by Leslie Piercey and Mike Yuhasz. Piercey's acrylic on canvas were done while up at Bensen Creek while Yuhasz's oil on metal were inspired by Hunker Creek, and each obviously inspired by the cold season or the breaking up of the cold season. Piercey's were full of colour, while Yuhasz's were dark but lightened by a rust brown and grey-white with the slivers of silver slashed through each painting.

Each artist's description of his/her own work best expresses their inspiration for their works.

Leslie Piercy..."Thinking of the reality of life here and how ice is so present - all year round. I have always loved the action of ice on the Dempster and now, because of these last couple of cold winters, Bensen Creek has started to have more overflow than we have ever seen. Each time we visited, the ice had moved, changed colour, grown. It was constantly in motion with the play of light on its surface and with the water running on it or under it. It's exciting, incredible, awe inspiring, and, at some point, enough."

Mike Yuhasz ..... "Despite the titles of these works, I don't see them as tied to a specific place or to the visual/physical details of the land. The form of the paintings is not a copy of what I see; instead, it is a way of describing the meaning of what I see.

I think there is something more common, more pressing underlying all these places and that is our approach to these places, our activity and behaviour. So I see the content of these works to be more about us and our workings rather than Hunker Creek itself.

For me the work becomes the physical site itself. With my drill and grinding bit I tear at the skin of the painting to return to the metal underneath, a record of my activity and workings. The materials, oil paint and metal, are my choices. The grinding and the tearing, my activities, my behaviour."


Vendors Must Relocate

by Dan Davidson
Sun volunteer

Whatever the general opinion in town may be of street vendors in Dawson City, one thing is certain: they can't stay where they are.

The reason is not prejudice or business pressure on anything like that. Simply put, the are in front of the dyke where the gazebo now sits is slated to become the location for the Han Cultural Centre portion of the Waterfront enhancement plan which was developed as part of the Goldrush Centennials project.

The gazebo will be moved to the other side of the old CIBC bank building in early June. Site preparation and construction on the Han centre will begin not long after that.

That leaves the question of where in the community vendors might locate themselves, and that was one of the main subjects of discussion at a meeting on May 20. There was no immediate solution to that problem,, but council has committed itself to finding one. There are several vacant lots in town owned by YTG and there was a strong suggestion that it might be possible to use one or more of these for this season.

There were three other issues that were described by Mayor Glen Everitt.

There have been numerous concerns expressed by existing businesses in Dawson over the rules governing street vendors and the types of vendor operations that ought to be permitted locally. Everitt had done a bit of research in other communities and had discovered that the response to street vending stretches across the continuum from complete banning to anything goes. Council seems disposed to come down somewhere in the middle of that.

Then there was the issue of fairness to local year-round businesses, some of which have expressed the view that they face unfair competition from outsiders who come here merely to milk the tourist season and then leave, contributing nothing to the continuing needs of the community, the tax base, or the dozens of volunteer organizations which depend on the resident businesses for their survival.

Finally, Everitt announced that Dawson would be opting out of the inter-municipal business license structure which allows a vendor to register once and service several communities. From here on people wishing to sell goods in Dawson will need to buy a local license.

Among those in the audience there was a great deal of support for vendors generally, though it was directed more specifically to local entrepreneurs who might be taking this route as a way of breaking into business.

One young woman commented that it was a way for people, herself included, to get started. The operator of the Dawson Dogs cart, one of those protected by grandfathering of existing bylaws, indicated that this was the way he saw it too.

Dawne Mitchell, a local gardener who has done some vending with her produce, made the same point and added several others. Vendors, she said, add a certain quality to the town; they are a bit of a drawing card. If they are competition, she doesn't mind it, and she felt it would send a very negative message about Dawson if the council were to crack down too much.

The overall discussion didn't seem to be going along those lines although a number of people in the gallery seemed to think it was. Council appears to be considering regulation, not elimination, and first hopes to solve the immediate problem of location.


Uffish Thoughts: Taking It to the Streets

by Dan Davidson
Sun volunteer

The issue of street vendors in Dawson City has a history that goes back quite a few years. While the latest rumblings began only a few months ago, at a March meeting of the Dawson City Chamber of Commerce, the roots run deep.

A decade ago the question did not arise as often, simply because it wasn't really open to debate. There was one street vendor in the community and she operated an ice cream cart outside the Palace Grand Theatre during each evening of the summer season. The cart also turned up at the park and at all major public events, and was a welcome site to those who were hot and dry in the midst of our summer splendour.

Holly's Ice Cream was the only mobile vendor in the community, and was only allowed to exist because she owned a license that predated a bylaw which banned them totally. They had existed before, and, according to many public statements by the mayor of the day, Peter Jenkins, had made one unholy mess of papers and debris around the community. So, sometimes before I arrived here in 1985 they were eliminated from the scene.

That didn't mean there were no vendors, but it did mean they had to get city office permission to set up and that they could only do so in certain designated areas, mostly by the dyke in the area opposite the Visitor Reception Centre on Front Street. That area would often be crowded with fresh fruit and meat sellers, as well as peddlers of jewelry and the like.

Local businesses generally indicated that they preferred this arrangement, noting that these visitors contributed little to the local economy and almost nothing to the city's revenue base. At the same time it was said that they were drawing sales from local merchants who depend on the short summer season to be able to stay open year round. In addition, you heard the odd complaint of shoddy merchandise - gold that was not gold, things like that - complaints that locals said tarred all Dawson merchants with the same brush when they were passed on by word-of-mouth by the travelling public.

Time passed, administrations changed and so did the situation. Recent summers have seen roving vendors in many of the vacant lots about town, on the corner near the CIBC as well as in the usual place near the dyke. In addition, two resident food vendors have joined the ice cream cart (now under new ownership), one selling hot dogs from a light, wheeled shelter and the other hamburgers and other items from an elaborate, finely built, attractive mobile kitchen.

Some members of the chamber support the notion of local entrepreneurship of this type while resisting incursions from elsewhere. Some don't like any kind of mobile selling, maintaining that it gives the transient vendor an unfair advantage, and adding on all the old complaints as well as noise pollution into the bargain.

All of the points mentioned here were raised and debated in the response to a draft letter which the chamber executive had prepared to pass on to city council. The chamber members present were split just about down the middle on how to respond to the issue. As a result no action was taken and the letter was set aside.

One of the points which did seem to make a lot of sense to just about everyone at the meeting is that total freedom of movement for vendors dilutes the impact of such events as the Gold Show, Canada Day, the Dawson City Music Festival, or the Discovery Days weekend. Rather than paying their fees to the organizations sponsoring these events, some visiting vendors have chosen instead to pay a lesser fee to the city and then set up elsewhere. This has meant a reduction in income and impact for the volunteer organizations who do their best to keep Dawson hopping in the summer.

There was a fairly general agreement in the discussion that vendors coming to town to take advantage of special events should have to become part of these events, by paying their fees to the organizing committees and setting up their stalls or wares in whatever venue had been created for that period of time. That is one proposal which would probably get a lot of support locally, and one that would not place a serious hardship on any visiting vendors.

How the debate will work itself out this time, I have no idea. There are clearly several points of view in town, including one which holds that street vendors are a perfectly acceptable part of any historic recreation we may be attempting to portray. There's no simple answer.


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