Dawson City, Yukon Friday, November 12, 1999

Miss Bell's class wishes the town Happy Hallowe'en. Photo by Clair Dragoman

Feature Stories

Study says Dawson's Effluent is Safe
Hallowe'en Dance was a Hoot
Funtasia Haunted House Mania
First Hunt: A Cheechako goes Hunting
Get Ready to Run the Percy!
Klondyke Centennial Society - Winter Projects & Events 1999
"Ladies...Lift Your Hoods"
Mickey Mouse in the Klondike
A Touch of Service at Gerties
Poem: Umbra

Welcome to the November 12th on-line edition of the Klondike Sun. This is the abridged version of our Nov. 9th hardcopy edition, which was 20 pages long, containing 21 photographs and 20 news stories, 3 poems, the cartoon strips "Paws", "Mukluk & Honisukle" and "City Snickers", a lovely cartoon by Albert Fuhre, and our regular homemade Klondike Krossword puzzle. Getting a subscription (see the home page) is the only way you'll ever see it all.

Study says Dawson's Effluent is Safe

by Dan Davidson

The City of Dawson could not be anything other than pleased with the final results of the environmental monitoring study which the Yukon Territorial Water Board ordered it to carry out as a result of last December's Water Board Hearings into a city application for an amendment to its water license.

The study, carried out by McLeay Environmental Ltd. of Victoria lasted from February until the end of September, and it concludes, in the somewhat dense language of researchers, that "the potential for Dawson's effluent to cause any acute sublethal effects on resident or migrant fish within the immediate vicinity of the outfall or further downstream is extremely small.

"Fish mortalities would not occur in the river due to this discharge, and it is very unlikely that any demonstrable acute sublethal effects would occur near the outfall or further downstream."

In plain language, it will neither kill fish nor cause them any appreciable discomfort or irritation.

According to the study, any potential threat to the aquatic environment would have to occur within 50 metres of the single port diffuser which discharges into the river about 200 metres from the east bank of the Yukon River.

By 50 metres, the effluent concentration in the mix of discharge and receiving waters (the river) is only 3.8%. In 19 of the 20 samples studied during the test period, fish were affected only when the concentrations of effluent in the water were 50% or higher.

This essentially dismisses the idea that Dawson's discharge is actually harming anything since, as the study notes, "An effluent concentration of 50% would be achieved instantaneously within a short distance of the end of Dawson's discharge pipe."

The LC50 test which is used to determine the toxicity of the water involves placing juvenile rainbow trout into varying concentrations of sample waters from the Yukon River. The seven concentrations ranged from 100% down to 3%. During the period from February through to the end of May "each of the effluent samples tested was non-toxic." From June through to the end of July, 11 of the 13 samples proved toxic in some measure when the concentrations were above the level of 50%.

Fish have to be able to survive in such test tanks for a continuous period of 96 hours for the test to prove negative. This would seem to indicate that a fish swimming past Dawson's outflow pipe would have to pause, head directly into the pipe at a distance of just a few metres, and then hover there for four days in order to be affected by Dawson's effluent.

Last year, it appeared that the fish were drowning in the test tanks due to a lack of dissolved oxygen in the water. The samples had not been kept at their extraction temperature of between 6.4? C and 12.9? C, with the result that bacterial action in the water used up all the oxygen before the testing began. Under the new regime prescribed by the study group, shipping and testing procedures adhered more rigorously to Environment Canada's 1990 guidelines for this type of testing. They kept the samples chilled and began testing almost immediately. The result here was that dissolved oxygen was not a factor in the outcome.

The tests also chemical analysis for substances such as ammonia, nitrates, phosphates, surfactants (the active ingredient in household detergents), coliforms, oil, and grease and total suspended solids. In addition there were measurements taken of biochemical oxygen demand, chemical oxygen demand, conductivity, alkalinity and pH.

Of all of these factors, only three appeared to be unusual. Total concentrations of phosphates were down in relation to historically noted figures from 1994 and 1996. There is no way to explain this other than to speculate that people were using a different type of laundry soap, or less of it, in 1999.

A second anomaly was an increase in the pH levels of un-ionized ammonia. The substance, a byproduct of urine as well as of cleaners, seemed to increase in pH during the time span of the tests, rising as much as 4.5 times above the initial levels. This substance is lethal to fish over a 96 hour period when at this pH level.

The study speculates that something in the testing process was actually causing the increase in pH, which was not consistent with the measured levels at the outset of the test. In a separate Toxicity Identification Evaluation prepared by EVS Environmental Consultants of Vancouver the following recommendation appears:

"It was noted that the pH of the samples tended to increase appreciably over the course of the toxicity tests due to the continuous aeration that is applied as part of the test protocol. Since this procedure might lead to artificial ammonia toxicity, some consideration should be given to maintaining pH control during the exposure."

Anionic surfactants (active ingredients in detergents) were also found in significant quantities in the samples and the study found "convincing evidence that effluent toxicity was caused" by these substances. In the wild aquatic environment, however, these chemicals "sorb to suspended solids and degrade readily and rapidly...".

The quantity of suspended solids in the Yukon River is well known. It has been estimated that the total outflow from Dawson's sewage pipe in one day is equal to about 15 seconds worth of the naturally occurring materials already in the river. There is a lot for the surfactants to attach themselves to.

Coliforms originating with the sewage outflow, have, it should be noted, already been dismissed as a potential health problem by the territory's Medical Health Officer, Dr. Frank Timmermans. According to him, the bulk of the fecal material found anywhere around communities along the Yukon River originates with wild and domestic animals and not with people. It increases in concentration in the summer due to the run off from the melting snow in which it is buried all winter. He has said that it is a problem, but not one which can be controlled by regulating sewage.

The study arrived in Dawson just last week and 22 copies of the four volumes have been circulated to various agencies and interveners.

City council hopes, of course, that this will put an end to pressure from the federal Fisheries and Oceans branch of DIAND for Dawson to begin immediate construction of a secondary sewage treatment plant. The Water Board has yet to issue a final report from the December 1998 hearing at which all of this started, and there may be a call to reconvene the hearing before the end of this calendar year.

Dawson's current water license expires on January 29, 2000, by which time work was supposed to have been started, if no finished, on treatment plant. The council here has contended for the last several years that the science behind the requirement was fuzzy and that a more rigorous testing regime was needed to prove the actual need for this level of treatment at this time.

The consultants the town hired are mostly former federal employees, several of whom actually wrote some of the guidelines and procedures that DIAND had been using to evaluate the community's effluent. If their current work stands up to examination, some of the earlier standards may need to be revised.


Hallowe'en Dance was a Hoot

by Ron Ryant

Line dancing is still popular among Dawson teenagers. Photo by Ron Ryant

After hearing that the teen Halloween dance had been canceled, the Klondike Valley Fire Department decided to see if it would be possible for us to sponsor a Halloween dance for the teens.

With somewhat short notice, the City of Dawson, without hesitation, let us use the Youth Center as a location for the festivities. Local businesses came through, once again, and with a spirit of community, donated so many prizes that we were able to award a dance prize every half hour as well as the costume awards. The floor really fills for a spot dance.

A big thank you to our prize sponsors, listed here alphabetically: Dawson Hardware, The Gold Poke, The Grubstake, Jimmy's Place, Maximilians, Ravens Nook and Ray of Sunshine. People of Dawson, lets support our local businesses so that they can continue to support us.

There were about 50 teens at the dance and I think a good time was had by all. I know that from our perspective the evening was problem free. There were some great costumes there that evening and prizes were awarded to the following people in the following categories:

Scariest - Megan Gates (Witch)
Funniest - Miranda Adam (Clown)
Most Original - Amanda Iskra (Butterfly)
Most Elaborate - Mary Russell (Quaker Girl)
Best Overall - Melinda Margeson (Cleopatra)


Funtasia Haunted House Mania

Submitted by Freda Roberts

This Halloween, our children went to some effort in carefully selecting their new identity, getting dressed up, walking from house to house for hours, and then off to the Tr'ondek Heritage Hall for the Halloween Bash.

This annual Halloween event was a blast for everyone. The fund included a very spooky haunted house that was chuck full of monsters, a mad scientist, a hunched back guy, and a fortuneteller. It created quite the stir among the children, youths and adults.

If you were able to walk, crawl, or run after a stroll in the haunted house, you could have decorated a cup cake with your own shaky hands, stopped by to fix your make up and then go crawling for apples on a string or, if you felt like it, hit a passing balloon around before heading back into the haunted house. Everyone was quite impressed by this freakish, terrifying, haunted house.

A very gracious THANK YOU goes to all the businesses whose generous contributions made this scary night for our children and youths a most hair raising, bug eyed, screaming evening. Thank yous and Mahsi Chos to the Bonanza Market, Dawson Fire Hall, Women's Shelter, CIBC, Han Construction, Gammie Trucking, Pop Stop, Triple J, Eldorado Hotel, Health & Social Services, Chief Isaac, Arctic Inland, Beaver Lumber, IODE, YOOP, Monte Carlo Limited, Viceroy, Aurora Office, DCGS, Maximilians, Raven's Nook, Land Department, and the Trading Post.

Many Thanks goes out to the volunteers that came forward to help set up, decorate the hall, put in long hours of creative, thoughtful work and preparation, stayed in the haunted house from 4 to 8 p.m., did a shift on the apple bobbers' line, made cup cakes, helped out with the handing out of bags of candies, pop, hot dogs, and made sure the coffee and tea never ran out. Thank you to Jason Vanfleet, Marion Roberts, Dot Roberts, JimBob Titus, David Everitt, Wayne Potoroka, Adam Roberts, Daniel Mason, Douglas Johnson, Charles Eshleman, Andrea Mansell, Mark Mohr, Paul & Kim Marceau, Rosealee & Jim Smarch, Sandra Juneby, Clara VanBibber, Denis & Adele Gauthier, L Whidden, Saskia Robbins, Rod Van Every, Angie Joseph-Rear, Pauline Frost and David Procee.

By the example of how our community came together to get this event off the ground made it much easier for our youths to celebrate this joyous occasion. A very good time was had by all. This annual event would not have been possible without the support and commitment from our many businesses, individuals, and volunteers. Our most heartfelt appreciation, thanks and gratitude go out to all participants.

Freda Roberts


First Hunt: A Cheechako goes Hunting

by Angela Rout

Young men at the First Hunt learn how to handle themselves and their equipment properly. Photo by Freda Roberts

Perhaps you would have had to have known my family to have understood the expression in their voices when I told them I was going hunting for Thanksgiving weekend. My parents are pretty used to my spontaneous escapades, but my uncle, (who is a lawyer) nearly fell over as he exclaimed "What! I thought she was a vegetarian!!"

Seven years of vegetarianism went under the rug after only one month in Dawson city, as I prepared to join other brave rookies and sourdoughs up the Dempster for this years First Hunt.

I knew little about what I was getting into. All I knew was that we were going north and I cant deny I was a little nervous as we drove out of Dawson which was still brown, towards the snow laden hills.

I learned a lot on that drive. I learned that when one is traveling with a hunter one must always look into the hills for game, or watch the road as there is a danger that the driver, staring off into the bush, may not be. I also picked up on a hint of hunter politics; a subtle code of hunter politeness and competition that invariably develops out of a long standing activity, such as hunting. I was eager to make a good impression and even though these codes are mostly impossible for a naive Cheechako like myself to follow, I dropped the binoculars I was using to watch a bull caribou across the plain, when someone said "Look the other way, that truckload coming towards us look like hunters."

That was the first Caribou I had seen through binoculars, when the road was clear. I probably divulged any chance at hiding my ignorance when I asked what that white fur was around his neck, but I was not alone in my interest. All five of us adults, experienced hunters and first-timers alike, stared out the window in awe as the animal made its way across the muskeg.

The camp was at Engineer Creek and looked pretty settled by the time we got there. The group had arrived the day before and already looked intimidatingly hardened after their first night. After my friend and I found a spot to set up I nervously noted that all the other tents were wall tents with stoves. The concerned looks from other campers, despite the spruce boughs we laid out on top of the snow for our bed, did not exactly comfort me either. We were offered space in a wall tent but oddly enough we refused it. We were going to tough it out. Well, it was not too bad I have to admit, but the next morning I felt like a real bush woman stomping into the cook shack. And most importantly, I now have bragging rights.

Even though the hunt was meant for the Tr'ondek Hwech'in youth we were graciously able to find space in a truck going north the next day. We set out to find Caribou, and after stopping in Eagle Plains for lunch, felt certain that we would find some. We were told of a small group that were hanging around just ten minutes further, but were also warned that there were plenty of other hunters out who had come south from Fort McPherson.

We spent the next few hours with our eyes glued to the hills, trying to avoid hunters. The place was busier than we expected, and even though two cows walked right by us, and we saw many carcasses beside the road, our group of trucks did not shoot anything, except the two grouse we were blessed to meet on the way up. The sunset was spectacular as the fog lifted on the way back, and we were able to squeeze in a short target practice with one of the rangers before making it back to camp.

I have to extend my greatest appreciation to the organizers of the First Hunt and to the Tr'ondëk Hwech'ïn First Nation. I learned more than I can tell in those few days: how to load a .22; what rabbit tastes like; the word for thank you in Han; that a bull Caribou has a white beard.

But the true recipients of this opportunity were most definitely the youth it was meant for. While I was busy looking after my own affairs, children and teenagers seriously learned how to take care of themselves in the bush. The youth learned the basics of camping out, putting up tents, and cooking for a large group. They listened carefully to a discussion on fire safety after a tent burned down; they developed their safety, and skill with firearms; and hopefully, learned respect for the land and animals that provided for them.

Without a doubt we all also had fun. Organized games and activities in the evening such as the tire pull, kick the can and three legged soccer definitely kept us laughing. Undoubtedly, a few of those moments will stay with us forever.

So, after my first Thanksgiving in Dawson I have to say I feel somewhat initiated into life in the north. And my family? Well, they still shake their heads but some have started to laugh when I phone them up and they get to listen, first hand, to the unexpected hunting tales of a true Cheechako.


Get Ready to Run the Percy!

DAWSON CITY, YT - The Percy DeWolfe Memorial Mail Race Committee announces the following details regarding our upcoming 2000 dog sled races:


TRAIL ROUTE: Dawson City to Eagle, AK on the Yukon river - Returns to Dawson, Total 210 miles

ENTRY FEES: $250 CDN before March 1, 2000 - $300 CDN from March 2 to 15, 2000 - ** Certified cheque or Money Order only by mail. Cash accepted at Driver's Meeting**

DRIVER'S MEETING: Wednesday, March 15, 2000 - 7 p.m., Conference Room - Downtown Hotel, Dawson

PURSE PAYOUT: $10,000 CDN (guaranteed) - pay to 10th place

NUMBER OF DOGS: Minimum - 6; Maximum - 9

BANQUET: Saturday, March 18

ADDITIONAL RACES: 10 mile dog sled race - mass start, 4-6 dogs, $50; 10 mile open skijor race - $15; Minimum age - 14 years; Saturday, March 18 start 11 a.m. on Ice Bridge in Dawson City

CONTACT: For entry forms write to: Percy DeWolfe Race, P.O. Box 133, Dawson City, YT Y0B 1G0. For a complete copy of race rules, please send $3 to above address, to cover copying and mailing costs.


Klondyke Centennial Society - Winter Projects & Events 1999

Nov 16, Tuesday: Planning Meeting - Millennium/Centennial Ball Feb 12, 2000. Brainstorming & Volunteer sign up. 7:30 p.m. at Centennial Centre

Nov 27, Saturday: International Year of the Older Person Luncheon,1:30 p.m. at Gerties - for more information call City of Dawson 993-7400

Dec 4, Saturday: Trinkee Zho Christmas Bazaar, 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Robert Service School. To book table call Leanne 993-5907

Dec 11, Saturday: Dawson City Merchant Promotions. Come out and Christmas Shop and Enter to win Prizes. Prize draws the Good Old Fashioned Christmas at Gerties. Good Old Fashioned Christmas - Diamond Tooth Gerties, 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Come and bring the family

Dec 31, Friday: Odd Ball - Dawson City Arts Society, 993-5005

Winter Photo Contest

The Klondyke Centennial Society and it's sponsors invite the Klondike Region residents to submit winter them photos or slides for judging. Deadline for entries: 4:00 p.m., Friday, April 28, 2000.

Categories: Landscape, Streetscape, Winter Event/Activity Rules: available at Klondyke Centennial Society. Interested in Judging or sponsoring a prize? Call 993-1996

Millennium Lights Contest

Dress up your yard/house for the Millennium/Christmas. Judging will take place early January 2000

Time Capsule

The KCS is putting together a time capsule for Discovery Days 2000 Celebrations in conjunction with the Tribute to the Miner Monument. If you have any suggestions or donations of time capsule items please contact the KCS.

For more information about these events please contact the Klondyke Centennial Society Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at 1082 3rd Avenue, Bag 1996, Dawson City, YT Y0B 1G0 Tel: 993-1996 Fax: 993-2002

Email: kcs@dawsoncity.net Web Site: www.klondike.com/gold


"Ladies...Lift Your Hoods"

by Rezelka D. Kind

The 2nd annual "Grease Monkey Girls" tune-up-your-vehicle event went off like greased lighting last month.

10 women converged on a lonely gravel cul-de-sac on the Old Klondike Highway after work on October 9, parked in a semi-circle, popped their hoods, and rolled up their sleeves.

Organized by Saskia Robbins, Events Coordinator for the Dawson City Women's Shelter, the afternoon provided an empowering and entertaining opportunity for women to learn hands-on how to do basic maintenance on their own cars and trucks.

Armed with the supplies Saskia had listed on the publicity flyer, women boldly began to change their oil, oil filters, fuel and air filters, rad fluid, fan belts, and spark plugs.

Lisa Hutton, a trained but not practicing mechanic, patrolled the area providing professional knowledge and practical suggestions for the women getting acquainted with the inner workings of their vehicles, and their own inner mechanics.

For some, it was the first time they had tackled a task like this, but even those with some experience had some new details to discover.

Saskia was ever-present, generously sharing advice, tools, and extra hands to women sprawled laughing under front ends, or crouched growling under hoods.

Tammi Wallace offered exuberant encouragement and assistance, while taking pictures of the grinning and increasingly greasy group.

There was some rage, wrench-wrestling, and cursing appropriate for a garage, but on the other side of struggle lay a proud sense of mastery.

"Well if I'd known it was that easy," someone commented, "I wouldn't have paid anyone else to do it."

On the other hand, as Shelly Brown pointed out, obviously deciding to look on the bright side of her battle with a spark plug, "it sure makes you appreciate your mechanic."

Dogs cavorted happily in the excited atmosphere of the outdoor garage, as women shared gloves, buckets, tools, and conversation. They laughed with glee or relief and proudly slapped dirty hands on their pants with satisfaction.

The "Grease Monkey Girls" afternoon was wrapped up with a potluck at Tammi Wallace's house with great food and hot chocolate.


Mickey Mouse in the Klondike

by Dan Davidson

Disney Artists of the 1930s envision a Klondike Dance Hall.

Sometimes it's hard to remember that the Klondike has been a topic of speculation and interest for a long time. Every so often, however, you run up against an item that underscores that fact.

Case in point: an aging, yellowing copy of a book called Mickey Mouse Movie Stories, Book 2, published in 1934 by the David McKay Company of Philadelphia under license from Walt Disney Enterprises.

The Reverend Ken Snider's copy of this book is battered and falling apart, with clear evidence that it was once held together by Scotch tape. The retired Anglican parish priest and current archdeacon thinks it's still a neat little book, for one reason if no other.

One of the stories adapted by the Disney Artists is a tale called "The Klondike Kid", proof that it wasn't only Uncle Scrooge who sought his fortune in Dawson.

Mickey's a piano player in the Klondike Dance Hall, a big building which strongly resembles Diamond Tooth Gerties in overall design. . He rescues a poor orphan girl (Minnie) and has to fight off Pierre, the Terror of the Northwest. There's a bar fight and a dog sled chase through the wilderness, as well as a showdown in a tumble down cabin on the side of a hill. Pluto save the day by becoming an out of control snowball.

It's all perfectly slapstick and crazy, and Dawson isn't mentioned once, but the writers of the cartoon nevertheless knew the words to conjure with and knew how to end a Yukon melodrama

"It had been a grand fight and another grand victory for Mickey Mouse, the Klondike Kid."


A Touch of Service at Gerties

by Dan Davidson

The boards at Diamond Tooth Gerties reverberated to steps of another kind as the Acting 11/12 class from the Robert Service School took over the space on October 22. It was their first production night of this academic year, and the room was packed by parents and friends fro the occasion.

In keeping with the school's name, the first two productions were renderings of tales from Robert Service. The format for these was similar. A reader from the class told the familiar tale while the others acted it out.

Michael Davidson read "The Shooting of Dan McGrew" as the class put the standard through its paces. Doug Fraser was the miner, Nathan Dewell was dealt the role of McGrew and Anna Vogt was the lady known as Lou. The story went well, with cap guns blazing as the lights went low and poke pinching right on cue.

Craig McCauley narrated the slightly less familiar tale, "The Ballad of Blasphemous Bill," which shares some features with the better known story of Sam McGee. In this tale a miner lives to regret swearing to a chum that he will see his last remains to a proper burial. Nathan Dewell played the narrator who had to harness his team, played with gusto by JayJ Flynn and Jason Johnson. and mush through the harsh winter to Bill's cabin, only to find an extremely stiff stiff, played by Michael Davidson.

The solution to his dilemma is as comical as that in Service's other burial poem.

The final, and longest, production of the evening was the play "An Old-Fashioned Soap Opera" by Paul Leslie. The playwright came up with every soap and detergent pun known to human kind ("let me hold your palm, Olive...") as well as a squeaky clean hero, Sudsly (Craig McCauley); a fair maid, Bubbles (Allie Winton); and a truly dirty villain, Filthy Freddie (Tyler Hunter).

An exuberant master of ceremonies (JayJ Flynn) kept the audience up to speed, with help from Jason Johnson on cue cards. Scene changes were handled while vaudeville style joking kept the audience amused.

Those students not involved in each production took their turns as stage crew, as well as handling the curtains, sound and lights.

The evening was a success, much to the credit of Mrs. Betty Davidson and her class: Michael Davidson, Nathan Dewell, Doug Fraser, Anna Vogt, Jason Johnson, JayJ Flynn, Spruce Gerberding, OJ Timms, Craig McCauley, Allie Winton, Tyson Knutson and Tyler Hunter.

In addition, several organizations made the evening possible. The Klondike Visitors Association made the stage available; LPV Productions loaned costumes and props; Lone Wolf productions allowed the use of its elaborate bar set. and stage sound equipment; Klondike National Historic Sites assisted with costumes.

The evening continued until late with a casino night for the adults, entertainment provided by various of the professionals and amateurs in the community.


Poem: Umbra

by Dan Davidson

On early winter
we chase our
down the street.

Cast askance by the
retreating sun,
they reach far ahead,
darkness yet to come.

November 6, 1999


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