|George Bownes stands before the remains of 300 or so tires set on fire at the Quigley Dump. Photo by Dan Davidson|
by Dan Davidson
The sign at the Quigley Dump is clear in its message: "Another name for unauthorized burning is ARSON." Either someone can't read or they just don't care.
The evidence was there on Sunday morning, October 26, live flames still flickering amidst the ashes and leftover metal coils from a 10 foot high mound of tires that used to cover an area 150 by 75 feet at the right hand side of the dump.
The residue of black ash and glowing metal was perhaps a foot high at the point, about 11 hours after person or persons unknown torched the lot.
George Bownes, the unofficial manager of the dump, says that two individuals and a dog parked their truck just outside the dump gates around 11 p.m. and made their way along the span of fence that blocks off the entrance, coming around it and up behind the tire pile.
He's guessing that they used a substantial quantity of gasoline to soak the tires on the bottom and then set them off. The "woof!" of the initial explosion woke Bownes and his dog, Lady, in the skid shack they occupy just inside the gates.
From what he could see, Bownes has made the assumption that he knows who started the fire, information he has passed on to the RCMP. He says he had had trouble with that same individual the week before and didn't think it would be at all safe to confront him at quarter past midnight. (Sunday morning was the time the clocks were turned back, so you can take your pick as to when this took place.)
The person he is thinking of was tremendously upset that the dump had set hours (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.) instead of being open all the time, that individuals were no longer able to set fires themselves, and that refuse had to be sorted. This man threatened to tear the gates off the dump if they were ever locked when he arrived there, and was generally quite abusive to Bownes.
Bownes' status as dump manger has not been formalized yet, according to city councillor Shirley Pennell, with the result that his situation is quite isolated. His 8 foot by 32 foot mobile shack is well heated, but has no power. There are therefore no lights to assist him in monitoring the scene at night, though generally his only after hours visitor has been a 700 pound bear. He also has no communications with the City of Dawson or other authorities, something that he believes will be amended soon.
In spite of continuous snow during the night the fire burned furiously, whipped about by the wind. Bownes describes it as having been like a black tornado at times.
It's estimated that 300 tires went up in smoke during that conflagration, but you'd never know it to look at the remains.
DAWSON CITY - The Klondike Visitors Association announces awarding of the Entertainment Contract for 1998-2000.
The KVA is pleased to announce that a one year entertainment contract with two option years has been awarded to Lone Wolf Productions. Lone Wolf Productions is an entertainment company headed by Lorraine Butler who played Diamond Tooth Gertie at Dawson's renowned gambling hall in 1990. Executive Director Denny Kobayashi said: "Lone Wolf delivered an outstanding proposal at a very competitive price. The company's principals have outstanding references and performance credits including seven years at the famous Fort Steele Show. Lone Wolf has engaged perennial talents Lloyd Nicholson and Eric Knight for the Diamond Tooth Gerties Show, costumer Sue Earl and Lorraine Butler will return in the role of Gertie. The Gaslight Follies will be produced by Joey Hollingsworth who is considered one of Canada's premiere tap dance talents and is just returning from a role in the Hot Mikado that was playing in Atlanta, Georgia."
The 1998 contract totaling $365,000 provides for the artistic development, production, direction and performance of shows. Lone Wolfs proposal was the most comprehensive and in the end they quoted the best price."
The quotes for 1998 were as follows: Lone Wolf Productions-$365,000, LPV Productions $445,876, Frantic Follies $475,000.
The profits from the operation of the Gaslight Follies Show and Diamond Tooth Gerties Casino are all re-invested in the community.
Lambert Curzon concluded by saying: "The Diamond Tooth Gerties Show will be building on last year's success, as the majority of the cast are returning with the welcome addition of Lorraine Butler as Gertie. The Gaslight Follies show will be changing dramatically. The show will be lighter, with more music, song, dance and comedy. We can't wait to get this show on stage!" Comments: KVA-Lambert Curzon 993-5342(w), 993-6227(fax). Lone Wolf Productions-Lorraine Butler (604) 594-8551.
by Dan Davidson
Piers McDonald learned first hand on his recent visit here that Dawson does not have the most convenient of airports.
"I've noticed that you can't always land here," he retorted, in answer to a question from local miner and farmer John Cramp.
Cramp was suggesting that it would be a good idea to relocate the airport to the Jackson Gulch area, thus avoiding some of the problems that the present airport has had for decades.
The discussion had moved to that subject after Cramp's assault on the current dump location at Quigley, a former gravel pit which was first transformed into a territorial dump for the Klondike Valley and then, this summer, into the official dump for the City of Dawson.
Cramp complained that the dump is less than 90 metres from Bonanza Creek and that the city had been "suckered" into becoming involved with it by YTG. In his opinion the "cesspool of chemicals" which has had time to collect during the ten years this area has been an uncontrolled dump poses a threat to the water system in the valley.
"I've watched all kinds of crap going in there over the years and I'm none too impressed," said Cramp, noting that the dump had the potential to create a "Love Canal" in the Yukon.
The government leader gave his assurances that the dumpsite must be a secure place or else it can't be used. "(It) must be safe regardless of the cost," he said, promising to look into Cramp's concerns.
McDonald was in Dawson to assess the community's priorities, and the newly elected mayor, Glen Everitt, lost no time in explaining what those were. Pointing to the schematics and drawings of the newly designed multi-use facility on the south wall of the room, he identified that project as the highest priority in town at this time, giving it precedence over a bridge or a second school.
The multi-use facility has been in discussion and planning for a decade now, and seems to have caught the attention of the community as a thing that needs to be done.
McDonald pointed out that his government was certainly willing to entertain this project, but that the outcome would depend entirely what the community finds itself doing with regard to secondary sewage treatment.
Secondary treatment, if it has to be implemented here, would be so expensive that it would kill nearly all other projects that might be on the table, including the multi-use facility.
"The capital cost of secondary sewage treatment is significant," McDonald said, "but the O & M cost is staggering. Even for us, it's an EVENT in our budget lines to face that kind of a cost.
"If we are forced to make this (sewage treatment) THE priority, in the interests of insuring that we meet our environmental obligations, then projects such as this," he waved a hand at the drawings, "which are highly desirable, will not be on the front burner."
Hotel owner Dick Van Nostrand suggested that the community was faced with "a physical and financial impossibility of dealing with our sewage situation inside the community parameters as they are. Just as we have concerns about a garbage dump, we can't put any kind of a sewage facility upstream."
Once of the obvious solutions, he said, was to make it possible (via a bridge, perhaps?) to move all of that sludge across the river to an area which would not effect the watershed which serves the population of the valley. He wanted to know if any of the federal infrastructure programs couldn't be used to address this need.
That's one option that the territorial and municipal governments hope to explore. Glen Everitt feels that this exploration would get further, faster, if not for the negative attention that Dawson has received from some federal officials stationed in Whitehorse.
Glenn Everitt maintains that some officials have, over the years, developed a "regulatory rather than a service oriented", attitude to the areas under their jurisdiction.
"We have quite a few of them in the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs. They are causing some havoc and it's to the point where it seems personal rather than following regs or guidelines."
While relations with federal departments at the Ottawa level seem to be good, the territorial level problems persist.
Everitt feels that DIAND's insistence that the Yukon River be posted as a health hazard right in front of Dawson during last summer was the reaction of certain Yukon representatives of DIAND who were concerned that the City's meetings with officials in Ottawa might be working, that the City might not be forced to meet the terms imposed by its last water licence.
"It was really embarrassing to our community, especially when...council was saying it wasn't all that bad. Tourists were being brought down to our river banks to use our new docks, to go out on fishing tours, and seeing health warnings not to be there."
Families were upset that children and dogs were not supposed to go near the river.
It was early October before the City learned two things. From the territorial department of Environment, it learned that DIAND had no authority or jurisdiction to require then to make such a posting. Environment told city officials to take the signs down and assured them that the river is healthy.
The concern was raised by Monna Sprokkreeff of the Klondike Placer Miners Association, that the Development Assessment Process might be used to create the same sort of regulatory mess if it were misused by certain people.
McDonald indicated that the purpose of DAP is to streamline, not to obfuscate, that it was intended to help development occur in the best ways possible, not to prevent it from occurring.
by Dan Davidson
What is the future of tourism in the Yukon now that the final Centennial Year is almost here and gone? After the Goldrush Tourists, what comes next? Government Leader Piers McDonald faced these questions during his recent public meeting in Dawson.
Both Mayor Glenn Everitt Everitt and Downtown Hotel owner Dick Van Nostrand expressed concern over rumours that tourism funding was going to be cut back and that department rolled into another government department, Economic Development, in the near future.
McDonald assured them that this was not the case. "In terms of any amalgamations, I'm not aware of that. I would have to approve it. If anybody is talking about that, they haven't talked to me about that, and I'm not considering it.
"In terms of funding...we're not reducing tourism funding. In fact, this month I'm going to asking for more money to fund the (air transportation of the Yukon) deal that was just negotiated with various partners."
Van Nostrand said that the Gold Rush theme of the past few years has been a hugely successful tourism draw, and the challenge now was to find a theme to follow it up.
McDonald said his government was "hustling" on this issue, as well as others related to economic development. He felt it was "no time...to hibernate", and that government needed to be pro-active in terms of building the economy.
But, in terms of tourism, he had to admit that there was no "obvious, new, big moment" on the horizon that we could celebrate.
"The Ice Age," Van Nostrand quipped to the general amusement of the audience and McDonald, who shot back, "It might come sooner than we think."
"The challenge for the entire territory," he continued, "is to engage in a focussed, disciplined discussion about who we are and what we want to say to the rest of the world."
Van Nostrand indicated that the money which has been spent on tourism promotion, small though it may have been on a global scale, has more than repaid itself in results, which have been excellent.
"It is a real challenge to find something that would carry the kind of banner that the Gold Rush has carried for the Yukon. In a lot of (tourism) fronts the Yukon has proven to be a world leader in what it's doing for a very small amount of money.
"I don't think it's any time to be drawing in our horns at all. It's a time to be even more aggressive than we have been."
"I can't agree with you more," McDonald replied.
by Dan Davidson
Watson Lake is, by all accounts, a community with an extremely high crime rate. Statistics indicate that the community of 1500 had 1700 crime files opened to cover activities there last year.
Desperation spurred invention and led to the formation of the Watson Lake Community Justice initiative. known in the area as Denakeh (The People's Way) Justice and administered by a combination of First Nations, non-native and other groups.
Dawson is a community which is getting to be fed up with its own criminal problems. Its last municipal council went so far as to propose a tough local bylaw to deal with young offenders and vandals of all ages. With the same mayor and two of the same council members still in office after the recent elections, it might be expected that some version of this bylaw may still surface in council debates.
Whether that happens or not, it has to be admitted that education and community involvement may be the real keys to breaking the ever-widening spiral of petty crime and vandalism which has so upset people here. There seems to be a general feeling that offenders need to face the consequences of their actions and victims need the closure that would come with a satisfactory resolution of the offences against them.
Finally, there is a general feeling, common to both communities, that the official justice system is taking too long to deal with these issues and is ineffective when it does.
With all this as background, it is perhaps no surprise that the two communities should begin to put their heads together. Citizens from Watson Lake were in Dawson on October 30 to share with a crowd of some 70 residents the experience they have had with a process known as Family Group Conferencing (FGC).
The evening began with a 17 minute video entitled "Real Justice", introducing a program which originated in New Zealand but has since migrated to parts of the United States and Canada. Community volunteer Cheryl Laing has been showing this video in small home meetings to various sectors of the Dawson population since last summer as a warm up to this meeting, which she put together with the assistance of the local detachment of the R.C.M.P.
On the panel to discuss the concept were Stuart Whitley, the Deputy Minister of Justice; Dan Ryan, a Whitehorse businessman and crime victim; Jeannie Norby, who runs the Watson Lake experiment; Constable John Skilnyk, from the Watson Lake detachment which supports it; Carol Cunningham, from YTG Youth Services; Michael Hanson from YTG Victim Services; Sgt. John Taylor, from the Dawson R.C.M.P.
Also present as resource persons were Judge Heino Lilles, Crown Prosecutor Tracey-Ann McPhee and Defence lawyer Peter Chisholm.
Whitley opened by conceding everything in the introduction to this article and passed the baton to Ryan, a reluctant FGC participant who testified that he had come away from his experience convinced that it was a good thing.
"It was the first time that I felt justice had been done."
Jeannie Norby, the interim facilitator for Denakeh explained how the program had begun among the Lower Post Kaska Dene first nation. It was, she noted, at arm's length from that council and not at all subject to its whims.
The Denakeh program runs diversion, community referral, and offender reintegration programs as well as being there to assist the victims of crime in dealing with their situations.
Cases are only accepted if the offender admits responsibility, the victim agrees to take this route, and the program has the resources which will enable it to carry through. Of the 43 referrals to the program over the last 7 months, 22 have had successful conferences and 13 have been sent back to the regular court system.
"We don't accept a conference just so someone can avoid going to court," Norby said. She added that she sees the Watson Lake/Lower Post area as a place with a lot of wide community divisions, and said, "If Watson Lake can do this I'm very sure that any community can."
Constable John Skilnyk was behind the program about 95%, though he did cite a few problems with liaison, communication and timing, most of which he felt could be solved if Denakeh simply had sufficient resources - meaning, for the most part, paid staff.
Key points for him were the level of victim satisfaction, the appropriateness of the sentences, the cooperation between the detachment and the program and the timing in the community, which had reached a level of frustration at which it was ready to try an alternative.
Carol Cunningham characterized Family Group Conferencing as being a form of restorative justice which emphasized accountability. Variations of this process, termed Youth Accountability Conferences, are being used at all levels of her department.
Michael Hanson praised FGC as a process which "brings closure to the experience of being a victim." It is able, he said, to begin faster than the regular courts, to support better and to arrive at a more satisfactory conclusion.
Another aspect of the program, stressed by all who spoke, was the degree to which it brought home to the offenders the real consequences of what they had done, made them face the personal pain of their victims and understand that they had been wrong.
All indicated that this is not a process that will work for everyone. Some individuals are simply resistant to this approach and need to go through the regular courts.
The panel faced a number of positive and interested questions from the 70 or so people in the Downtown Hotel Conference Room.
What resources were needed? Regular funding. Yes, said Stuart Whitley, the will was there to find that money, though it had to be found within other programs. One hope is that FGC might result in a reduction in costs within the regular system.
Recidivism rates? Judge Heino Lilles said the Watson Lake experience was too new to judge, but areas where this has been in place over time has noted 10% to 20% improvements in repeat offences, with some locales reporting as low as 5%.
The recidivism rate was, in his opinion, "the least of concerns." There were too many benefits for the entire community even without that as a bonus.
Family Group Conferencing, or some adaptation of it, might even find its way into the school system, where Lilles noted that a rising refusal to deal with offences as mere breaches of school rules has led to more kids being routed to the justice system.
Cheryl Laing indicated that this was one of her motives for getting involved in pushing this program.
"I was a parent volunteer last year and spent quite a bit of time in the (Robert Service) school. My respect for the teachers and administrators went way up because they certainly are coping and trying to cope with a lot of social behaviors which are very inappropriate. Their system, just like the justice system, doesn't lend itself easily to dealing with (that)."
She sees FGC as a tool which might be used to teach children how to avoid repeating the same mistakes and learn how to stay in school rather than learning how to get removed from it.
Laing reports that 36 of the people present at the meeting filled out the survey forms attached to their programs and 25 of those, representing a wide cross-section of Dawson society, indicated that they would be willing to participate in taking this experiment further.
Results like these can only delight the local police, whose chief, Sgt. John Taylor, informed the group that supporting initiatives such as this is official R.C.M.P. policy, handed straight down to the local level by "the head buffalo" about 18 months previously.
by Dan Davidson
Robert Service School's music program proved that it is alive and well even after a change of teachers during the first of its regular concerts on October 29. The Hallowe'en Concert contained a number of items with seasonal themes by vocal groups, as well as some standard learning fare from the bands.
The music department this year is split between Betty Davidson (at the primary and elementary end up to grade 4/5), and Shelly Rowe (handling Music 5&6, Band 7 and the grade 8/9 Junior Concert Band).
Every school needs to sing the national anthem a few times during the year, and the music classes are being trained to become the backbone of these occasions, so they got to practice the piece live as an opening to the evening's music.
Seasonal fare included a rhythm/singing piece entitled "Shell Out" by the Music 4/5 class, a round called "Hallowe'en" by Music 5 and little musical skit entitled "Boogie Woogie Ghost" by Music 6.
After the intermission, Band 7 opened with a recital of seven short pieces out of the class material they have been working on. For students who first picked up their instruments just six weeks ago, they managed quite creditable unison playing of six of the works and even slipped into some harmony on a rendition of "London Bridge."
The grade 8/9 students in the Junior Concert Band have a year or two under their belts already and can move into more complicated, longer works. Two of these, "Two Canadian Folk Songs" and "Westwind Overture" turned out very nicely. The final item, "Rock to the Max, Mr. Sax", signals Ms Rowe's intention to out together a small jazz band next year.
The next musical evening is slated for December 16, the week before Christmas Break. Well before that, culture lovers can look forward to an evening with the Fine Arts 11/12 and Music Theatre 8/9 classes when "Murder in the House of Horrors" comes to the school on November 28.
by Kathy Gates & Peter Menzies
Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers" said Educator Charles W. Eliot. This quote aptly describes the impact John Bilton's gentlemanly character had upon so many Dawson residents, and perhaps permits us to place him amongst the 'Classics' in our own memory shelves.
John Sproston Bilton died in Campbell river, B.C., on September 21 1997, after a brave battle with cancer. He was born in Toronto, Ontario on May 6 1934, the eldest of two sons of Gordon and Barbara Bilton. John joined the Canadian Army as a Private in 1951, seeing duty at Petawawa, Churchill, and Camp Bordon before being transferred to Camp Wainright, Alberta. He met and married his wife Joan on December 15 1956, in Edmonton, Alberta, and there began to raise a family.
Some of John and Joan's happiest memories were of the 3 years spent as a family in Germany when John was transferred to Soest and Lahr by the Canadian Armed Forces. Their European base enabled the young family to travel to many countries when time permitted.
John retired with the rank of Sergeant in 1971, and moved the family to Dawson City the same year. John had been appointed manager of the former DCW Trading Post, owned by Joan Bilton's sister and brother-in-law Evelyn and Hank DuBois.
John indulged in a variety of community interests, all of which he pursued with great commitment and energy. Initially, the Biltons could be found at the Curling rink where they were much sought-after for team competition. John had to curtail those activities by 1977 after knee problems sidelined him. So, he expanded his community horizons to include the City Planning Board, and the School Board, and was a long time member of the Library Board, becoming its chairperson in the late 1980's.
In the fall of 1977, John and Joan purchased the former "Butterworth's Store" (currently owned by The Raven's Nook) and renamed it "J & J Emporium" It was here that most people, who have recollections of John , are reminded of his 2 trademarks quips to the women and the ever present reading book at hand. A long time friend, Peter Menzies commented on John's qualities in a eulogy at the September 27 memorial service held at St. Paul's Anglican Church. Peter remarked that:
"There's a saying that "a good book is like a good friend", and John's passion for books and friendship is how I will best remember John. It didn't matter when or where, John was reading anywhere from 2 to 5 books. At the till of the J & J Emporium, at the table for two in the middle row of the Downtown Hotel Dining Room, in his car on the Top of the World Highway while Joan and Wendy picked berries, and of course, at home late into the early morning."
"John had a very distinct reading style. Wherever I interrupted his reading, it was the same...the book was out in front, he was motionless except for page turning and I could never tell if he was looking through or over his glasses. Then the book would slowly close, he'd raise his head to make eye contact and he would burst into life with something crazy to say and always a big smile and a handshake.
For every book, there was a family, friend and someone he touched. Because he was accessible at his store and later, at the Library, people were drawn to John. He had the ability to make people feel special when they were around him and many women are sure to remember some of his trademark greetings such as "Hello Good Looking" and "Don't you look beautiful today?", and the one he reserved for a select few of his friends, an angry "What do you want now ? " followed by the big smile."
The J & J Emporium was sold in November 1989, and in August 1990 a new dimension was added to John's life, when he was appointed to the job of Community Librarian. Small children have fond memories of the warmhearted Clown at Halloween, while their parents remember the rich tones of his voice as he read to their youngsters during Story Hour. Other staff and volunteers recall how much John was at home in the Library. The potted plants responded to his care and thrived, and Halloween and Christmas decorating were equally as important as was care and conversation with the Library fish. He was known to comment favourably, and otherwise, on books selected, and would engage a reader in discussion about the merits of various authors.
A JP for the Yukon Territorial Court for 10 years, John was sworn into office on 25 February, 1980. He stepped aside, after 10 years, during the summer of 1990, having trained successfully at all three levels of Training Sessions. John was known and respected for his dedication, integrity fairness, ability to listen and realistic approach. When he took office, the remuneration was five dollars an hour, and there being no Court Clerk, the local JP's had to fill in all forms. As JP, he had the authority to marry people, a responsibility he undertook with great delight. Resplendent in his JP robes, John could be found in Halls, at the Theatre, Robert Service Cabin and other locations, bringing residents or visitors together, in holy matrimony.
John's love of people was genuine. He celebrated other people's successes, shared in their losses and made a point of caring. This point was driven home to Peter Menzies this past July when John returned for a Dawson visit. John remembered so much about people, important things in their lives and how it impacted upon him. This was at a time when some knew John had had a tough year, health wise, but hardly a word about his own condition.
When John wasn't avidly reading, he was equally happy collecting and talking stamps, with anyone who shared his interest. Other hobbies included music, gardening and golf, the latter becoming a reality for John, when in May 1993 he retired from his Librarian's role, and moved to Campbell River, BC. where there was access to year-round golf, and where he opened a Kitchen Shop called "The Peppercorn.
As a result of his visit to Dawson this past summer, John's friends and family feel that he is now at peace. They are grateful that he returned for what turned out to be the last chapter in his own Dawson book; and like any good book, John's memory will stay in our own libraries and we are all so very fortunate for having known him.
John Bilton was predeceased by his wife Joan in April 1991, and his father Gordon Bilton. He is survived by his son Mark, (Darra and grandchildren Brett and Kelsi) of St. Albert, Alberta, and daughters Wendy Bilton of Dawson, and Shelley (Tom) Varga of Campbell River, BC.; his Mother, Barbara Bilton of Collingwood, Ontario, and brother David, (Noreen and nieces Tracy and Heather), of Ajax Ontario; sister-in-law Evelyn Dubois, of Dawson City (nephew Marvin, Ike and Rachelle) of Leven, Belgium, and nieces Karen (Nicky and Amy) and Carmen (Irwin) of Dawson City; and sister-in-law Pegi Eccleston and niece Phaedra of Vancouver, BC.
by Rosemary Graham
Public Health Nurse
November 20th is National Child Day across Canada, a day set aside for taking time to recognize the value of our children and the importance of childhood.
The theme of this year is, "Children's Right to be Heard and Considered". This theme refers to one of the particular groups of rights that children are entitled to. According to child counselor Deanna Tognela, "Listening to a child lets you learn about yourself, about them, it gives you new insights and lets you understand how they see the world."
"Sitting down and listening constructively and non-judgmental to a child can have a tremendous impact on their feelings of self esteem and in the development of their self-image. That, in turn, contributes to the development of their self image. That, in turn, contributes to the development of a more healthy and well rounded child."
To listen and really hear our children is a challenge on a busy day. Perhaps on this day, November 20, we can be a little less busy. Let's take some time to just be with out children. We don't have to spend money, be entertaining or even do anything. Just be with them. Take time to listen to what they say about what is important to them, about fun, friends family, about being a child in Dawson. If we can stop talking, entertaining, and problem solving, and start really listening to our children, we may just find that they are wiser than we thought.... that answers to some of our concerns are right in front of us. We just have to listen.
The next planning phase for the New Recreation Centre started November 9, 1997 and we will now addresses the important issues of Operations and Maintenance. This winter we will determine how to best earn enough revenue to operate the Centre on a permanent basis. This is done in a number of inter-related steps:
The results of this work will determine the size of what Phase I of the construction will be.
There are essentially three options:
The goal is to determine which option is feasible by the Spring, 1998.
by Joanna Lilley
Sun London Correspondent
The Yukon is twice the size of Great Britain. That probably doesn't sound particularly interesting until you realise that the population of Britain is almost 60 million compared to just 31,600 in the Yukon. No wonder people here are driving each other off the roads in rage and are no longer able to walk along sidewalks in a straight line.
(Actually, we call sidewalks pavements here which is the name I believe you give to road coverings which we call Tarmac.)
It's true. If you walk in Oxford Street, London's most popular shopping street which specialises in the tacky, you have to weave and duck so much you end up walking ten times as far - it would be great exercise if there wasn't so much pollution belching out of the taxis and red buses in traffic jams two feet away. Getting from a shop to the one next door can take half an hour so you end up rescheduling your whole day just because you wanted to pop into Woolworths to buy a new pen.
As a bit of a granola type, or what the British would call a 'crank', I don't own a car and like to cycle everywhere as much as I can wearing bright colours. In more sombre clothing, I cycled right across Canada in 1991 which is how I came to discover Dawson City just in time for the Klondike Days celebrations.
(Ed Note: Easy folks. She'd been through Edmonton, too, and it's easy to get confused, which is what we keep complaining about.)
In fact, a particular memory is waiting for a shop to open to buy a spare spoke for my bicycle as one had suddenly broken halfway along the Klondike Highway, a road not known for its bicycle shops.
In Dawson, there were only two places that could help, one shop opened up specially for me but didn't stock any spokes while the other didn't open until about five o' clock in the afternoon. That shop didn't stock spokes either but it had plenty of videos for sale.
In the end, a blue-eyed man at the tourist information office rang Inuvik for me and placed an order. By the time I got there 10 days later the spokes had been flown in. I was impressed.
Cycling in London is a little different. Shiny black taxis play games with me; a favourite of theirs which I have to admit I'm not terribly keen on, is to see how close they can drive without actually knocking me off. Some of them are better than others. The big red double decker buses seem to prefer a different game: they like to pretend I'm not there at all.
A few weeks ago, the pollution got so bad in Paris, France, they had to ban all cars with odd numbered licence plates for a day. Seriously. When you are here, Dawson City might as well be on a different planet. Sometimes I shut my eyes and imagine I'm staring at the muddy sluggish Yukon River or walking along the soft boardwalks in your neon-free streets.
Back in the summer of 1991, I fell in love with Dawson City when I was cycling by road from the bottom of Nova Scotia to Inuvik, NWT. 5,885 miles corner to corner. I often have a look at the Klondike Sun web page and wish I was there, catching the ferry across the river or sitting on the edge of town eating maple syrup and pancakes for breakfast.
Ed. Note: Joanna e-mails us from England, where she works "as press officer at one of Britain's leading universities, Imperial College in the heart of London." In her spare time she's a freelance writer and, obviously, an avid cyclist. We'll be hearing from her from time to time.
by Dianne Marangere
Vous aimez la musique? Besoin d'un(e) animateur(trice) de radio,une heure par semaine (ou plus) sur les ondes de la radio communautaire de Dawson. Pour plus d'info appelez au 993-5929.
Le Club Français "Joie de Vivre" se déroulera au Centre de Jeunesse. Le focus : activités pour les jeunes. Inscription: 29 Nov. entre 1-3 hr PM
Il y aura une table de reservée pour la vente de tourtières,recettes traditionnelles, livres en Français...
Les cours "introduction a l'intèrnet" en Français débuterons en Janvier '98.
Il y aura un Café rencontre a l'Eldorado ( salle à diner ) Lundi,le 17 nov.7-8 PM, pour rencontrer Caroline Boucher de l'AFY de Whitehorse, Maurice Morin, réalisateur pour "ONF" L'Office National du Film et Charles Lavacq, cinéaste, Production Rivard du Manitoba.Le trio travaille sur un projet documentaire en Français. Bienvenus.
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