|Two Grade 1 students lay a wreath in memory of Canada's military veterans. Photo by Dan Davidson|
Welcome to the November 21, 2003 edition of the online Klondike Sun, which reproduces a selection of the photographs and articles from the November 17 hard copy edition.
The hard copy also contains Doug Urquhart's famous "Paws" cartoon strip, our homegrown crossword puzzle, and obviously, all the other material you won't find here.
We encourage viewers of this website to consider subscribing to the Sun. It would help us financially and you would get to see everything closer to when it's actually news. The only thing you would not get is the colour photo at the beginning of the on-line issues. We can't afford to print in colour.
Since we went online in March 1996 our counter has crashed a number of times. The first counter logged about 25,000 visitors. The second one, which crashed in late March 2003, logged about 51,000. The current counter went online in April 2003 and was sitting at 17,523 on December 13, 2003.
Note to Torfinn D: We don't have your land address. We'd love to send you a tax receipt for your contribution, but we can't do that without it.
by Dan Davidson
Remembrance of those who have served was the theme of joint services at the Robert Service School at 11 a.m. on November 7. Staff decided some years ago that the two divisions of the school can appreciate an event like Remembrance Day in two different ways, and so two separate services are held to mark this celebration.
In the Ancillary Room Kindergarten to Grade 6 met with Vice-principal Maggie Mann to hear Legion member John Gould speak on the meaning of the Tuesday holiday. The school choir led in the singing of "O Canada" and presented a special anthem, "One Wish ". A pair of students from each grade laid a symbolic wreath at the front of the room.
Meanwhile, in the gymnasium next door, the school band led the National Anthem and presented the traditional hymn, "Abide With Me". Legion member Chuck Margeson, Pastor Ian Nyland and Principal Denis Gauthier led the service with the Grade 7 to Grade 12 group.
by Dan Davidson
Remembrance Day is primarily set aside to commemorate the lives of those in uniform who have suffered and died in the service of our nation, whether that be in wars or peace keeping assignments abroad. But, as Member of Parliament Larry Bagnell noted at the ceremony in Dawson City on Tuesday, it can also be a time to be grateful that we are not one of those countries where peace is just a word.
Bagnell opened his remarks by noting that it was fitting that he should be in Dawson this year, the Klondike capital having been one of those places from which regiments went forth to fight the Great War. It was to celebrate the Armistice of November 11, 1918, that this holiday was originally created.
Dawson, he said, has always been noted for its volunteer spirit, and this was also true when it came to serving the country in combat.
The anecdote at the core of Bagnell's message for the packed Robert Service School gymnasium was of a little girl who asked her mother what the aeroplane was in the sky for. The mother responded that it was either the bad guys coming to bomb them, or the good guys looking for the bad.
We should be thankful, he said, that we live in a nation where we do not have to wonder about things like that. He then listed a dozen places in the world where this would not be the case, choking a little as he remembered the danger in the Middle East, not only to our own soldiers in Afghanistan, but to our civilians in Saudi Arabia.
Even those who have done nothing to deserve it can be the unwitting victims of the search for those who have, Bagnell said, citing the case of Palestinian citizens who have been killed while terrorists were being hunted by helicopter and, of course, Israeli civilians who suffer weekly from suicide bombings and shootings.
Bagnell was among those, along with MLA Peter Jenkins and town councillor Wayne Potoroka, who laid wreathes during the ceremony, following the traditional prayers, the two minutes silence and an anthem from the school choir. Wreathes were also laid by representatives from the school, the choir, the Klondike Visitors Association, the Rangers and Junior Rangers, the Yukon Order of Pioneers, Pioneer Women of the Yukon, both local fire departments and others.
After the main ceremony in the school, the colour guard of RCMP and Rangers marched to the cenotaph in Victory Gardens, where they set the wreathes around the monument and sang the National Anthem.
by Dan Davidson
Dawson's new town council looks much like its old one, except for one new face. The entire group, with the exception of Mayor Glen Everitt, was sworn in at the November 10 meeting. Everitt had been sworn in days after the election so that he could continue to represent the town at the arbitration hearings which have been taking place in Vancouver before and after the election.
The council now consists of Mayor Glen Everitt, full time mayor; Byrun Shandler, a Parks Canada employee; Wayne Potoroka, a Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in employee; Joann Van Nostrand, co-owner and operator of the Downtown Hotel; Bill Holmes, an employee of the Klondike Visitors Association.
No sooner had they been sworn in than council performed its first civic duty by getting flu shots administered on camera, to aid in the promotion of this program in the community.
Member of Parliament Larry Bagnell, who was slated to speak at the next day's Remembrance Day Service, greeted the council and congratulated them on their success in getting elected, and on their successes so far as members of council. Everitt is in his fourth term as mayor; Van Nostrand is in her third, while Shandler and Potoroka are in their second. Holmes is the new man at the table.
by Dan Davidson
Mayor Glen Everitt had a word of advance warning for community groups used to receiving grant funding from Dawson's council at the November 10 council meeting.
Though the town had created, under YTG supervision, a seven year financial plan which saw it managing spending, generating a surplus, and maintaining aid to local organizations, the recent changes in the role and person of the territorially appointed municipal supervisor might mean that things would have to change.
Everitt said he was getting the word that the government was not satisfied with the financial plan, even though a previous supervisor had already signed off on it, and he was receiving signals that the YTG would like to see the town pay off its borrowing more quickly than it had budgeted to do in the plan.
Everitt maintained that YTG currently owes large sums of money to the town, for such things as the homeowners grant (which the town pays out and then gets back from the territory), the management of the Quigley Landfill, and other things.
"This council will be the one to have to look at the way we have distributed funds. We hand out per capita more money to community groups than any other town in the Yukon."
He cited the major grants that go out to organizations like the Klondike Visitors Association, the Dawson City Arts Society and the Dawson City Chamber of Commerce.
If YTG puts the screws on, he said, the ability to give out these grants might vanish. Organizations that receive money from the town need to be prepared to support the town in its negotiations with the senior level of government.
by Dan Davidson
It's been city hall. It's been office space for the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in. It's been home to the public library, YTG offices, YTG staff housing, the liquor store and Yukon College. It's been considered and ruled out as additional space for the Robert Service School. It's been condemned more than once and for several years now, it's been sitting empty.
But now the white building on the corner of Queen Street and Third Avenue is bustling with activity once again. The Old Liquor Store, for that was the main function of the half the building for many years, is getting a make over.
Rumours of its resurrection were a bit premature a month or so ago, but with the announcement of this round of Community Development Fund grants from the territorial government, the waiting is over. $377,195 has been passed over to the Dawson City Arts Society to turn the building into part of its expanding sphere of operations.
DCAS, which is the parent body of the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture and the Odd Gallery, has already proven its ability to take an old, discarded building and make it into something special. The rebirth of the Oddfellows' Hall, which turned a crumbling hulk into one of the most used buildings in town, was nothing short of spectacular.
According to Gary Parker, the executive director of DCAS, the money in this grant will cover phases one and two of a five stage project. The interior of the building, which was fairly open on the ground floor but divided up into small offices on the second, will be gutted. The foundation will be exposed, the building moved into the street and the foundation replaced.
Since this is a five phase project which will eventually see a second structure erected to house Yukon College (if an agreement is reached on this, Parker adds) beside the present building, the entire foundation area will be prepared now.
According to John Mitchell, the head of Han Construction, which has the contract for the work, this will include the area which used to contain the old fire hall as well as the parking lot beside the building. In his view, it was the foundation which was the weakest part of the Old Liquor Store. The rest, while hardly attractive, was solidly built.
Parker notes that this will essentially prepare the building to be reconstructed as useful program space. The total cost of the first two phases will be approximately $450,000, with most of that being covered by the CDF grant. Funding for phases three and four has yet to be found, fund raising efforts and a search for federal grant money are both under way.
Completion of phases one through four is anticipated to cost about $1 million, and Parker says that DCAS wants to see all of this done, its curriculum design completed, and its expanded program under way by September 2005.
Phase five would be the Yukon College addition, bringing an end to the college's long search for a permanent home. Since the College and KIAC already collaborate on such projects as the Arts for Employment Program, this combination, which would allow them to share the original building's new mechanical systems as well as instructional space and equipment, is a natural development.
"We'd love to see it happen," Parker said, "but as yet there's no commitment."
DCAS, through its KIAC program arm, already offers courses related to the arts in drawing, video production, photography and computer design. Some of these are offered separately and others are bundled into the eight month Arts for Employment Program. KIAC also organizes a territory-wide week long program of intensive art studies for high school students throughout the territory, which usually takes place in November, as well as a short film festival over the Easter long weekend.
DCAS also operates the Odd Gallery through a separate committee, offering a changing series of gallery exhibits or roughly a monthly basis, as well as sponsoring a year round Artists in Residence Program which operated out of Parks Canada's Mccauley House. The annual Yukon Riverside Arts Festival brings together artists from all over the territory during the Discovery Days festivities.
All of this is quite ambitious for an organization that opened its doors in 1999, but Parker says KIAC has bigger plans, and it is to carry those out that it needs more space.
The program it wants to launch in September 2005 is a one year certificate in Foundation Arts, which would then lead to a complete Fine Arts degree to be finished elsewhere.
"We see this as a unique, Yukon developed diploma leading to a Bachelor of Fine Arts," Parker said.
KIAC is talking with Yukon College about accreditation, and has developed contacts at the Alberta College of Art and Design, UBC and others, in order to come up with transferable credits. This has been the main drawback of the Arts for Employment program so far, though that has led to jobs and has proven to be a stepping stone for people moving on to further education.
"We hope that the two programs will complement each other and we hope to be able to carry them both on. Obviously the space will assist us, because right now we're bursting at the seams.
"We want to be able to meets regional student needs but also to attract Outside students."
As it grows, Parker says the DCAS board would certainly want to see the foundation program become a two year diploma, but that might be five to ten years away.
"Eventually, we'd like to see a full degree program offered within the Yukon, but that speaks to the broader scope of our initiative."
That would mean more buildings. DCAS has always indicated that it would like to develop more partnerships with Parks Canada to make use of some structures that are essentially empty except for historical storefront or window displays. One such could be the old home of the Dawson Daily News, which could accommodate print making and printing facilities in the rear of the building.
In the meantime, this CDF grant allows for some progress to be made as well as providing a winter works program for some 30 people. The YTG press release indicates that phases one and two will create about 3900 hours of employment in a slow season.
While there have been some complaints about the way in which funding has come from YTG to DCAS since the election of the Yukon Party Government a year ago, it should be noted that the present government is the third in a row, all of different political colouration, to place faith and money in the hands of the DCAS/KIAC organization. Funding to rebuild the Oddfellows Hall came from the NDP. The Liberals were in negotiation with DCAS over the same sort of deal now in place at the time when they lost power. The promise to support DCAS still further was made openly by current Health Minister Peter Jenkins while he was campaigning here in 2002, and both of his opponents supported the concept in theory, even if they didn't actually make promises.
Even with the commitment, Parker said, the path to getting the money was not a straight one. The initial proposal to YTG last spring was returned to DCAS for fine tuning. Parker describes it as an uphill struggle, but one which was ultimately successful.
Parker also noted the strong support DCAS has had from the City of Dawson, in the form of over $250,000 in grants over the last three years.
by Dan Davidson
When officials from Canada Post sat down with the folks from Talmark Construction to mull over the plans for Dawson's new post office a year or so ago they obviously didn't take close look around the lobby to see how people were using the old one.
One of the most prominent features of the old building on Fifth Avenue was the great number of notices and posters pinned up in every space that could possibly contain them. The post office in Dawson is a community bulletin board, a meeting place for ideas and promotions.
The end result of this failure to pay attention was a lobby with only the bare minimum of bulletin board space. In no time flat the available walls were full of public notices, goods and services for sale, community event posters and news from the animal shelter. The lack of space meant that everything was crowded together, overlapping and generally not as easy to read as it all might have been.
Locals can breathe easy. The problem has been solved by two local business persons who prefer to remain anonymous. They purchased the material to put up more framed cork board and hired a contractor to do the work, overseeing the job themselves.
Postmaster Lambert Curzon would like very much to publicly thank these community minded individuals, who picked up the ball when others let it drop, but they've threatened dire reprisals if their names get used.
Curzon said the contractor apparently didn't do it because it wasn't part of the job, and Canada Post didn't want to spend the money because the corporation is just leasing the Third Avenue building.
He's happy that the problem has been solved. It ends the complaints he was getting from all sides and allows his outlet to be of greater service to the community.
by Dan Davidson
Work is underway at the old Clinton Creek mine site to head off any possibility of flood and environmental damage that might be created if a man-made lake there should suddenly be flushed into the surrounding area.
Hudgeon Lake, a narrow, deep water body containing 12 million cubic litres of water in its 27 metre depth, is the subject of a $1 million project being overseen by three levels of government.
Between 1968 and 1978, before the market for asbestos dried up, the Clinton Creek mine was a mainstay of the Klondike region's economy. Opening, as it did, just a few years after the Yukon Consolidated Gold Corporation ceased operations here, this new mine provided jobs for Dawsonites at a time before the tourism boom began to have its full impact on the town.
The mine's townsite, located about 100 kilometres from Dawson City along an access road leading off the Top of the World Highway, was known as Clinton Creek and provided Dawson with a companion community as well as employment opportunities.
Cassiar Asbestos Corporation moved some 12 million tonnes of serpentine ore from its three open pits for shipment to its sister operation and processing plant in Cassiar, B.C., leaving behind 60 million tonnes of waste rock and 12 million tonnes of tailings.
The mine has been gone for 25 years. The townsite has been sold off and a good many of the buildings ended up in Dawson City. The environmental memory of this project, as with others of that era in Faro and Mayo, lingers on.
Recently, another step in the stabilization of the mine site was completed under the direction of the joint federal-territorial-first nation project. This involved the stabilization of Hudgeon Lake, the name given to a reservoir created in 1974 when the waste rock pile sloughed off to one side, blocking the normal flow of Clinton Creek and, in the words of the project report, "creating a landslide dam and a reservoir now referred to as Hudgeon Lake."
The danger is twofold. First, the dam which created the lake is creeping and could potentially let go under certain natural high water conditions. Second, the water in the diverted creek is seeking its own lower level and is eroding its way back towards the dam, threatening to undermine it.
Should the water escape, there are several problems that could occur, according to John Mitchell, with Han Construction, who has been involved with the project.
The first would be the fact of a flash flood heading towards the Fortymile River, washing away the sediment which forms part of the fish habitat. The second would be the composition of the water, which does contain asbestos fibres as well as a solution of hydrogen sulphide.
A stable Hudgeon Lake apparently poses no problem. The water has settled in layers. Mitchell says that studies have shown that the top 2 metres of the lake are fine and actually can sustain a fish population. The bottom 25 metres have increasingly greater concentrations of hydrogen sulphide as you do down. The gas reacts with water to lower the oxygen content. The fish must avoid it or drown.
Mitchell says he was told by hydrologists that the lake is peculiar in that it has no vertical circulation, which would usually blend the layers of the solution. Over 1500 fish were removed from the lake to other habitat last year.
The first priority of the project has been to stabilize the channel by means of a series of terraced gabion weirs, baskets filled with cobbles and sitting on top of geotextile, which is itself on a gravel bedding. The gabion weirs direct the flow of the water, limiting its force and velocity, and providing, as the study says "energy dissipation between each step as the water travels through the structure."
The baskets will flex without losing their structural integrity, and should actually become stronger as the spaces between the cobbles fill up with fine silt.
Construction of this first phase took place just over a year ago, in 2002 and was inspected by officials from DIAND, YTG and the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in in October.
Much work remains to be done on the site over the next few years.
by Palma Berger
It is midnight and the narrator sits by the grave of George Carmacks. She says, "Hi George. I am sorry for waking you up, but I would like you to tell me about when you actually discovered gold."
George seems amenable, and replies, "Wait a moment. I have to stretch my skeleton a bit. I am a bit stiff you know after all this time "
So begins the author's conversation with George Carmacks' ghost. Carmacks relates to her the way life was way back then. She in turn informs him of what has been happening in Dawson City in the last few decades. She mentions this or that building has burnt down.
"Oh, yes," says Carmacks. "There were a lot of fires in Dawson in my day." Carmacks shows much interest in present day Dawson. Through this conversation the author, Alena Kennedy, tells the story of the gold rush and its affect on this area, as well as the changes.
This is one of several stories that Kennedy has written over the years. Her stories of the Yukon have proved popular as she has read them to friends or posted them on their web-site that many pressured her to put them together in a booklet.
This is what she has done.
Alena and husband are originally from the Czech Republic. She met her husband to be when they were both attending a reunion of the Tramps' in Vancouver. This organization was a loose organization of people with a love of nature and with a spirit of adventure. It survived the years of Communist control , and the friends still keep in touch. Alena accepted the invitation to look him up when she came on her planned visit to Dawson that summer, Alena joined her husband to be in Dawson City for one summer. But she fell in love with the place and himself. They married and in 1985 Alena moved to Bear Creek with him..
Alena readily admits, "What I loved most here was our life at the fish camp.
"Dawson City has a very special spirit", she adds, so she was content to move here.
In her home country she had done some writing and had won some contests with her writing, so it was in her blood to record the life here. The life that was so very different to what she had experienced before.
She had been scribbling her stories down as they moved her. Unfortunately for us these stories are in the Czech language. But the stories of life here and the adventures and dreams of its inhabitants have been recorded.
The illustrations for her stories have all been done by her gifted husband who is quite an artist. He records the dog team on the frozen river being watched by a lone wolf on a high outcrop. But there is also humour. Alena's story of the time the bear stole the sandwich from their sleeping child, Mischa , and how the bear also found a book which he started to devour, is written as such. But in the illustration the bear has donned spectacles and is devouring the book as literature while he munches on the sandwich.
There are tales of the Yukon Quest, and the year the brave completed the race despite the blizzards and cold. There is the Percy De Wolfe Race that also ran despite the weather.
There' the story of Frank Narozny's luck. When he was canoeing from 60 Mile early one morning at break up, his canoe tipped and he was swept along among the floating ice. But he was caught in an eddy near Dawson. At that early hour of the morning there was someone around, and he was hauled to safety.
Joe Henry is in a story. Moose are there. Cow moose. Bull moose. It is not all about nature, as the author returns to town to relate the story of the The Sourtoe Cocktail. This is a life and surroundings that may seem out of this world to city dwellers.
While the George Carmacks story is the most popular, the others are also devoured.
The family went to the Czech Republic last winter. Here she oversaw the printing of her booklet of stories. At the launching of her collection in Prague there were 300 people present, which was not bad when one considers her home town is Brno. At the launching there were 200 booklets sold on that one evening. Her booklets were carried in three stores and were sold out before long.
Life has changed for her, as she says, "Life was very simple here at first." The writer of the prologue pointed out that "Now they have electricity and a computer in their log cabin". Indeed this is how the stories and illustrations were sent to Prague for the publishing of the booklet, all by e-mail..
But it is not the end of the stories. A publishing house that specializes in adventure books has asked her to add more stories to this lot and they will expand them into a hard cover edition.
When this happens it means there will be an international author at Bear Creek.
by Dan Davidson
Nowhere can the learning process be seen in greater relief than in a high school band concert. This was once again demonstrated on October 30, when the Band 7 through 12 classes took to the stage in the Ancillary Room at the Robert Service School.
Band 7 deals with elementary concepts. Most have never touched a wind instrument before then begin their instruction. Band 8 kids are a lot further along, but still in early days. No surprise then, that the tunes in this portion of the concert are pretty simple things, a lot of them featuring the same notes in fairly standard time, but in different arrangements: "Go Tell Aunt Rhodie", "London Bridge", the timeless Mozart melody of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star".
What may not be obvious to the listening parents is that these classes do not normally meet together, have learned these tunes separately, and have only had a few practices together. Considering that, the results are impressive.
When the evening moves to the Band 9-12 group, the results are even more impressive. Most of the grade 12s had to skip a year of music due to a scheduling conflict last year, so they're picking it up again and working with the grade 10s and a few 11s. The Grade 9s have their own class. Once again, they only come together in extra practices to get ready for events like this one.
That said, their joint performance of such tunes as Grieg's "Peer Gynt Suite", Pachelbel's "Canon", "Promised Land", "March Zuma" and the eerie "Wild, Wild Witches" was worth hearing.
by Dan Davidson
Sharon Siamon almost didn't make it to Dawson City, Indeed, when the Air Canada jet she was flying on lost an engine, she wasn't sure about making it to Whitehorse. After that the fog kept her out of Old Crow and her Children's Book Week Yukon tour was beginning to look a bit frazzled.
Fortunately, November 3 saw an improvement in the weather.
This is not unlike her writing career, which almost didn't get off the ground when a publisher rejected her much slaved over first middle reader book. She managed to talk them into a look at another draft and The Strange Lake Adventure stayed in print for 25 years after that.
That was 28 books ago, and Siamon hasn't looked back since 1979. Though writing is, she says, never easy, it's rewarding and it's enabled her to make a decent living doing something she loves to do.
She said that university almost ruined her forever, that it sucked all the joy out of reading and writing and left her intimidated.
"I had to rediscover that writing is play." It took some years.
Making a go of it in Canada alone might be difficult, but her books have been picked up in Germany and in the Scandinavian countries, where readers young and old are hungry for work about the Canadian north and the wilderness. She's lived in a couple of northern places, as far north as just south of Hudson's Bay, and she's always wanted to come back.
She said the north has a quality of light and atmosphere that is just made for storytelling and she's found that people love to read about it.
"I was a readaholic," she told the dozen people from 14 to 70 something who turned out to her writing workshop at the Dawson Community Library that night. "I read when I was supposed to be doing anything else."
Writing professionally came a bit later, though Siamon was one of those people who go through early life composing a continuous narrative about their own lives and weaving fantasy elements into it. She was also a journal keeper, and amused her audience by telling about the day she had to chose between letting go of her journal or her brother while climbing a hill as a youngster.
She says that one day on a bus she told herself she had to stop fantasizing or she'd never get anywhere in life. For awhile that was her credo, but she came to her senses later on.
It was while she was teaching in northern Ontario that she wrote her first book. She says she was a bad teacher, terribly disorganized, but the job gave her the raw material for her novel.
Siamon has moved a lot in her life, 22 times, she told the group. So it was no surprise when the first writing assignment of the evening was to begin a story about moving. The next was to write a scene about being lost. The last was to be about getting a new family member, perhaps a pet.
Each member of the group wrote for a few minutes and most shared something of what they had written with the others.
Siamon advised removing adverbs whenever possible, keeping the sentences simple but with a rhythm. Writing on a computer, she said, tends to frustrate this process for her and lets her repeat words and phrases without realizing she's done it until she sees the hard copy.
Always read over your work, she said, out loud if possible.
If you get to the stage of thinking you're ready to write professionally, she offered five tips.
Sharon Siamon's books are aimed at the 8 to 12 year old crowd. She has produced several series of adventure/humour novels, some set in the north, some in a stage school (under the name of Geena Dare), and most recently, a series of books focussing on young teens and horses. Her most recent novel is Rodeo Horse (Whitecap).
On Tuesday morning Siamon met elementary classes at the Robert Service School with her presentation "From Idea to Book: a Novel's Journey".
Canadian Children's Book Week Tours are sponsored by the Canada Council and the Yukon's Department of Education.
|Klondike Sun Home Page|