Dawson City, Yukon Friday, November 22, 2002

The cenotaph at Victory Gardens was host to a small ceremony at about noon, just after the main gathering at the school. Photo by Dan Davidson

Feature Stories

Shakin' All Over
Uffish Thoughts: Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On
Remembrance Day Brings Mixed Emotions
School Ceremony Stresses Freedom and Prevention
Council Tired of Bad Rap over Rec. Centre
Nurse on Call
Ken McGoogan: No Regrets in the Writing Life

Welcome to the November 22, 2002 edition of the online Klondike Sun, which reproduces a selection of the 24 photographs and 17 articles that were in the 20 page November 5 hard copy edition.

The hard copy also contains Doug Urquhart's famous "Paws" cartoon strip, our homegrown crossword puzzle, Diane O'Brien's "Camp Life" cartoon, the Fraser's Edge 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. About 618 people read the last online issue of this paper (that's 42,191 hits since July 2000 and about 25,000 on the original counter before that), and we'd love to be sending out that many more papers. See our home page for subscription information.

An Appeal to Our Readers

A donation (we do give receipts) would help us to keep this website alive and also assist in the purchase of new equipment for our office. The address is on our home page. In case you hadn't noticed, we are a not-for-profit organization running on a shoestring with a part time employee and advertising revenue which has been hurt by the territory's sluggish economy.

Shakin' All Over

by Dan Davidson

"Was that an earthquake?"

Those words could be heard all over Dawson just after 2:15 on Sunday, November 3 as jittery citizens called out to others - some by telephone, some out the window to a neighbour - to confirm what their senses had told them. Voices could be heard all along Seventh Avenue in the stillness of the minutes after the first shock.

Indeed it was an earthquake. The local RCMP initially reported the magnitude at 7.5 on the open ended Richter Scale, but that was later upgraded to 7.9, which is a much more powerful event. Each .1 on the scale is ten times more powerful than the previous measurement.

In Dawson buildings vibrated. Dogs barked in bewilderment, looking for something to blame. Shelves in the Dawson Community Library swayed. Dishes rattled in cupboards. Light fixtures swung. Pictures hanging on walls were crooked when it ended.

For those whose household water comes by delivery truck, water tanks sloshed audibly as if a giant hand had shaken them up. At the Everitt home on the Dome, Debbie said she could hear theirs splashing.

Teachers at the Robert Service School, who were working on report cards, vacated the building. Betty Davidson said she felt kind of dizzy when it was over.

Inside was worse than outside, it seems. City manager Scott Coulson was cutting wood and felt nothing, but became aware of it when his wife looked out the window of their house, which is perched on the side of the hill in a cul-de-sac off Seventh Avenue.

Media reports indicate the epicenter of the 'quake was 150 kilometres south of Fairbanks, Alaska, near McKinley Park, which places it at just about the same latitude as the Klondike region.

There was a minor tremor about 17 minutes after the first event, at 2:32, but it lasted only about 15 seconds.


Uffish Thoughts: Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On

by Dan Davidson

Because there is some degree of permafrost under most of Dawson - "discontinuous" the experts call it - there are only certain parts of town where there can be basements. Only certain places where the top part of a building is firmly attached and rooted to the rest of the world.

So it is that many Dawsonites have experience of what I will call the "unbalanced load" syndrome. That's when you've doing a wash of heavier weight garments and the load in the washing machine slips all to one side during the spin cycle - becomes unbalanced, you see.

When that happens its sets up an oscillation which builds slowly into a gradual awareness that your house is shaking. At that point you dash off to the laundry room, lift the lid, redistribute the load, and let it spin some more, all before your machine can begin to dance and make a serious attempt to bang its way though the wall.

That was my first reaction to last Sunday's earthquake. Sitting in a chair that used to vibrate, reading a national newspaper from three weekends ago, I suddenly became aware of an unsettled sensation in my head, a slight dizziness. Then came the vibration. It sent me down the hall before I remembered that the spin cycle had been about an hour earlier and that wash was done.

Checking with my students on Monday morning, I learned that slightly more than half of their parents had done the same thing. I felt less silly.

My next moves were more rational. The glass doors on the t.v. cabinet were rattling now, and I could hear dishes in the kitchen cupboard. My mind flashed back to 1978 - my first and last earthquake in Beaver Creek - and brought back the information I needed.

I went to the front door, the dog at my heels, she making little "ruff" noises like she does when someone stops outside, and looking for something to bark at. On the front porch she went no farther than the steps. I looked for snow falling from trees, but it was all ice, and they don't vibrate the way that metal flag pole did on that long ago February afternoon.

The picture window at the front of the house was another matter. It was flexing out of time with the building, making me think of one of those flat sheets of metal the Rolf Harris had someone "whooping" back and forth in videos of "Tie Me Kangaroo Down".

"How long is that going to hold out? "I wondered, thinking about the mess the glass would make.

Time was passing slowly. I'd looked at my watch at 2:15, maybe a minute after I got dizzy. About a minute later, it all seemed to be returning to normal. Some people told me it was longer where they were, though the media said it was 45 seconds. Certainly the stained glass hanging in the front window was still swinging back and forth more than ten minutes later, making me glad I had hung it so that it could only move sideways.

Every picture in the house was just off to the right a touch. Several cans had fallen out of the larder cupboard. No new cracks in the plaster that I could see. Hardly any evidence.

We saw a bit more at the school library the next morning, when we found half a dozen books several feet from their shelves on both floors. My wife had been at the school when it happened. The building was constructed to late 1980s earthquake standards, but she said it felt like some very large person was marching - no, clomping - down the halls with heavy, deliberate tread. Or maybe several large people.

In the absolute stillness after the shaking stopped I heard neighbours all down the block calling out to each other, getting a little reality check, marvelling at the power of earth and stone and wondering where the wave came from.

At 2:32 it came again, but just for a few seconds this time, adding "aftershock" to the vocabulary of my experience. By then I was making phone calls, focussing on the story, looking at my watch immediately. The electronic media were helpful, as was the constable on duty at the local RCMP detachment.

With that familiar round of activity the world settled back into place and life seemed once more a predictable thing.

The very next evening, of course, we were hit by an extreme political earthquake - when the territory shifted suddenly to the right. No doubt there will be numerous aftershocks in the weeks to come. But that's another column. See you there.


Remembrance Day Brings Mixed Emotions

by Dan Davidson

Chuck Margeson leads the colour party out of the gym after the service. Photo by Dan Davidson

Klondike MLA Peter Jenkins captured perfectly the twin themes of grateful remembrance and solemn regret that are at the heart of the modern Remembrance Day Service in his address to the audience in the RSS gymnasium on November 11.

Jenkins traced the evolution of his own feelings about the day. As a very young child, it was just another holiday for him, a memory confirmed by a recent conversation with his father. It took the intervention of his uncle, John Hasse, when Jenkins was in grade 3 or 4, to begin to change his mind.

He recalled his Uncle John as being a cool guy - smoked a lot, drove a Chrysler Desoto and made the artificial ice at the Montreal Forum. He was the sort of uncle a boy could look up to and take seriously.

Hasse would never talk about what he did during the war, only about its results. He impressed on young Peter what the day was all about.

"He spoke of the freedom we take so much for granted today. He spoke of the travel that we freely have. He spoke of the freedom of speech that we have. He spelled out the high standard of living that we have come to enjoy.

"Above all, he went on to reiterate that Canada is one of the best countries in the world to live in." This message coming from the son of German immigrants who had moved here between the two World Wars,, took root.

Jenkins' cousin went on to military service in peace keeping roles, and he too would say little about the job, other than to say that he had chosen "to serve the cause so that we would enjoy what we have here today."

So, he continued, we do gather to honour those who have made "the supreme sacrifice".

Unfortunately, he noted, the Great War that this day originally celebrated, was not the "war to end all wars" that it was predicted it would be.

"Since that time the world has not had many years of peace," up to and including the new war of terrorism that blazed up just 14 months ago.

He continued with a note of caution.

"Now honour and glory are fine sounding names, but they don't fill a chair by the fire. Wonderful war time rhetoric on the History Channel inflames passion, but it doesn't hold a wife or cherish a child. Brass bands may stir hearts, but they do not bring home the dead.

"Yet because of these things and those who answered their call, we still have homes, we still have a future, we still have a right to grow in this great country of ours, Canada,

"That is what Remembrance Day has come to mean to me now."

The ceremony in Dawson was in the Robert Service School gymnasium, with a colour guard provided by the RCMP, Rangers, and Junior Rangers. The ceremony was led by Legion members John Gould and Church Margeson, with the spiritual assistance of Anglican Lay Reader Shirley Pennell.

The Robert Service School Choir led in the singing of "O Canada" and provided an anthem to freedom, "I Will Sing My Song."

After the main ceremony there was a briefer wreath laying at the cenotaph in Victory Gardens and luncheon at St. Mary's Catholic Church.


School Ceremony Stresses Freedom and Prevention

by Dan Davidson

The primary classes stand at attention (almost) during their own ceremony. Photo by Dan Davidson

In spite of the fact that Remembrance Day is the day of the year when we remember the fallen, those who served our country in the wars of the last century, it has also become a time when we caution against war and hope for peace.

This was certainly a recurring theme in both of the services held in Dawson City over the weekend.

The Robert Service School actually holds an elementary and a high school ceremony each year, on the theory that students of different ages understand this event on different levels. Both services take place on the school day nearest to the actual holiday.

This year's services had the elements that one might expect, the singing of "O Canada", a recitation of "In Flanders Fields" by the grade 5 class and an anthem, "I will sing my song", a song about freedom, by the RSS Choir.

It was Legion Veteran John Gould who added the cautionary note in speaking to the high school classes. "We should all work, he said, to make sure that there are no more wars, because the cost of war is too high to be worth it if there is another solution."


Council Tired of Bad Rap over Rec. Centre

by Dan Davidson

Work crews removed all the rebar and brine piping from the arena in late September. Photo by Dan Davidson

On the night that territorial politics was being decided for the next four years, Dawson's town council was in session early, trying to finish up before the evening television broadcast of the election results and anxious to get its position before the public.

The issue at had was the council's appeal of a Yukon Supreme Court decision that it needed to settle its business with TSL, the contractors on the troubled recreation centre project, via arbitration rather than through the court system.

"People think this is about us persecuting the contractor," said councillor Byrun Shandler, "but it's not."

He said that the terms of the agreement with TSL stipulated that there were two options: mediation-arbitration and the court system. Shandler said the town opted for the first system and that it was TSL who chose to do both.

From the town's viewpoint though, there are advantages to using the court.

"Under mediation/arbitration we don't get to have all the players sitting down. We want to go to a room with a judge, to have the architects and engineers and the contractor there, and any other involved parties. We want everyone there and then blame can be assigned."

Otherwise, he said, "they're just going to point fingers at each other ... and us."

No one on council is denying that the town deserves some of the responsibility for what has happened.

"Our appeal (of the Supreme Court ruling) is not to create a scandal," said Shandler, "but to get fairness."

"We want a finished rec centre and we won't get it otherwise."

"I'm worried," said acting mayor Wayne Potoroka, "about the perception in the community that we don't pay our bills and that we're trying hard to be malicious, personal and mysterious. We're not."

Said Shandler, "We've paid (all our bills on the project) but $300,000. The only holdbacks are for deficiencies and for work not completed. We wouldn't pay for pouring the floor, for instance, because it was never done."

'"Nobody," said Potoroka, "wants to be where we are right now, but we are, and we're doing the best that we possibly can."

At the present time all the rebar and brine lines have been stripped out of the arena and tenders have been let to put a wooden floor on top of the insulation and prepare the surface to be used as an arena this winter.

A board system and bleachers are also in the works.

If it ever gets cold enough here to freeze water councillors are confident there should be hockey and other sports in the arena this winter.


Nurse on Call

by M. Caws C.N.P. DCNS

The focus in this picture is actually on the on-call radio, a sure sign that a member of the Nursing Station staff is ready to respond when needed. Photo supplied

It's after dinner on a Saturday evening and the kids are playing in the backyard. You are almost relieved to have them outdoors because you have not been feeling well for a couple of days: you know, achy tired with occasional chills. Earlier today, you noticed that it burned when you passed urine. You've just come back from the washroom saying to your partner that "It really hurts to go to the washroom and I'm starting to feel pretty "sick". As a rural northerner, you figure you had better consult with a healthcare provider before things get worse. You call the nursing station to speak with the "nurse on call".

What should you expect when you dial 993-4444 after hours? What is the role of the "nurse on call" compared to that of the nurse a patient might see during regular office hours? This article will explain these issues. This may provide a more clear idea of the role of the nurse in the north.

As many community members know, the nurses who work the Dawson City Nursing Station (D.C.N.S.) during the daytime are the same nurses who are "on-call" after hours and on weekends. Presently in Dawson, there are four Community Nurse Practitioners (C.N.P.'s) who provide after-hour or emergency healthcare services. These full time staff work a full week as well as taking "call". Each nurse is on standby up to 200 hours per month. That's like three weeks worth of eight hour shifts.

Patients are seen after hours for the same concerns that they may be seen for during office hours at the medical clinic and nursing station. The care given by C.N.P.'s is the same whether the patient is seen during the day or night.

C.N.P.'s in the north work quite differently than an RN in the south. We enjoy an expanded role providing advanced care to people with any number of health issues. C.N.P.' s consult with other members of the health care team as required.

On occasion Dawson community members and visitors alike are seen at the healthcare center after hours. People are encouraged to be seen during office hours whenever possible. A shock to nobody, is the fact that illness, accidents or emergencies do not always occur nine to five Monday to Friday.

C.N.P.'s are linked by phone and radiophone to the Nursing Station to provide 24hr coverage. When a person calls 993-4444 after-hours many are surprised to find that the Nurse on Call is busy at home with the chores of the day. Each of us recalls times when the radio has "gone off" while walking our dogs, playing with the kids, gardening or working in the shop. People also call from the "black phone" in the lobby of the D.C.N.S. requesting to be seen. This system of self referral works well, regardless of how the call is placed or where it is received.

So why do people phone the "nurse on call". Many call for reassurance, while others may request a hand trying to figure out infant medication doses. Some wish to clarify whether they should come in to been seen for their concern or not. In the latter situation, it may be left to the caller to decide whether they or their family members should come in to be seen.

When advising, the on-call nurse may err on the side of caution by requesting the person to be seen at the clinic for examination. Health issues are very hard to appreciate over the phone. In each situation, it is the nurses professional obligation to give safe sound advice. All calls are documented when any advice has been given.

Perhaps a little more about radiophones is in order. When a call is picked up on the radiophone, we may ask the person to: a) call us back at a set time or b) give us a number to return their call. We do this because radiophones are not considered to be secure.

It may also be helpful to know that when speaking on a radiophone each party needs to wait until the other has finished speaking prior to giving more information.

C.N.P.'s in the north view themselves as an integral component of the team of people providing healthcare services to a community. The approach to health in a community is often as unique as the community itself. Dawson residents benefit from access to professionals who work in a number of disciplines. The goal of these people is to help improve the health of individuals, groups and the community.

Community members choose to access the healthcare system in a variety of ways. We support these choices and work with the rest of the team to provide the best possible health outcomes for the people.

Over the coming months the nursing staff at the DCNS will be writing a number of articles on common healthcare matters. Subjects may range from how to read medication labels, care of the common cold, travel immunizations, to fever management in children.

If you have any ideas, suggestions or comments please contact the Nursing Station during business hours at 994-4444.


Ken McGoogan: No Regrets in the Writing Life

by Dan Davidson

On a balmy, foggy day in late October, Ken McGoogan was perfectly content at Berton House. Photo by Dan Davidson

Ken McGoogan blames his occupation on his father, an amateur film maker and occasional writer, who exposed him to all sorts of good books at an early age. Among his early literary influences he names Jack London, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe.

"Those were great favourites of my fathers."

The influence stuck. By the age of 15 the athletically inclined McGoogan was actually willing to forgo a semester of physical education classes in order to take typing, something he figured he would need to know how later on.

Turns out he was right. How else could he ever have hoped to churn out the 50,000 words in his latest book, an "autobiography" of speed skater Catriona Le May Doan. He had just six weeks to do the job, from interviews to completed work. McClelland & Stewart published Going For Gold in October, 2002, while McGoogan was writer in residence at Berton House. His name's not on the cover, but he is the co-author and will split the profits with her.

McGoogan would get used to meeting deadlines, but not right away. After high school he spent a few years travelling and working at a number of jobs (bicycle messenger in San Francisco, fire lookout in Alberta, French teacher in Tanzania) as well as writing. In time, he decided to concentrate on writing, which he had always felt was his strong point.

"I realized, hey, I'm not able to make a living at this. It's the only thing I do really well. Maybe it would be smart if I could find a way to make this pay."

He began a journalism degree from Ryerson at age 23. He would later take a Masters in creative writing from UBC, but Ryerson led to a job at the Toronto Star, and that kicked off his career in newspapers.

"It was a way to use my one talent to survive."

His major interest was still creative writing, and he managed to turn out three novels and a collection of essays while working at the Toronto Star, Montreal Star and Calgary Herald At the Herald he was also the literary page editor, and spent quite a bit of his time doing author interviews and book reviews. He still covers books, having recently published a review of Farley Mowat's latest, High Latitudes, in the Globe and Mail.

Combining a day job with a literary life meant keeping long hours.

"I would get up early in the morning, at five a.m., and reserve my best energy for my own work."

Being a journalist helped, McGoogan thinks.

"(It's) a craft. Once you've mastered the craft you can do just about anything."

Some writers have said that using your talent for a day job dilutes the energy you bring to your own work. McGoogan says this may be true. Maybe it slowed his development, he says. Maybe his earlier books would have been better. That's all beside the point for him.

"I wanted a family, and I have one, and that was the price I had to pay."

His wife is an elementary school teacher and he has two grown children.

In 1998 his career took a new turn when he applied for and won the University of Cambridge's Wolfson College Press Fellowship, which offers "journalists of high ability and promise a unique opportunity to reflect and study for twelve weeks in one of the world's great universities."

Assisted by an Alberta Foundation for the Arts: Senior Writer's Grant (in support of research at University of Cambridge) and a Canada Council for the Arts: Travel grant, he embarked on the project which became Fatal Passage, the triple award winning biography of John Rae.

He had applied to spend twelve weeks studying post-colonial issues, but converted that into a novel based on Rae's life as a post-colonial figure who bucked the establishment. The more he read, the more he realized there was a largely unknown story about a great injustice.

Rae had been the actual discoverer of the Northwest Passage, as well as the man who finally found out what happened to the ill-fated Franklin Expedition. Lady Franklin had disputed his conclusions, since they undermined her promotion of her husband as a Great Man & Explorer. She undertook to bury Rae's reputation, and enlisted no less a wordsmith than Charles Dickens on her side of the battle. The effort was largely successful, another indication that history is often written by those who have the most clout.

McGoogan's novel turned into an investigative biography. In the process he found he was, for perhaps the first time, using all of his skills as a writer.

"I'd done a lot of work fictionally, in terms of narrative, point of view and so on, but I also had lot of non-fiction experience to draw on: research methods, interviewing, finding material. For the first time it all came together. That was for me an unprecedented success, and I really enjoyed doing it, so that's the line on which I'm continuing to work."

While at Berton House, McGoogan completed a first draft of a biographical study on the life of Samuel Hearne, an Arctic explorer whose career began when he was just a lad. He doesn't talk much about works in progress, but he does "promise a few revelations about Samuel Hearne."

His concern there is not so much that he will lose the energy as that he might be tempted to take positions on parts of the work that he hasn't fully worked out yet. Even as a journalist he found that stories have a habit of changing while you are writing them, that the writing reveals things you hadn't realized were there at first glance.

"You sit down and you get the material ... and it changes. It changes even as you put it on the page because you come to terms with what you've got."

Meaning, he says, comes from the act of writing.

Berton House has "been tremendous." Two months has given him what he would normally produce in five or six months.

McGoogan continued to be a fairly early riser in Dawson and usually worked on his manuscript until 3:30 or 4 p.m. Seven or eight hours was enough for a day, then he walked the Dome Road loop, stopping downtown to do chores before supper. As long as the new pool was open (until the end of September) he swam regularly, and gave the pool high marks as a recreational facility.

Sometimes there were evening events to take in. Sometimes he would do some more work. Sometimes he even had the freedom to get up in the middle of the night and solve a problem which wouldn't work out during the day.

"It may sound boring, but I came here to work and I will have completed what I set out to do."

Not a hermit, McGoogan found lots of social life to join in on, found that Dawson was a great place to be, even in the fall when things are winding down.

While in Dawson McGoogan put on a public lecture at the Museum and talked to students at the Robert Service School. He repeated his lecture in Whitehorse when he left at the end of October.



by Palma Berger

These ethereal heralds (Casper's Cousins?) were the most visible part of the most recent display at the ODD Gallery. Photo by Dan Davidson

It was appropriate that the opening of Jason Logan's show was Halloween night. The row of little white Caspers circling the top of the walls adjoining the ceiling, friendly as they looked, could have stepped out of any haunted house.

They were either little "Caspers" or bursts of some creative thoughts.

Winnipeg artist Jason Logan was Dawson's artist-in-residence early in the Spring. While here he took on new ideas and impressions. His work is not nature based. He carried a notebook and jotted down ideas or sketches or quotes which he heard perhaps in the bars or places around town.

Certainly he would find Dawson different as he is an illustrator and has done work for the "New Yorker" and the "Saturday Night Post". He spent last year in Toronto. He was in Seattle when he applied for the artist-in-residence; so he was physically and mentally in another world himself before coming to Dawson. He was in a world where one is bombarded constantly with stimuli. This is not so in Dawson City.

The landscapes around Dawson he found to be "almost another worldly experience," as he told a CBC reporter. "Maybe it even warped my vision in some way. I will definitely draw from this experience."

Stretching around the room on shelving below the "Caspers" are 100 pale ochre coloured ceramic tiles with pencil sketches and quotes from his notebooks.

These may be a puzzle to some. Many are humorous. A black blob with porcupine quills sticking out has the quote "They don't call me the Thing for Nothing." The two poppy pods each on its long thin stalk, point in opposite directions. What! Someone said they aren't poppy pods. They are what? That can't be right. They have to be poppy pods. Their caption reads, "Grow Away". To go with the caption, "Hey that's okay. Some of my best buddies have gone vegan.", there is a drawing of a plant like object. The caption for the drawing that looks like the top part of the cenotaph reads "Thank you modern American painters."

Another shows a vase with a handle lying on its side with the caption reading, "Fluted thing of the Greek period, Sorry that I knocked you over". A plain tile reads, "Weep till you are full."

The rest was rather difficult for this writer to grasp. Jason Logan had long since returned to Winnipeg, so one could not ask him anything. So off to the guest book, to see what the visitors got from it. "You've got a neat head," wrote one. Another was inspired to draw a cat figure, and the comment "Nice drawing Jason," beneath it. Good job. Great imagination." "Just Imagine that" and "So Give up Smoking." Not much help there.

Somebody later did suggest that they would all look good as tiles in a shower.

But if you don't get it all, the artist may actually sympathise, as accompanying another weird drawing is "I'm a mystery even to my buddies".


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