Dawson City, Yukon Friday, November 8, 2002

Beneath a banner left over from a school event, the candidates for office react to an odd question from the audience. "What are you thankful for?" the lady asked. It took them a minute to formulate a response. Photo by Dan Davidson

Feature Stories

All or Nothing for Yukon Bridges, Says Dawson Chamber
Dawson Forum Raises Social Issues
Editorial: A Call for Submissions
Uffish Thoughts: Snow, Fog and a Permanent River Crossing
"Lights, Camera, Music!" at the Odd Hall
Ghostly Times at Hallowe'en

Welcome to the November 8, 2002 edition of the online Klondike Sun, which reproduces a selection of the 24 photographs and 17 articles that were in the 24 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.

In addition, for this pre-Remembrance Day issue, Pierre Berton allowed us to reprint a chapter from his book Marching As to War, a history of military monuments in Canada which begins with our own Victory Gardens cenotaph. We can't use those two pages in this space, so you'll just have to buy the book and read pages 126-130 yourself. You are missing a lot if you're just reading the on-line edition.

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 600 people read each issue of this paper online (41,573 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

Our webmaster has been carrying the cost of this site since it began in March, 1996. That means our volunteer based non-profit paper has been able to appear on the world wide web for free. In the very near future we are going to have to start paying for the hosting service which allows us to exist. About 600 people read this paper every time it goes on line. If most of you could forward a few dollars to the address on the homepage (Bag 6040, Dawson City, YT, Y0B 1G0) we could afford to keep this online edition going without much of a strain.

All or Nothing for Yukon Bridges, Says Dawson Chamber

by Dan Davidson

The George Black Ferry continued to ply the Yukon River long after the first snowfall, edging toward a new record for the season. Photo by Dan Davidson

The Dawson City Chamber of Commerce feels that it time to end what its members see as a basic inequality between Dawson and every other community in the territory. One way or the other, says the chamber, it is time to resolve the issue of the missing Yukon River bridge in the Klondike.

Either Dawson City should have a bridge across the Yukon River or every other town ought to be reduced to Dawson's level of service by removing theirs.

The question was debated at some length during the chambers annual general meeting in September, with a resolution advocating the construction of a bridge being high on the agenda of items to take to the upcoming Yukon Chamber of Commerce AGM, which was held last weekend in Watson Lake.

Dawson had brought a similar resolution to the YCC at last year's AGM, which was held in the Klondike capital, but nothing came of it, much to disgust of the Dawson chamber's membership.

The new version of the resolution on bridge construction didn't get passed at the September meeting, but was researched and written during the early weeks of October, along with a more tongue-in-cheek option regarding bridge removals.

The final version was called the Permanent River Crossing, options 1 and 2.

The lengthy preamble cites many arguments in favour of a permanent river crossing. It will:

Then come the two options. Option one, moved by Bill Bowie and seconded by Dick Van Nostrand would see a permanent river crossing constructed.

"Therefore be it resolved that the Yukon Chamber of Commerce lobby the Yukon Government to construct a permanent river crossing across the Yukon River in Dawson City and continue to actively support the Dawson Chamber's appeal for a permanent river crossing until this is accomplished.

Option 2, moved by Gary Parker and seconded by Jorn Meier, is the whimsical alternative.

Therefore be it resolved that existing bridges on the Klondike, McQuesten, Stewart, Pelly, Teslin and, for that matter, all other bridges in the territory, including the Yukon River Bridge in Whitehorse to Riverdale, be removed and replaced by diesel ferry and ice bridge, weather permitting, forthwith.

Fittingly, this draft was faxed to the membership in Dawson on October 23, a day when the fog on the river was so heavy that the ferry was stranded on the west bank for several hours, unable to cross safely, five days before it was scheduled to be removed for the season on October 28 - with no ice in sight and temperatures still in the plus ranges during the day.


Dawson Forum Raises Social Issues

by Dan Davidson

The Ancillary Room at the Robert Service School was packed for the election forum. Photo by Dan Davidson

Social issues seemed to dominate the questions from the floor during the political forum in Dawson City on Tuesday night. These forums are the traditional, non-combative way that the Dawson City Chamber of Commerce has chosen to handle candidate's meetings.

The ancillary room at the school was packed with voters and the community cable channel carried the two hour event to quite a few more.

Opening statements from the three candidates staked out the territory they would occupy for the rest of the evening.

The NDP's Lisa Hutton is looking to participate in a government which deals in respect for individuals and in positive changes. One of her main themes throughout the evening was the need for consultation on issues.

The Yukon Party's Peter Jenkins told the audience that the election was about leadership and restoring the economy and promised immediate construction of a bridge across the Yukon River if his party comes to power.

The Liberal's Glen Everitt stressed communication in his opening remarks. "Did the candidate hear you?" he said, committing to the opening of an MLA's office in the community if he is elected. He also took a firm stand on the Liberal Party platform, a document of which he professed to be "very proud."

Questions from the floor dealt with topics as diverse as childcare issues, the future of Yukon College and the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture, problems related to devolution and mining clean-up costs, that ubiquitous bridge, jobs for young people, health care delivery, municipal capital works, tourism, legislature decorum, Tombstone Park access, the Education Act, recreational facilities, economic diversification, recycling, cell phones, community meetings, standard time, Yukon Housing rents, cell phones and local newspaper columns.

While Lisa Hutton has staked out the childcare issue in her campaign from the beginning, it was Peter Jenkins who promised "universal access" and an increased standard subsidy without a means test.

While the Liberals had already announced that the old liquor store building here was to be turned over to the Dawson City Arts Society and KIAC, Jenkins took it another step and proposed that KIAC and Yukon College share the space. All three candidates supported the work that KIAC and the College have been doing here.

On the continuing issue of the bridge, or "permanent river crossing" as the chamber tends to call it, there was a variation in the responses. Jenkins, as noted, promised one, saying "It's a given." Hutton was more cautious, indicating that she would support it if it was clearly a priority for the community. Everitt said the money had to be found to do the job, but he was all for it.

The depressed local economy had all three candidates pitching ideas for restructuring, supporting small businesses, looking for alternatives and providing incentives to hire youth. Some of the alternatives, all three agreed, might be in non-traditional areas, such as arts and culture, though no one was interested in forgetting about resource extraction and tourism.

All three candidates, for somewhat different reasons, agreed that the Duncan government's first run at revising the Education Act had been a failure and that it would need to be looked at again.

When it came to community consultation, Lisa Hutton hoped to be able to hold quarterly community meetings and provide a column to the local newspaper. Everitt wasn't sure if it would be 3 meetings, 4, or more, but he was committed to them and to the newspaper column. Peter Jenkins, who maintains that most of the MLA's job is individual constituency work and that people don't like public meetings here, nevertheless said he would hold them if requested. As for the local paper, he would not submit anything until the either the current editorial policy or the editor was changed.

One of the most amusing questions of the evening came from the fact that a banner from a school event was still hanging above the candidates' heads. It read "I am thankful for ..." and had once been followed by a horn of plenty with lots of things spilling out of it.

What, asked one voter, are YOU thankful for?

Everitt said he was thankful for the community, a place where his kids could grow up safely. Peter Jenkins was thankful for the democratic form of government and for the opportunity to make things better in the world. Lisa Hutton was thankful that someone asked the question, which had popped into her head when she saw the banner. She was thankful for living in a community where people get together and make things happen, like music festivals and KIAC.


Editorial: A Call for Submissions

by Dan Davidson

Casting my eye over the last issue of the Klondike Sun, I note with pleasure that, of the 25 text items in its pages, I wrote only 10 of them. This may still seem like a large number to some of you, but it is actually a considerable improvement over the balance in other issues, and one which brings me a certain amount of cheer.

I have no interest in this paper being what Johnny Caribou once called the Klondike Dan. It happens sometimes, but I try to avoid it. So it pleases me no end that there are a number of regular items appearing in the paper which have nothing to do with me or my understanding of the world. There would be more if we could find additional writers who were willing to meet bi-weekly deadlines.

That was part of the point behind the request I posed to the candidates at the public forum. Of all the elected officials we have had in place since the paper began, only Art Webster (both as MLA and Mayor) made it a point to submit material on a regular basis and keep the pubic personally informed of his deeds and thoughts.

I liked that. I thought it showed a certain amount of courage. I appreciated the fact that I didn't have to do it by covering quite so many legislative and council stories.

Don't get me wrong. I actually enjoy council meetings. While each individual event may not provide a wealth of stories, it adds to the amount of background knowledge that I can use when a story comes along later.

The problem is that when I write about events at council meetings some people seem to think that I necessarily agree with what I'm reporting or that I am advocating on behalf of the council. If I were going to do that, I would do it here, in the editorial box, or perhaps in an Uffish Thought, which is also a personal reaction essay. I don't do it when I'm reporting or interviewing, and it is only rarely (I would say never, but my memory may have missed something) that anyone has been able to point out a place where I have failed to meet my own standard there.

Anyone concerned that there is too much Davidson in the Sun has an easy option: write something. With the exception of the nasty letter beside this box not a single thing in the rest of this paper has been retouched in any way other than spelling and grammar. The surest way to get your opinions before the public and to affect the content mix of this publication is to contribute something to it. Many thanks to all of those who do!


Uffish Thoughts: Snow, Fog and a Permanent River Crossing

by Dan Davidson

It's "Jack the Ripper fog" said one Dawsonite. Here, the Dnja Zho Cultural Centre resembles a set for a remake of The Hound of the Baskervilles on October 23. That outsize orb is the sun, diffused and enlarged, trying to break through the gloom. Photo by Dan Davidson

First on the week's Uffish Agenda is a meditation on the coming of winter in the Klondike. You may think we wouldn't want to rush the season, but fall began quite early in August this year and dragged on in interminable drizzle until, by the time the sun came out and gave us some decent days in September, summer was well and truly gone and we into that inconvenient season when you have to bundle up too much to ride a bicycle and there's too much dirt for snowmobiles.

So there was , as I noted last week, something of a cheer when the white stuff actually arrived. For me, it was something like what follows.

Autumn Leaves

Autumn arrived like a bandit
and stripped all the trees of their leaves.
The poor things just sat there, quite startled,
by events that they couldn't conceive.

The wind came and whipped up the fallen,
blowing them over the lawn.
They fluttered and flittered and piled up near the fence,
little gravesites in yellow and brown.

The snow came and clung to the branches
and buried the leaves in the night.
Now all of those limbs that once seemed so bare,
look much better outlined in white.

That's not to say that it continued that way. Since then we have had a mixture of rain and snow that has had the sand trucks out regularly and people slipping all over the place. Yours truly ended up with a nastily bruised gluteus maximus from a tumble in the school parking lot. At least one candidate in the election reports that campaigning has proven hazardous to his health.

(If you've been paying attention lately you know that one of the candidates is not on speaking terms with me, so the choice of pronoun should tell you who it was who fell down and went boom.)

Then, in the middle of last week, the fog settled in. It was, as a friend put it, a real "Jack the Ripper fog", actually a low lying cloud that refused to lift and shrouded the town as effectively as ice fog does when it hits -40?C, except that it was more like +5 on that day.

So thick was this pea souper that the George Black Ferry dared not cross the Yukon River and sat on the west bank for hours. I can testify to half an hour of that, the rest have been attested by others who wanted to get across. I was waiting to catch a photo of the boat looming out of the fog, but I ran out of time and had to move on.

It was probably appropriate that it was later that day when I received word of the local chamber of commerce's latest bid to replace the ferry/ice bridge combination with something more permanent.


"Lights, Camera, Music!" at the Odd Hall

by Dan Davidson

The Whitehorse Community Choir gets into the swing of things during their evening concert. Photo by Dan Davidson

"Lights, Camera, Music!" was the title and theme of the latest production by the Whitehorse Community Choir, which travelled to the Klondike to present the show in the Oddfellows Hall on the evening of October 19.

As emcee Karen Walker noted, musical theatre and musical movies are often the first introduction a person has to the repertoire of choral music, and so the choir had decided this year to celebrate that rich vein of material, opening with a stirring rendition of "Down in the River to Pray" from the soundtrack of "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?".

Some movies are forgettable save for a song or two, as was the case with the Diana Ross vehicle, Mahogany, from which the choir took the Coffin and Masser composition "Do You Know Where You're Going To?"

"Hail Holy Queen" was a setting of a traditional piece , while Mozart's "Lachrymosa" came from version in the movie "Amadeus".

Pianist Barry Kitchen took centre stage next, producing a medley of well-known movie themes including "Exodus", "Stayin' Alive", the "James Bond theme" and other well-known tunes. Walker challenged the audience to identify them all and, while there was nothing as precious as a CBC coffee mug at stake, the listeners rose to the challenge.

No matter what their detractors may say, the movies of the Disney studios have provided many a Rotary Music Festival and talent night with their share of memorable choral pieces. The choir's first half closed with a medley of some of these tunes.

Barry Kitchen opened the second act with the theme from "On Golden Pond".

The Persephone Singers took up the challenge of presenting the arrangements of Margaret Dryburgh, who had organized and conducted a vocal orchestra while in a concentration camp during the Second World. The pieces included her own "The Captive's Hymn" and a choral arrangement of the wordless "Largo" from Dvorák's "From the New World" symphony. The all-female group concluded their portion of the program with Mercer and Mancini's "Moon River".

The complete choir returned to the floor for the last four which included quite a variety of music. There was Ennio Morricone's "River" from the film, "The Mission", Carl Orf's "O Fortuna" from "Carmina Burana", "Over the Rainbow"" from "The Wizard of Oz" and Queen's classic "Bohemian Rhapsody" from the soundtrack of "Wayne's World" of all things.

A little accident with the sound equipment made the latter tune the choice for an encore. There were supposed to be several passages of electric guitar solo during the song, but something went wrong with the hook-up to the amplifier, leaving the guitarist, who was off-stage in the dressing room, playing a soulful air-guitar to himself while the choir sang.

For the encore director Rachel Grantham brought him out front, muscle shirt and all, and the choir ran through the piece again, with all the electric grace notes in place. The piece was certainly a riot and the favorite of the evening by all accounts.


Ghostly Times at Hallowe'en

High school girls can still enjoy dressing up for Hallowe'en as these pussycats and Red Riding Hood prove. Photo by Madeleine Gould

The school is the natural site for Hallowe'en celebrations every year. The elementary classes stage an afternoon parade through the building and even the high school students get into the act.

In addition, this year there was a pumpkin carving competition.


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