Dawson City, Yukon Friday, October 15, 1999

Government Leader Piers MacDonald (at left) presents a cheque for $2 million to the City of Dawson on October 6. Receiving this largesse are Bonnie Nordling (recreation board), Joanne Van Nostrand (city council), and Mayor Glen Everitt. Photo by Jason Barber

Feature Stories

City Capital Works Projects Explained
Draft Plan Encourages Planning by Visitors and Agencies
Percy Henry is Anglican's Newest Deacon
Edmonton Storyteller Holds His Audience
Musical Performance in Dawson City
Former Mayor at Odds with Present Council Over Lane Closure
Comment: Confessions of a Ditch-Walker
Ode to Dawson City

Welcome to the October 15th on-line edition of the Klondike Sun. This is the abridged version of our Oct. 13 hardcopy edition, which was 24 pages long, containing 23 photographs and 24 news stories, 2 poems, the cartoon strips "Paws", "Mukluk & Honisukle" and "City Snickers", and our regular homemade Klondike Krossword puzzle. Getting a subscription (see the home page) is the only way you'll ever see it all.

This edition marked the return of the Kid's Photo page for the fall season, and also the return of Madeleine Gould, now sitting on the business end of the school's digital camera. We forgot her photo credit on the hard copy page, so we'll add one here.

City Capital Works Projects Explained

by Dan Davidson

Dawson's City Administration building sits on its new pad at the Front Street site. There's still a lot of work to do, but council would like to be back in its offices by January. The Fire Hall portion of the building is supposed to be ready by early November at the latest. Photo by Dan Davidson

Lest there be any doubt about the viability of this year's hockey season, Dawson City council has altered the timing of some of the renovations inside the Bonanza Centre Arena so that there will be no need to delay it at all. That pledge was presented to a somewhat skeptical crowd of about two dozen people who came out to the public meeting on capital works projects on the evening of October 4.

The decision has been taken to delay the burying of the piping needed for the thermal siphons which are being installed to help stabilize the ground under the arena. The exterior radiators for the siphons will be attached to the building during the fall construction season and then the underground piping will go in after the ice comes out in the spring.

Mayor Glen Everitt had told the public two weeks previously that hockey would be delayed only slightly this year, but council has decided to guarantee no delay by taking this step.

Arena discussions were just one portion of the hour and a half meeting, which also dealt with the new cable television system, the city hall cost overruns and the swimming pool project.

The recreation end of the capital works projects currently under way in the town are being funded by a $5.6 million grant from the territorial government, the first part of which, a cheque for $2 million, was presented to council on October 6 during a ground breaking ceremony at the site of the old, soon to be new, swimming pool.

The total grant is actually $10.4 million, $4.8 of which is earmarked for the construction of whatever secondary sewage facilities may eventually be necessary for the community.

The money funding the City Hall/Fire Hall/City Works Shop project, sometimes referred to as the 3CM Project, comes from another pot altogether, Everitt explained. This money has been banked in a number of reserve funds over the last several years, with the intention of spending it on a project such as this one. There was an environmental reserve, for cleaning up the old works yard, a city works reserve for the construction of a new shop, a fire hall reserve, and an admin. reserve. YTG added $750,000 to assist in this project by purchasing the slow moving north end residential lots for development and eventual sale.

The final budget for the 3CM Project has been determined, according to Everitt, and it will come out at $1.62 million, or $120,000 above the price the city had hoped to achieve when it made its final decisions in May.

There were cost over runs in three main areas. One of these was the environmental cleanup of the old oil tank farm which was once operated by a White Pass satellite company on that site. Another was a heating and air exchange system to handle the administration building and the new city works shop. A third was the federal requirement to upgrade the planned lift station to a full elevator.

The height of the fire hall portion of the building means it is classified as a 2.5 story building instead of a 2 story, and that made the change necessary.

Everitt says that Ketza Construction, which is overseeing the project, has been instructed to hold expenses within council's budget. If they do not, the mayor says any excess costs will come from the company's pay cheque.

Everitt also repeated explanations he had given previously (see last issue) regarding the City Hall move, using the editorial cartoon prepared by Albert Fuhre for the Klondike Sun and Whitehorse Star as the outline for his presentation.

The cable television installations are continuing around the town and the system will be phased in during the fall, beginning in late October. By the end of this year the current practice of free, on air broadcasts through the community will be ended, except for those which CBC is required to provide as part of its mandate.

Cable will begin with the dozen or so channels currently available and will add another 15, up to a maximum of 30 to start. It will cost subscribers $29 a month, which will go towards the pay-off of the $1 million loan the city has taken out to fund this project.

The time frame for paying back the loan is 5 to 7 years, but that is a conservative estimate and does not take into account anything other than domestic subscribers. All other revenue generated by the new fibre-optic infrastructure will help bring the cost down sooner. YTG has already bought into linking its offices to the system in the town at a cost of $300,000, which already reduces the total amount.

The swimming pool project is also under way, driven in part by the YTG requirement to have Dawson's recreation expansion be part of a winter works initiative. The new four lane pool will be dug out this fall. Construction on buildings will proceed through the winter. The concrete for the pool will be poured in the spring. It will be ready between June 10 and July 1.

The new pool will be seasonally enclosed, like those in other communities, with the option to go to full enclosure if and when the town can afford to run it year round. The season will be extended by about a month on either end of the old swimming year, which has started the first week in June and ended after Discovery Days, the third week in August.

While this will create more public use, it will also have the effect of providing a venue for swimming programs for the Robert Service School as a part of its physical education curriculum at the beginning and end of the school year. This option disappeared when the school year was adjusted to conclude at the end of May and begin in August.


Draft Plan Encourages Planning by Visitors and Agencies

by Dan Davidson

Hit them before they leave home. This is one of the messages coming through loud and clear from the draft version of the Klondike Region Marketing Plan, which presented to a audience of a couple of dozen people at Dawson's Visitor Reception Centre on September 28.

Russ Graham, speaking on behalf of Graham & Associates and DataPath Systems, the consultants in this endeavour, presented a computer generated slide show which highlighted the main points of the study to date, and served as a springboard for further discussion amongst the tourism operators present.

While the Klondike region and the communities along the way do receive a healthy number of visitors during the season, there are certain things that could be done to encourage even more people to divert from the Alaska Highway, a move which is at no cost to other routes, since most people seem to be looking for a loop anyway.

The conversation did run to debates about bridges across the Yukon River and improvements to the Alaska portion of the loop, but Graham steered thing back to the main point, reminding his audience that this was a marketing study, not a political manifesto.

Still, there are a few changes the territorial government could make to encourage people to make that decision to turn north on the Klondike Highway. Graham says that studies indicate that 80% of travellers make their route decisions before they leave home. That being so, Tourism Yukon needs to aim to do more than bring people to the border and leave the rest up to the regional marketing agencies.

One suggestion given is to have more wed site emphasis on key words that lead to specific regional destinations, Klondike being one of them.

In addition, there needs to be a campaign to make the Klondike route seem like less of a wilderness nightmare, but without hiding the fact that the Taylor Highway and Tok sections on the US side of the loop can be bad. A number of those in attendance felt strongly a need to be honest about this while still being as positive as possible.

Back in August, the second meeting in this series broke the potential tourist market into 32 segments, a grouping which probably included dozens more. The marketing plans regroups these into four areas of existing targets and three others which show potential for new growth.

The four traditional sectors are: RV/Campers (30%); Independent Auto (37%) ; Motorcoach (33%) and Adjacent Areas (2.7%).

The potential markets are: Wilderness Travellers; Fly-Drive RV; and Incentive Travel.

The growing Wilderness Travel market is among those often called PCBs (That's Pampered Consumer Boomers), who want an adventure experience, but still want a comfortable bed at night and a shower in the morning, along with flush toilets. Graham says this market is developing as baby boomers age and the kids leave home.

The RV/Fly-Drive market is distinct from those who drive their RV all the way north. Typically these people fly in, rent equipment (mostly in Alaska, so far) and are prepared to spend most of their vacation in the north, rather than spending half their time coming and going.

Incentive travel is not yet a big market, and is probably best revealed in the type of high expense, thoroughly planned experience that Fulda has offered its dealers in connection with the Yukon Quest and is now planning to offer through its extreme sports events. Because money is almost no object for the companies who put on this sort of thing, the potential for revenue generation is vast.

Of the traditional sectors, the promotion of visits from people in Alaska, NWT and elsewhere in the territory is an area the study sees as having greater potential. The study will explore means of creating more interest in the events which already exist.

In addition, the group would like to promote the use of the Klondike for meetings and small conventions, perhaps four to six per year, primarily booked for the shoulder seasons of late May- early June and late August-early September. Part of the task here will be to create an inventory of available resources and possible targets.

Mayor Glen Everitt has been attempting to encourage bookings for some meetings he attends regularly, and has succeeded for 2000 and 2001, but he pointed out that it requires a constant level of long range planning.

One of the recommendations of the study will be to hire a "meetings coordinator" who can pursue these things. Since both the Gold Show and the Dawson City Music Festival have found that they have to have part-time, full-time people to keep their single weekend events on track, this should not come as a surprise to anyone.

Aside from presenting general outlines of plans to reach each of the target markets, the KRMP also proposes the creation of a Tourism Marketing Council, which would have five main objectives. It would:

The board might have 8 to 12 members and be made up of liaison people from interested parties within the industry and balanced so that no one group can dominate the board.


Percy Henry is Anglican's Newest Deacon

by Fr. John Tyrrell

Bishop Terry Buckle presides over the ordination of Tr'ondek Hwech'in elder Percy Henry, a long-time member of Saint Paul's Church. Photo by Dan Davidson

Often when Percy Henry would walk into a place people would call out ,"Hey preacher!". It seems that Percy was recognized as a spiritual leader throughout the territory and into Alaska. Well, now when they call him "preacher", they are technically correct, for recently at the culmination of the Bishop's Assembly, Percy became The Reverend Deacon Percy Henry.

Bishop Terry Buckle, who ordained Percy, described him as a "street deacon". By that he meant that Percy's ministry is out on the streets rather than inside the church. His is a ministry of spiritual counselling, drawing on his long experience and his position as an elder and former chief of his First Nation. As Percy relates the Christian faith, he draws on the wisdom of his elders and the stories they passed on to him. Percy is that bridge between the knowledge of the past and those searching in the present.

The Bishop was careful to make it clear that while Fr. John Tyrrell, the local Anglican priest, may ask Deacon Percy to assist in some ways in special services, Percy has not been ordained to do funerals, baptisms, weddings or any of the routine work of the parish, but to continue to do what he has done for many years: listen, and advise and relate the wisdom of the long line of First Nation ministers to the current generations.

And that ministry is to people all over the Yukon and even into Alaska.

And so it was with great joy that a packed church joined as Percy was ordained a Deacon in the Church of God following in the steps of the Rev. Richard Martin of earlier Dawson years.


Edmonton Storyteller Holds His Audience

by Dan Davidson

Mollel uses the pictures in his book to help set the scene for a story. Photo by Dan Davidson

"Stories give second chances," Edmonton based writer/storyteller Tolowa M. Mollel says as he discusses the creation of his latest book, My Rows and Piles of Coins. While the home life of the Tanzanian boy who saves up his money to buy a bicycle is loosely based on the life he lived with his grandparents as a boy in Africa, Mollel admits that he was never enough of a planner and saver to do what he has the boy in the story do. But he's always wished he had been, so that's where the character came from.

Mollel was in Dawson City on September 26 to give a reading in Saint Paul's Anglican Church on Sunday afternoon. The author 15 children's books so far, the Tanzanian born Mollel has lived in Canada for the last 13 years and it was here that his career as a writer and storyteller took off.

"I loved mythology when I was young," he says, but the material he got to study in school was primarily the classics - Greek and Roman myths. He wondered why the stories of his own and other tribes weren't available.

Part of the answer was that they were still be told, rather than read. one of the things he decided he wanted to do was put some of them in print.

One of his most famous books is The Orphan Boy, a tale he adapted from a story he was told by a Massai elder. To learn the tale he had to walk many hours to the place where the man lived, and then sit and "eat words" with him (as the Massai put it) all day.

In the end he came away with a long tale about the origins of a legendary Massai leader. From that tale, he branched off into one about a roving star which comes to live with an old man and brightens his life. It's a powerful tale which has dominated discussions of Mollel's work ever since.

Wanting to be seen as somewhat less of a heavyweight tale spinner, he has also produced more humorous fare, such as the tale he told of the Money and the Hippo and how the monkey escaped with his life from the middle of the river.

Mollel is an experienced story teller of considerable power, bending his entire body into the telling of a tale and using his voice very effectively to set the mood and carry the action.

He told his tales to an audience on several dozen adults and children, who did him the honour of listening with great attention and buying quite a few of his books when his tales had ended.


Musical Performance in Dawson City

by Angela Rout

St Mary's Catholic Church set the stage for this Sunday's performance by musicians Danny Michel and Paul MacLeod. A stage that led to an evening which combined candid charm, humour and remarkably good music. A blend which made for a very entertaining evening.

The church as a concert setting may have been special for Danny who, after intermission noted that he was reminded of his early years as an Alter boy, and who rather sheepishly also admitted to have ripped the carpet on his last visit to Dawson, even though the mark was now nowhere to be found. This was a confession that did not go unheeded by Father Tim who wittily quipped in response "It was Healed!"

This genuinely comfortable atmosphere between the performers and the audience characterized the entire evening, highlighting the quality of the music presented. A quality that, would be hard to beat this fall, and for the price of seven dollars to boot!

The caliber of the music probably had something to do with the fact that the two musicians have been playing together for many years, and have strong independent musical careers. Danny Michel from Ottawa plays in two bands; The Starlings, and Danny Michel and the Wedding Band, while Paul MacLeod of Toronto plays in the Skydiggers and has played with Our Lady Peace. Both of them have produced independent CD's but have yet to come up with one together.

By offering both self composed songs and cover tunes they were able to put together a program that was original and accessible. Danny sang a number of his own songs which gave us a taste of his charm and sense of humor. His subjects ranged from such anecdotal themes as his personal experience with his Hearse car, his appreciation of an alien's point of view and his sympathy for a woman who was so in love with Brad Pit that she repeatedly broke into his home. The intensity and range of Paul's voice offered a complementary balance and gave a level of depth and strength to the evening, a strength that climaxed with his own version of Joni Mitchell's "I wish I had a river."

We have the Dawson Music Festival Society to thank for this concert. It was they who invited the duo to the Festival this summer and who jumped on the band wagon when the Frostbite Festival organizers from Whitehorse pleaded with them, seconds after their performance, to make it back to the Yukon this October. This is apparently the third time both performers have been to Dawson, a fact that did not hinder their profound excitement at many local idiosyncrasies. Who knows? Perhaps Dawson will be the subject their next hit song.

And did Dawson like the performance? A standing ovation may attest to that, and an encore which brought the team together for a monumental rendition of "Under Pressure" by Queen. Judging by the clapping hands and the smiles on the faces of these guys as they sauntered off stage, I would have to say that, without a doubt, this performance was fully appreciated.


Former Mayor at Odds with Present Council Over Lane Closure

by Dan Davidson

This blocked alley was the source of some political turmoil recently. Photo by Dan Davidson

When is a public lane not a public lane? The answer might be, when the public can't get through it. That would be the case at present with the lane that runs behind the Eldorado Hotel between 3rd and 4th Avenues in Dawson. The owner of the hotel, Peter Jenkins, has strategically placed a skid shed next to a power pole in the lane so that it would be difficult for anything much larger than a motorcycle to get by.

Jenkins has indicated that he would like to have the lane closed to traffic completely, and Mayor Glen Everitt has no problem with that, but he is insisting that Jenkins, the current M.L.A. and former mayor, follow the rules laid out for lane closures.

Everitt was circumspect in dealing with the issue at the October 6 meeting of council, and described it this way.

"We had a property owner in town that took it upon himself to close off an alley with a shed, vehicles and a fence, a gate."

All of these methods were used over a period of a week or two.

"He was requested by the city to follow the policy for the closing of alleys."

Basically, you just make a written request to the city and get the agreement of the other people who might be affected. Since Jenkins presided over a number of these alley closures during his years as mayor, Everitt reminded him that the procedure had not changed.

"I went over to cut the fence down," Everitt said. "We moved it out of the way. Vehicles were ticketed by the RCMP.

"A tow truck was went over to move the shed ... and was cornered off by three vehicles blocked it from getting near the shed. Loop-holes started to be addressed within municipal and territorial legislation."

Apparently the city bylaw dealing with traffic obstructions doesn't specifically mentions "sheds".

"Basically the spirit of the bylaw has been broken," Everitt said. "The property owner is absolutely refusing to follow the bylaws and laws of the city.

"They announced they were coming before council tonight, and they didn't show up."

A perusal of the agenda for the meeting showed only one delegation indicated, that being Peter Jenkins, who was clearly not in the room any time between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. Though Jenkins remained unnamed throughout Everitt's explanation, his identity was clear.

"Just take your camera and photograph it," said councillor Shirley Pennell.

It's not the first sign that the previously amicable relations between the M.L.A. and the present council have begin to deteriorate. The city was apparently thinking about having its vehicles park in such as way as to block egress from the lane by those belonging to the hotel.

As the week progressed, however, it appeared that the Municipal Act contained a reference to obstructed highways, and that the technical definition of a highway includes a reference to lanes. Jenkins was notified of this interpretation and given a new deadline for moving his shed, a deadline which he met.


Comment: Confessions of a Ditch-Walker

by Michael Gates

I am a ditch-walker and proud of it. Matter of fact: our whole family are ditch walkers without regrets. Where others have spent their weekends mending the fence, or going out fishing or hunting, we have spent ours sorting recyclables into various categories, and going on the hunt, up and down the streets and back alleys of Dawson , and all sorts of country roads and highways.

Ditch walking has many things to offer us. Our main reason for doing it is to collect recyclables to raise funds for charity. For personal reasons, we have chosen to raise money in support of B.C.'s Children's Hospital, and Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children, both in Vancouver. Over the years, they have been there to help children from many families in our community. To date, daughter Megan has proudly handed over $2700 to these organizations. This year, we are pleased that our contribution will likely be in excess of $2100. We have many people to thank for making that possible.

Ditch walking has many other advantages for us as a family. First of all, it provides us with an excellent form of exercise. Two years ago, for example, we walked the ditches along the Klondike Highway outside of Dawson for 65 miles, on both sides. Some places we even did twice, because recyclables are definitely a renewable resource to us.

Ditch walking is also a form of family recreation, for many times we have taken our camper with us on expeditions to various parts of the Yukon to collect bottles and cans. Having been to so many places, we have met many people and seen many things we would not otherwise have seen. Take for instance, a spring evening we once spent overlooking Gravel Lake. It was before the tourist season had started, but after the snow was gone and the ice had melted from the lake. It was peaceful and calm that evening as we spent an hour quietly watching a large moose work its way around the lake, shoulder deep in water. We watched in fascination as its head would disappear beneath the surface in search of food. It came within a hundred metres of us, before wading ashore and wandering off into the bush. It was definitely a Kodak moment.

Ditch walking also provides us with a sense of community responsibility, because, while pursuing this strange recreation, we are helping to clean up the environment. From that, everyone can benefit. At the same time, we have found it to be very educational. For instance, we calculated that if all the recyclables we collected were pop cans, and they were laid end to end, they would reach the Bear Creek community from our home in Dawson.

We also found it easy to speculate why we found recyclables in the ditches in the first place. Why, for instance, are there more recyclables on the side of the road leading into town, than on the side leading out? Why do we find concentrations of empties in certain places, such as corners? Why do we find them in clusters along the road (visions of multi-armed travelers, throwing out six cans at a time come to mind)? We learned to recognize cans which had just been thrown out, and distinguish them from the ones which had been lying there for a while (the latter become faded). Some of our revelations were not only enlightening, but alarming. The number of beer cans picked up along our highways outnumber the soft drinks by at least four to one. This is a sobering thought, except, of course, for those people who are consuming all that beer while driving!

Most satisfying for us, though, has been the tremendous support we have received from folks in the community. Some businesses contributed their recyclables, and many individuals, too. Many time, we have come home to find a bag of empties hanging from our fence, or a box of them resting beside our gate, the donor anonymous. To all of those donors, we say thank-you. As well, we have had people call us up on the telephone to say if we come right away, we can take away their bags and boxes of bottles and cans. Many folks have been encouraging as the tally slowly grew over the course of the summer, and the people at the recycling centre have always been wonderfully supportive. To everyone, we want you to know that your support has meant much to us; that what we are doing has meaning for others in the community as well.

Since we started our summer campaign to collect recyclables, we have tried to keep a list of the names of all the people who have helped our cause. Being human, we may have forgotten to write them all down at the time.. We would like to thank them all for their contributions, most notably being:

River West Food (Diane Roy); The Boardwalk Cafe; Klondike River Lodge;

Triple J bar staff; the crew of the Yukon Queen II; Forestry firefighters; staff at Klondike National Historic Sites; Michael Brand and archaeology crew and students at Lousetown; Jean at the Triple J; Paula Hassard; Byrun Shandler; Harold and Anne Shannon; the Klein Family; Barbara Hanulik; Myrna Butterworth; Bent and Bente Gulstad; Andrew Powter; Ian Cameron; Dina Cayen; Ron and Linda Moore; Denny Kobayashi; Greg Karais; Irene Nagano; Ann Saunders; Doris Dunn; John Calam; Cheryl Laing; Chris Ball; Kim Roberts, and many more.


Ode to Dawson City

by Bruce Stephen

Gold was discovered in "96" at a place called Rabbit Creek.
When word of the find reached Frisco, it started a wild stampede.
A hundred thousand started out to seek their pot of gold.
Most were raw Cheechackos, but what a story they have told.

Thwy came up over the Chilkoot Pass and down to Bennett Lake.
With rafts and boats past Tagish was the route that they did take.
Down river to Miles Canyon, Whitehorse Rapids they did brave.
The lucky ones got through them, many others had a watery grave.

And so on down the Yukon, and past the Lake Laberge.
Hootalinqua, Big Salmon and Carmacks; Five Finger Rapids loomed quite large.
Rink Rapids, Minto and Fort Selkirk meant the trip was near an end.
And when they passed the 60 Mile, gold was just around the bend.

They built a town called Dawson, and another at Dominion Creek.
There was Grand Forks and Lousetown, if pleasure they did seek.
There sure was gold a plenty, and many a fortune made.
But then machines took over from the sluice box and the spade.

A flume was built to carry water from 70 miles away.
Hydrauliking and mighty dredges were the methods that held sway.
North Klondike had a power plant, and railway tracks set down.
And anywhere west of Winnipeg there was no larger town.

The social life was quite a sight. The dresses were divine.
And when they had a Commissioners Ball, it was a merry time.
The gambling halls, with dancing girls, were open night and day.
If they drank too much, and had a fight, the Mounties made them pay.

Sternwheelers plied the river, and merchants set up shop.
The place was really busy, it seemed it would never stop.
But as the piles of tailings grew; the gold came less, and the people too.
And when the companies had gone, there were only a few to carry on.

A hundred years have passed since the original strike was made.
The town's still here, and the buildings too; and memories that never fade.
If the romance of the gold rush intrigues you; or history is for you;
Then Dawson is the place to be. There's much to see and do.

You can hear about Jack London, when the Yukon was his home.
And see the cabin where Service lived, and wrote many a poem.
A visit to the museum is something you should do.
You'll see bones of mammoths and artifacts, and an old steam engine or two.

The Keno rests on the river bank, where she has been restored.
And out along Bonanza Creek is Gold Dredge number 4.
There's dancing and gambling at Gerties, and a show at the Palace Grand.
There're places where you can pan for gold. So come and try your hand.

In the summer time' when the weather's fine, there's an annual Music Fest.
And those who know about this show, all say that it's the best.
There are unpaved streets and boardwalks; and buildings from away back when.
Once you've come down to Dawson, you'll want to come back again.

Editor's Note: Bruce Stephen is a territorial environmental health officer. For the last two summers he's been helping the City of Dawson study its effluent. He dropped this off a couple of weeks ago. We're sure that it's not just his work that has had this effect on him.


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