|The George Black Ferry crosses the Yukon River in September.|
by Dan Davidson
I don't like to spend too much time on self-analysis (the paper's, not mine) in this space, but when we make major changes here, which we don't do all that often, it's good to let people know what's happening.
First off, we did have our annual general meeting on September 30 and can announce some changes to the board of our parent organization, the Literary Society of the Klondike. Joining Palma, Sally and I on the board are Diane Marengere and Jennifer Last. We haven't worked out who's in charge of what yet, but that will come in due time.
Sylvie Gammie has tendered her resignation as a board member, though she is still very much involved in our distribution side as a volunteer. Thanks Sylvie, for your years of service.
Sharp eyes souls will have noticed that we have two positions listed at Klondike Outreach. Yes, it's true. Leanne's leaving us. Downtown Dick & Joanne made her an offer she couldn't refuse. It's just horrible when you have great staff and everyone else wants them.
That's the Office & Advertising Manager's position. We have also been approved under the "Ready, Aim, Hire" program of the Yukon Chamber of Commerce for a 20 week term winter hire project which we have listed as the O&A Assistant.
The most obvious change, of course, is that this issue is early. The newsstand edition came out on Wednesday and this has been filed before the weekend How can this be? Blame it on our advertisers. Leanne's conversations with them since May have revealed that most of them would really rather see us appear earlier in the week, so we've decided to give it a try and see if we can handle the timing.
Our original production periods were established in 1989 when the outfit was about 95% volunteer labour for that chore and weekends were the easiest times to get people together. But it was all manual work then, and a lot has changed since that time. With a higher percentage of paid staff labour to augment the efforts of the volunteers who write, take and develop photos and do our typing, it may be that it makes sense to adjust our schedules.
We discussed it during August and put it to the new board at the AGM. Go for it, they said. So we are.
Timing the change to put out an issue before the election seemed like a good plan.
by Dan Davidson
There were no major disagreements or confrontations at the municipal election forum in Dawson on October 7. A maximum of 25 citizens turned out to listen to and quiz the nine hopefuls waiting anxiously in the Ancillary Room at the Robert Service School.
The forum was also telecast via DCTV on community channel 11, with an open line for phone-in questions. There were five from the floor and five that were used from the phone-ins, but that doesn't really give an idea of how many people were actually involved in the process.
Glen Everitt led off the presentations, running comfortably on his record as a councillor and mayor over the last 6 years. He outlined the city's partnerships with local organizations and the achievements of the council he has been leading for the past year. Among the highlights were the establishment of the new municipal dump at Quigley, progress on resolution of a long range plan for secondary sewage treatment and the beginnings of a community initiative to combat crime and vandalism in the town.
In his closing remarks the mayor waxed eloquent about the special status of Dawson and the achievements of which the community has proven itself to be capable. Unlike his last electoral outing, Everitt read from a prepared text. He said later that he had so much to talk about he was afraid he would forget things if he didn't.
The other mayoralty candidate is Carol McBride, who let everyone know, right off the top, that "Yes, I'm serious." She admitted that she was new to this process and that her learning curve was pretty steep ("about 87%") at this point in the election. She felt that her experience in a long list of non-profit organizations gave her the experience she would need to master city politics.
She has also been the local court worker for a number of years and hopes to see the community take positive steps to resolve its social problems. Her style, she felt, would be to solicit directions from the public rather than to propose an agenda.
Joy Taylor, an 11 year Dawson resident, looked forward to joining a team, getting into the work and listening to people. Her recreation board experience was, she felt, a good background.
Aedes Scheer admitted to being known locally as "the vet, or the dog lady". Since moving here in 1994 she has thrown herself into a variety of community issues and has been a prime mover in starting the local Humane Society. Her issues were recreation, sewage treatment and personal security. She was anxious that Dawson not become too much of a tourist town.
Reneé Mayes hails from a long line of placer miners and ended up in Dawson 15 years ago, after having intended to come for only one summer. She too is a volunteer, generally spending at least three years with any organization she joins. These have included the Klondike Visitors Association, the Museum, the Women's Shelter and the city's Planning Board. Her specific issues were youth crime, recreation, sewage treatment and infrastructure development.
When asked later what changes she would make to the way council runs, she said she actually liked what was happening now and the only change she'd make would be to have herself at the table.
Eleanor Van Bibber has just finished one year as a councillor. For the most part she seemed content with her record and wished to run again to preserve continuity and maintain a good relationship with the Tr'ondek Hwech'in first nation.
Joanne Van Nostrand is a Certified Management Accountant and part owner of the Downtown Hotel. She felt she would bring a business perspective to council and help it function more efficiently. As a person who spent eight years planning the acquisition that brought her family to Dawson, she said she plans to stay here for a long time and wants to be involved. Her major issues include the Quigley Dump development, the multi-use facility, a revamped Heritage bylaw and vandalism. She supports family group conferencing as one method of dealing with this problem.
Shirley Pennell is seeking a third council term and also stands on her record of service over the last five years. She suggested that it either indicates that she is committed or that she should be. She believes that flexibility and good judgement are the keys to meeting the constantly shifting demands that come before council.
"I stand for principles not promises," she said, noting that the realities of local governance have a way of making even the simplest promises impossible to keep in the form they were made.
Last to speak was Darrell Lind, a local contractor and former philosophy major who felt that "running for office is a lot like getting on a bus" in that you know the general direction but not the actual destination.
"I can tell you for sure," he said, "that I have absolutely no experience."
Questions from the audience and the phone line followed these opening remarks.
Asked about full term commitment and attendance, candidates all indicated that they would serve out the three years and that they would give the job as much time as it demanded, perhaps 10 or more hours a week. Everitt, who joked that he didn't actually have a real job, has been putting in 40 to 60 hours a week for the last year. At $13,000 per annum, that works out to about 73 cents an hour. There were some 64 council meetings of various types last year.
The telephone brought in a question about loose dogs, to which most candidates followed Scheer's lead in saying that leashing, cleaning up and neutering would solve much of the problem. Lind even pledged to start tying up his dog.
McBride had "nothing" to say on the subject of a possible bridge across the Yukon River at Dawson, while Everitt was considerably muted from his public positions of the last term. It's inevitable, in his opinion, that there will be a bridge, but it might be one or two decades away, given the fiscal realities we face.
All candidates saw the major promotion year of 1998 as being merely the start of better things for Dawson. Scheer, Pennell and Mayes spoke of the need to have the celebrations leave something tangible in Dawson for locals. Van Nostrand saw a need to plan to avoid a drop off in visitation after '98.
McBride promised Wendy Burns (Yukon Anniversaries Commission) that she would even wear a dress for special anniversary events if elected.
Candidates were likewise agreed on the need to continue to promote mining as one of the key industries in the Klondike area and in the need to pursue positive and effective solutions to social problems such as crime in this area.
There was some concern among those present that the low numbers might indicate a high degree of apathy among the public. It might also have meant a large home audience or general satisfaction with the way things have been going. Only the statistics on polling day will give the answer to that concern.
by Dan Davidson
Whoever gets elected to serve on the council in Dawson City, their rate of remuneration has been set by a price of legislation which was one of the last bylaws passed by the outgoing council on October 6.
The Indemnity Bylaw, which is usually revisited annually by council, has undergone a number of revisions in recent years (the last in 1995), raising the base salaries of the mayor and council to current levels as a reflection of the increasing amount of time the job is taking.
The current revision does not change these levels, which are set at $5,000 for councillors and $14,000 for the mayor. What as been added to this version of the bill is an article which takes into account the increasing amount of city business with which councillors are dealing.
At one time, the major requirement of a Dawson councillor was to prepare for and attend two meetings a month. During the last three years that minimum number has risen to at least four meetings, the televised legislative sessions on the first and third Mondays being alternated with planning sessions on the second and fourth.
In addition, councillors are now expected to sit as members on a number of other boards and committees as liaison members. Further, there are numerous special meetings of council called for specific purposes: to meet with the YTG, or various other organizations. In all, council meetings last year added up to 64, excluding related commitments.
A new section of the Indemnity bylaw provides for the payment of a per diem amount of $100 for each day which requires a councillor to spend four or more hours on city business. If it is less than that the per diem will be $50.
Councillors also receive an expense allowance equal to one-third of the total base indemnity, and may be reimbursed for expenses approved by council and incurred while travelling on city business.
Two other perquisites remain. The first is free access by council members to all city facilities. The other is the same travel allowance bonus (two air fares), that the city pays to its organized employees after each year of service. There used to be an item granting free sewer and water services to the councillor's residences, but that has been gone for quite a few years now.
New councillors need to watch their attendance. They need to maintain a 60% record to qualify for all of this, and if they drop below this percentage they can be removed from office. They also may not miss more than three consecutive regular council meetings in a row (this would be over a six week period) or they will also lose their seats. Exceptions are made for holidays and illness, of course, but the former have to be arranged in advance so that council will maintain a quorum.
That's the deal, then. Current members of council have suggested that the basic indemnity works out to about 73 cents an hour, based on the amount of time they've put in over the last three years. The next three look to be just as busy.
by Dan Davidson
The Farmer's Market has closed for the year. Potential customers were greeted on October 9 by a hand-lettered sign on the front doors announcing that it would be closed for the remainder of 1997 and opening again in the spring of 1998.
A small notice in the October 7 edition of the Dawson City Insider indicated that the store "will be closing for renovations on October 8th at 7 p.m. We will reopen in the early spring with a new look. Thanks for your continued support and patronage."
When contacted, owner June Mather had no further comment about what that new look might entail.
Most of the visible staff at the Market appear to have been absorbed at Mark Mather's Dawson City General Store, although the two Mathers have firmly stated in the past that there is no business connection between the two operations.
Rumours of the impending closure had been circulating though the business community for several weeks, but no one was able to comment.
DAWSON CITY - The Klondike Visitors Association is excited about several announcements and resolutions made at the Alaska Visitors Association Annual Convention held in Anchorage October 1-3, 1997.
The Klondike Visitors Association tabled a resolution calling for the visitor industry's support to restore ferry service to Prince Rupert B.C. Following an announcement from Alaska Governor Tony Knowles that agreement had been reached to restore service in December 1997, the KVA resolution was amended and passed with unanimous consent to congratulate the city of Prince Rupert and the Alaska State Government who were responsible for negotiating the agreement.
The President of Princess Tours, Dean Brown, met with several delegates from Dawson City and assured them that they would see changes in the Princess brochure next year. KVA Chairman Lambert Curzon said: "Dean Brown took time to see all of us and sincerely apologized for the sections of the brochure that cast a negative light on the Yukon. He assured us that the Yukon and Dawson City are important and popular destinations, and he vowed that Princess would be doing even more in the coming years to promote the Yukon."
The KVA participated in a highway marketing seminar on Tuesday and Executive Director, Denny Kobayashi attended daily highway marketing meeting throughout the conference. "This was a committed group of highway businesses and Visitor Center representatives who met every morning at 7:30 a.m." said Kobayashi.
"The group prepared a resolution that was tabled on the floor of the convention that passed with unanimous consent. The resolution calls for an immediate allocation of funds to repair the Tok Highway and funds to complete upgrading of the Taylor Highway. These highways provide a critical transportation link to the Yukon and are reputed to be the worst highways in the state."
The KVA attended meetings that have resulted in agreement to expand the KVA's marketing partnerships with Alaska. State Tourism officials agreed to an improved presence for Dawson City at the State Visitor Center in Tok. Negotiations over the past few months culminated in an announcement by Era Aviation of Anchorage that direct one day flights between Anchorage and Dawson City will commence in May 1998. "We have been collaborating on this partnership for months with Air North and Era," said Paula Pawlovich, Marketing Manager for the KVA. "The Era announcement of direct flights to Dawson from Anchorage improves access for a travel market that is excited about visiting Dawson City."
Dawson City was well represented with nine local delegates in attendance.
It was a busy week of activities and a great opportunity to speak with our Alaskan neighbours in the visitor industry and many of our best corporate customers," said Lambert Curzon. The 1999 AVA Conference will be hosted by Holland America Cruise Lines in the form of a 5-day cruise from Vancouver, B.C. to Los Angeles, California. Delegates are already lining up ...
DAWSON CITY -- The Percy DeWolfe Memorial Mail Race Committee is pleased to announce the following details concerning our upcoming 1998 dog sled race:
Thursday March 19, 1998
10:00 a.m. at the Old Post Office
Dawson City, Yukon
$10,000.00 Canadian Min. guaranteed
Number of Dogs
Entry Fees & Deadlines
$250.00 Canadian/$190.00 U.S. (Before March 4, 1998)
$300.00 Canadian/$225.00 U.S. (March 5 to 18, 1998)
"full refund until race start"
Route / Length
Yukon River trail
Dawson City, Yukon to Eagle, Alaska, return
Total: 210 miles
Minimum 6 hours in Eagle, Alaska
Wednesday, March 18, 1998
7:00 p.m., Downtown Hotel, Dawson City
Attendance is mandatory
Nineteen ninety-eight marks the 22nd consecutive year this race has been run. For more race information, and a copy of the Rules and Regulations, write to:
Box 133, Dawson City, Yukon Y0B 1G0.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank our sponsors: Downtown Hotel (lead sponsor), the City of Dawson and the Klondike Visitors Association (KVA).
L' Association franco- yukonnaise est a la recherche de benevoles pour but d'activer le comite francophones de Dawson city. Pour plus d'info. appelez Diane au 993-5929.
Il y a une vaste collection de livres en francais; des romans, magazines, livers de reference, Bible, revues, dictionnaire, cassettes et video cassettes en francais ,livres pour enfants...
( Canada )
1896 - 1996
Par Pierre - Christian Guiollard
127 pages, ( English text available )
Preface par Anne Serre.
L' auteur a fait un beau travail de recherche qui parle de Dawson City, du Klondike, des mineurs et chercheurs d'or d'antan et d'aujourd'hui. En vente chez Maximillian et au Muse ( Museum ). L 'auteur a ecrit et publie a son propre compte plus d'une dizaine de livres et sa specialite ; les mines d 'or.
Francofete , semaine du 17 au 24 octobre,1997.
Soiree d' information pour la communaute francophones. Besoin de votre Input pour faciliter la mise en place des actions souhaitable du plan de developpement '97-'98. Bienvenue a tous ,welcome all!
La Chronique Grand Nord est publiee par le comite francophone de Dawson Cite,( P.O. Box 81 ,Dawson City, Y.T. YOB 1GO. ) ( E- Mail : email@example.com ) Klondike Sun fax: 993-6625
by Ken Spotswood
When most people visit Diamond Tooth Gerties Gambling Hall in Dawson City, they go to party and to try their luck at games of chance. Their minds are on the slot machines and gaming tables, or the live entertainment on-stage. Few people realize that the building itself has a rich history of theatre, entertainment and social activities that goes back to the turn of the century. For nearly 100 years the building has been the heart and home of many of Dawson's most important and festive social gatherings.
Oddly, it all began on February 26, 1899, on board the ocean steamer City of Seattle. The vessel was en route from Seattle to Skagway and was filled with gold seekers headed for the Klondike.
Its master, Capt. William Connell, was a hospitable man with a reputation for putting his passengers at ease despite the over-crowded conditions. On this particular trip the fraternal spirit--and the liquid variety--prevailed more than usual in the ship's dining room. It was Capt. Connell who suggested forming a great, social 'brotherhood of the North, where men from all parts of the world could meet and get to know one another'.
The idea was met with great enthusiasm. Initially there were eleven founding members on board the ship. In 1903 AB historian I.N. Wilcoxen described the meeting: "Being liberal of purse, and always enjoying the best obtainable, they ate, smoked and drank liberally of the best the Steward had. They found they were 'Arctic Brothers,' and proposed to celebrate the discovery by a night of revelry, mirth and laughter."
Bylaws and rules of order were drawn up. The preamble of its constitution states: "The object of this organization shall be to encourage and promote social and intellectual intercourse and benevolence among its members, and to advance the interests of its members, and those of the Northwest section of North America."
Membership was restricted to white males over age 18 who resided in Alaska, the Yukon Territory, the Northwest Territory, or British Columbia north of parallel 54 degrees, 20 minutes, north latitude. Candidates had to be nominated by members in good standing. They were either approved or rejected by a membership committee.
Its first badges reflected the members' drinking habits--officers wore champagne corks on their lapels, while ordinary members wore beer corks. The initiation fee was one dollar and the proceeds were usually spent on "a royal good time."
An emblem was designed which portrayed two crossed flags--the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes, a miner's gold pan with a crossed pick and shovel and the letters 'A..B.'. The entire design was encrusted with gold nuggets. Its motto was 'No Boundary Line Here'.
Camp No. 1 was established in Skagway soon after the ship docked. Within a month its ranks swelled to 311 men. As its members fanned out they established Camp No. 2 at Bennett and Camp No. 3 at Atlin, B.C.
"There were the usual objections to secret orders made to this new order by the churches, and the terms Arctic Bummers on one side and Sniveling Hypocrites on the other were frequently heard," reported AB historian I.N. Davidson.
The skeptics were silenced when they saw that the lodge looked after its members in sickness and health, buried its dead and generally improved educational and social conditions of the booming mining camps.
It wasn't long before every northern city, town and settlement of any importance boasted its Arctic Brotherhood camp. Eventually more than 30 camps were established throughout the North and, at its height, the Arctic Brotherhood boasted some 10,000 members. They included miners, businessmen, doctors, lawyers, government officials, American senators, Canadian members of Parliament and celebrities. Among its honourary members were King Edward VII and American presidents Warren G. Harding, Theodore Roosevelt and William McKinley.
Camp No. 4 was established at Dawson City on November 24, 1899. Its arrival was played up by the Klondike Nugget newspaper as a secret organization whose members met behind locked doors and wore lapel buttons with the mysterious letters 'A.B.':
"Alaska Bums," the Nugget suggested, noting that only Alaskans wear the insignia. "'Arctic Bean eaters' suggests someone else, with a vivid recollection of trail and early day experiences with the festive camp kettle."
Meetings in Dawson were held every Friday at McDonald's Hall, where the initiation of new members was always a colourful affair.
On Feb. 18, 1900, the Nugget reported: "Seven applicants were elected to membership of Dawson Camp No. 4, Arctic Brotherhood. After adjournment all the members assembled around the foot of the throne of her iciness, the Arctic Queen, when a flashlight picture was taken by the new made brother, photographer Cantwell. The picture represents each member sitting on a block of ice sucking on an icicle."
As the Dawson camp grew, so did its festivities. When initiations and business were concluded, "the camp went into social session and for two hours a most enjoyable time was had," the Nugget reported in March, 1901. "An elegant and bounteous lunch, the creation of B.F. Germain, was served, stories were told, recitations and songs rendered and the Arctic Brotherhood orchestra, the finest in Dawson, favored the throng with many of their choice selections."
As its membership increased the gatherings soon outgrew McDonald's Hall, and first discussion of an AB hall in Dawson was reported in the Nugget on Oct. 5, 1901: "It was decided to raise the money for building the hall by issuing coupons to members payable after six months as dues or redeemable in cash after one year..."
Money began pouring in for the project--so much and so fast that construction began four days later.
"Work on the Arctic Brotherhood Fraternity Hall was commenced this morning," the Nugget reported on Oct. 9, 1901. "The plan for the building was prepared by members of the camp, and when completed it will be one story and a half high, covering a space of 50 by 100 feet.
"There will be no pillars in the room, thus giving the largest floor space of any hall in the city for dancing or other entertainments. In the end of the building opposite the entrance there will be a stage 16x32 feet and on the sides of this there will be a fully equipped kitchen.
"On both sides of the hall and at the rear end will be platforms for the officers, making it a completely fitted lodge room. A balcony is to be erected opposite the stage, part of which will be partitioned off into a committee room, and lockers for the safe keeping of paraphernalia (sic). "One of the beauties of the hall will be the flooring, which will be double and have a covering of Puget Sound fir which will make it the finest floor of any hall north of Vancouver.
"Surveyors were put to work this morning and had the lot measured off this noon, and this afternoon men were put to work excavating for the foundation."
When the Arctic Brotherhood made up its mind to do something, it didn't mess around. The building was completed in just three weeks, at a cost of $16,000.
Planning then began for a formal ball and dedication ceremony--a gala event that was to be the largest and most lavish social gathering ever held in the short, but colourful history of Dawson City.
The inaugural ball and dedication ceremony of the new Arctic Brotherhood Hall was held November 20, 1901. It was a public event at which every member of Camp No. 4 participated. The hall was decorated with flags--the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack--bunting, picks, pans, shovels and snowshoes emblematic of the order. The folks of Dawson had never seen such pomp and ceremony either. The Nugget reported the event in dramatic style: "With a fanfare of trumpets and in a mellowed light made all the more weird by an array of torches and the occasional burning of red fire, with its lay members clad in cowled robes of spotless white, its officers vested in parkeys of royal purple, and with such other concomitants as were necessary to add mysteriousness, impressiveness and solemnity to the occasion, the Arctic Brotherhood yesterday evening in the presence of its friends, wives, sisters and sweethearts duly dedicated to the uses of the order and the brotherhood of man, the hall and building recently completed, the largest and best structure of its kind not alone in Dawson, but in the entire great northwest.
"Indeed, it would be hard to find anywhere on the Pacific coast outside of the largest cities a building more complete which has been specially constructed for the exclusive use of a secret organization.
"By 9 o'clock the two rows of chairs surrounding the hall, and the gallery, were filled, every seat being occupied by the fair ones and their escorts intent upon witnessing for the first time some of the occult incantations indissolubly associated with all orders of a secret nature.
"Such youth, beauty and chivalry as Dawson can claim was present in all the radiance made possible by the regulation sombre black evening dress and immaculate shirt bosoms of the gentlemen and the elaborate gowns, bare arms and faultlessly moulded, snowy shoulders of the ladies...
"The hall is larger, so it is said, by 500 square feet than the old Savoy, yet during the early part of the evening it was so packed as to render dancing somewhat difficult, the gallery, too, in the meantime being crowded to its utmost capacity. It is thought fully 250 couples were in attendance, a number far larger than has ever before gathered together upon any similar occasion."
What followed was a lengthy and colourful ceremony that lasted more than an hour.
"The orchestra again played a march and 100 members of the camp filed in to the martial strain, each robed in a white parkey. After marching twice around the hall they were arranged half on either side facing each other... "After a few remarks apropos of the occasion, the singing of the odes and an invocation by the grand chaplain the ceremony was proceeded with. The grand guide of the north presented a gold pan of snow emblematic of purity; him of the south a bouquet of flowers typifying life and the land of sunshine; from the guide of the east was received a boulder of quartz as representative of integrity, the limitless wealth of the far north and the solid foundation upon which the Arctic Brotherhood is founded; the grand keeper of nuggets presented a horn of plenty filled with gold dust, the individual offerings of the members of the order toward the liquidation of the society's debt."
The hall was finally dedicated, its keys were formally presented and a sacred flame was lit on the altar which was followed by more singing and incantations. At the end a photographer took a 'flashlight photograph' of the scene, but he had over-estimated the amount of flash powder needed. The result was a loud explosion which frightened everyone and filled the hall with smoke.
After all the pomp and ceremony it was 10:30 p.m. before the first dance was played, and it was 4:30 a.m. when the music ended. "The floor was in an excellent condition, the music was inspiring, making one's feet tingle with a desire to dance on and on with joy unconfined and where a surfeit was ordinarily expected, still the dancers clamored for more, more till the orchestra laid down their instruments in sheer desperation."
The event was such a success that the lodge decided to hold a ball every two weeks for the duration of the winter. At $5 a couple--supper included--it was also a dandy way to pay off its debt on the building. 'Extra' or unescorted ladies were admitted for one dollar. Admission was later raised to $10 a couple and it seems no one minded.
Advertisements proclaimed 51 dances in an evening with "the best music and most splendid refreshments" that Dawson had to offer. In addition to its grand balls, the A.B. Hall was used for a wide variety of community and political meetings and banquets. Activities included indoor baseball, concerts, recitals, the Arctic Brotherhood Circus and a series of theatrical plays.
In August of 1902 the Nugget championed the cause of the Arctic Brotherhood in an editorial:
"The Arctic Brotherhood has attained great strength in the north by reason of the objects which it seeks to accomplish. It has brought hundreds of men within reach of social environments whose lives otherwise would be extremely lonesome and in many ways has contributed toward making the sojourn of its members in the north both pleasureable and profitable. The Nugget bespeaks long life and success to the A.B.'s."
But it wasn't to be. The lodge's membership gradually declined with the exodus of miners and merchants from various towns and mining camps as new gold discoveries were made elsewhere. Conscription during the First World War depleted its ranks further. As its members gradually aged and died, so did the organization.
From about 1925 to 1933 the A.B. Hall served as Dawson's community centre. Ownership of and responsibility for the hall was transferred to the Dawson branch of the Fraternal Order of Eagles in 1929 when the Eagles' Hall burned down. It was subsequently known as the Eagles' Hall until 1943, about which time they ceased to function in Dawson and disbanded. In 1943 the Dawson Community Inc. obtained title to the property--a society formed by local citizens who bought shares for the purposes of maintaining the hall for use by the citizens of Dawson.
The City of Dawson obtained title in 1951 and operated it as a community hall. The building was re-named in 1967 when it became the Centennial Hall, in honour of Canada's 100th birthday.
On July 2, 1971, the city leased the building to the Klondike Visitors Association, which transformed it into the popular casino known today as Diamond Tooth Gerties. The casino is still unique in Canada in that visitors can gamble, drink alcoholic beverages and enjoy live entertainment, all in the same room.
The KVA is a non-profit society, and revenue from the casino is re-invested in the community to preserve historic sites, produce local events and tourist attractions, and to promote the Klondike as a tourist destination. It is named after Gertie Lovejoy, one of the most famous of Dawson's dance-hall queens during the gold rush era. She got her nickname after having a diamond inserted between her two front teeth.
Years later Lovejoy inadvertently gained respectability when she married C.W. Taber, one of the town's leading lawyers, a prominent Conservative and a friend of commissioner George Black. It was the presence of Taber's wife--and her shady past--at a dinner party in the commissioner's residence that roused half the town to righteous indignation.
The event was immortalized by author Laura Berton in her autobiography 'I Married the Klondike'. Berton--who attended the same party--wrote: "The Blacks were always loyal to their friends and I am sure that Mrs. Black got added enjoyment by breaking the accepted social code that former dance-hall girls were beyond the pale.
"Gertie was a demure little woman, quite pretty and very self-effacing. She had little to say, but when she did speak, the famous diamond could be seen glittering between her two front teeth. Tongues wagged furiously the next day."
The building known as Diamond Tooth Gerties has an impressive history. One of its fondest reminiscences was penned by author Pierre Berton in his book 'Starting Out' which chronicled his boyhood memories of 1920s Dawson: "In the Arctic Brotherhood Hall, where many of the big dances were held, there was always a dumpy little woman with a hooked nose, her chalk-white face half concealed by a light veil, who sat alone in one of the boxes. Who was she? Why did no one ever sit with her? My parents evaded my questions. There she sat, looking down impassively on the whirling dancers, never leaving her box or speaking to a living soul.
"It took me a long time to figure out that she had once been a leading light in Dawson's demi-monde during the early days and was, no doubt, reliving vicariously those great moments when, rouged and lipsticked, in a similar box she had drunk champagne at thirty dollars a pint, paid for by one of the Kings of Eldorado."
Next time you visit Gerties--before you fall under the spell of the gambling tables and the entertainment--take a walk around the hall and remember the Arctic Brotherhood:
"They found they were 'Arctic Brothers', and proposed to celebrate the discovery by a night of revelry, mirth and laughter." Nearly 100 years later, the tradition continues each night when Gerties opens its doors.
by Dan Davidson
The new Fine Arts class at the Robert Service School proved that they can fill a stage with fun at their first public presentation on October 3. Performing at Gerties as part of a casino night intended to raise money for the school's Young Women Exploring Careers program.
The Klondike Visitors Association makes the facilities at Diamond Tooth Gerties available for community groups to use for fund raising on a regular basis outside of the normal tourist season.
The Fine Arts class is made up of 14 grade 11 and 12 students and was instituted, under the direction of Grant Hartwick, to fulfill the fine arts requirements under the revised graduation curriculum.
In Hartwick, whose acting talents were well known throughout the Yukon before he went into his teaching career, they have an excellent instructor. In addition, His wife, Dale Cooper, has been assisting in teaching the crew to trip the light fantastic.
That training was immediately obvious in their opening number, a dance piece called, simply, "Top Hat", performed to the music of "Top Hat, White Tie and Tails" by Tony Bennett. There were the guys in their spiffy clothes, and the gals in their best slinky dresses, taking command of the stage, ignoring the continued pinging of the slot machines in the background (some people...), and strutting their stuff just like they knew what they were doing and weren't at all nervous.
They followed that up with a nifty little skit about the continuing battle of the sexes, pantomimed to the sounds of the Beastie Boys "Girls, Girls, Girls!". Two lads heading out for an evening's cruising fail to pick up dates, break down and have to be rescued by two other young women and finally get arrested for speeding and drinking by a female police officer.
The final silent treat was a slow motion bar fight, the kind of Yukon stage fare that has been a staple for years at the Follies in both Dawson and Whitehorse.
The more seasoned duo of Hartwick and Cooper warmed up the audience with some help from Wendy Parry on piano, while Cooper and Parry kept the stage warm during the costume changes.
Down in the concession area, the rest of the grade 11 and 12 girls were serving sandwiches and other snacks to help pad out the bank account. Later, the card games, roulette wheel and slots got fully into gear. We hope everyone spent lots of money and helped the kids finance their winter trip, but mostly we are impressed by the crew on stage, who have come a long way in a very short time.
by Ed Jones
In 1887 the Department of the Interior of the Dominion of Canada assigned William Ogilvie, Astronomer, Dominion Land Surveyor and Explorer to the Yukon Territory. The first news he received on landing at Chilkat, Alaska was that there was trouble in the interior, on the Lewes (Yukon) River, in the vicinity where he intended to go.
A miner who had recently arrived from the interior stated that there had been a fight between the Indians and the miners at the mouth of Stewart River. The result of the affair he alleged was that four Indians and two white men had been killed, and that the Indians had come up the river as far as Miles Canyon to lie in wait for any white men who might be going into the country.
The first building constructed by white men in what is now known as the Yukon was called Glenlyon House. It was built in 1840 by men in the employ of the Hudson's Bay Co. under the direction of Hudson's Bay clerk, Robert Campbell. Glenlyon House was located on a point of land on Frances Lake where it divides into two branches. Campbell named the point "Simpson's Tower" after Sir George Simpson, a governor of the Hudson's Bay Co. LaPierre's House was established on the Bell River, tributary to the Porcupine River, in 1846 by Hudson's Bay trader, Alexander Hunter Murray. In 1893 it was sold to the Anglican Church.
The Northwest Mounted Police arrived in the Yukon in 1894, and constructed Ft. Constantine at the mouth of the 40Mile River across from the mining camp of 40Mile. Traders for the North American Trading & Transportation Co. which established a post near 40Mile, and the Anglican Bishop of the Yukon, William Bompas had complained to Canadian officials that Americans were smuggling whiskey, and distilling "hootch".
In 1893 John Ttssietla became the first of many First Nation men to be ordained by the Anglican Church.
In 1890 U.S. surveyors found that Hudson's Bay Company's post, Rampart House, was on American territory. The post was closed permanently.
The first white person's name given to a Yukon geographical feature was that of Lady Frances Simpson, wife of Sir George Simpson, a governor of the Hudson's Bay Co. The name was given by Robert Campbell to Frances Lake July 19, 1840 when he came upon "a beautiful sheet of water".
Fort Frances, or Frances Lake Post was the first trading post established in the Yukon. It was constructed by employees of the Hudson's Bay Co. under the direction of Robert Campbell, a clerk for that Company.
Early Yukon miners told a story that in 1886 the Pelly and River Indians were "destroyed by a band that crossed the Rocky Mountains from the vicinity of the MacKenzie RiverHare Indians, probably, from the vicinity of Norman".
The first Anglican missionary in the Yukon, Robert McDonald told the shamans of the Tetlit Kutchin tribe: "Thank you for coming to my tent. I am honoured. You are great, powerful leaders of your tribes. It is you who understand the spirit world. Your God, Vittekwichanchyo, is the God of all people".
Joseph Ladue, founder of Dawson City was born in Schuyler Falls, New York in 1855 of French Hugenot parents. His father was Joseph Frances Ladue, Sr.; his mother Mary Pelkey Ladue. On one of his trips to Schuyler Falls after the goldrush of '98 Joseph end "Kitty" adopted the sixmonthold son of Ladue's close friend, Willis Lamay who had accompanied him to the Yukon in the early 1880's. The boy, whose mother had died in childbirth, was named Joseph Frances Ladue. In 1971 he visited Dawson City and was made an honorary member of the Yukon Order of Pioneers.
Lake Lebarge was named for Michael Lebarge, an employee of the Overland Telegraph Company be, along with Frank Ketchum and William Dall explored a portion of a route for an overland telegraph line to extend from Portland, Oregon, through British Columbia, along the Yukon River basin, across the Bering Straits, to Siberia, along the Amur River to St. Petersburg, Russia. During Lebarge's travels he followed the Yukon River to the site of the old Hudson's Bay Co. post at Fort Selkirk, arriving in the summer of 1867.
Just read your news articles for middle of Sept. Back in 1944 I too was one of your major problems when we were being brought up in the Hostel behind the Anglican church. I suppose it is torn down now. Sounds like vandalism is even worse than I remember it back then. Hope you people solve the problem.
I now live in Blaine Washington and down here vandalism is too my knowledge almost non existent.
Thanks for publishing a local paper. I shall be checking in once in a while for local new items.
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