Dawson City, Yukon Friday, October 18, 1996

Tourism in Dawson City was rediscovered in a big way in the 1960's, but 30 years before that E.H. "Chappie" Chapman knew it was one way to make a buck. Now, Gold City Tours, the local tour company, has returned Chapman's original 1929 Chev Touring Bus to Dawson, where it will serve as a display, parade and occasional tour vehicle. In this picture. Chapman chaffeurs some people identifed by Evelyn Craig in a 1968 letter as "Indians from the Peel River country, from whom Dad bought furs for resale. They had never before ridden in a car or bus, so he gave them a ride, which thrilled them so much that they giggled with excitement the whole time."

Feature Stories

Council doesn't want to leap into sewage treatment
Dawsonites Face the Polls Again
Dawson City's history, geography influences design
The Tale of the Little Yellow Bus
Obituary: Arthur Elton Anderson, "No. 1"
From Zhanjiang to Dawson City
The Literary Section
E-Mail: The Sun Shines Further South

Council doesn't want to leap into sewage treatment

by Dan Davidson
Sun Staff

"Better start digging your outhouse," was councillor John Mitchell's glum summary of the city's recent experience before the Water Board. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans, EPA and Water Resources took a dim view of the city's plan to dilute its effluent and buy itself some time in the race to meet the conditions of its licence.

The city had applied for a 7 year water licence with a plan to upgrade the system by stages and establish a new data base for evaluation.

It hasn't been meeting current tests, one of which involves placing fish in raw sewage for 72 hours. The other one measures the fecal coloform count in the water.

The city has maintained that this failure is partly because of the location of the sewage dump used by out of town residents and businesses who require eduction services. Currently the dump is right at the primary treatment plant, and most of the test failures seem to be during the times when collected sewage from holding tanks is being dumped there. This increases greatly in the summer.

The treatment station, which has been upgraded, is essentially a process for screening the more coherent lumps of waste out of the water flow. Like any sieve, it can only handle so much flow at any given time. The normal current of the system is okay, but the extra from dumping tends to overflow.

"Due to a paper fillip," Mitchell explained at a council meeting prior to the hearings, "our original application for a 7 year program was missed. We had the submission and they didn't have the people to do it. (The Water Board) recommended that we apply for a two year licence."

The problem from the city's point of view, is that the interveners against its proposal seem to want the city to come up with secondary sewage treatment in just two years. Council doesn't feel it can meet that schedule, indeed, doesn't even think that the data on which this demand is based are accurate.

"We feel that the improvements that we're suggesting are going to change the whole base of data as to how much we'd use secondary treatment," Mitchell explained.

The proposed solution is, to put it bluntly, dilution. Dawson's whole sewer system, as installed by the territorial government some fifteen years ago, is based on a high volume of water running continuously in the pipes to keep it from freezing up. During the winter months this also seems to keep its effluent within an acceptable range on tests.

"But we can't bleed (extra water) all summer," said councillor Glen Everitt. Even though that would seem to reduce the potential hazard, it would not be seen as addressing the problem.

"I was shocked," he continued, "to hear it when they said it (the effluent) was toxic to the fish, but they are not concerned about us eating the fish."

The city wants to create a dumping station and lagoon that is separate from the regular system to reduce the overloading. It would also like to modify the current system to use multiple diffusers at the point of entry into the river to dilute the impact at the end of the single pipe. Interveners at the Water Board hearing found this unsatisfactory.

Secondary treatment would bring massive increases to an annual water bill which already tops $1100 per household. A sewage lagoon - assuming anyone could find a place to put it - would cost $11 million to put into place. The city would have to bear at least 20% of that cost, according to Mitchell. Homeowners bills would rise by $621. The capital expenditure for mechanical treatment would be five to six million and the operating costs would raise bills to double their current size.

"You can understand why we don't want to leap into this, especially if the improvements that we propose decrease the size of the capital investment. At no point in the past has YTG ever helped with the O&M."

If the Water Board follows the advice of the city's detractors, Dawsonites can look forward to even higher bills in the not too distant future.


Dawsonites Face the Polls Again

by Dan Davidson
Sun Staff

The date has been set and the die is cast for the Dawson municipal byelection, made necessary just over a month ago by the unexpected resignation of Art Webster as Dawson's mayor.

Now that the territorial election is over, Glen Everitt, the unsuccessful third place Liberal candidate for the riding, has stepped down from council and tossed his hat in the ring for the mayor's job. His resignation was actually filed with the city last Thursday, 3 days after the election, but was postdated to take effect on October 7 at midnight.

There were several reasons for this timing. Everitt was scheduled to attend the recent meeting of the Association of Yukon Communities on behalf of the town, and no one else had time to take it on. Having it take effect after the Oct. 7 biweekly meeting meant that council had a quorum for the evening.

Then too, his resignation frees up a council seat which must also be filled and so both elections can be timed and held at the same time. Nominations here will open on Thursday, Oct. 10, and close on Oct. 17. The byelection will take place on November 7.

Everitt denies rumours that he really wanted the mayor's chair in the first place, pointing out that he started his own territorial campaign back in February, long before anyone could have suspected what Webster was going to do.

"I was approached (about the mayor's job) by a lot of people during the campaign, and immediately following the election result. The fact is that Dawson's got a lot of issues on the table, with the water license, land development and things that we're in the process of ... finishing. I believe that if someone wants to take an interest in the position of mayor or council you have to start at a certain level. I think it's important that we have a mayor in Dawson that has experience."

Everitt, who is two-thirds of the way through his third council term, obviously feels he has that experience.

"(The mayor) must be someone who knows where the issues are. There's a year left in our mandate in a term of three years, where a new mayor and a new council formed together with plans and a vision. It would be difficult for someone to walk right into."

Everitt promotes the council chair he is vacating as the perfect "entry level" position for someone who wants to begin to learn about municipal politics hands on.

Everitt is offering himself in this campaign, and feels liberated by not having to try and sell an entire team along with himself.

"I'm committed to Dawson," he says, "and seeing things happen here. I've dedicated a lot of my time and it's been a learning experience since 1990. I've grown with the experience. I have a lot of knowledge and experience in dealing with the issues that face Dawson right now."

He has been part of the decisions that have put Dawson where it is now, and feels a strong commitment to the consensus style of leadership which Art Webster brought to the council.

"In this council the ex-mayor did his bests to keep council informed and allow all of us to have a say in what happened. That was a new experience. It was nice... That's a healthy council and that's what I'm aiming for."

He is looking to have city council work as a team with the local first nation and the territorial government during the remainder of this council's mandate.

There's no word at this time as to who else might be interested in serving as mayor for a year, but these are exciting times in Dawson, as acting deputy mayor Shirley Pennell pointed out during her farewell to Everitt, and it may be that others will also relish the challenge.


Dawson City's history, geography influences design

Reprinted from a CMHC bulletin

In the place fame Klondike poet Robert Service called "the land of the midnight sun", lie challenges in history and geography. The people who live in Dawson City, Yukon Territory want the spirit of Dan McGrew and Sam McGee to be reflected even in new buildings constructed on the soupy soils found at the junction of the Klondike and Yukon Rivers.

When George M. Dawson, Director of the Geological Survey of Canada, explored the region in 1887, it was still a native summer fishing camp. Everything changed in 1896 when tiny gold nuggets were found sparkling in the coarse sand of nearby creeks. Within two years, Dawson was the larges Canadian cit west of Winnipeg. Its 40,000 people had telephones, running water and steam heat. There were riverboats, dance halls, theatres and elaborate hotels. Prices soared. Colourful stories, some of them even true, entered into myth.

Only four years later, the population of the "Paris of the North" was down to 1,000 people. Sourdoughs who panned creek bottoms were gone, replaced by major mining operations.

Today, placer mining, the mining of sand or gravel, remains a major industry. As does tourism. Sixty thousand people visit Dawson City every summer to take walking tours of restored, turn-of-the-century buildings and maybe gamble a dollar or catch a can-can show or hear "queer tales" of sour toe cocktails at Diamond Tooth Gertie's Gambling Hall.

It is this historic gold rush flavour, and the tourism industry, that the community is seeking to protect with a unique streetscape bylaw, that even covers the street itself.

"There's no such thing as asphalt on the streets, they have to stay mud," says Jim Beacon, Yukon Housing Corporation's project manager for the two demo homes. "They have an 1898 -1910 window. Everything has to look like that," he explains.

"It's basically a facade bylaw," adds YHC Dan Boyd. "It states what can go on the walls and on the roof. You must use metal on the roof; you must use double or single hung windows; you must use real wood siding - a lap siding of some sort." It's great for the tourists, but tricky for people wanting to build homes at the cutting edge of technology 100 years later.

Gables and dormers are fairly east to add to the most modern of northern designs available, but what about that roof? During the gold rush days, people cut one side of a 45 gallon drum and unrolled it for roofing material.

"(Bylaw officials) would really like us to use metal 45 gallon drums cut and rolled out - (gold rush builders) also used corrogated tin. They would really like to see that, but we convince them otherwise." says Beacon. Another concession has been in the demand for wooden doors, says Boyd. "You're supposed to use real wood doors, but the do allow you to put on a wood storm door and then a metal insulated inside door."

So as well as the "strange things done in the midnight sun" by builders dealing with unstable permafrost soils brought about by Dawson City's geography, the town's history also has to be taken into consideration. Beacon chuckles. "It's no real problem for us. We do it all the time."

* * * * *

(Sun Editor's note: The Historic Control Bylaw does not state that our streets have to be mud and dirt. One reason they are is because we've ripped them up too often since 1980 to allow them to be paved. Another is that we can't afford it, and that seems unlikely to change in the immediate future. Beacon's comments about metal roofs are also hyperbole.)


The Tale of the Little Yellow Bus

by Dan Davidson
Sun Staff

Bill and Sheila Learning pose beside their little red bus.

David "Buffalo" Taylor leafs through a binder in the heated cab of one of his vans on a chilly Sunday afternoon. Ragtime music tinkles softly in the background as he gloats proudly over his newest acquisition, the 1929 Chevrolet International Utility Express vehicle which was the ancestor of the business he now runs, Gold City Tours.

The "Yukon yellow" (that was the name of official colour) touring bus holds twelve people, making it smaller than the van in which we are sitting, but it's a piece of history and Taylor is overjoyed to have it under his eye in the Klondike.

Ernest H. "Chappie" Chapman bought the bus in 1929, as just one in a series of businesses he operated in the community between 1908 and 1941, when he was killed in a airplane accident not far from the Dawson airport. The tourist business was a summer time occupation for him, according to a 1968 letter from his daughter, Evelyn Craig, who now lives in Richmond.

"Chappie's Sightseeing Bus" was what he called it. His business card advertised tours on the "Yellow Bus" as well as in enclosed cars, and mentioned the Midnight Dome as well as fishing trips. The bus itself bore the legend "Gold Rooms", "Hydraulic Mines" and "Gold Dredges".

Eventually the golden yellow bus was sold to a local garage, which painted it blue, and then to Lawrence Seeley, who passed it on to a Mr. Armitage, owner of the Ninety-eight Hotel in Whitehorse. Armitage used it to haul people back and forth from the White Pass train station, but it passed into disuse and was finally picked up by Edmontonian Bill Learning in 1963.

A photograph from that period shows the bus sporting a red coat and still looking fit to run. In the 33 years since then, the little bus has motored its way through antique car rallies, the birthday celebrations of 8 children and a fair share of Klondike Days Parades in Edmonton.

Learning stripped the bus down a couple of times and finally did a "frame-off" restoration. It was during this process that he discovered the pattern of the original lettering, imprinted onto the metal beneath the various paint jobs.

Along the way, Learning discovered that the bus once belonged in Dawson City, though he had not known that when he visited here in 1967. He told Taylor that he once offered the bus to the then struggling Dawson City Museum, which turned it down due to lack of a place to keep it. It wasn't until the mid-1980s that the museum's home in the Old Territorial Building was finally restored and made secure, and still later that an enclosure was erected for the Klondike era locomotive engines.

"I've always wanted an old bus," says Taylor, who already owns an antique caddy and truck. "My logo is an old bus, though not this particular style."

Learning decided to sell the bus after a heart attack left him unable to drive it. While it has been a family treasure for 33 years, and the centerpiece of many a birthday and special event, Learning felt that it belonged back in Dawson City.

Says Taylor, "I might not have bought the bus except for the fact that it came from Dawson City. Chappie did tours with the bus, judging from the letters from his late daughter, until the late thirties and then he sold it."

For Taylor that made it a piece of Dawson history, and one he was anxious to reclaim from Edmonton, which he feels has already sunk its claws too deeply into the Klondike mythos.

After a lengthy period of negotiations, he and Learning settled on a price, which included a trip to the Klondike for husband and wife.

"He wanted to see where Chappie was buried. He was very interested in that. He wanted to see the Dome Road. So we went up the road and they were quite surprised it was that far up there."

Taylor brought them down part of the old Dome Road, with its steep grades and switchbacks, because this was the road Chappie Chapman would have used on his tours.

The bus also used to do a Bear Creek tour so that was also part of the Learning's visit as was the annual Outhouse Race, where the smiling couple watched another collection of wheeled contrivances being put through their paces.

Taylor declines to reveal what he paid for the bus, though he allows that he's mortgaged his house to buy it.

"But the bank won't get it if I kick the bucket. I've made sure of that. It'll stay here in Dawson."

Since the bus is what Taylor calls an "oddball" item, not in one of the usual categories of antiques, its value depends to a certain extent on who wants it. Appraisals have run between $32,000 and $60,000, not including the amount of personal time Learning put into its upkeep and restoration during the three decades he owned it.

The little yellow bus came home on August 15, hauled north on a truck from Mackenzie Petroleums Ltd. Refinishing some of the interior cedar woodwork and replacing the clutch will be among Taylor's winter projects. In addition a picture of the bus will replace the drawing currently used in the Gold City Tours corporate logo and signs.

Taylor sees using this beauty for special tours and VIPs. It would have been the sort of thing to offer to the Prime Minister's entourage last summer, for instance.

"It's kind of fragile to be using for daily tours," he muses, peering through the window into the garage where it now rests.

So it will probably spend most of its time on display, perhaps in a room at the old Flora Dora Hotel, adjacent to Gold City Tours, where people will be able to see it through specially tempered windows. He's too concerned about vandalism and theft to leave it outside, not to mention the wear and tear of Dawson's climate and dust. He flicks on the windshield wipers to brush away the afternoon's accumulation and prove his point.

In the meantime, he's pleased that it's here, and hopes to be able to fill in its complete history by the time it's up and running next summer.

He's heard that some people in Edmonton are not happy about the outcome. A couple of museums there had expressed an interest, and it was used in the annual parade marking Klondike Days. But for Buffalo Taylor, that just makes his triumph a little sweeter.


Obituary: Arthur Elton Anderson, "No. 1"

The youngest of six children, Art was born to Mary (Charles) Phillips and Pete Anderson at Forty Mile on March 27, 1912. Art was raised by his widowed father. He spent all of his youthful years learning many skills from his father.

Aside from learning skills such as blacksmith, agriculture, trapping, fishing and a little prospecting, Art also drove a team of big black horses and a team of strong dogs. Art spent a lot of time travelling up and down the Yukon River doing business in Dawson.

It was on one of these trips that he met Mary Eva Simon at Moosehide. They were married in Dawson on October 18, 1947. They raised three children; Margaret, Jimmy and Nancy. Art had many skills and met many challenges. He worked on ferries at Stewart and Pelly - to woodcutting on the Stewart, fishing and trapping and a little prospecting. This provided well for his family.

In 1957, Art, along with his partner, decided to do a little prospecting as he suspected mineral on his trapline. They were grubstaked by Fred Caley. Thus, the beginning of history. He was quoted, his words, "I'm no prospector. I didn't know geology. I didn't have to. The asbestos was obvious."

Ten years later, Clinton Creek Mine was in operation. Humble as he was, Art accepted the offer of employment. Being employee No. 1. Being a co-founder of asbestos, first employee at the mine, Art became known and respected. Always referred to as No. 1, Art worked at many capacities until the closing up to the last day. He was honored and recognized at many functions held at the mining camp.

Art became a widower during his retirement years in Dawson. Being very close to his family and friends, Art was quiet, pleasant and at times could be humorous. He told many stories of his life at Forty-Mile and of people he knew. He often mentioned the respect for the land, when fish and game were plentiful.

He enjoyed having visitors and was well kept up on current affairs. Art always made trips back to Forty Mile, his home town. Two years ago, his sister Anne visited and spent time at Forty Mile with family members. Together they reminisced and one could almost see the child-like sparkles in his eyes. Right up to the time of his death, Art enjoyed every minute of his hunting and camping trips.

Even if Art was dubbed No. 1 at Clinton Creek, he is considered by his family No. 1 - father, grandfather, and Uncle.

Predeceased by wife Mary Eva.

He is sadly missed and will always be remembered by:

Children: Margaret (Raymond), Jimmy (Dolores), Nancy (Willie)(Walter). Sister: Anne Waters

Grandchildren: Brian (Val), Pat (Colleen), Deena, Babe, Stu, Lisa, Allison, Jason, Justin (Samantha), Alicia

Great Grandchildren: Shayleen, Dustin, Krystal.

Numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.


From Zhanjiang to Dawson City

by Ann MacDonald

Many woman have experienced the strong, overwhelming consumptive desire for a child, a want which for many can devour their lives, dreams and thoughts for years and years. Many become natural mothers while others overcome this yearning and seek out other lifestyle options. Fewer still, like family therapist and Dawson City resident Judi Reimer, respond to this compulsion in a different way. Sitting in her living room one August evening in 1995 Judi decided the time was right to realize her thirteen year old plan to adopt a child.

Being single had basically eliminated the option of a domestic adoption; that had been made clear through many other previous efforts to initiate an adoption. She recalls those efforts as being disappointing, bureaucratic and intimidating with depressingly painful results. By early fall of 1995, the animus in her had driven her down an unstoppable path towards international adoption. Last march she arrived in Zhanjiang in the Guandong Province of south east China. Here, where strict population laws prohibit Chinese citizens from having more than one child, and in a culture where male children are more highly valued, there are an abundant supply of baby girls for women who qualify, like Judi, to adopt. Frequently abandoned at two or three days of age these babes are cared for in orphanages which run the gamut from privately run, government operated, new buildings and building which are over a hundred years old and which house orphaned baby girls, disabled children of all ages, and seniors requiring care and support.

Judi's first night in China was spent in the capital city of Guan Zhou, a huge city of 10 million. She, along with 10 other Canadian families which included five other single women, travelled together from Vancouver with adoption facilitator Bonnie Wong. They shared an evening of anticipation and high excitement in an elaborate hotel and it was on that very intense and moving evening that the families were given the birth certificates and adoption certificates of their daughters. All arrangements had been finalized prior to their departure from Canada, including the payment of fees and immigration approvals; however, as if to test both their faith and resolve one last time, the morning flight to Zhanjiang, where they would go to the orphanage to pick up their daughters, was cancelled due to fog. They spent a second night in Guan Zhou, this time in a very humble and basic Chinese hotel, still unsure of when they would be able to meet their children. and of how long they would find themselves in foreign circumstances over which they had little control.

The fog lifted, fortunately, and by noon the next day they had arrived in the very hot, and humid rural farming community of Zhanjiang. They travelled by bus through miles and miles of traditional rice paddies, arriving in yet another hotel. Tired after three days of travel, hot and shuffling far too much luggage they finally arrived at a relatively new building which they were advised was a government run orphanage. They were ushered into a holding room, and it was there in a room with concrete floors and open walls that the families waited as their babies were brought in one by one.

Judi now recalls how easy and straight forward the entire process was, how after only seven short months she was able to bring this wonderful child into her life. She has never looked back and intends to return in two to three years to find a sister for her child. Jillian Leah Marie Reimer will celebrate her first birthday on October 14 and, like other Dawson City babies, her shining face will grace the birthday pages of her hometown paper, the Klondike Sun. But more so than the many other daughters of feminists before her she will learn first hand that race, creed, religion and gender need not bestow more power or opportunity on anyone.


A community supper at the rennovated Saint Paul's Church during the recent Synod held there.

The Literary Section


by Russell Smith
Berton House Writer in Residence

The house ticks
cricks in the boards
and cracking planks
the furnace roars.
Heat expands, settles down
under duvet and dark, sighs.

At night I dream of white.

Under the floor the ground
is always ice. It groans
a little, it sinks sometimes
a foot or two and a wall sags.
But if you dig or scrape a foot or two more
you hit the sleeping crust with a clang
of metal. It stays asleep.

If you build just off the earth
if you hover on stilts as if travelling,
it will stay undisturbed, it will not melt,
the earth stays asleep.

In summer the hills are furry with green,
there are rippling sheets of green,
and the air stings, it's clean
as shampoo in your eyes.
You stand on the steep and clutch
a trunk that keeps you straight
in the shade. Roots
make stubborn clumps.
Kick at the leaves and needles and see
the black sod wink
up at you: frozen.
There are no earthworms
in the Yukon (a word that thuds
like a shovel).

I've seen the miners shear
the hill in two.
There is a cliff of black
that glistens raw
in the sun; they thaw
an inch every day, the ice
slips out as tears.

We zipper up. I have sewn
myself up like a corpse.

If I wake at night in the dry,
in the sudden dark and panic of heat,
I feel that I'm strapped
to a cold slab that shifts
and slips you off.

Everything is temporary here -- I'm a bag
on the roof rack! I'm a mote on the floe!
I'm sleeping without you
on the hard, which endures.


E-Mail: The Sun Shines Further South

To: Uffish@dawson.net

From: Bob Poulsen <web@ecola.com>

Subject: Ecola Newsstand - link made

Ecola Directories has made a link to your Web site at: Ecola Newsstand http://www.ecola. com/news/

The Newsstand is a huge searchable guide to paper-printed newspapers and magazines which have actively-updated sites on the Web. Over 2,600 English-language periodicals worldwide are easily located!

You can find the Klondike Sun at: http://www.ecola. com/news/press/na/ca/yt/

Ecola Newsstand has been around since way back in March, 1995. It's one of Ecola's free advertiser supported directories.


Bob Poulsen

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