Dawson City, Yukon Friday, October 27, 2000

The George Black Ferry concludes a run on Friday, October 20. Photo by Dan Davidson

Feature Stories

Ferry Out and No Ice
Incumbents Clean Up in Dawson
Candidates Square Off on Finances
Whitehorse Shipyards Comes to the ODD Gallery
Engine Stalls, Plane Lands on Road
Sleepytime Reading Proves Popular
Dawson and the Kilwinning Connection
Making a Major Difference

Welcome to the October 27th on-line edition of the Klondike Sun. This is the abridged version of our 24 page Oct. 24th hard copy edition. Wish we could share everything, but getting a subscription (see our home page) is the only way you'll ever see it all. Approximately 500 people viewed our last on-line issue.

We are late again this issue. Your editor is a full time school teacher who usually selects the website material for posting on the weekend after the news stand edition appears. Last weekend, however, was the weekend before mid-term examinations and report cards in out school and that ate up most of the time from Friday night to the next Thursday.

Ferry Out and No Ice

by Dan Davidson

Mayor Glen Everitt is positive that the usual reason given for pulling the George Black Ferry out of the Yukon River each fall is that ice is starting to gather. By October 20 it seemed that this couldn't be the reason this year, because there really wasn't any to be seen.

West Dawsonites would love to see the boat stay in the water for a while longer, but the word on the weekend was that Sunday would be its last day of service and that it would be pulled on Monday, October 23.

Everitt says it doesn't seem to make sense this year and has been lobbying the territorial government to change its timetable. Representations from the mayor, MLA Peter Jenkins, and West Dawson residents did succeed in getting the service extended a week beyond what had originally been planned.

Everitt said his further attempts on Friday and Saturday were unsuccessful in getting a further extension, but at the time he didn't see any good reason why it should not have been able to continue until there was some sign of the river beginning to freeze.

The Yukon River is running higher and faster than usual for this time of year and some folks who have to cross it to get to their homes are wondering just how long it will be before they can drive all the way home again. Last winter the river remained thin until February and the official ice bridge was a very late installation.

As things turned out however, the ferry did come out on the Monday and the ice began to appear about four days later.


Incumbents Clean Up in Dawson

by Dan Davidson

The new council, consisting of Byrun Shandler, Aedes Scheer, Glen Everitt, Joanne Van Nostrand and Wayne Potoroka, posed for this picture the day after the election. Photo by Dan Davidson

It was incumbents' night in Dawson City on election night, October 19, with Mayor Glenn Everitt and Councillors Joanne Van Nostrand and Aedes Scheer returning to their chairs at the council table in the new chambers.

Joining them will be new councillors Wayne Potoroka and Byrun Shandler.

There was no contest in the mayor's race. Of the 533 people who voted, 524 of them made a choice for mayor and the overwhelming majority chose to return Glenn Everitt for his second full term (Everitt served a partial term on the council previous to the last one). The successful incumbent captured 397 votes, or 75.7% of the total. He took the lead early, and it only increased as returning officer Bonnie Barber called out the names.

Challenger David Millar trailed significantly with 127 votes (24.2%). He did proportionately better in the advance poll than on voting day itself.

In the balloting for the council seats the real race was for the fourth place. Wayne Potoroka proved to have real drawing power, raking in 424 votes. Incumbents Van Nostrand and Scheer coasted to easy victories with 364 and 362 votes.

Byrun Shandler narrowly defeated Gloria Baldwin-Schultz for the final place at the table. Their tallies see-sawed back and forth all through the two hour counting process, rarely differing by more than 10 votes and often separated by 1 or 2. In the end Shandler captured 280 votes and Baldwin-Schultz 271.

Last in the race was Frank Narozny, with 149.

There were just 9 spoiled ballots.

It would be hard to say just how many people voted for a full slate of four candidates. There were a significant number who voted only for the incumbents and others who voted only for challengers. There were many who chose to check only one, two or three names.

Three of the successful candidates were at the city council chamber polling station for the count and there was much hugging and exchange of congratulations afterwards.

The vote would certainly seem to confirm that the electorate here approves of the direction that the last two councils have charted and were willing to vote for more of the same.


Candidates Square Off on Finances

by Dan Davidson

The fall 2000 municipal election contest in Dawson City was noteworthy for one thing at least - Dawson's first ever televised mayoralty debate.

Strangely enough, only about 24 people actually turned out to the event on October 17, which was held in the Han Cultural Centre, a venue which could easily have held the 80 or so which had turned out to the candidates' forum the week before.

The broadcast was a success, however, except for sound volume difficulties at the very beginning, and any of the 300 subscribers to Dawson's cable television system could have picked it up on channel 11.

As indicated at the forum (see separate article), the main bone of contention between incumbent, Glenn Everitt, and challenger, David Millar, is their interpretation of the city's financial picture.

Everitt said it's fine and produced seven pages of spreadsheets and breakdowns plus an array of flip charts to make his point.

Millar said it's in sad shape and talked repeatedly of mismanagement of capital projects while warning of burgeoning increases to operations and maintenance costs due to the new capital construction now under way.

The forum for the evening was a standard debate format. Each candidate made an opening statement, got a chance to rebut the opponent's statement and moved on to a closing. The entire affair was over in less than an hour, and ended with neither side convinced that the other understood.

Everitt used his opening statement to counter a number of assertions that he was aware the Millar campaign had been making in door to door visits. The city's contingency funds were not gone, he said. Instead, specific accounts begun for particular projects have been expended as the projects have been completed. Budget surpluses, which have occurred each year during this council's term, help to build up new accounts for new projects.

Millar attacked the cost over runs on the City Office/Fire Hall/Public Works Building, known as the 3CM project, which did finally come in at about 50% over the original projected costs. He was critical of the high tenders which pushed the city to reschedule parts of the recreation centre project. He questioned whether the $4.8 million dollar reserve which the YTG and the City have set aside to construct the secondary sewage treatment plant will be enough in the light of these cost problems.

He dismissed some of Everitt's explanations during the mayor's rebuttal of his opening statement, indicating that he "really didn't follow it all." While he conceded that the town's revenues still seemed to be increasing, he pointed to similar increases in O and M spending in recent years that seemed to match and minimize the revenue expansion.

Everitt countered that the years Millar queried were those in which the town made one time expenses of about $200,000 in its environmental battles with the Yukon Territorial Water Board and DIAND. Since Dawson has now gained the money to build the treatment plant and has begun to establish an action plan to do so, these costs will not recur, Everitt said.

The mayor took several swipes at his challenger's grasp of the issues, noting that someone who has not been in Dawson most winters lately (Millar spent several winters driving trucks in the prairies.), would have missed many of the discussions that led to projects which are now being concluded.

"You have to know how to read a budget in order to talk about it," Everitt said during his concluding remarks, but Millar later countered by admitting that he had gone to an accountant to get the city's figures explained to him.

Everitt also came out swinging in defence of the city's management and office staff, which he claimed has been under attack as part of the Millar campaign of casting doubt on the town's fiscal stability.

When Millar responded that no resident during his door to door visits had ever been critical of city staff, Everitt used part of his closing speech to emphasize that the complaints that had reached him had been from people who were concerned about statements from Millar's people.

There was no point, said Everitt, in casting doubt on city finances and claiming that you were going to "open the books" when you got into office, since the law already stated that the books were open.

(Indeed, some of the figures quoted by the challenger were from last summer's Klondike Sun, where the town publishes its audited statements each year.)

Everitt ended his remarks with a quick look at the management team which had set what he said was Dawson's new direction. The old days, he said, were over, and some people just needed to get used to the fact. He was not the city's manger, he said. There was a team in place to do that kind of work, and he was simply the liaison between that team and the council.

He resented, he said, a campaign which had mostly been about casting doubt on people's integrity and the soundness of the city's business decisions. He felt that the approval of the independent auditors and of the territorial government was a good indication that things were in good shape.

Millar closed his presentation by indicating that he really did believe in the future of Dawson's capital projects, that he was simply worried about how to service the debt load and pay for the continuing costs.

Of the two debaters, Everitt was by far the more accomplished and in much better command of the issues. His comments dealt with Millar's claims - convincingly or not would up to the listener to decide - and went on to expound on a wider ranger of issues.

Millar was the more nervous of the two, clicking a pen constantly and shuffling his notes, ending most of his presentations under his time limit and without really coming to a stated conclusion.

Both men seemed sincere in their positions. Had Millar been elected, it would have proved awkward for the new council. All the candidates at the forum seemed to be basically in favour of the direction which Everitt's council has taken over the last three years, and Millar as mayor would have been odd man out in that situation.


Whitehorse Shipyards Comes to the ODD Gallery

by Dan Davidson

John Hatch, Andrew Connors and Rohan G.H. Quinby. Photo by Dan Davidson

"Whitehorse Shipyards: Images of a Frontier Community" is the name of the latest exhibition to open Dawson's ODD Gallery, the display room of the Klondike Institute of Arts and Culture, located in the Oddfellows Hall on Second Avenue.

The display was curated by Andrew Connors, who was one of the three Whitehorse photographers on site for the launch and reception on October 5.

When Andrew Connors, John Hatch and Rohan Quinby sat down to discuss their motives for getting involved in the show, different perspectives emerged.

For Quinby, it was a chance to reveal another side of the Shipyards, a squatters community which has been part of Whitehorse since its founding.

"You see them now as some derelict ... which needs to be torn down ... the show (demonstrates) that it was actually a very interesting, very successful community on a lot of levels for people who were shut out of a lot of opportunities to be part of the rest of society."

Quinby's "Komatsu Arm" captures the demolition of one old building in 1999.

Andrew Connors is modest about his involvement as curator. The idea was hatched, he said, "and I just sort of saw it through."

"My panic button went off," he said, "when heard that YTG was really serious about cleaning the place out. The houses were coming down quickly. It dawned on me that there was this place and when it (was) gone there's not going to be anything like it any more.

"Let's take a look at it before it's gone, rather than treat it as textbook history. 'Cause it's living history and that's something that we don't celebrate enough as a culture."

Now that it has been and is being cleared out, Connors felt a need to preserve some of that sense of what the capital city's origins were. One of his pictures, "Sixty years of Countless Dwellers and Stories", reflects his concerns.

John Hatch has been a resident of the Shipyards for 27 years, and has long been involved Shipyards battles - first to remain in his home and after that, the have his home preserved.

John finds that unorganized communities, those which just grow, are far more interesting places than the ones that are thoroughly planned. It's a conviction that goes back to his days in Montreal, when he was a tour guide there.

When he came to the Yukon years later, the same thought struck him.

"Here ... is an absolute, perfect history, both in Dawson, Skagway, Carcross and in Whitehorse. It was an in situ evolvement."

Hatch also had the best stories to tell about life in Moccasin Flats as it was also called. A generation of living there has filled his mind with tales of lost mines, old men with hundreds of thousands of dollars in banks down south and bearer bonds secreted in their cabins.

Hatch also made the largest contribution of photos to the exhibit, putting in 12 of the 30, including his "Interior of Photographer's Cabin."

His were not the oldest images though, Those came from the Joe Lindsay collection, which was dominated by family scenes such as "Family Portrait" from the mid-1960s. Hatch had one or two from the 70s and 80s.

Most of the other pictures, by photographers Kenneth Coyne, Michael Reynolds, Dean Eyre, Connors and Quinby, were from the 1990s, which the exception of Mike Thomas's study of John Hatch, which was taken just this year.

The display features people, buildings and the seasons in the Shipyards. Most photos are black and white, but there are some colour prints, including a few that have been restored and enlarged digitally.


Engine Stalls, Plane Lands on Road

by Chuck Tobin
Original story in
Whitehorse Star. Used with permission

It was a hairy couple of minutes for Dawson City dentist Helmut Schoener on Saturday (October 7) as he searched for a clear stretch of Range Road to set down the two-seater airplane he was piloting.

Directly ahead was a flat-bed truck. But even more imposing were power lines that Schoener first had to clear before worrying about road traffic, he explained in an interview this morning from his Dawson City home.

As he assessed the situation from about 425 metres (1,400 feet) above the ground, with a stalled engine, and the plane dropping fast, his wife, Marielle Vielleux, radioed the Whitehorse control tower to alert staff of the impending emergency landing.

"She was very cool," Schoener said of Vielleux, who works as an air traffic controller in Whitehorse. "She was great, which is important - it was a hairy situation."

The long-time pilot said the 20-year-old two-seater, which is owned by his wife, has a forward and a rear gas tank, and it's the forward tank which is used in take off. Once he was at the desired altitude, he switched to the rear tank and the engine quit. There was no response when he switched back to the front tank.

Schoener said once he managed to cross over the power lines, he lost sight of the truck. However, he had little choice but to set the aircraft down on the road.

He set the plane down on Range Road near the turnoff to the Mountain View Golf Course.

The aircraft was impossible to control once he was down because of strong crosswinds that were gusting, and eventually pushed him sideways. The aircraft ended up going into a steep ditch on the side of the road.

"It was quite a handful ... a lot of luck."

Had the landing gear not broken, and the wing not dug into the ground, the aircraft might have continued over an even greater decline, he said.

Neither Schoener nor Vielleux was injured.

The aircraft, on the other hand, sustained significant damage, he said.

Schoener said the wings, undercarriage and fuselage were heavily damaged, although the propeller and motor were unscratched.

Since the frame is built from wood, repairing the aircraft is not out of the question, although they'll determine what they are going to do after conducting a closer assessment in the near future, he said.


Sleepytime Reading Proves Popular

by Dan Davidson

Pajamas were the uniform of the evening on October 11 as the Dawson Community Library, Yukon Learn and the Robert Service School sponsored a Community Read-in in honour of Yukon Literacy Week.

The scheme was that a number of adults in the community, including Mayor Glen Everitt and new Berton House Writer in Residence Luanne Armstrong, would dress for the occasion and read their favorite bedtime story to whoever showed up to hear it.

The attendance exceeded expectations by quite a bit and the reading corner was packed, spilling over into other parts of the library.

Particularly popular was the hot chocolate and cookies part way through the evening, which stretched on for a full two hours.

Yukon Learn's Kim Porter and Community librarian Kim Adams indicted that many people wanted to know if the library couldn't do something like this once a month.


Dawson and the Kilwinning Connection

by Larry Bagnell
Used by permission of the
Whitehorse Star and the author

Tron'dek Hwech'in councillor Edith Fraser and Mayor Glen Everitt plant a tree in Kilwinning. Photo by Larry Bagnell

In Patrick McGlinn's address to the January, 2000 Robert Service dinner in the Yukon, few could understand, through his Scottish brogue, what he was saying, but everyone knew why he was here. It was the first step in an arduous trail to awaken the hundred year old relationship between Kilwinning and a favorite son, and the Yukon. The upcoming grand millennium dinner in Kilwinning would be the focus of this historic joining of two Robert Service communities.

Patrick McGlinn, who with his partner Mary, had worked so hard on this in Scotland, made the first major investment by participating in the Yukon dinner to see how a Robert Service dinner might be done. Dawsonites and other Yukoners responded in kind as 11 of us traveled to the Western Scottish North Ayshire countryside to the town where Robert Service was raised.

Patrick hosted some of the early arrivals to his house where we received the real indoctrination to the unique history, people, and customs in the Kilwinning area.

The next day, the Convenor of the North Ayshire Borough Council (equivalent to our Mayors) hosted a civic reception for Mayor Glen Everitt of Dawson City and Councillor Edith Fraser of the Tr'ondek Hwech'in . Glen Everitt, President of the Association of Yukon Communities, and Edith Fraser, Councillor representing the Tr'ondek Hwech'in, responded to the presentations and gifts we received, with Robert Service books from Dawson City and a beautiful dream catcher. Mayor Everitt also proposed a partnership between Dawson City and the Kilwinning Council that was very well received by their Council members.

Commanding Officer John Spice, of the Whitehorse detachment of the RCMP, over and above this reception, had meetings with his counterparts and I read part of "The Shooting Of Dan MaGrew" as part a BBC interview.

It was now time for the big event that we had all worked and hoped so hard for. The grand Marquee (tent) had been erected on the beautiful back flowered lawn of the stately historic ivy covered Montgreenan Mansion. As the 300 guests arrived in their best black ties, tuxedos, gowns and kilts in the fragrant evening air, they would exit from the grand wood paneled library down a covered, carpeted walkway to the finery of the grand banquet hall put together in the Marquee.

The who's who of Kilwinning Society, the people that could make our long dreamed of link a reality, were there. The Kilwinning (MP) Member of Parliament at Westminster, as well as (MSP) Members of the Scottish Parliament, were there as were the Convenor of the North Ayshire Council and the Lord Provost (equivalent to our Mayor) of Glasgow with their resplendent chains of office as was Dawson City's Mayor Everitt with his Klondike Gold. The Robert Service bibliographer from Vancouver, Peter Mitham and Fern and Claude Morgan, the organizers of Robert Service events in Sacramento, California were also there.

As is Scottish tradition, the Haggis (which Mayor Everitt had the honour of ceremoniously cutting) was piped in, during which Robert Service's poem, "The Haggis of Private McPhee", was recited.

There were, of course, numerous renditions of the works of Mr. Service, the Kipling of the Yukon, including those by children, (always a favorite, especially when they did the shooting of Dan McGrew). A very funny lengthy toast to the Bard of Yukon was made, describing many of the details of the life of the Bard of the Yukon in Kilwinning. The toast to Robert Service was closed with the eloquent truth that although the child was born in Preston, England, the poet was born in Kilwinning.

I then presented the President of the Kilwinning Millennium Society with a framed picture of Robert Service and some of his verse (prepared by Archie Lang) from the Yukon Robert Service Society, and an engraved plaque commemorating the event. We were presented numerous gifts by Patrick and their Millennium Society during our stay.

Near the end, we closed with the same tradition that we do in the annual Yukon Robert Service dinner, with Larry Bagnell sharing the beautiful Yukon slides of Doug Bell while AYC President Glen Everitt did a touching well-received Yukon rendition of the " Spell of the Yukon ".

The most moving event of the evening, for me, was the presentation posthumously to Robert Service, by an Officer of the US Armed Forces, (to a relative of Robert Service) of a war medal that he had long deserved, and never received, for his work in the Ambulance Corps in the great war. Without the work of those who created Robert Service dinners, the forum and inspiration for this event would never had occurred.

It was evident from the taped interviews that I did immediately following the event, that many of the leaders, people, and children of Kilwinning who had not heard of the other Ayshire poet, Robert Service (the other is Robert Burns) or his poetry, now knew who he was and loved his poetry. Many are planning to come to Dawson City and the Yukon to see the beauty and history that he wrote about. I sat in the warm night air watching the staff do the last clean-up of the Marquee, peaceful in the knowledge that this step of fondest dream of our first dinner 6 years ago, of spreading them around the world, has been accomplished.

The dream fulfilled, you can imagine our surprise at what awaited us the next day. We toured the Church where Robert Service had carved a hole in the pew, and the family gravesite where he built a new monument, the plaque on main street unveiled many years ago by his daughter Iris Davies Service, and finally Masonic Lodge #1.

But a great surprise that we were not aware of when leaving Canada, was that, right in the most prominent spot in the small park right at the center of town, they planted a tree to cement this new friendship between Kilwinning and the Yukon. President of AYC, Mayor Glen Everitt of Dawson City and Councillor Edith Fraser of the Tr'ondek Hwech'in turned the first sod. The 11 people who traveled from the Yukon, including (over and above those already mentioned), June and Murray Hampton, Barbara Robertson, RCMP John Spice and Brenda Butterworth-Carr and their spouses Bonnie and Errol, and Karen Rocznik of CBC deserve a lot of credit for the effort they went to travel all that distance in the spirit of friendly and historic celebration of Robert Service.

Finally, the grandest surprise of all night, in the center of the main street of Kilwinning (which is only for pedestrians), a statue monument to Robert Service was being completed. They were disappointed that, because that they had had a rainy summer like ours, they didn't have it quite finished to do a grand unveiling with us. But it was already evident it will be a beautiful tribute, with, amongst other things, Robert Service's cabin done in Mosaic Tile.

This was all a bit overwhelming as this degree of success in joining the Yukon and Kilwinning and the celebration of Robert Service was beyond our wildest initial dreams.

Never again, would great numbers of the people of North Ayshire not be aware that the poet that had sold the biggest selling poetry book in history, had lived amongst them.

After laying dormant for nearly a hundred years, the Kilwinning Millennium Committee has brought the honor and memories of a favorite son to light and life with that full resplendency for which the Scots are renown.


Making a Major Difference

by Moriah Whitley
Term Reference Librarian for the Klondike History Library, 2000 season

Community Health Nurse Rosemary Graham reads a tale to a eager crowd of young listeners. Photo by Dan Davidson

As a term Reference Librarian for the Klondike History Library, I met a steady stream of visitors this season. The Museum gets research requests by phone, e-mail, fax, mail and in person, from people all over the world. I learned something new and interesting from every single person with whom I was in contact. I heard some happy stories, some sad stories, and tried to clear up more than one mystery. The big problem with this job, though, is that there is very little closure for me. I never find out what happened to the information, since much of the research I did was only one piece of a larger puzzle that can span continents, centuries, generations, and lifetimes. The story that follows is one where at least I know that the work I did made a difference in someone's life.

Saturday, July 8th at 9:30 am. A beautiful, summer day in Dawson. It started like many this summer, busy with phone calls, e-mail, and letters. Then, Sarah-Lee arrived. Sarah-Lee works for the Holland America bus company in Dawson. She was hoping that Linda Thompson and I would be willing to stay late that day to help a distraught woman who was coming in from Whitehorse by bus that evening. The woman, Merrill Heidig, had only just learned that they were to arrive at 5 p.m., and they would leave the next morning at 9 a.m. The problem was, the Museum would close at 6 p.m. and wouldn't open again until 10 a.m. She had come all the way from Sacramento, California with her family to talk to someone at the Museum about her great grandfather and great uncle, Ernest and Arthur Whalley, who had worked for the Dawson Daily News during the Gold Rush. Of course, we agreed to stay!

I did some research during the day, in preparation for her arrival. I discovered information in Filson's Pan for Gold Database, our Biography and Subject vertical files (including several photocopied portraits), some photos from our Photo Database, several addresses from the Polk's Gazetteers, and a listing from the Clarence Craig Post Office Directory. I hoped that it would add to, or complement her information.

At 5:30 p.m., Merrill, her two children, her mother, and sister arrived, escorted by Sarah-Lee. Merrill was so grateful to even talk to me and I hadn't even shown her what I had found! She had done years of research and had brought most of her research with her. She told me that she only travels to places where her relatives had been, and spends much of her time in archives and museums. (Her children weren't quite as enthusiastic about this, but they were still attentive and interested.) She had the original photos of our photocopied portraits, letters, newspaper articles and lots of family information.

She was thrilled to find out that we had existing files! We poured through all the information she brought, and she allowed us to take photocopies of some of the things she had. In exchange, she has copies of the information in our files, to add to hers. She also corrected the Clarence Craig Post Office Directory, which showed that one of the men had died in Fairbanks, Alaska. It turned out that both men had lived long, productive, and interesting lives.

Sarah-Lee, in the meantime, had contacted Michael Gates, the Cultural Integrity Specialist in the Yukon Field Unit for Parks Canada in Dawson. Michael offered to take all of us over to the Parks Canada offices to look through their research on the two men and the Dawson Daily News, including newspaper articles on microfiche. He showed us lots of pictures of the Dawson Daily News building, and of the restoration that had been done. Then, he took us on a private tour through the Dawson Daily News building, which Parks Canada is restoring. Michael did a fantastic job in the Parks offices and on the tour! He took the time to help us, everyone had a great time and learned a lot. He provided us with lots of information and answered questions from all of us. Merrill was ecstatic! She asked all sorts of questions and took many pictures.

Merrill is now considering donating many of her materials to the Museum and to Parks Canada to express her thanks and gratitude.

As a result of the help we provided for Merrill and her family, Sarah-Lee offered Linda and I a free round trip on the Holland American boat, the Yukon Queen II, from Dawson City to Eagle, Alaska and back. I took my trip in late August and enjoyed it thoroughly!

Above all, the best reward (for me) was the look on Merrill's face that night, when she realized all the work she'd done and all the years of research had finally paid off in this trip to Dawson. Those hours were spent with people who were interested in all the work she had done and the information she had collected. For that one moment, at least, I knew that the work I'd done had really made a difference.

Ed note: The Dawson City Museum can be contacted by email through its website, at users.yknet.yk.ca/dcpages/Museum.html


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