Dawson City, Yukon Friday, October 29, 1999

The Robert Service School's Acting 11 took over teh stage at Gerties on October 22 for an hour or two of Robert Service's verses and a melodrama. Here they bow after "The Shooting of Dan McGrew". Full story in our next issue. Photo by Dan Davidson

Feature Stories

Winter Tourism to be the Immediate Focus
So What's Happening to Winter Tourism?
Protecting a Natural Supermarket
Berton House Serves the Community
Klondike Kates Wins Hospitality Award
The Oddfellows Hall Progresses

Welcome to the October 28th on-line edition of the Klondike Sun. This is the abridged version of our Oct. 26 hardcopy edition, which was 20 pages long, containing 14 photographs and 17 news stories, 2 short stories, the cartoon strips "Paws", "Mukluk & Honisukle" and "City Snickers", a lovely cartoon by Albert Fuhre, and our regular homemade Klondike Krossword puzzle. Getting a subscription (see the home page) is the only way you'll ever see it all.

Winter Tourism to be the Immediate Focus

by Dan Davidson

Dawson's three promotional agencies have until the end of the year to get their act together. That would be the bluntest, most uncomplimentary way of phrasing the message delivered to the Chamber of Commerce, Klondike Visitors Association and Klondyke Centennials Society by Mayor Glen Everitt on October 20.

The "ultimatum", as KCS's Jon Magnusson termed it, means that all three organizations need to coordinate their efforts, avoid unnecessary duplication and shift some of their focus to the notion of winter tourism.

Of the two dozen people gathered at the Visitor Reception Centre that evening to discuss the subject, it didn't seem that any of them were opposed to the idea of Winter Tourism. Many, indeed, seemed to feel that something close to the maximum benefit had already been wrung from the traditional 100 days of the summer season, that the slow process of extending the shoulder seasons was working somewhat, and that something needed to happen in the middle of all this to round out the tourism based side of Dawson's economy.

One of the issues on the table was the absence of a plan for tackling the issue. It has been one of Mayor Glen Everitt's pet projects for the last several years, and yet nothing major has happened.

Dawson is not a general tourism destination in the winter at this time, though there is visitation here from later January on, tied to a cluster of events which draw people to the community. Outside of those events, however, nothing has been happening.

As White Ram's Gail Hendley put it, "If it's so obvious, why is no one doing it?"

One of the most eager boosters at the meeting was Rene Jansen. The Jansens own and operate the Aurora Inn, one of Dawson's newer year round establishments, and they would like to be able to offer their clientele a wider range of experiences in the winter.

Jansen spoke energetically of the need for a "one stop shop", a local tourism expediter which would compile a data base of things to do in the region in the winter and be able to plug people into activities at short notice.

This is known in the industry as a receptive operator, and part of city council's financial clout is being directed towards having the C of C, KVA and KCS pool their resources to create such a position.

Everitt told the group that he has found it possible to promote Dawson in his travels as mayor and as president of the Association of Yukon Communities, but that he hasn't the time or mandate to do the kind of follow-up that's needed once he's made a contact. Recently he found himself shepherding around a group of people from Outside who had come here after talking to him in Whitehorse.

Lately, his message to people has been that they haven't really seen Dawson unless they've seen it in the winter.

Local photographer Kevin Hastings echoed this sentiment, noting that three quarters of the photos he sold last summer were of winter scenes. His customers seemed quite taken with the images.

The community has heard the same thing from officials with Fulda during the past two years of their association with the Yukon Quest, so it's not an entirely new idea. European tourists seem to be fascinated by the Yukon long after other people have packed and gone south, and visitors from the Orient are drawn here by the attraction of the Northern Lights.

Jon Magnusson said there would need to be a place open all year round to field inquiries, and there would need to be a data base of things to do and contacts to make. When Everitt spoke of a checklist of things to do, Magnusson, who runs Dawson City Bed and Breakfast, pointed out that its not enough to have possibilities, vendors have to be prepared to guarantee that they will offer a service when it is called for.

Dina Cayen at the Chamber noted that her organization and the KCS have already begun to compile such a data base, but that the response from the tourism community has been a little underwhelming. It would appear that some people are not certain that winter tourism will work or that they want to be part of it.

The feeling around the table was that there were enough representatives in favour of the process to get it started, and that those not represented would either have to buy into it later on or be left out of any promotion entirely.

There was a clear sense at the meeting that the KCS, which was founded to promote centennial events, and which has already passed the peak of its activity, might be the organization to shift its focus the most and move into the area of winter tourism promotion.

Rene Jansen had what was probably the most radical proposal of the evening, which was that interested operators form a committee and each chip in $500 in membership fees to help it get started. His thinking was that $5 or $10 was something that people could forget about, but a major contribution would make them pay attention to the issue.

Maybe just getting the concept onto everyone's agenda is the first step.


So What's Happening to Winter Tourism?

Submitted by K.V.A.

These two buildings at the corner of Princess and 2nd highlight two approaches to the seasonal tourism situation. On the corner is the building where Klondike National Historic Sites walks visitors through a Gold Rush picture display. It is closed for the season. Next door is Romy Jansen's Wild & Wooly clothing store, which seeks to attract visitors all year round. Photo by Dan Davidson

The City of Dawson along with the Klondike Visitors Association, the Klondyke Centennial Society and the Dawson City Chamber of Commerce have been engaged in a series of discussions with regards to these issues over the past few months. The Klondike Region Marketing Plan that is almost complete has identified that the items above are of interest to our community as probable markets to pursue. "Sounds easy - why isn't it being done?" you ask.

Well it is being done mostly by the 3 organizations listed above. There is a partnership of these organizations that is working smoothly - the lines of communication are open and everyone is looking towards a common goal - to make Dawson City and the Klondike Region the foremost place in the North to visit. Our visitors will come for recreation, education or business and best of all they will come year round.

How do we do this? Unfortunately the answer is slowly and with caution. Not what some of you want to hear but in order to be professional, deliver what we promise and to do the job right the first time so that everyone prospers we need to be sure of the "game plan". The product (Dawson City) that we want to sell has to be identified. This doesn't mean that Dawson City by name only is for sale. What do we want to put with that name to give a full package? That will depend on 1) the season - there is already a decent start at selling summer and 2) who the market is - seniors may not enjoy rafting the Yukon. The Klondyke Centennial Society is in the process of gathering information now with things to see and do in winter. Anyone interested in being listed can contact them at their office.

The three groups are working towards seeing this "game plan" is put in place. The completion of the Marketing Plan will give the group an effective tool for direction . Roles and responsibilities will be defined and the process that is already in place will continue.

The good news is that there already are positive results of the efforts of the group. The process of bidding on conventions and meetings is a tedious one and most conventions are planned 2 to 3 years in advance. Dawson City is the confirmed site for several conventions in the latter part of 2000 and the shoulder season of 2001 and 2002. The work is being done to secure these events for the future.

Now the question is what can you do to help this happen? These groups are out there selling Dawson and working towards economic opportunities for the whole of the community. Your job is to get involved and be a part of the process. Register your event or business with the KCS, attend public meetings, give your opinion before decisions are made, join one or all of other organizations and be an active participant in your own future. If you need more information just contact any of other numbers below.

Denny KobayashiK.V.A.ph. 993-5575fx 993-6415
Kelly MillerKlondyke Cent. Societyph. 993-1996fx 993 2002
Dina CayenD.C. Chamber of Commerceph. 993-5274fx 993-6817


Protecting a Natural Supermarket

by Dan Davidson

When Han elder Percy Henry thinks about the area enclosed by the draft plan for Tombstone Park, his image is that of a vast natural supermarket, where he remembers always being able to find some kind of game, in just about any season. When all other possibilities had failed, Tombstone, a fair hike from Dawson in his earlier days, or in those of his parents, Joe and Annie, always provided sustenance.

On a night crowded with meetings the one held to present the draft boundary proposal met with the second best turn-out, about 30 people according to Tim Gerberding, a member of the Tombstone Steering Committee. While the formal part of the evening was over within about an hour, there was a steady trickle of people from the other meetings who wandered around the maps - poster sized reproductions of those in the widely circulated committee workbook - and received individual briefings on events to date.

Gerberding and TSC staff Kim Matthews said that the turnout here was actually better than it was in Whitehorse earlier, and that the composition was very different. In the capital miners turned up to protest the park, and went on to fill the city papers with letters warning of dire consequences. In Dawson the majority of the people who came out were from the local first nation, and they, quite naturally, see the park proposal as a legitimate spin-off from their land claim agreement.

That was the mandate for the steering committee, Schedule A, Chapter 10 of the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in Final Agreement, which calls for the establishment of Tombstone Territorial Park.

Beginning with a fairly vaguely defined outline of the area concerned, the committee has firmed up that outline, relying on the division of watersheds, major geological formations, designated species, first nations artifacts and others established since the Gold Rush to shape the final outline of the park.

The result is an area which encompasses 2,277.7 square kilometres, which is only about 45 kilometres smaller than the the proposed study area. It includes portions of the Mackenzie Mountains, the North Ogilvie Mountains and the Yukon Plateau, and is divided in 7 major areas. The core includes the Tombstone Range and Tombstone River, as well as the North Klondike River and the Little Twelve Mile. The other sections are prosaically labelled "A" though "F." Only in the last two sections are there pre-existing mineral claims which are protected under the terms of the plan. Section E has 66 of these, along with some requirements for access. Section F has 9 more. In both cases there are other claims close to the boundaries of the park, and these areas were excluded from the park because of the claims.

The plan assumes that wilderness tourism might become a major feature of the local economy and identifies possible attractions of this type in most of the park's zones.

The workbook notes that the Tombstone area seems to have been in continuous use by human beings for the last 8,000 years and that there are 78 known archeological sites within the draft boundary. More recently, the park area contained the Yukon Ditch, the North Fork Hydro Dam and many other artifacts from the mining history of the Yukon, as well as the route taken by the Lost Patrol. Of course, the Dempster Highway (now also part of the Trans Canada Trail) passes through the park.

The committee will continue to gather reactions to its plan until November 5, and may be contacted at Box 183, Dawson City, Y0B 1G0 or by phone at either 993-5658 or 393-4343. A fax number, 993-6069, and website, www.klondikeweb.com/tombstone, are also available.


Berton House Serves the Community

by Kim Adams

The Berton House program has been operating for several years now, and has brought a number of talented Canadian writers to our town.

In 1989 a $50,000 donation by Pierre Berton -- who had long since left the Yukon for a distinguished career in Canadian locales farther South, enabled the Yukon Arts Council to purchase the former Berton family home in Dawson.

Berton was born in Whitehorse and grew up in Dawson City with his sister Lucy and parents Frank and Laura. His mother Laura wrote for the local paper, and later authored the popular autobiography I Married the Klondike , about her life in Dawson. Today the Klondike Visitors Association, Yukon Libraries and Archives, and the Berton House Committee of the Yukon Arts Council share responsible for the writer's retreat program and the Berton House itself.

Pierre Berton continues to be involved with fundraising, publicity, and writer selection for the program. The Berton House Committee of the Yukon Arts Council selects writers, raises and/or applies for funds for writers to travel to the Yukon and home again, and furnishes the house, and provides writers with a monthly stipend to offset living expenses. The Klondike Visitors Association maintains the house and grounds. Writers are provided with a cozy residence for 3 rent-free months and a $500 monthly stipend. In turn the writer is responsible to work on the projects outlined in their application, and give a public reading in Dawson and one in Whitehorse.

In addition to their agreed responsibilities, many writers have given freely of their talent, time, and energy to Dawson and its many events and causes. Berton House writers have conducted workshops, addressed community groups, volunteered in aid of local groups (such as Dawson City Music Festival, The Women's Shelter, and the Klondike Jamboree), spoken to school classes and commented on or critiqued manuscripts submitted to them by eager local writers. The writers' books become a permanent part of the Dawson Community Library collection, and many leave behind copies for Berton House itself.

The relationship is one of exchange between the people of the Yukon, particularly the residents of Dawson, and the writers themselves. Some writers are less reclusive or more social than others; some come with a burning interest to explore local history and lifestyles; each enjoys the opportunity to practice his/her craft in a setting that historically has inspired at least two renowned Northern writers, Robert Service and Pierre Berton himself.

Each writer brings his/her unique talents and experience to Dawson. The town in turn offers different opportunities to these varying personalities. Think of Inuit story-teller and children's author Michael Kusugak sharing the stories and adventures of his childhood in the remote Eastern Arctic communities of Rankin Inlet and Repulse Bay.

Who can forget the sight of children's and young adult author Julie Lawson dancing around St. Mary's school room with a steaming haggis at the first ever Double Bob celebration (a night honouring both Robert Service and Robbie Burns, the two bards Bob)?

Remember the film crew from Switzerland filming the Library reading and coffee house at Paradise North when then resident writer, playwright Mansel Robinson shared the spotlight with several local writers? The Berton House program and resulting cultural exchange has inspired books like Michael Kusugak's Thank God for Rocks, and Julie Lawson's sequel to Whatever you do Don't go Near that Canoe.

As Community Librarian in Dawson, I am currently the local contact for the writer in residence at Berton House. In this capacity I welcome new writers, orient them to the community, and serve as liaison and support throughout their stay. My role for Berton House was previously performed by the former Chair of the Dawson City Community Library Board Mac Swackhammer.

In his truck, Mac took writers to see the sites about the town and up the Dempster Highway. I have no truck, car, or snow mobile; my only vehicle is a mountain bike, and, as Carmine Starnino, the current Berton House writer, discovered, it does not come equipped with a luggage rack or passenger seating. Unfortunately, for Carmine he made this discovery when he arrived in Dawson by bus at 1:30 a. m. on a dark and rainy September night loaded down with wheeled luggage for his three month stay. No one had forewarned Carmine that Dawson streets are not paved, and boardwalks replace sidewalks throughout the town. Luckily, Carmine and I were able to share a ride as far as Berton House with some people headed out of town to a local mine.

Many Dawsonites have taken visiting writers to their homes and hearts. Memories made are treasured, and become a part of the history of our town. The Arts are a critical component of Canadian Culture, and supporting them is one way of ensuring our continued ability to express and distinguish ourselves in the continuing homogenization of humanity. One of the features of the Yukon, and one of the reasons it is such a dynamic place to live, is the influx of new people throughout the course of its history. New people bring new ideas -- thoughts and actions that shape and change us. We grow and learn from each other. Not all change is good, and not all lessons learned are pleasant, but change is inevitable, and at its best revitalizing and necessary.


Klondike Kates Wins Hospitality Award

The Golden Host Award For Communities has gone this year to Klondike Kate's Restaurant, here in Dawson City

This Golden Host Award is a little unique as it doesn't go to an individual but to an entire business. Over the summer months, the committee received close to one hundred nominations for the staff at Klondike Kate's Restaurant in Dawson City. It seems their cheerful manner, attentive service, and friendly conversation made a grand impression on almost everyone who ate there. Many nominations spoke of the staff's warmth and hospitality, of feeling like family and receiving special attention, not mention the great food!

"We love our staff and feel very lucky to have them!" said owner Josee Savard. With an entire staff of Golden Hosts, Klondike Kate's is sure to continue being a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

The Golden Host Awards Program honors and recognizes individuals for extraordinary service to visitors in the Yukon.


The Oddfellows Hall Progresses

by Palma Berger

The second floor ball room isn't ready yet, but it should be by mid-November. Photo by Dan Davidson

The Open House was a chance for the people of the town to see the great changes in the Oddfellows Hall. Gone were the older walls, uncertain ceilings and no paint. Instead was a now solid building with solid walls and obviously well-planned layout of rooms for library, offices, 'mud shops', gallery, workshops, dance and theatre. This is to be the beginning of the School of Arts in Dawson City.

The upstairs with the renovated ballroom is for the staging of theatre productions. At one end is the area for lighting control, and off to the side is the dressing room with all the necessities.

The transformation of the ball-room brought the most comments from people. When it was its dingy colour it looked so huge, but now with the lighter brighter greens and trims of yellow and gold, the walls seem much closer. The colours were light and pleasing and lit by upturned lights on the walls. So well lit and pleasing that someone remarked "It is like having a summer feeling in the middle of winter." From the 15 foot ceiling the chandeliers made at the recent blacksmithing shop will hang. When the frieze is completed it will feature a design of green, gold, butterfly yellow and brigham blue (sort of teal) which will define the area further.

Downstairs was also in varying greens, with darker trim, but contrasted by the bright fuschia at the front entrance lobby.

At the meeting those who did not know were introduced to the new Executive Director, Gary Parker. Gary was for many years the manager of Diamond Tooth Gerties Casino. He in turn named the directors, Joanne Vriend, Mike Yuhascz, Paula Hassard, John Steins, Leslie Piercey, Jackie Olsen, Kim Matthews, Palma Berger, Membership Secretary Sharon Edmunds and the hard working President Greg Hakonson. As Gary said, "Without whom this building would not be here." Greg's comments were almost an understatement as he looked at the crowd and said, "It is so good to see people other than carpenters here." For the carpenters have been working so long and hard to bring the building to its present state, and were the only ones around for such a long time. But the purpose of the building is to have many people using it.

Gary noted the financial support the Dawson City Arts Society has received from the City in the amount of 200,000. 00 and from the Yukon Government with their 500,000.00 contribution which helped make all this possible.

It is also planned to have some revenue generating areas in the building itself, as well as being an Arts Institute. The dream is that the building will be the Cultural Community Centre for Dawson, featuring such things as Cabaret nights, film nights and cultural events.

Things are happening now. A short film festival is planned for next Spring. The visual arts course will begin November 15 on evenings and week-ends for both adults and children, with local instructors.

The position of Program Manager should be filled soon as the advertisement for it is out now.

What is also needed now is a performing arts instructor for the kids.

The Board approved of bringing up a three person play from Whitehorse before Christmas.

The planned Millennium Ball to take place in the upstairs ball room needs volunteers - anyone listening?

The whole idea of this School of Arts is really ambitious in scope but that is nothing new for Dawson. The Grand Opening is planned for November, and any visual artists with newly completed work are asked to loan it for display for this occasion.

The school is going to get going; but what to name it? The Oddfellows Art School? No, that might lower the dignity of the original Order of Oddfellows, besides giving what sort of an impression of the type of artistic achievements will come out of the art school. If you have any suggestions, the Board would dearly love to hear from you.


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