|Wolf Siblings... Delegates at the Jack London lecture forum pose for a portrait. Photo by Dan Davidson|
by Dan Davidson
Visitors to Dawson over the summer will have noticed that the waterfront area has been undergoing a considerable facelift, which continues apace now that another tourist season is almost over.
The entire development, known locally as the Waterfront Beautification Project, began life as several different projects which were combined in a effort to secure Goldrush Centennials funding. Blended together were several developments along the dyke, improvements to the city's docks, and the Tr'ondek Hwech'in's new cultural centre.
Last season, a interpretive station and viewing area was constructed at the mouth of the Klondike River, providing a fine look at the confluence of the Klondike and Yukon while plaques add some background about first nations occupation of the area before the Gold Rush.
Moving north along the dyke the visitor will reach a spot opposite the impressive edifice of the Commissioner's Residence. This area has now been landscaped as a mini-park, with a pair of gravel walkways and a centre stairway moving up from Front Street to a spot on the dyke where four benches have been placed for viewing of either the river or the building.
Trees have been planted to line the walkways and next summer will see flowers in place there as well.
Tourism planner and committee member Akio Saito says that is all that is planned for this area.
Next to it is a gravel parking lot, designed with daytime parking for RVs in mind. The greensward continues down the dyke until it reaches the newly created street vendors area, six stalls intended to house most of the itinerant sellers who pop into town during the summer. Until recently they have been parking in front of the gazebo opposite the Visitors Reception Centre further down Front Street, but that's been relocated due to another project, and so as new place had to be found.
The gazebo, as noted, has been a popular installation for outdoor gathering and events over the last number of years, and will continue to be so in its new, terraced, surroundings on the south side of the old CIBC building.
Displacing the gazebo and the street vendors is the new first nations cultural centre, which has now reached the stage where its profile, based on traditional designs of circles and fish drying racks, is quickly taking shape.
Han Construction's John Mitchell says the plan is to have the building clad to the weather very soon and for construction work on the interior to continue over the winter. The 4600 square foot centre will celebrate the aboriginal traditions of the Klondike, before, during and after the Gold Rush.
Down by the Yukon River itself new docks were opened to official use back in July, during the Ton of Gold reenactment. Some have suggested calling them the Centennial Docks, but there was no official name at the time that Mayor Glen Everitt cut the ribbon. On the day the new docks were opened only Justin, the horse used by the summer RCMP rider, was reluctant to cross the ramp onto the new facility.
One final development will be a flat rest area atop the dyke just a bit further north towards the ferry landing. This unplanned for addition is the result of the sale and relocation of the motor launch MV Anna Maria, which had rested there for several years, and the generosity of Harry Campbell, the owner of Klondike Transport, who built the gravel pad on which the boat sat and has donated the pad to the city.
by Dan Davidson
Be nice enough to the air crew that pilots the annual Military Attachés Northern Tour and you might find they will do you a favour. Informally speaking, that's what's going to happen to the Dawson City Patrol of the Canadian Rangers next spring.
The Rangers played host to the military while they were here in June and assisted them in a series of local maneuvers. So now the air force is going to return the favour, putting two Hercules transport planes at the service of the Dawson Patrol for a couple of days in early March.
The Hercs will fly members of the patrol and their equipment north to Old Crow for the beginning of a long range winter exercise which will see them travel by snow machine from the north Yukon down the Porcupine River to Fort Yukon and then up the Yukon River to Dawson.
The purpose, explains Patrol Sergeant John Mitchell, is to test the ability of the patrol to operate without support at a distance from their base, something they might have to do if a plane were to come down far from the beaten track.
The 500 mile ski-doo trip will test rangers and machines on a long range winter patrol.
by Ken Spotswood
There are many legacies of the Klondike Gold Rush. Only a few of the lucky ones struck it rich in 1898 while most of the stampeders struck out. Some of the fabled 'Kings of the Klondike' squandered their wealth and drank themselves to death, but a few made fortunes that are still earning big interest today. Clarence Berry's is one of them.
Clarence and his younger brother Fred were both in the Yukon mining town of Forty Mile in August of 1896 when prospector George Carmack walked into Bill McPhee's Saloon with a handful of gold nuggets from a creek he had just named Bonanza. Clarence, who was tending bar, was grubstaked by McPhee and the two Berry brothers were out the door like a shot.
Theirs is a rags-to-riches story that is unique in the history of the gold rush. Clarence had once worked as a fruit farmer in Fresno, California, and had trouble making ends meet. Like so many others, the Berry brothers were victims of the depression of the 1890s. After hearing of new gold discoveries in the remote regions of Alaska and the Yukon, they decided to go north as a last resort.
At the height of the gold rush in 1898 the Berrys had already amassed a fortune worth several million dollars. Years later they died with their millions intact, and succeeding generations of Berry family heirs have continued to fatten the family fortune with their penchant for both black and yellow gold.
Bill Berry, the grandson of Fred Berry, says Clarence and Fred were among the first to stake claims on Bonanza Creek after Carmack's historic discovery. "They both poled their boat up the Klondike River and they both staked claims," he said in a telephone interview from his California home. "Clarence was one smart guy, and he was tough too. He was typical of the people in Alaska and the Yukon at that time. He would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it."
He wasn't exaggerating about the man's character. After returning to Forty Mile to register his claim, Clarence met Austrian prospector Antone Stander who had just staked a promising claim on Eldorado Creek, a small tributary off Bonanza. Stander, however, was without money, food or credit. Clarence personally guaranteed Stander's grubstake. Stander was so grateful that he traded Clarence half of his Eldorado claim for half of Clarence's claim on Bonanza. With this simple gesture, Clarence Berry laid the foundation for one of the largest personal fortunes to come out of the Klondike.
Clarence Berry's original claim was Forty Above Discovery. Historical records show that his first pan of paydirt yielded $57 in raw placer gold. At that time the price of gold was $16 an ounce, and a 10-cent pan was considered good ground worth staking. After stockpiling paydirt over the winter, Clarence took out $140,000 from his first claim in the spring of 1897. He and his wife Ethel were on board the S.S. Portland when it arrived in Seattle to the cheers of 5,000 spectators.
The Berry brothers continued to work and acquire claims on Bonanza, Eldorado and other creeks. Clarence's shrewd business sense made him stand out as the entrepreneur who wheeled and dealed and parlayed one fortune into another. His younger brother Fred managed the rich gold mines, which left Clarence free to scout out new opportunities.
"Clarence went to the Yukon every year," Bill said. "He kept it up until 1902 when things started winding down in the Klondike. That's when gold was discovered in the Fairbanks district of Alaska. Clarence got wind of that and bought claims there which he operated for five years. He acquired other claims in the Circle district which they operated until 1914."
The Berry brothers took a million and a half dollars from their claims on Bonanza and Eldorado alone. They struck it rich a second time with their gold mines in Alaska. They returned to California where they bought oil property near Bakersfield and made a third fortune. At various times the Berry brothers also owned both the Los Angeles and the San Francisco major league baseball clubs.
Bill says Clarence also founded many oil operations during his lifetime. One of them was the Berry Holding Company, now known as the Berry Petroleum Company which is still listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Although Berry Petroleum is a public company, 50 percent is still owned by Berry family heirs. Bill is also a director of the company.
And the gold mining tradition established by Clarence and Fred Berry continues. Bill owns and operates two gold mines in Alaska himself. "Yes, I'm continuing the Berry history of mining," he said. "In fact, we've never stopped mining!"
He said Clarence Berry eventually sold his Klondike properties in 1912 to A.N.C. Treadgold who was attempting to consolidate a monopoly of gold claims in the Klondike for himself and the Guggenheim family of New York. Clarence, who died in 1930 of appendicitis, and his wife Ethel never had children. They left their estate to the Berry grandchildren who were alive at the time. The family still has strong ties to their Canadian roots. Bill's wife Nella is originally from Medicine Hat, Alberta.
"I think it's a miracle that after one hundred years, the names of Clarence and Fred Berry can be used and brought to life again," Bill said.; "And the family fortune is still intact."
by Dan Davidson
Three members of the incumbent Dawson municipal council have decided to toss their hats into the ring for another three years of public office.
First up is Mayor Glen Everitt, who inherited the post when Art Webster resigned near the beginning of his third year in office. Everitt has made a strong showing as a "first among equals" type of leader over the last year. He goes into this election with a high public profile after his initiatives in combating the B.C. "Salmon Wars" and his championship of the current council's proposal for dealing with local vandals.
Facing him will be Carol McBride, a woman who has been active in a number of volunteer organizations in town. She has played a major role in bringing the Conservation Klondike society into being and developing its partnership with the city in the matter of the Quigley Dump management program. She has also been involved with Yukon Learn.
Shirley Pennell has decided to run for a third term on council. Pennell in the long-time vice-principal of the Robert Service School and spent many years on the city appointed planning board before she took her first run at office five years ago.
Also returning to the fray is Eleanor Van Bibber, who joined the present council a year ago, in the by election which followed Art Webster's resignation and led to Glen Everitt changing chairs on council.
The five remaining candidates are new to the political game here.
Joanne Van Nostrand is co-owner and financial administrator at the Downtown Hotel.
Joy Taylor is a sales clerk at the local Sears outlet and has spent several years on the town's recreation board.
Reneé Mayes does bookkeeping at the Midnight Sun Hotel and has previously run for a council seat.
Aedes Scheer is a local veterinarian technician whose efforts have done a lot to improve the lot of dogs and other animals in the town. She has been a driving force behind the foundation of the Dawson Humane Society.
Finally, there is Darrell "Curly" Lind, a local contractor and the owner of Curly's Claim, a summer fast food outlet.
We can expect that the various debates that surround this election will play themselves out in a series of public meetings, beginning perhaps as early as tonight, September 25, with the recreation centre public meeting, continuing with a public meeting to discuss the vandalism proposals on October 4 and culminating in a public election forum on October 7. The election itself will take place on October 16.
Two current councillors, Denny Kobayashi and John Mitchell, are not running again. Kobayashi cites family and job pressures as being key in his decision to step down. Mitchell runs Han Construction for the Dawson First Nation and will be shepherding two major construction projects to fruition during the next two seasons. He says this just doesn't leave him the time another term would demand.
The Jack London Festival took place in Dawson City from September 18 - 21. London fans from all over the world participated in discussions, films, lectures and social gatherings. Over 100 people took part in the event at the different functions.
"We couldn't be more happy with the turnout," said Dominic Lloyd, Special Events Coordinator with the Klondike Visitors Association, who sponsored the event. "Dick North had an idea to have a festival like this a few years ago, the KVA came on board this year, and we ended up having a really successful weekend. Everyone had a really great time." North spearheaded the efforts to start the Jack London Interpretive Centre in Dawson City and is well known to London afficionados worldwide.
The event, which saw local people as well as visitors from Canada, the United States, France, Germany, and Australia take part, commemorated the 100th anniversary of Jack London's time in the Klondike, from which came many of his best known novels and short stories.
by Dan Davidson
When some folks in Whitehorse wanted to rename Two Mile Hill last year, they thought that Jack London Blvd. would make a good replacement. At the same time the South Access Road was slated to be transformed into Robert Service Way.
Citizens rose in arms to battle against the first proposed change, probably because the existing name suited the hill to a tee. In the end advocates of Jack London Blvd. were thwarted by the ultimate weapon of these politically correct times when a cluster of protesters decided to trump their proposals by playing the race card.
Jack London, said some people, was a racist. His works reflected a view of the world unsuitable for commemoration, a view that would be insulting to our first nations citizens.
Not so, says London scholar Professor Susan Nuernberg of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, one of the keynote speakers at last weekend's Jack London Festival. Her lecture, entitled "The Idea of Race in Jack London's Early Yukon Stories", ranged even further than its title would indicate, but it certainly tackled the race issue head on and appeared to give it a thrashing.
There's no denying, says Nuernberg, that London would probably have placed the white race ahead of others on his individual scale of values. That would have been normal for a liberally educated young man of his time, and was certainly normal for the culture from which he sprang. His training, education and commercial awareness of his reading audience would all have pointed him in this direction.
What's amazing then, is that he didn't take that path, choosing instead to write against the grain of this notion. While it is certainly possible to pick racist sounding statements out of London's works, Nuernberg says that most of them come from the mouths of his characters and are there for a purpose.
"While examples like these abound in his fiction, the assumption that London's own views coincide with those mouthed by his characters is completely mistaken."
Assuming that London necessarily shared those sentiments is a mistake that many people make about authors and their stories. It's a bit like deciding that the English poet John Milton was a Satanist after reading some of the dialogue he gives to the devil in his epic poem, Paradise Lost.
What happened instead was that London captured in print the views and ideas of the people about whom he was writing. His popularity stemmed in part form his ability to do this. People recognized themselves in his writing.
Nuernberg spent part of her lecture dissecting London's first novel, A Daughter of the Snows, which followed his first story collection, Son of the Wolf. This novel is not widely known and was not a great success, but it does contain some fairly clear examples of what Nuernberg feels were London's actual opinions on the subject of race.
Encapsulated, the story features a young woman, Frona Wells, of very definitely racist opinions who goes north and falls in with two young men. One of them, Gregory St. Vincent, seems to be the very embodiment of the Teutonic ideal, while the other, Vance Corliss, is a more thoughtful fellow. The story is a romance and deals with how this triad works itself out. In the end the Teutonic chap turns out to be a skunk, the girl changes many of her opinions about race theory and settles on the other fellow, who was much more enlightened and felt Frona's ideas "were dangerous and poorly thought out."
She compared London's work to that of other well known writers of his day, particularly that of Theodore Roosevelt, who eventually became a president of the United States. Roosevelt's bombastic style was filled with racial stereotypes and negative commentary about Indians, Blacks and Spaniards.
This tendency goes right back to the roots of the American pedagogical system, beginning with Thomas Jefferson, and carries on until after the Second World War. Nuernberg noted that there was an American tendency to idealize the Teutonic or Aryan race until after the defeat of the Nazis, when the fullest implications of this way of thinking finally became clear.
For the most part, she said, Jack London used Native American ("first nation" in Canada) characters as foils for his white protagonists. His most famous single short story, "To Build a Fire", shows the stupidity of a newly arrived, "civilized" Cheechako as compared with everyone else he meets in the story. The man freezes to death because he doesn't take the advice he has been given.
In his novel about poverty in Europe, The People of the Abyss, Nuernberg says London pronounced that "only in civilization do people starve in the midst of plenty" and compared capitalist society unfavorably with that of the natives he had met living along the Yukon River.
Said Nuernberg, "London's native American characters are used as an allegory to point up the shortcomings of civilization."
In A Daughter of the Snows, St. Vincent, the cad, is eventually contrasted unfavorably with an aboriginal character in the story, "who never knew Western civilization, but still can exhibit to them a sense of honour and courage."
Compared with other writers of his day and time, Nuernberg feels that Jack London's view on race were "enlightened". What got him into more trouble at the time he wrote was his habit of creating fiercely independent female characters whose impact on his stories was quite at variance with the established norms of his day. That, and the social critique of capitalism inherent in a lot his work, was what stirred people against him in North America, while at the same time gaining him a loyal following in Europe.
by Dan Davidson
The occasion is the wrap-up dinner for the Jack London Festival, held in the Downtown Hotel Conference Room. The feeling is informal. For some it's been a long day. The keynote speakers have spent the afternoon taking a helicopter ride out to the Henderson Creek site of the cabin in which London spent part of his Yukon winter. They've learned how hard it is to walk on muskeg.
The chat has been all over the place, because people are interested in more about the Yukon than just Jack London. But eventually the talk comes around to the man whose work inspired this conference.
Serendipity has something to do with the mix of people at the table. A last minute addition is a Viceroy Resources employee who grew up more or less across the road from the London estate, known as the Wolf House, in California. He can recall family guests wanting to visit the place, touring it himself on school trips and, in particular, the two enormous carved burl rocking chairs which he felt defined the look and feel of the ranch.
People react to London in a lot of different ways, depending on where they grew up. In the Yukon we tend to forget that he is much more famous internationally than the Klondike poet, Robert Service.
When Flo Whyard, who is at the table, finds herself forced to make a speech, it is this that she comes back to. She admits to being "not a great London fan" but does appreciate the impact he's had on our international reputation.
This she says, was first revealed to her years ago during one of the annual ambassadors' tours. She remembers having been seconded to host this event by the Commissioner of the day. There was a fine salmon dinner at one of the local hotels, and then the head of the diplomatic group got up to speak.
He was the Soviet ambassador, a fellow who looked like he'd been called right out of central casting to fill the part: shaven head, thick neck, steely grey eyes, stocky and short. But let Flo tell the story herself from here. She did, after all, know my tape recorder was running. "He stood up and he thanked us graciously on behalf of the tour. Then he said, 'I cannot believe...I cannot believe that I am really here...in the Klondike, in the real Klondike. I am finally got here to the Klondike, in the land of...'
And all of us nitwits thought 'Robert Service'," says Flo, "but he said, "JACK LONDON!'" Everyone at the table finishes the sentence with her because we all just know how it has to end.
"It was the time it was borne in upon me that this guy was known all over the world as a great socialist writer."
When the ambassador sat down she asked him where he had first encountered London's works, and he replied that it was in school, the first grade. "Everybody read Jack London and they grew up on him."
She half-jokingly suggests that maybe the current Russian government would be interested in helping to sponsor an annual festival in Dawson. Stranger things might happen. After all, the Jack London Society of Japan wasn't able to send anyone to this festival, but they passed along a donation of several hundred dollars and sponsored the movie night at the Palace Grand.
Professor Susan Nuernberg chimes in with a story about hearing an interview with a Soviet weight-lifter during the Los Angeles Olympics a few years ago. Asked if he read books, by a sports journalist who apparently had run out of things to ask about, the man responded that he did, that he had read all the Russian masterworks: Chekhov, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Jack London...
Dawne Mitchell and Dick North, who have split between them the task of running the Jack London Museum here for the last several summers, tell the group about the reaction of central European visitors to the centre. They number in the hundreds every year and it is far from rare to see tears in some of their eyes as they listen to Dawne tell the story of his life, or Dick relate the tale of how the cabin was authenticated.
To them, it seems that London is far more important than a mere American author of adventure stories. He is some kind of an icon and his picture of the North is something that draws them like a magnet.
Our guests were glad to hear that Dawson, at least, has managed to name a couple of things after him. We have Jack London Square, of course, the area where the centre is located. In addition, all of the subdivision on the Dome have streets christened for writers, and one of them is named after Jack London.
by Dan Davidson
Among the many subjects which may come up for discussion at a gathering of the Brothers and Sisters of the Wolf is the question of Jack London's death. The standard references assume that London died of a combination of drug overdose and alcohol abuse, culminating in kidney failure, an assumption fostered by the presence of both substances at place of his death.
London was well known as a voracious drinker and outlined his struggles with alcohol in the autobiographical pro-temperance book John Barleycorn. In addition, London' semi-autobiographical novel Martin Eden dealt with the personal struggles of a London-like writer who eventually succumbs to suicide.
The idea of the doomed genius, the prodigious talent whose life is a mess, is an enduring theme in American pop culture. It surfaces in every generation of writers, artists and entertainers, Marilyn, Janis, Jimi and Kurt being just a few of its avatars over the last 30 years.
The insistence on Jack London's death by suicide and over indulgence may just be an early example of this syndrome according to Professor Susan Nuernberg, one of the guest speakers at the recent Jack London Festival in Dawson City.
Nuernberg does not follow the suicide theory, and has proposed one of her own, taking into accounting some clues which she believes are evident in his life even during his brief stay in the Yukon. She believes that London died of systemic lupus erythematosus, a complex disease with a collection of symptoms which look a lot like other things. In particular, they look a lot like scurvy, which London was said to have had an extreme case of after his winter on the creeks.
The story goes that he came to town to recover, was treated at or near Saint Mary's Hospital, and soon was well enough to build a raft and float down the Yukon River to Saint Michael and thence to return to San Francisco.
Nuernberg believes his recovery from the ravages of scurvy was far too rapid and that an early attack of lupus would be the more likely cause of his swollen joints and loose teeth.
More to the point, London's eventual death at the age of 40 was caused by kidney failure, and lupus is a disease which quietly gnaws away at a number of internal organs, including the heart, lungs and kidneys.
Dawne Mitchell, one of the interpreters at the local Jack London Museum, supports the non-suicide theory, but has been developing a different interpretation about what caused London's death, one based on the attack of yaws which he contracted while travelling in the tropics later in his life. The standard treatment of the time was a concoction which included mercury, an element we know a lot more about now than anyone did then. Mercury poisoning also weakens the internal organs and has symptoms similar to those of lupus. It could have contributed to London's death a few years later.
Mitchell says she has pitched this theory to a number of doctors who visited the centre over the last summer. For the most part, they have confirmed that it's feasible.
Whatever the case, she says that the manner of London's death comes up at least a half dozen times every day that she does her tour presentation. It's something people want to know about and seem to have strong opinions about as well.
However you look at it there's interest in London's end, just as there is in his work. The debate will continue for some time to come.
(J.C. Taylor) Sgt.
Dawson City, R.C.M.P.
Dawson City R.C.M.P. have charged Serge Patrick ATYEO with nine (9) counts of Break and Enter. Businesses broken into include: Wild & Wooly, Black Sand & Gold, Maximilians, Boardwalk Cafe, Recycling Centre, Pleasure Island and River of Gold. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.
On the 13 of September, 1997 an altercation occurred at the Midnight Sun Tavern. During the altercation one male received injuries which required medical attention at the local nursing station. Subsequent investigation has implicated one local male who will not be identified until charges have been laid on Tuesday the 16 of September 1997. Charges of assault with a weapon are pending.
Further to the previous news release date September 15, 1997. Graham Michael Everitt, 21 years old, has been charged with Assault with a Weapon and Breach of Probation after an incident which occurred at the Midnight Sun Tavern on the morning of September 13, 1997. He appeared before a local Justice of the Peace on Tuesday, September 16, 1997. Everitt was remanded in custody to appear in Whitehorse for a show cause scheduled for Thursday, September 18, 1997 at 12:00 p.m.
* * * * *
On the 2 of September, 1997, Dawson City RCMP received a complaint of a break and enter at the Tr'ondek Learning Centre. It was reported that one VCR and a Nintendo Set had been stolen. On Saturday, September 13, 1997 a search warrant was executed at a private residence and the above items were recovered. On Monday, September 15, 1997 one young offender was arrested and will be appearing before a local justice of the peace for remand to Whitehorse. He is being charged with Possession of Stolen Property and Mischief and several Breach of Disposition Charges.
by Dan Davidson
With the release of two documents, the City of Dawson has made it both simpler and more complicated for potential councillors to get a grasp of what they are asking to take on when they run for office. It will be simpler in that their roles will be clearer. It will be more complex in that there may be more to this than anyone would think from the outside.
For about a year now the city has been involved in a Priorities and and Planning Initiative (P.P.I.) exercise which should set the tone for municipal affairs for years to come, and seem to have the potential to be even more influential than the Official City Plan or the Zoning Bylaw when it comes to way in which things are done.
According to City Manager Jim Kincaid, the report was released in mid-September to stimulate discussion prior to the election. The purpose of the P.P.I. was fourfold:
The process involved the development of a vision, identification of the issues, goals, strategies, long range plans and budget measures that will be needed on into the future.
As of May, parts of sections 1, 2 and 3 had been completed. Step 4 involved getting the public to talk about it as well.
The document projects a Dawson in the year 2010 with a base population of about 3,000 year round. It is expected that tourist visits might rise to 110,000 during the traditional summer season, while winter tourism might attract an additional 20,000 visitors.
If this were true, than employment of perhaps 95% year round might become the norm.
First Nation and mining claims within the City boundaries would have been settled by that time, while municipal infrastructure would be equal to the task of serving the larger population. Among these would be upgraded health and education facilities.
Under the heading of Goals and Principles, the document specifies a need for a more horizontal leadership and decision making structure, with improved communications among all stakeholders, a balance between mandated and delegated authority and a full review of all municipal bylaws, policies and procedures.
The town must define its areas of governance and make reasoned decisions about what service and business activities it should undertake or support.
Under the heading of Community Direction, the document speaks of a need to identify roles and goals of various groups within the community, stressing a teamwork approach and trying to take a long view of what the city's needs will be. Many of these issues will involve consideration of financial structures, taxation levels, other finding sources, subsidy levels, financial reserves and dealings with senior levels of government.
In looking at Municipal Attitudes and Relations, the report concludes that there exists some confusion over what agencies should perform what roles, how far authority can be delegated, when to exercise top-down control and when not to. All of this must be resolved in as open a manner as possible.
Within the city structure, there is a need to build more of a teamwork attitude to the way things are run, allowing the jobs to be done while still respecting the abilities and talents of those who must do them.
The report concludes that the turnover in city staff, especially at management levels, has been unhealthy over the last decade. Staffing needs to become more stable and effective. Some of this will involve training employees, while some of it will involve training elected officials to better deal with employees.
The final major section of the report deals with an area which is peculiar to council, though it must be informed by public discussion. That is the creation and revision of bylaws, policies and procedures. This is a never ending process of creation, renewal and revision. Back in May it included a number of initiatives which have since been passed, such as the parking and traffic bylaw and the public service bylaw.
In general the process here is to identify what's needed, figure out how to enact it with a minimum of fuss, as clearly as possible, without annoying overlaps with other legislation, communicate it to the public and then monitor it to see if it is working.
This report generated about 32 tasks that council and its administration had to undertake at various levels between that time and these fall elections. Tasks which had to be completed included a Code of Ethics (for council and staff), traffic bylaws, definitions of municipal roles and and an identification of what the role of the City was in the overall Dawson picture.
This process led eventually to a long range planning exercise which took place in July, and will be the subject of a separate article.
by Dan Davidson
Among of the pressing questions which any government of government agency must address you will find the following: What are we doing? Why? What should we be doing? To what extent?
This becomes particularly urgent whenever a government gets involved in activities which could perhaps be handled by some other means. Any community features a mix of private sector activities, government activities, individual initiatives and not-for-profit groups which interact with each other and the senior levels of government (territorial and federal) in a variety of ways.
At the City of Dawson's long range planning workshop last summer, elected officials and staff came to a number of conclusions about how this system works, beginning with the identification of the City's two primary roles.
As the report notes, "The City collects taxes on the basis of ability to pay and delivers services on the basis of need." A private sector operation would be strictly "user-pay" but the public sector, in Canada at least, operates on a more flexible continuum. It depends on how much the service is a benefit to the wider community.
At one end of this line are services which have strictly private benefits. There seems to be no reason why such purchases or activities should be subsidized.
At the other extreme are such things as garbage collection, which are of both private and public benefit. Even if you don't drive, you still benefit from the existence of a street. You may never experience a fire, but it wouldn't be to your benefit to have the rest of the town burn down, either.
Part of the problem in viewing this question is the differing objectives that private, public and non-profit organizations have. The private sector wants to make a profit, regardless of what benefits its activities may have on the community. Non-profit groups are driven by a need to provide a service they think is important. They don't care about the money as long as they can continue to operate and don't lose on the activity.
Those types of activities which are needed, but not profitable, tend to fall into the hands of the public sector. In Dawson this has traditionally left the City holding the bag for pet (dog) control and the sewer & water delivery system.
There are, or course, many things, particularly in the area of community recreation, that fall in the middle and have to be debated at length.
In looking at the role of the City in community life then, the report identifies five possible responses the City can make in any given situation. It can STAY OUT OF THE WAY and let people do as they wish, another way of phrasing the traditional laissez-faire philosophy of the 19th century. For some things this is still the most appropriate response.
It can SUPPORT, using its legislative functions to set up a framework and smooth the way.
It can PARTNER, joining hands with other organizations to make suer that things happen as well as lending employee time and resources to the project.
It can LEAD, making sure that the service is delivered, setting the rules, running the show, but also seeking help from others.
Finally, it can DO the job whatever it is, because it has to be done, because it has the resources and expertise to do it. It wouldn't make sense for the residents of a street to have to take on the job of thawing out its storm drains every spring.
With those parameters in mind, the meeting came up with a table which includes 28 services, identifies the 9 which need the most work and sets out what regulatory frameworks will be needed to carry all of this out.
This chart, which is reproduced along with this article, goes a long way to setting the agenda for the next council to take office after the October 16 elections. Candidate's views should be tested in all of these areas at the public meetings which will lead up to the election.
By Palma Berger
The idea of Elders Hostel is to take educational tours reflecting your particular interests. If one really wanted to see the north of America with its mountains, snow, gold discoveries and how people up here this far north this was the tour.
This group of elders were from Australia and a lively alert bunch they were. Elders Hostel used to be run through Adult Education, but now it has been taken over by private entrepeneurs. Study Tours Maiden Alaska were organising this end of it.
The Australians flew out of Melbourne to land in Vancouver. Four days later after visiting Whitehorse, Inuvik, Tuktoyatuk they were overnighting in Dawson City. Here Peggy Amendola had organised their stay.
They arrived at 3:00 p.m. and did a tour of Commissioner's residence with Glenda Bolt.("A lovely girl. Was she an actress specially hired?") The Dawson Museum was opened up especially for them and a warm welcome and tour given by Linda Thompson.
That evening in the Downtown, they watched a video on Dawson. R.C.M.P.Cnstble Joel Cyr really thrilled the group when he appeared in red serge. They had many questions to ask him. What does he do here? Well, he does not wear red serge all the time, and he described the everyday uniform of the mounties. Did he have a dog team? No, he did not and the mounties did not use them anymore. The impracticality of his hat was pointed out.What if he got into a breeze the hat would not last long? He assured them it was just to be worn for ceremonial events.
Lloyd Nichols who doubles as piano player at Gerties gave a brief history of the personality Robert Service and then an inspiring rendition of a couple of Robert Services' poems. He had the audience enthralled. When he finished a large birthday cake was presented to Ann which was a complete surprise to her.
Later at Diamond Tooth Gertie's Lloyd arranged for the singing of Happy Birthday to Ann by all in attendance. They tried to say this was her fortieth birthday but she said no way, she did not remember her fortbut she was sure she would remember this one.
After dinner Dawne Mitchell demonstrated Gold Panning. Dawne, the old pro, began her demonstration by first explaining the principles of using the gold pan. The gold, being heavier, sinks to the bottom and the gravel and lighter stuff stays near the top and can be washed over the edge. She swished away while explaining that the personwho gave her this 'dirt' . She murmured. "Where could it be?" They became anxious. She swirled some more. Finally , a tiny speck on the edge of the bottom of the pan was revealed. Getting a little more exciting, but still no big find. Dawne said again, "But I was promised there'd be gold here." Visitors watched most intently. Then lo and behold gold was found. It was in was in the form of a piece of quartz and gold half the size of a man's thumb. Truly amazing from a couple of tiny specks to a piece this large. They loved it. The piece of gold was passed around the crowd while Dawne fielded questions about the nature of gold. And the nugget was eventually returned to her. They were delighted to receive a Gertie's pin, and a package on Dawson City courtesy of K.V.A.
It was through K.V.A's promotion that got them into Dawson City. On then to Gertie's again courtesy of K.V.A. Here they were treated so well by Diamond Tooth Gertie. They loved the music, the attention, and one, Archie was invited on stage to join the chorus line. This he did with gusto and unsuspected talent much to the delight of his wife of forty years and all fellow travellers. These people coming from a land that usually has to deal with too much hjeat, constantly had their minds boggled as we answered questions of travelling, shopping, entertainment, visiting, heating homes and of dogs that stay outside in -40 deg. weather, planes that fly until it hits -48deg.C. One traveller expressed disappointment at not actually setting foot on the North Pole. But ... someday.
But they understood, as no Canadian has ever understood, my consternation at losing a saucepan in a snow bank. I had come brand new to Dawson from the land Downunder. In the winter I had to make cookies. The recipe called for the mixture to be cooled off. So, I took the hot saucepan outside and set on the snowbank. Went out ten minutes later and it had gone. I was cursing these untrustworthyneighbours who hmust have run off with it. My patient husband suggested I look into the snow bank. Sure enough there it was at the bottom. haveing melted its way down. These Australians were great, they said sympathetically "Who would have thought of that?" But Canadains? They've always hooted at this new bride's lack of knowledge of the properties of snow. Come again, you Elders.
As a footnot, from Dawson the group flew off to Fairbanks and who should be at the airport in Fairbanks, but our mayor. They told him of the wonderful time they had had in Dawson and the great people they had met. We all say, "You're Welcome."
by Lori Sprokkreeff
Myself and Colleen Wiebe had the opportunity to accompany this great bunch of athlete from Skagway to Whitehorse Sept. 12/13th. Not running, but driving and yes staying awake all night long! How did you do it you say? Well thanks to the 3C's - coffee, coke and chocolate covered coffee beans we did it!
It was a wonderful experience to see the excitement of all participants day and night, night and day. One vehicle would follow the runner and the other went ahead with others who were preparing for their run. Before the runners ran we'd find out what they'd like in the way of encouragement and support. Some people wanted loud music, some wanted to know their pace per klm, some wanted to be left alone.
Everyone who participated did their best and accomplished what they set out to do.
Every leg of the 176 klm relay is different in distance and terrain. There are 10 participants on the team. The ten who ran on our team were:
leg1 -Sylvia Burkhard
leg 2 - Dave Millar
leg 3 - Lorraine Millar
leg 4 - Bruce Duffee
leg 5 - Corrine Millar
leg 6 - Jason Barber
leg 7 - Patricia (from Van.)
leg 8 - Shannon (from Van.)
leg 9 - Charles Martin
leg 10 -Ross Lindley
The check stations along the way were lit up with Christmas lights and many stations dressed in theme costumes. This events takes a lot of volunteers to pull off and it seemed to run without any snags.
As we waited our final runner to come in the idea of sleep became a greater need. After 17 hours on the road we cheered our team as the final runner came across the finish line. It was a great sense of accomplishment for those that ran, and yes even for the drivers.
Some went to the Hot Springs to soak their stiff bodies and others crawled into bed for a few hours of shut eye before the banquet and dance. So with the 1997 Skagway to Whitehorse Road Relay behind us we are proud of those who participated and thankful to our sponsors. I've had enough of the 3C's for a while but they did work!
As for next year plan on participating in this event if you can, it was a wonderful experience!
by Palma Berger
On September 18th. Dawson was honoured with a visit from Jay Bruns, the U.S. Consul-General based in Vancouver.
Bruns is a career Foreign Service Officer, having joined the State Dept. in 1979, and has worked in Tokyo, Trinidad and Tobago, Bonn and Oslo, but has been stationed in Vancouver since 1996.
The purpose of his visit to Dawson was to just drop in and say hello as this is part of his area to service. Part of his job is to present U.S, interests in his consular area. Three-fifths of the Consulate's resources are spent helping Americans in that area. A vast majority of the work is issuing visas to would-be visitors to the States.There is a section which helps U.S. businesses sell into Canada.
Denny Kobayashi, executive director of the KVA, spoke of the long friendship between these two countries, and mentioned that he would like to see no borders, because after all, so many Dawsonites prefer to shop in Fairbanks as it is.
This brought up the subject of the recent announcement on the media that Canadians are going to require a visa to visit the U.S. in the future. Bruns admitted quite frankly that he has been given no briefing on it and does not know anything about it. Quite understandable as it was announced while he was on the road. But he can only assume that it was an all encompassing piece of legislation and someone forgot to exclude Canada. He will get back to us on it.
The mayor spoke of the ease with which he can phone any mayor of any city in the States without having to go through diplomatic channels. Bruns spoke positively of this relationship between the two countries. He gave another example in the people of Old Crow with their concerns about the caribou herd. They can go directly to Washington to be heard. In Japan Government is highly centralised and all international communication would have to go through Tokyo.
He did not come here to talk fish and blockades but he did answer questions on the subjects.
He explained that, in B.C. blockades have been used widely by various interest groups. But this has always been by Canadians against Canadians. The blockade of the Ferry was more serious as it involved another country. The Alaskan Ferry is part of the Alaska Marine Highway system, and is a vital link between Alaska and the lower 48.
He asked Mayor Everitt if he really did invoice the Government of British Columbia, to which the mayor replied in the affirmative, and added this amount is listed in Accounts Receivable of the City. Bruns asked if he could possible get a copy of this invoice. The Mayor assured him he could. Bruns explained that Alaska would like to reinstate the Ferry to Prince Rupert instead of going directly to Bellingham as it now is, but there are three issues that must first be addressed.
The ferry stop in Prince Rupert is used by Alaskans as it is cheaper for travellers to the lower 48 to embark there and travel south through Canada tot he States.
As to the fishing disputes, it is hoped that Ex-President of U.B.C. Strangway and Head of the Environment Protection Agency, Rucklehaus can come up with a solution.
But with the Yukon, he is pleased that U.S. and Yukon have such a good relationship. He revealed he first got interested in Canada, when a book by a Yukon born writer was presented to him in Tokyo. It was Letters to Uncle Sam by Pierre Berton.
He has previously been involved with the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC) in Osaka in 1995, and when he returns to Vancouver he will continue work on the APEC conference scheduled for November in Vancouver which the President will be attending.
I'm the one that e-mailed in April about a score in the Dawson Nuggets hockey game. I think you're doing a great job with your paper - one of the few that have back issues available.
Thanks again for an interesting paper - wish I could back soon for a visit - I fell in love with your town when I visited in 1991.
|Klondike Sun Home Page|